An Interview With Australian Rocker, Aimee Francis
* Originally published at cherrygrrl.com, August 2, 2012 – Read the full text here
Cherry Grrl recently had the esteemed privilege of talking with Aimee Francis, a rock n’ roll loving, shop-a-holic. If you don’t know her as the 20-year-old Australian transplant with an amazing voice and vibrant personality, you will. Francis has gained traction in the lesbian (and musical) community with performances at Dinah Shore and her self-funded EP is available now.
It’s called “The Calm Before the Storm.”
Cherry Grrl (CG): So, you were born in Australia?
Aimee Francis (AF): Yeah. I was born in Melbourne, in October 1989.
CG: Did you always know you wanted to be a musician? What is the music scene like out there? Where are you now?
AF: Yeah, music has always been “it” for me. I’ve always wanted to do this. The music scene is good. Melbourne is known for being the music capital of Australia, but I have been traveling on and off to America since 2008 to pursue it over there rather than staying in one country. I just released my debut CD there and did a launch for it in May, and now I’m in London.
CG: You have been traveling since a “young” age. Does it ever become exhausting? What’s the road like for an artist?
AF: I’m doing what I love, so I can’t complain. There have been a few bumps in the road (ex-management/labels), but you just have to pick yourself up and push on. It hasn’t been an easy ride.
CG: A lot of artists don’t talk about the business side of the music industry. At what point does being able to make a living become more important than living your dream?
AF: I left my label/management at the end of 2008, flew home and got a day job. I saved up so I could fund the CD and the Californian tour I did last year, and the one coming up. I think you have to kind of make the living TO live your dream until hopefully one day you can make a living LIVING your dream full-time, if that makes sense…
CG: That’s an insight a lot of artists don’t have. It makes complete sense.
AF: I think that’s why a lot of artists don’t get where they want to be. They don’t see that you actually have to work your ass off to get places. Some people are lucky and will get it the easy way, and hey, good on them. But I’m not going to quit on my life’s work because I have to work a few bar shifts, you know? This is IT. I only have one life, so I ain’t wasting it!
CG: Often, it seems like artists are about to give up when they finally get that opportunity that changes things for them. Do you feel like you have to reach that end point before you can create something worthwhile?
AF: I think you just need to put your ass on the line, and believe in your craft. If you haven’t got faith, who will, you know? There’s always going to be slumps, but you just gotta push through them. If you love something enough, you’ll push through the barriers, I think.
CG: Let’s talk about the tours. Around 2008, you came to California. What caused that shift towards the U.S.?
AF: I left high school at 16 and enrolled in a music college. I had a live band and did small gigs around Melbourne. I was picked up by management who told me the way to go would be to move to LA and record. I ended up recording with some of the most prestigious people; the album was recorded at Henson Studios and mastered at Sterling Sound in New York by George Marino. It was mixed by Mike Plotnikoff and it was the most amazing experience. That’s how I came to play a few shows in the U.S., including Dinah Shore. But, I left my management and label for a few reasons and headed home.
I got a day job and self-funded a trip to California last June and July, where I booked a few shows myself, including selling out the Viper Room. I saved for the recording and release of the CD you’ve heard, “The Calm Before the Storm,” and now I’m here in London doing a few shows. I’m finally heading back to California in October.
CG: Your story is intense. Most people can’t invest that much in themselves, or are scared to succeed.
AF: Yeah. I’m lucky I have a really supportive backbone. My family and partner are amazing and have always supported me and the music. I guess they also knew how stubborn I am for music!
CG: With that said, let’s talk about what the CherryGrrl contingent might kill me if I don’t discuss.
AF: Should I be worried?
CG: That depends on how you answer! You mentioned your “partner.” Are you seriously involved?
AF: I am in a wonderful relationship with the love of my life. I’m very lucky.
CG: And that noise is the sound of a million hearts breaking… Before I get any angry mail, I’m just the messenger!
AF: No! It should be the sound of a million hearts going, “Aw, I’m so happy that love exists and that she finally found someone after all those sad songs on her CD!”
CG: Obviously, I was going to ask where the songs came from. Was it all past experience?
AF: Yeah. Past experiences where I was a bit blinded. I got pushed, shoved, prodded, poked and promised a lot of things that ended up being a pile of crap, basically. And it hurt… Really bad. But, I got a lot of songs and well, some kind of experience from it.
CG: Do you look back at the time with appreciation or are you just through with it and ready to move on? A lot of artists close the door on things when they’ve sucked the artistry out of it.
AF: It was a bit of a sticky situation, really. I look back and see that I’ve grown from it, big time. There’s no door to close really, just another life experience.
CG: So tell us about Dinah Shore? Were you overwhelmed?
AF: To be honest, I don’t think I realized how big it actually was ’til I got there. We don’t really have an equivalent back home. I got excited because Pat Benatar and Uh Huh Her were on the bill and I’m a fan of both… But I had a total blast! I was playing with Christina Aguilera’s backing band, which was an amazing experience in itself, too!
