“I’m a little upside down at the moment, as I’m living with a friend while I look for my own place. I’ve never had a rehearsal space but I would love that. Somewhere to put all my instruments and record. For now I make do at home. I’ve always written songs very simply on guitar and recently on the harmonium. It means I can do it anywhere. Which is great.
Right now, all my instruments are scattered around the house. My beautiful autoharp is hidden away under my bed. Which is a shame. Everything that I use to play live, the bells, keyboard and thumb piano are crammed into a suitcase. I’ve dragged that suitcase around so much it finally lost a wheel.
I really just need quiet to play. The wee hours are good of course. That unsocial time. It has a mood that lends itself to writing music I think. You drift away. I’m flat out busy with work, rehearsing and trying to keep up with music related things. Like this! I am writing new songs so whenever I get home it’s the first thing I do. Pick up the guitar or play the harmonium. Even when I’m going to bed. Knowing I’ll have little sleep. I can’t stop myself. I think ‘I’ll just play that once through’ but then I’m done and I immediately want to play it again.
I’ve always written songs alone. Because of that I get really embarrassed playing a song to someone for the first time. It is baring your soul a little. Putting yourself out there. I have that fear of people laughing. But ya gotta do it. My friend has a great saying. Her Dad would say this to her when she was teased at school. ‘It’s none of your business what other people think of you’. I love that.
I write songs by falling into the music. I never have a plan for a song. I suppose it becomes apparent after a while what it is that I’m writing about. It’s about feeling something. Music makes me feel something and the words are my feelings. It’s pretty simple.
I don’t have a recording setup at the moment. I have Pro Tools but I learned how to use Nuendo in the studio and now I know all those shortcuts. They don’t translate. I talked to Jimmy [Eadie], who I recorded my album with, about starting a new album. He’s going to help me set up something at home so I can do the ground work myself. Then bring it to the studio. That’s the plan anyways.
I like that I don’t have to rely on a space to write music. Though it would be nice to have somewhere. If I can write a song simply, that I’m happy with. Then there’s room for it to grow.”
Valerie Francis’ debut solo album Slow Dynamo picked up rave reviews when it was released last year. It was named Irish Album of the Year in the Irish Independent and her video for ‘Punches’ was championed on KanYe West’s blog and won IMTV’s Video of the Year. She is nominated for Best Irish Female in tonight’s Meteor Awards and Slow Dynamo is nominated for the 29 Choice Music Prize. She plays Whelan’s on Saturday 27th February. Doors are 7.30pm and tickets are €15 (including booking fee) from Ticketmaster, Tickets.ie and WaV Box Office [lo-call 1890 200 078]. She also plays Scoop Foundation charity gig at The Academy on March 19th alongside Le Galaxie, Adrian Crowley, Ann Scott, The Ambience Affair, The Gandhis, Scribble Orchestra and Jobot with more acts to be announced. For more information visit www.myspace.com/valeriefrancis.