Hailing from Chicago is the talented singer/songwriter Jillian Francis. Writing since she was only eight years old, Jillian has been establishing her musical vision for a decade. Working on the business side of music during the day, Jillian uses her night off hours to build her musical prowess in the studio. Influenced by the thought-provoking substance and emotional pull of singer/songwriters of the late ’60s & ’70s, Jillian has honed her sound.
Jillian debut single “Won’t Be You” aims to inspire and captivate audiences all at once. Fusing a singer/songwriter purity with a Bon Iver level of delicacy and a Passenger-inspired poetic optimism, Jillian Francis quickly manages to melt the heart and calm the soul with this single. “Won’t Be You” creates a blissfully organic and softly rhythmic soundscape around its audience. It envelops the listener, then proceeds to whisper these beautiful introspective thoughts and reflections on life and love. Imagery and emotion fuse with compelling results, and with that Jillian’s voice proves equally captivating as it moves through the stunning melody and storyline. The rise to the hook changes the mood in the room and outlines Jillian as more of a passionate and powerful singer than the quieter introduction seems to imply. An absolute powerhouse debut for this young up and comer! We can’t wait to hear more.
Listen to “Won’t Be You” here and check out our exclusive interview with Jillian Francis below!
Welcome to BuzzMusic Jillian! We absolutely love your debut single “Won’t Be You”. What does this song represent for you? What inspired it?
Thank you – I love BuzzMusic so this is so awesome to talk with you!! It means so much to me that you enjoyed my first single. To me, “Won’t Be You” represents a few things. It represents a vulnerability that I had finally been able to reach after a long time of hiding behind this “strong” attitude. Seeing how people have responded to this song shows me that being vulnerable is actually one of the most brave things you can do. It’s opened a new door for me to explore in myself.
“Won’t Be You also represents something that I believe happens a lot while growing up and moving through life. It’s that shit is complicated and almost nothing is black and white. The track is coming to terms with the fact that someone may be perfect on paper and may truly love you, but you may not love them the same way. People tell me it’s the “nicest break up song” or, as my New York family likes to say, “the nicest f*** You” song out there haha. I think that’s because the lyrics and melody portray this “seriously it’s me, you’ve literally done nothing wrong… I’m just not the person you need me to be.”
The song was actually inspired by a conversation I had with my roommates a couple of years back. We were having a heart to heart about our baggage from previous relationships / life experiences that made us who we were today. One of them said something along the lines of “I’ve learned that I shouldn’t speak up about certain things because it isn’t polite and it will push people away.” A couple of weeks later, I had the privilege of showing what was then a love song to Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. He thought we should switch the meaning to be a breakup song which was brilliant. Who knew a couple of words could change the whole concept of the song?! This leads me to the 3rd thing that this song represents which is the importance of collaboration. I’m learning more and more how important it is to have people in your corner to help grow a song into the masterpiece it deserves. “Won’t Be You” wouldn’t be where it is now if it wasn’t for Kenny & my amazing producer Eric Scullin.
If you could perform at any venue or event in the world, which would you choose, and why?
There are so many amazing venues that I would love to play but I was able to narrow down to 2 venues:
The Hollywood Bowl – I absolutely LOVE the bowl. I’ve lived in LA for 5 years and the bowl is just a fun experience every time I go there. It’s a big venue but it has the ability to still feel intimate which is so important to me. I also love that you can bring in food and sometimes wine because it makes the venue feel relaxed and fun and there’s just connection between everyone in that venue. I saw a Florence and Machine concert there earlier this year and what she did was magical – there was no bad seat in the house! Everyone in that crowd was connected and that’s what I hope my shows will be like one day.
Saint Michael’s Cave Concert Hall in Gibraltar – This venue is literally in the limestone caves of Gibraltar… how much more magical can you get? I am a very big fan of crystals and stones and their healing qualities (I’m a meditation/ energy nerd). I also LOVE nature and being able to play in a cave would be so calming to me. I strive to have my shows feel intimate and safe for people. I feel like that venue would be the perfect place for a truly zen experience…. and SO COOL!
What’s your personal favorite lyric from “Won’t Be You”, and why?
I would have to say my personal favorite is the first line of the song, “I learned to love in pieces so my whole heart wouldn’t need to break.” For me, this is my first really vulnerable line I’d written. It’s not the easiest thing to admit that I’ve had my heart shattered and that I’ve carried that baggage into other relationships by not fully committing to them. You don’t get hurt as much if you don’t put your whole heart into it, right? Wrong… haha. It’s a line that catches people’s attention because it’s a relatable internal thought. It’s a line that connects people and starts an honest conversation.
What is it about music that draws such passion from you?
Music is powerful. It can connect you with people around the world, with different backgrounds, cultures, languages, literally everything. It has the power to bring you back to moments of feeling and open up the mind to new perspectives. Whether it be my own music or someone else’s, it can show me feelings I have shoved away to heal and has allowed me to connect with people I would never have thought I would relate to. I saw Bon Iver at The Hollywood Bowl and it was the first time I heard “Naeem” off his new album (if you haven’t heard it, then do yourself a favor). I found myself so deep in my feelings that I started tearing up, not because I was sad, but because I just was overwhelmed with emotion that needed to be released and for some reason that song did it for me. It still gets me every time I listen to it.
I had a woman come up to me the other day after my show who was probably my mom’s age. She looked me in the eye and said “I could find a moment of my own in every one of the songs you sang tonight” and just like that I was able to connect with someone who came from a very different life than me. At the end of the day, most of us go through the same life lessons in various degrees and music makes us remember we are not alone and it allows us to have conversations with ourselves and others.
What’s next for you!? We can’t wait to hear more!
I can’t wait to show you guys more! I’m working hard to get the songs done for my upcoming EP, Letters, and am looking to share another single with you in the Fall. In the meantime, I will hopefully be playing shows between Chicago, LA, and maybe somewhere in between!
Thank you for having me!
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