I really like playing different kinds of festivals and gigs. I’m kinda lucky that my fan-base is quite broad! Lesbians, gays, teenagers, parents, rockers, poppers. Is that a word?! My management had a lot of contacts, and I had a lot of fun that trip. I hung out with Kendra [Wilkinson-Baskett of Playboy fame], and I was sponsored by Ed Hardy, so those parties were off the hook, too. I spent a day on-set at a Mötley Crüe video… It was awesome.
CG: That’s pretty much as much fun as one person could have short of living in the Playboy Mansion.
AF: Yeah, it was pretty crazy!
CG: And you met pre-baby Kendra!
AF: She was very sweet.
CG: She was known to be a prolific party-girl.
AF: I actually stayed in the Caribbean, and she was doing an event for Ed Hardy and a new beer company over there, and I was there for Ed Hardy/Christian Audigier. We had dinner and yeah, she is a prolific party-girl! She outdid me that night from what I remember, and her laugh is real! When we were having dinner, she laughed and I didn’t know if she was joking or not, but it’s her laugh! I didn’t know what to do!
CG: How important is having the support of a partner when you’re on the road? Does she get to travel with you?
AF: She does! I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s really nice to have someone with you that knows what you’re about and to share the love and the crazy experiences with! My partner and my band (my bandits as I like to call them) are my best friends, and it’s fantastic to share this crazy musical roller-coaster with them!
CG: Do you play any instruments?
AF: Guitar, piano, drums… I like to tinkle with everything, but they’re my main indulgences, apart from vocals. I always wanted to be a bassist. I think they’re sexy–Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe is one of my heroes, but I’m not coordinated enough!
CG: Do you ever get homesick or do you think about all the houses you’re going to buy in all the cool places you’ve visited?
AF: I find Los Angeles to be the place I feel like myself the most. I love home and I love being there, but I’m never going to complain about traveling and making music. It’s an amazing experience!
CG: Your record is done. What have you learned? Are there any artists you hope to work with in the future?
AF: I’ve learned that hard work pays off, and it’s such a cool feeling getting the people’s support and I’ve received such a good response from it, so far. I’m hoping to progress and get some support slots with bigger bands. I want to live and learn.
CG: Spending some time in California, you obviously are aware of Prop 8 and the huge marriage equality fight. Any thoughts on that?
AF: I think it’s ridiculous. Love is love. People should wake the fuck up and see it. We’ve got the same battle happening in Australia with Prime Ministers against it and like I said, love is love. Wake up world. We got a lot of other shit that should be dealt with instead of not letting people in love get married!
CG: In the grand scheme of things, my ability and your ability to have a longstanding relationship affects the world as a blip on the radar, in comparison to the oil spill, world wars and terrorism.
AF: It’s so silly. I really don’t understand what’s in their heads. All I know is it hurts my head trying to understand what the problem is. Love makes the world go around… Why stop it?
CG: The world is historically built on longstanding traditions that brilliant people realized were absurd far too late.
AF: This too!
CG: What do you think it will take for people to move away from the archaic ideas of homosexuality?
AF: The “younger generation.” My brother is 18 and he is the coolest dude ever. Someone came out in his class and the guys just treated him like a “normal” guy. Just a few years ago they would have been a little “weirded out,” I think. The culture is getting a lot better and people are realizing just because different people are attracted to different sexes, it doesn’t make them any more or less of a cool human being.
CG: It’s definitely interesting, and there’s this counterculture within the LGBT community of people who want the same rights versus people who want to be “different” with the same rights.
AF: I know what you mean. I’m just waiting for the day where people of all races, sexes and sexual orientations can be treated equally. I might be having a little too much faith, but I really do hope it can happen one day.
CG: Do you get to watch TV? Any shows you follow? What do you do in your free time?
AF: I’m not a massive TV fan, to be honest! Spare time is spent doing music usually. I love going on adventures, shopping, writing and booking more shows.
CG: Tell us about the shopping obsession. What’s your style? What would someone usually see you wearing?
AF: I pretty much live in skinny jeans and a t-shirt, but I’m the biggest girly-girl you will meet. I look at all the dresses and all the shoes. If I wasn’t 6 ft. I’d be in those high-heeled booties! I spend too much time and money on my hair. I love big glasses and accessories. I also spend too much money on tattoos. My grandmother is not impressed. She’s given up, I think!
CG: So where can people reach you, and find out more info about what you’re doing? When can your U.S. fans see you live?
AF: I’ve got the California tour in the works. Dates should be up soon on www.aimeefrancis.com, and you can buy my CD “The Calm Before the Storm” on iTunes. I’m on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/aimeefrancismusic and www.twitter.com/aimee_francis.
CG: What artists do you continue to come back to?
AF: Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones, Pink, Kelly Clarkson… I love artists who can write catchy songs.
CG: Is that the goal for you, writing something catchy that can be timeless?
AF: Absolutely. Totally spot on. My songs are my journals. I want them to speak to people. Hopefully others can relate, or get something out of it.
Reprinted with permission from CherryGrrl
Originally published August 2, 2010