Alice Francis knows exactly what she wants and knows exactly how to get it. Together with her music partners Goldielocks and Chul-Min Yoo, the queen of the new swing era has developed her own sound, which combines fascination with 1920s swing music and electro-jazz-pop-hip hop nuances.
Her debut album “St. James Ballroom”, which was released on the Universal Music Group label in 2012, was a huge success in the electro-swing music scene. The famous DJ and producer Parov Stelar made a remix of her first single “Shoot Him Down” and released it on his own label. The new album “Electric Shock” is due out in April 2017.
Is social media a big part of your music marketing strategy?
Social media is the key piece of our marketing strategy. On social media, we can reach our fans directly. They can participate actively and in real time when the band is rehearsing or touring and I think that can help build an intense bond between our fans and us. Through social media, fans can understand our work and we can see their reactions. Whenever they comment on a video or on a picture, they want to show us that they like it. We also receive wonderful private messages from our fans saying that our album was a source of solace in a difficult situation, and thas is just amazing! However, social media platforms are also used to make money – in other words, they are less social than their name suggests. So obstacles are often put in your way when using social media – for example, when a post is rejected because it includes a “wrong” term, lettering in an advert is too big, or your organic reach is lowered so you have to pay to boost your posts. This is annoying, but social media is in general an important and powerful marketing tool for us.
Where does the name “Alice Francis” come from?
The question makes me smile – there is confusion about the name. Alice Francis is actually my name. At the beginning, I was actually the most prominent member of the act, so I have been associated with the name ever since. We are a band though, composed by Goldielocks, who is also producer, and Chul-Min Yoo. We have always worked together, but now they are appearing more and more often in public together with me, so people are confused whether “Alice Francis” is a band name or just a name. That’s both – my name and the band’s name.
Your debut album “St. James Ballroom” as well as the original song “Shoot Him Down” were released on the Universal Music Group label, but you are now self-releasing your current productions. Why?
I believe that the music market is changing continuously. The stronghold of the CD industry in the 90s only exists in our memory now. When we got started in the music business, the market was exactly as it is now – few CD sales, a lot downloads and streaming. Artists do not need a giant machine to manage that. Downloads and streaming can be managed at the push of a button, and what major labels offer is not really necessary anymore. They have connections and a monopoly, but there is also a flourishing independent underground scene and being part of it means adventure but also freedom, as you are free in your decisions and flexible, everything is much quicker and personal. This is why we founded our own label TÄEM TÄEM Recordings.
Is it harder for a woman to work in a male-dominated industry?
I have not had this kind of experience. I work together with many women – our promoter, our top agent, our lawyer and our manager. The music industry is indeed a male-dominated industry, and the majority of record labels has male bosses, but I think this will change. I like to work with women, as I like to work with men. The symbiosis between men and women is the best. I would not say it is harder for me because I am woman – when I set my mind on doing something, nobody can stop me.
Electro swing music is currently in vogue. Why is this revival so interesting?
Electro swing is a movement in continuous development. Successful acts like Parov Stelar or Cravan Palace existed already before the electro swing hype. Electro swing is now played on the radio as well sometimes. I think people are just interested in good music, no matter if it is in vogue or not. As soon as a good song is released, people listen to it even though its genre is not hip. I believe it is like living in a forgotten era, wearing different clothes, visiting retro exhibitions, driving vintage cars. It is a lifestyle and a feeling. It is about distinguishing yourself and not letting go of a beautiful past. I can feel it – in the 20s and 30s, there was a lot more attention to detail, houses were more beautiful, cars more royal, and decorations more accurate. It is a shame to give up on beautiful things just because another style is currently in vogue.
You have worked with big-name artists such as Parov Stelar, one of the protagonists of the electro-swing music scene, and Milk & Sugar. How was it like to work with them? Have you already planned any other cooperation?
We met Parov Stelar in 2012 and we are very grateful to him for introducing us to the scene. It took him almost ten years to become popular. It took us less time thanks to his help – and we are grateful to him. He made a remix of Shoot Him Down, which was quite successful, and we were his supporting act and performed at a few of his gigs. We had a blast – he has a huge team composed by nice and funny people. We met Milk & Sugar in Munich, very nice people. They made a remix of the song, which was included in Parov Stelar’s EP and released on his Etage Noir label. This year, we will cooperate with Féfé (Sían Supercrew).
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