Karima Francis is a critically acclaimed musician and songwriter hailing from the illuminated seaside resort of Blackpool. Known for her ability to blend haunting melodies with honest lyrics and an alluring ambiance, Francis creates entirely captivating music, oozing with emotion and rooted in sentiment.
Taking her first steps into the music industry at only 13 years old, Francis relentlessly taught herself drums and before long progressed to the guitar and songwriting at age 18. Soon after she unveiled the debut release of The Author, which lauded praise from prestigious publications, propelling her into the limelight. Her consequent album's The Remedy and Black further acknowledged the musician's profound talent, each time showcasing a denser amalgamation of sounds and textures.
Seeking new inspiration and an escape from London life, Francis recognised her overwhelming sense to explore something new in Los Angeles. Selling some of her most beloved guitars and purchasing a ticket to the West Coast, she was finally able to soak up the laid-back Californian lifestyle and her music found a fresh perspective. Francis reveals, "I was very influenced by the West coast indie folk singer songwriter revival that's happening out in LA right now, when I heard the Phoebe Bridgers record I was blown away by the production and musicality from the players and wanted to find them for my music so I sold up and went out to start making new music relations in LA".
Her time spent there resulted in the highly anticipated single 'Shelf Life'. The stunning track narrates Los Angeles' deepening homelessness crisis. On the surface the City of Angels is a place of celebrities and million dollar mansions, but scratch a bit deeper and you will find the devastating truth which is encompassing so many people's lives. Karima felt beyond compelled to write about the epidemic and shine light on the reality of the situation, sharing "The music was inspired by the homelessness crisis out in LA. I was just devastated by what I was seeing and the contrast between the rich and poor out there was uncomfortable to see".
'Shelf Life' emits a melancholy warmth through contemplative lyricism and organic instrumentation. Soulful velvet vocals envelop the celestial melodies, delivering an intimate and authentic release. Recorded with artist and producer Tim Carr (Fell Runner), Carr brings the West Coast sonic laziness and beauty that Francis had been searching for. 'Shelf Life' takes a step away from Francis' typical autobiographical songwriting, admitting, "I wanted to try and explore new ideas and context when it comes to writing. I think tone helps with writing also, if you have a beautiful guitar sound that makes you feel a certain way, this can open up new realms in your creativity and expression".
The visuals for 'Shelf Life' feature a day in the life of a homeless man. After Francis and video director Joseph Calhoun explained the concept of the video to the man, he instantly wanted to be a part of it and help raise awareness. The outcome is a personal, poignant and truly captivating insight into the homeless crisis.
Inspired by the organic sound of analogue audio, Francis was drawn to recording to tape and capturing the essence of the performance through both creatively adept musicians and the finest quality equipment. Her musical influences blend the best of modern day greats such as Sharon Van Etten, The National and Big Thief with old time producers including Berry Gordy (Marvin Gaye) and William Mitchel (Al Green), to create a sound leaning towards indie rock, folk and alternative route. Francis recently studied music production specifically to learn how to use analogue mixing desks with the intention to be more creative in the studio and produce her own music.
Karima Francis' journey has found her playing on Later… With Jools Holland, supporting the likes of Paul Simon, Amy Winehouse and The Stereophonics, as well as working with renowned producer Flood (Nine Inch Nails, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode). 'Shelf Life' is currently available worldwide.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Karima Francis: Emotional, indie rock and raw.
Question: Can you tell us about Shelf Life?
Karima Francis: Shelf Life is a song I wrote in LA one morning on the way to a studio. I was looking onto the growing homelessness epidemic LA and feeling extremely uncomfortable to see the amount of people who are helpless on the streets in a place of luxury, I guess it just messed with my head I just felt a natural pull to write about it.
Question: What message do you hope to spread with Shelf Life?
Karima Francis: I just want to remind people that in America there is not so much help, well not compared to the UK and these people are so desperate, I just wish for more people to want to help towards putting an end to the homelessness crisis.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Karima Francis: Most the time first hand experiences, something has to affect me deeply for me too start writing about it.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Karima Francis: I enjoy both, but more so now the recording side of things since I've been studying music production and I'm really loving using analogue gear and working in the studio.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Karima Francis: I think like most artists it's probably the most enjoyable to play your newest song, It's sometimes difficult to re - live the old songs because of the period of time in your life, it can sometimes remind you of hard and traumatic experiences which is painful sometimes. My new song Chains I am really enjoying playing.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Karima Francis: I would like my Dad to attend a show, I don't know him but I think he might want to know me if he sees my show.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Karima Francis: Lots of post punk music actually. Big Thief, Italia 90, Squid, The Murder Capital, Black Country New Road and Joel Levi.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Karima Francis: My drum teacher in School, he told me I was good at music so that was it really, I just rolled with it then I got into The Beatles.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Karima Francis: In the current music industry, I would love to collaborate with someone like, Johnathan Wilson or Adam Granducial and Matt Berninger (The National).
Question: What's a typical day like?
Karima Francis: Wake up TM Meditation, school on somedays, music on others, a good vegan diet, lots of decaf coffee, play time with my cat, spend time with my girl followed by a cheeky binge series, or film or preferably a gig!
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Karima Francis: I think maybe my favourite part is that people take the time to listen to my music, not many people break out of the town I'm from which makes me feel really special that my music has effected people enough for me to go travelling with my music.
Interview by Brooke Hunter