A Chat With: Langston Francis
"The vibrancy of the Kensington Market neighbourhood is the creative backdrop behind new Toronto artist, Langston Francis - pulling inspiration from all of the multifaceted music and cultures this community has to offer." The young singer-songwriter recently played to his first Québec crowd at Santa Teresa Festival is past month. We caught up with Langston to know more about his start in music, his experience as a performer so far, what he has planned for the rest of year and much more!
How are you doing today?
I’m good! It was a late night, it was my first time in Quebec for music stuff and its pretty cool. Being in a new city I’ve never been to and seeing people sing back lyrics to the songs is crazy, it's so fun though, great crowd!
Did you expect that many people to show up?
No, not at all! I mean, I assumed there would be people because it's a festival but I didn’t think there would actually be fans there that were into the music and stuff, so its super exciting. I definitely want to come back to Quebec more. Its cool being out here because its not Montreal, like Montreal is the most english place in Quebec so, this is what makes it sick, we’re hitting a different market than I normally wouldn’t get to be in. Also, there’s so many young people here which is cool too ‘cause I often get into shows where its 19+ and I want to still be able to engage with young fans, so its nice when they’re closer to my age.
What’s the best show you’ve played so far?
I have to say, the one last night was definitely in the top 2. I played another show that I headlined in Toronto last week which was the biggest show I had ever done. I felt that here though, the crowd was super opened and anything that I hit them with they were receiving it positively, which was really interesting. Some times you get with crowds and they don’t really engage as much.
Do you have memorable fan encounters?
Honestly, I’m pretty new to this stuff but I’ve had people do stuff like bake me cookies which is kind of funny. Its cool when you’re out somewhere random and you wouldn’t expect anyone to see you and then someone says ‘hi’ and get really excited, its nice
What made you want to create music?
I started playing guitar and stuff when I was 5 years old and I started writing songs around 8 or 9 and it just became my passion when I was younger. I never played sports or anything like that, I was always just playing guitar or piano and singing and writing songs. It sort of just made sense to me, like I was going to become a recording artist when I grew up. That’s what I wanted to do and I didn’t see it going any other way and I didn’t allow anyone saying ‘no’ or anything to stop me and now we’re here. So, hopefully it keeps going up!
Did any artists inspire you growing up?
Yeah, definitely Ed Sheeran was a huge inspiration to me when I was younger. Especially in the very beginning because he plays guitar and sings and does a lot of the acoustic stuff and that was initially my sound. His whole strip down style was a huge inspiration for me. So yeah, Ed Sheeran is a big one
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
Yeah! I actually still play it live sometimes. Its called Someday, I wrote it in seventh grade and its a middle school love song, its cool looking back at it cause its not a bad song for a twelve year old, its fun ahah.
How did you realize that you could write lyrics?
I feel that its like any other talent or skill, you never wake up someday being able to do something. You’re gonna try it and you’re not gonna like it and be critical of yourself and struggle and whatever, but once you get a flow going and figure out your own formula, you’re own way of putting experiences into songs, then it comes a lot easier I guess. Even now I have times where I struggle to write music and get creative blocks, its a never ending process, you can always learn and get better.
You recently released Fall From Grace, tell me a bit about that song
That song I actually recorded when I was about fourteen, and I’m sixteen now so it took a while for it to come out. Its kind of interesting how the song can grow with me and it did grow with me. Its also interesting how a lot of older people are listening to it because a lot of the times when its a youthful pop song people tend to not take it seriously or think its not authentic but I think with that song, at the end of the day its a love song and it resonates with people of all ages which is cool.
Do you get tired of your own songs?
Definitely, especially the songs I just put out or that I’ve had for a while because we spent a lot of time getting everything ready. But some of the new stuff I have that I’ve been recording and performing I’m more excited to share since its new and fresh for me. I’m pretty new to performing so I don’t think I’m at a point where I’m bored of anything but its always on to the next, its part of being an artist, you’re never satisfied with anything right?
For the Fall From Grace and FCKED IT UP videos, they have the vintage and film look, how did you get into that concept?
I go to an art school in Toronto and a lot of the aesthetic and style that people like to have fun with at is film and that definitely includes me. The fact that the things that are more vintage and raw are coming back in style influences me and its something that I latched onto and then we ended up implementing it in a lot of the videos.
What’s been some of the most surreal moments so far?
Umm, I think when I get videos from someone in India playing my song, stuff like that is pretty surreal. For so long my music has been just me and my close friends and that’s where it lived. But now there’s so many people listening to it and I have no idea how they found it. Or even just playing a show and having people sing back the songs, it only happened the past couple of shows but I just start smiling while I’m performing 'cause its such a good feeling. Its nice to know that you’re making a mark on people like that, when you get messages from people saying you’ve inspired them to make music or sing, that’s amazing.
Who’s someone you’d want to collaborate with?
I always said that I want to work with Kanye, so definitely him. In terms of dream collaborations The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran, people like that. I also feel like right now I want to focus on doing things solo and not work with other people because I think that in the beginning, if you come out with a song that has a big feature on it, people might base the success of the song based on that feature. I kind of want to prove myself as an artist, that I can be successful and make good music by myself and when the time comes and a collaboration organically happens then it’ll happen.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I have another single coming out on June 8, its called about These Nights, super excited about that! I have another single coming out in July and I’m just finishing up and working towards my first project which will probably be an EP or something. I’m playing another festival in Quebec, FEQ, and I’m really excited about that. And just trying to work on my live performance and recording music, I’m also still finishing high school and trying to enjoy the summer!
How do you manage both?
Honestly its really hard! I’d like to say that I just do it and that I’m amazing with time management but its really difficult because obviously you want to be active on social media, be putting out music, always writing and recording and going to school but you also want to socialize and be a normal person and have fun. You kind of just have to prioritize and sometimes you lose a lot of sleep ahah its tough, it takes a lot of discipline.
Its kind of crazy how you have a show and then you need to go back to school
Yeah exactly, like tomorrow we’re driving back and the next day I have school. Its always funny when I go away for a weekend for a festival or something like that 'cause for the whole weekend my life is very different but then I always end up going back to school and I guess it keeps you grounded, it keeps your head humble.
Listen to Langston Francis HERE!