Interview: Francesca Belcourt

Francesca Belcourt
Francesca Belcourt

We all have that one crazy aunt who wears patterned afghans as shawls, has a signature shade of burgundy lipstick, smells of essential oils, and comes to family dinners offering hand made pottery to eat off of. You aren’t too clear on how she is actually related to you, but you have a hunch she’s a huge movie star in rural Germany and you know she lives in a neon coloured mansion with 15 other poets. Now imagine this heavily artistic, whimsical, and mysterious creature when she was young and beautiful, with wild hair, emerald eyes, and orthopaedic shoes. This is Francesca Belcourt.

Ms. Belcourt is an insane ball of energy. Her passion and talent for all things musical is evident upon first introduction. But more than anything, her glaring originality is hard to miss. All of this comes through like a shining beacon on a foggy night in her new EP, Hush Hush. It is both sad and exuberant at the same time, possessing an excellent balance of self reflection, sexual tension, and poetic intricacy.

LotusLand sat down with Francesca on a grassy lawn to talk about her lovely tunes and general well being.

***

Lotusland: Hush Hush has very poetic tones and makes use of some pretty neat words. What are some of your favourite words?

Francesca Belcourt: There’s one that I really like: ‘ichor’

LL: What’s ichor mean?

FB: Ichor is blood.

LL: That’s very goth.

FB: There’s another word that I like. I like marvellous.

LL: What’s the perfect situation to listen to your new EP In?

FB: I kind of could imagine it being good to listen to it while you’re people watching, if you were wearing over ear headphones and you couldn’t hear anybody but you were people watching in a really crowded area. I think that could be kind of cool.

Live performance
Live performance

LL: Now that you’ve begun to incorporate a more electronic sound in your music, how’s that changing your live performances?

FB: I feel kind of bad, I haven’t completely figured out how I do it live. I don’t like it when I play over my beats and it feels kind of karaoke style. But, I’m going to use a kaoss pad to manipulate my vocals in songs where I’m not going to play an instrument. So I have a synthesizer which I play, and I sing, and that’s enough but I’d like to be able to manipulate the backing tracks as well at some point so that I’m actually doing something, not just singing and playing.

LL: What does your songwriting process look like?

FB: Usually like distraught poetry. I’ll usually write a poem and then make the music afterwards. Or sometimes I’m just really in the mood and I’ll get really pumped on making a beat and then I’ll write something to it. But usually I’ll use a poem and make the productions afterwards. Recently I’ve started working on a project where I’m remaking these ukelele songs that I wrote in high school which is pretty fun.

LL: Wow, that must be a lot of throw back angst.

FB: I actually wrote less about angst when I was in high school. It was more about things that didn’t exist, it was more imaginative because I hadn’t experience anything yet. It was more fantasy-esque, I’d make up short stories and shit.

LL: Oh, that’s very whimsical.

FB: Yeah. Super whimsical.

LL: Making music is a a lot of hard work. What are some of your favourite snack foods to munch on while you’re jammin’ out?

FB: I really like those Happy Planet smoothies. The green one.

LL: The best.

FB: I like those and I like Mini-Wheats too. Mini-Wheats is a big one. I used to like making food, but I don’t really give a shit anymore, now I just eat cereal for dinner.

LL: I ate popcorn for dinner last night, that was a low point.

FB: That’s a good one. I just eat smoothies and cereal and dark chocolate. It keeps me going all night long.

LL: With the rains upon us, what are some essentials for surviving the winter seasons?

FB: Oh, um, definitely a cat.* Don’t lose it! I lost my cat the other day and it’s found now, but cats are good. Lots of tea, lots of drawing paper, and an acoustic classical guitar. A shitty classical guitar is good.

*The author would like to add that Francesca’s cat is named ‘Paul Simon’ which really just speaks to the constant state of whimsy this young songwriter lives in. At night she falls asleep cuddling Paul Simon. Jealous.

LL: Now that you’ve sent your metaphorical music child off to kindergarten, what are you working on now?

FB: I just finished a project with my good friend Brittney Rand. We haven’t got a name for our band yet, but we have a six song EP that’s finished. We did stuff together in a totally different way than I usually do it. We got shit done first and now we have to work on our internet presence. We’re just going to work on becoming internet pop stars and then release that. I’m also going to be doing some collaborations with my producer pals from Chapel Sound.

LL: Any last thoughts?

FB: Hmm… I’m trying to think of things I want to say about my EP. I wonder how many people listen to the words, because you were commenting on the poetic aspect of it. It’s really sexual and I didn’t really notice until afterwards. It’s a very coming of age type deal, it’s a year of trying to be, becoming an adult. Which is really cool, I’m glad it encapsulates that process in one project.

LL: It’s interesting, isn’t it? Being an adult?

FB: Being an adult is strange, that whole transition is strange.

LL: I feel like when you’re an adult you have the permission to be more childish than when you’re a child. You don’t really have anything to prove.

FB: Yeah! Totally. I just, I’ll always wonder if people listen to the words. I bumped into someone today and he was like “Hey I listened to your thing, it was awesome, you’ve got a really distinct voice happening,” and I was like “Fuck yeah! I can’t believe you listened to it!” I was so shocked somebody actually listened to it, it made me really excited. It’s cool. I’m super happy. I was really sick of it before I released it, I was like “This is stupid, I hate this. I’m just going to put it out to prepare everyone for what’s coming next with my friend Brittney.”

***

As a child Francesca grew up on Cortez Island, where she and her friends played lots of sports, choreographed dance routines to Bon Jovi songs, and participated in a lot of technique heavy tree climbing. This environment inspired her to write fantasy short stories and assign melodies to them with her ukelele. Moving to Vancouver, she met new people, saw new places, and got a little older. This period of maturity and growth is reflected in Hush Hush. What really stands out is how she has managed to create a soundtrack to coming of age without losing the starry-eyed girl she began as.

Francesca folds up the patterned blanket we’ve been sitting on and wraps it around herself like a downright nomad. She mentions that she’s going to the corner store to buy some Annie’s pasta and kale for dinner. This meal sums up Francesca Belcourt as an artist: she is nostalgic and silly enough to eat mac ‘n’ cheese from the box as a regular weeknight meal, but she is mature and wise enough to always eat her vegetables.

Francesca’s EP is available for download here:

 

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