Sophie Frances Cooke, now known as just Frances, hadn't intended to become an international singing and songwriting sensation. The 23-year-old redheaded Brit grew up playing the violin and later took up the piano when she started writing her own songs, but it wasn't until she played her compositions for friends and teachers that she began to realize her own powers.
"Say It Again" is exactly the type of song guaranteed to get stuck in your head for *at least* a week.
"I was playing songs at school all the time, and I noticed people would listen to me. They'd sometimes cry, and I'd be like, 'Why are you reacting like that?!'" she says, laughing. "Now, someone might come up to me after a show and they'll still have tears in their eyes, and I'm like, 'Oh my God, I'm so sorry! Are you OK?' And they're like, 'No, I'm fine, thank you!'"
"I still feel a bit too young to be doing what I'm doing—I feel like I don't know anything! But I don't think anyone does." —Frances
With her debut album freshly launched and a single earning a spot on the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, Frances is bringing catharsis to much larger audiences than she was during her school days—and she shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. As she heads out on her U.S. tour, her soulful vocals and heartbreaking melodies are sure to guarantee that, among listeners, dry eyes will be a rarity.
Sweet chatted with the rising star about her vulnerable lyrics, dream collaborators, and the musician that makes her shed a tear.
When did you start writing songs?
I started when I was about 12. I kind of thought it was what everyone did, which is strange. I had a piano at home and I would just sit and write every day after school. It feels like I've been doing it forever.
All of your songs are very personal and intimate—what's it like to perform them in front of big audiences?
It's weird sometimes, but it feels like I've got the songs to hide behind—they're a kind of protection, I guess, so it's not like I'm just speaking my innermost thoughts. I always try to make sure that the lyrics are super-clear and relatable.
Sentimentality proves to be a very good thing in the music video for Frances's "Grow."
Do you ever get nervous performing?
I do get a bit of stage fright, thinking that I'll tip over or do something stupid, but I've learned that things are going to happen and [if they do] it makes you seem more relatable, anyway. One time I went on stage with a lozenge still in my mouth, and I realized when I started playing the first song, so I had to stop playing and spit it out right on stage. It made the audience laugh, so from that moment I felt much more relaxed.
"It takes people time and you've got to do things at your own pace. If I was just playing with my friends in a garage now, that would be fine, too!"
Who's an artist who makes you cry?
I love a Norwegian artist named Maria Mena. Her lyrics are super-poetic, so her music sounds like she's written a poem and put a melody around it. She's amazing.
You recorded a great cover of a Justin Bieber song for the BBC a while ago. Would you ever want to collaborate with him?
I don't know if I'm cool enough for Justin Bieber, but I think he's amazing! I'd love to collaborate with someone who has a different style than me—someone like Ed Sheeran, who has more of a hip-hop thing going on now. There's an artist in the U.K. called Rag'n'Bone Man. I think doing a duet with him would be super-cool.
What advice would you give to a young person chasing their dreams?
I think you just need to go for it. I still feel a bit too young to be doing what I'm doing—I feel like I don't know anything! But I don't think anyone does. I'm learning all the time. It takes people time and you've got to do things at your own pace. If I was just playing with my friends in a garage now, that would be fine, too!
What's your motto?
Try to do more of what makes you happy. For me, that might be painting, which I really like to do. And even though writing songs is kind of my job, it's still something that I'll always do.
Frances's debut album Things I've Never Said is available now. Check out her tour dates at francesmusic.com and follow her on Snapchat @francesmusic.