Hello and welcome back to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.
Flying the flag for Luxembourg’s burgeoning scene, Francis of Delirium has already got three EPs under her belt and is a regular on the European live circuit, having toured with the likes of Soccer Mommy and Horsegirl. Now, she’s got her own headline run in the works, ready to mark the release of her forthcoming debut album, ‘Lighthouse’, on 22nd March. From the irresistible guitar hook of ‘Blue Tuesday’ to the woozy, Weyes Blood-like intro of ‘Ballet Dancers (Never Love Again)’, the LP is equal parts delicate and powerful, embracing lush soundscapes and lyrical candor to convey a sense of its namesake’s hopeful light. Ahead of its release, we catch up with Francis of Delirium’s Jana Bahrich to talk local scenes, artistic inspirations, and lino-block printing.
You grew up in Luxembourg - what's the music scene there like?
The music scene is very young and new; I wasn’t around at the time that our alternative scene was starting out, but I’ve been told that 20 years ago bands couldn’t actually play in Luxembourg because there were no venues for them, so everyone would have to drive across the border to Belgium and play in Arlon.
Now that’s changed - it’s growing and developing pretty quickly and there’s a couple of great venues, but it’s still a very small scene... it’s also just a small country. You see the same people all the time and you can probably count on one or two hands how many artists there are who tour, but it makes for a pretty cozy atmosphere - everyone is really supportive of each other.
Who were some artists that inspired you when you were just starting out, and why?
Probably my all time favourite artist is Sufjan Stevens. I was an orchestra band kid - I grew up playing french horn and had rented a banjo from our local music store because I wanted to learn ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’. So when I first started listening to Sufjan and heard 'Illinois' and 'Michigan', I thought 'wow, this is everything I want in music'. There’s banjos and oboes and this beautiful voice singing very affecting lyrics; it made me want to start trying to recreate this super lush instrumentation.
I was also pretty obsessed with Pearl Jam. I would just watch their live videos over and over - I’ve seen that PinkPop performance where Eddie Vedder is climbing on the stage and jumping into the crowd so many times. As a 14 year old, it was maybe the coolest thing I’d ever seen. His vocals are also just great, and the energy they were all putting out onto the stage is pretty inspiring.
Your upcoming debut album 'Lighthouse' arrives next month, and it's thematically and sonically more vulnerable than your previous EPs. Can you tell us a bit more about this slight change in direction?
The last EP we released was ‘The Funhouse’, which is this very dark collection of songs about chaos and fear and isolation - a reflection of the headspace I was in at the time. After those songs were written it felt like my world started to open up: we went on tour in the US and were meeting so many people - it felt like we were part of a real community over there which was really exciting - and then when I came back home I fell in love.
So really, the songs just started naturally going that way. I was also writing a lot more on acoustic guitar, which I felt opened up the album's sound. I wanted the vulnerability in the writing to be echoed sonically too, so [we] got more room in the drums and fleshed out the sound with richer instrumentation like pianos and cellos.
You've recently opened for the likes of The 1975 and Kings Of Leon - how do you prepare for gigs like these? Do you have any particular pre-show rituals?
Not particularly - I feel like when you’re doing a one off show like those were and you’re playing on someone else's stage, something is always bound to go wrong, so you’re mainly just holding on and enjoying the ride and then having a great time afterwards watching the headliner. I guess my pre-show ritual for The 1975 show was wearing my Charli XCX t-shirt because I was hoping she would be there…. she wasn’t, but George from The 1975 was excited to see the shirt.
Each of the singles from 'Lighthouse' have had their own illustrated cover designs - what's the story behind the artwork?
The artwork is made from lino-block prints, so I carve into a rubber mat and then put ink on and transfer the design to paper. I remember I was having a lot of trouble coming up with the artwork for the first single, ‘Real Love’. I made so many different variations, and as I kept making new iterations I started to think it would be interesting to follow two characters throughout the whole album - sort of like the ‘stations of the cross’ in church. In the end it wasn’t really like that at all, but I wanted the love story in the album art to pan out and be this sweet thing where these two people end up together.
Musically or otherwise, what are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m really looking forward to spring and summer; sometimes I get a little whiff of what grass smells like and I just think about how wonderful it’ll be for the weather to be great, when I can take my little inflatable raft out to the lake to sit there and read. I’m also very excited to be playing at Boston Calling - we made so many great friends playing in the US and I’m looking forward to seeing some of those people and getting to play over there again!
Finally, DIY are coming round for dinner - what are you cooking?
For DIY? I’ll take a risk. I’ve been seeing people online making birria tacos and it looks like an insane amount of work, but I really want to eat it. So if DIY is coming around for dinner, that’s an excuse to take the 10 hours and let that meat stew until it is pull-apart tender.
'Lighthouse' is out on 22nd March via Dalliance Recordings; catch Francis of Delirium live on the following dates.
10 Bruge, Belgium, Cactus Club
11 Paris, POPUP!
14 Donostia-san Sebastián, Dabadaba
19 Bern, Gaskessel Bern
21 Vienna, Fluc
22 Prague, Cross Club
23 Berlin, Kantine am Berghain
24 Hamburg, Häkken
25 Rotterdam, Rotown
06 Brighton, The Hope & Ruin
07 Manchester, Gulliver's
08 Dublin, The Workman's Club
10 Glasgow, Audio
11 Edinburgh, Summerhall
12 Leeds, Headrow House
14 London, Oslo
15 Bristol, The Louisiana
16 Southampton, Heartbreakers