This Blackpool-born extraordinary singer-songwriter burst onto the scene in 2009. Karima Francis, hailing from the bright lights of Blackpool was named as The Observer’s ‘Number One Act To Watch’ following the release of her critically acclaimed debut album The Author.
And now she’s back with a new project: “Fires” and I had the privilege of catching up with her ahead of the opening gig @ the Lexington on Monday 9th February.
So Karima you are debuting @ The Lexington Next week, what can the people expect to see/hear that are coming to see you?
They will expect to hear a set of completely new songs, material from our record we made just before Christmas, no one has yet heard the songs in this current format, you will see myself playing all electric and not acoustic. Also we have some really nice merchandise, FIRES T-shirts, tote bags, posters, badges, everybody can take away too.
You also have a new band, how did you meet and what do they bring to your performance?
We met at local gig in Preston, I was introduced to Matt Gallagher (keyboard player) through a mutual friend, I saw Matt play and I knew I wanted to play with him. I had the idea of creating a band and I had a couple of new songs knocking about, so I asked him and he said yes! That night I also met my Bass player Norm Helm at the bar. Then Matt Keys recommended a Drummer from a current band he was playing in, Matt McNicholas (Daddy) his nickname in the band! We also had a pedal steel for the first year and a half of the band being together. A 19 year old called Brad Harper, He recently had a baby, so has had to put the project on hold for a while, we do miss him though.
What the band bring to the performance, well, they deliver the song exactly how I first hear the track in my head, if not better. Everyone in the band are incredible musicians and songwriters, they know from experience how not to over play a song. They bring in melodic embellishments that make it really tasteful. We play together in a very rare and beautiful way, The band give it more girth and make it highly rude at times, If you are a music lover, you would like the individuality of the players within this in the group, I’m extremely lucky to have them.
I noticed you made the switch from an acoustic to electric guitar, why was that and what influence if any has that had on your songwriting?
Yes that’s true, it has definitely had an influence on my writing, since the remedy I experienced some pretty heavy shit, so I went back to listening to my influences (Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Wilko, Neil Young, Junior Kimbrough, Buddy guy and early Ryan Adams), we all go to our comforts when feeling lost!
On electric you there’s so much more expression. It was time for me to move on from acoustic. I knew the sound I was going for as soon as I picked the electric up. I think the electric has really helped with writing and my performance.
Why should people come and see Fires?
If you are into watching bands, with great musician ship, I’m not good at plugging myself really, but they’re are some great supports, I think for a Monday night it should be a good night for the ears to be amused
I know you have been in the studio but nothing has been released as of yet, when can we expect a “Fires” EP?
I don’t think we are going to do the EP thing, I know its cool for new artists, but I just want people to hear the full body of work, I don’t want it to get diluted through EP’s, if you know what I mean?
I think a single will be released soon. We are just trying to find the right legs to stand on at the minute.
Those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
It’s feel music with catchy riffs, its sexy, dynamic, and lyrically driven, Its Honest.
It’s drawn comparisons so far to Jeff Buckley & Kings of Leon
What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?
John Martyn – Grace and Danger
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Van Morrison – Astral weeks
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
Nirvana – In Utero
What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?
I really am a big fan of The War on Drugs, Adam Granduciel, he’s an amazing songwriter, producer, I respect him an awful lot. I really like the Foals and Wild Beasts too.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
Personally, I think it was at the Southampton Joiners. It was just the most intimate gig I’ve had and I felt it on a higher level to any other show I’ve played.
What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?
It was a Secret Garden Party. I played an acoustic set in a tent next to the Drum and Bass Stage. I think the crowd thought I was silent act it was very funny.
If you haven’t heard Karima Francis‘s voice yet then there must be a serious gap in your life and if you don’t think there is a gap then wait until you hear Karima Francis.
Check her out next Monday 9th Feb @ The Lexington, London. Also don’t forget to follow “Fires” and keep up to date with releases and upcoming gigs.