Francis and the Lights: Farewell! Starlite

 

Many just met Francis Farewell Starlite of Francis and the Lights. To the many, he was just introduced to the mainstream music scene by hip hop’s youngest prophet, Chance the Rapper. Francis and the Lights wandered between the ears of Chance’s dedicated followers as the opening melodic, electronic mumblings to “Summer Friends,” the third track on Chance’s Coloring Book. Quickly, and then perhaps purposefully, Francis and the Lights became to Chance what Justin Vernon is to Kanye: a softer, electronic-heavy hype man production artist with a portfolio speckled by all genres of music.

Justin Vernon has offered hifranciss musical mastery across all named genres of the music industry. He went from “Skinny Love” to the Staves to Volcano Choir to the confusing, haunting madness in Kanye’s 2010 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Francis Farewell Starlite is more or less the same. From his underrated 2013 EP Like a Dream to his film score for Robot & Frank to the quiet genius of his production on Drake’s Thank Me Later  and Donnie Trumpet’s Surf, it’s clear that what he has is pure, unexaggerated talent that won’t be tarnished by the selfish lover that is fame.

Farewell! Starlite is now streaming for free on the Francis and the Lights website and Apple Music as well (if you too have sold your wallet and soul to the bigger man of poor music streaming sites). A generous, overeager fan such as myself will tell you to drop everything — ignore all else!! — until you hear Starlite’s long-awaited release. And a new, Chancellor the Rapper groupie would probably tell you the same.

It’s by far one of the most original albums of the year, and is most succinctly described as a detail-oriented, thought-provoking, somewhat haunting 40 minute playlist from inside Francis Starlite’s hidden, enigmatic person and mind.

The Internet activity surrounding Francis and the Lights isn’t heavy, but it still remains cult-like. Francis’s black-and-white, typically unexplainable music videos drew original, quiet fandom. That was 2013. This is 2016, when artists like Kanye West, Justin Vernon, and Chance the Rapper are drawn closer to Starlite’s magic. And in 2016, the music videos and music remain magical: minimal with the overwhelming ability to captive listeners with untouchable simplicity.

With detailed and disciplined choreography, production, style, and presentation, Francis Starlite has been basking in his quiet genius for over a decade now. He has been lurking in the corners of Spotify and Soundcloud, buried deep in the production notes of Drake’s or Birdy’s or Donnie Trumpet’s respective albums. But we learn then, through dear Francis, that with patience and humility comes power, grace, and an almost perfect understanding of one’s craft.

Calculated but not intentional, delicate but tough, the album stretches and expands to the hearts and ears of its listeners. Take a look and a listen: whether he is interested or not, Farewell! Starlite is about to propel itself to indie stardom.

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Feature of the Week: M I L K

Today we had the chance to sit down with L.A. based four-piece M I L K, with a space between each letter. The psychadelic-indie rock band gave us some insight on their beginnings, their inspirations, as well as their creative process.

 

Gigmor: Hey guys, thanks for talking with us at Gigmor today. Can you all tell us about yourselves as well as your musical backgrounds?

Eric Marx (vocals/guitar): I have always “made” music; when I was a little kid I remember “playing the rain” on the family piano… I was involved in different projects before M I L K, mostly indie rock and grunge, both in Europe and the U.S. I believe a guitar riff will always carry us to a better place. With this project, I wanted to bring together my love for grunge rock and 70’s psychedelia and so far, we are pretty excited with the results.

Maeve (vocals/keyboard): We write songs together with Eric but I take care of lyrics, keys, samples and everything that deals with production: I love mixing, tweaking sounds… Our gigs in Los Angeles or in Europe are a major part of the band’s life. We actually love to share our world and sounds with the public! Live performance is the core and soul of M I L K ‘s music. On stage, nothing separates you from the public anymore and it is really like …magic!

Dylan Strazar (drums): Before M I L K, I played in several rock projects, mostly in Connecticut where I’m from. I’ve met Eric and Maeva who were looking for a drummer for the band. The band is now based in Paris. I really dig the music and the overall energy. To me M I L K really is the meeting of heavy grunge and psychedelic rock in the likes of The Doors, Pink Floyd or Hendricks.

Allanis Nixer (bass): I come from a family of Brazilian musicians. With Dylan, we really are the rhythmic backbone of the band. Everything that shakes or grooves, that’s us! It is funny how when people see me, because I’m a Brazilian girl, they immediately think “salsa” or a similar style when I am totally into rock!

G: Well thanks, sounds like you each had unique musical upbringings. So about the name, tell us about the spacing. Is there a story behind that?

E: Actually the spacing is more like a visual approach to the word “milk.” When you read “milk” the basic concept that comes to your mind is of a white beverage, a food. Spacing the letters lift the world of from this concept making it more like a name, a signature, an identity for the band while keeping the overall idea of something liquid and smooth …I think.

G: What is your songwriting process like? Have you hit any speed bumps along the way?

E: We have two ways of writing songs. Maeva and I come up with the main melody and lyrics, sometimes with drums and bass sometimes just guitar and vocals. And then we put the song together with the whole band. Or we also excerpt a few minutes from a jam played with the band. This way is the easiest because songs and ideas just pop up spontaneously. Everything is done while jamming vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Maeve adapts the lyrics afterwards. Our song “Give Me Some” is one of these little “miracles”. It comes from a jam in Los Angeles with the band. Music works in mysterious ways.

G: Do you prefer playing originals or covers?

E: We play originals. Writing songs is really creating art and it is great for the brains. Mixing our idea of grunge and psychedelic rock into new numbers is what M I L K is really about. And hopefully these tracks will become ageless songs. That’s our goal. The only song we cover right now is “Dancing Barefoot” from Patti Smith. We are true fans, she’s great! We just gave her song a heavy Doors flavor and we love it!

G: Any new releases coming up?

E: We are in the process of finishing recording and mixing new songs right now. Hopefully they will be ready for downloading and streaming pretty soon. The great thing about the ‘net is that you don’t need to have the full album ready all at once. I like the flexibility of showcasing songs when they are ready one or two at a time if necessary. It keeps the interest up and it is more in tune with nowadays creative process: as a continuous flow versus everything at the same time.

G: Ok last question, how did you find out about Gigmor? Is there anything specifically you like about it?

E: I think you guys contacted us through an email. In fact we love Gigmor because of its musician friendly approach. It is not one of those sites that treat artists like numbers. We can feel like the whole team is standing strong and pushing for music to reach its audience whether it is live or not. Reaching out is a real challenge today given the huge number of bands around. We always need a little help from our friends!

G: Well thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with us! Check out            M I L K’s song “Give Me Some” below and make sure to follow them on Gigmor.

Written by Gigmor guest blogger: Ari Kapner

most successful independent artists

No Deal, No Problem: The Most Successful Independent Artists

Plenty of musicians on Gigmor have “become a rock star” set as their goals . As everyone knows, this doesn’t happen overnight. Most successful independent artists spend years playing live shows, advertising, recording and a lot more. In the past few years, we’ve seen a wave of indie artists who made it by themselves, without the help of a record label or a deal. It’s 2016 and there really are no rules on how to increase exposure of an artist’s material and brand. Whether it’s through simple street promotion or giving away your music, the road to stardom is no longer a straight, predetermined path. Let’s take a look at the most successful independent artists that did it on their own.

1.Chance The Rapper

Chancellor Bennet, better known to the rap world as Chance The Rapper, has had one of the most unique paths to success there is. During his senior year of high school, Chance got suspended for 10 school days and ended up recording his debut mixtape, sensibly titled “10Day”. In 2013, his second mixtape “Acid Rap” brought him loads of publicity followed by a nation wide tour and recognition as Complex Magazine’s favorite album of 2013. The only profit Chance has ever generated is from live shows and his debut album “Coloring Book”, released in May continues his freebie streak. The album is available on every major streaming service as well as Soundcloud. Now a co-sign of major artists like Kanye West, James Blake, and Frank Ocean, Bennet is taking the rap world on by storm. Through unique distribution methods and a reputation for a wild performance accompanied by magical dance moves, Chance is only going to get bigger and bigger.

2. GROUPLOVE

Formed in 2009, the band met at an artist commune in the Greek island of Crete. Their self-titled debut EP was released independently and recorded in their drummer, Ryan Rabin’s, home studio. From there they scored a spot on Florence + The Machine’s summer tour where they got all the exposure they could dream of. Their debut album was also released independently and now they are one of the biggest names in indie-rock. That summer GROUPLOVE was invited to play at festivals across the world including Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, and Outsidelands. Find that studio space people, it could be a game changer!

3.Thundercat

One of the most talented bassists in the entire music industry, Stephen Bruner has come a long, long way. Under the moniker Thundercat, the bassist/producer/vocalist has worked alongside some of the most unique minds in the business ranging from George Clinton to Kendrick Lamar to Michael McDonald. Thundercat has released three albums all through frequent collaborator Flying Lotus’ independent label Brainfeeder. Bruner started slapping bass at the age of 15 and has been free to release his music and work with whom ever he pleases ever since. Again no label, no restrictions.

Written by Gigmor guest blogger: Ari Kapner