Last month a new partnership between legendary songwriter and producer Linda Perry and Repost released its first single, “Home,” by British singer/songwriter Frances Lion. The song is a bold folk anthem recorded during lockdown and inspired by Lion’s hometown of Hampshire, England. It was produced by her own brother in their parents’ house and features their parents on backing vocals. Yet, the strength of this literal homemade demo is what caught the attention of the former 4 Non Blondes vocalist. Since then, the two have been working on new music, and last year Lion even embarked on a miniature, pandemic-safe tour with her van, which she recorded for YouTube as Van Sessions. She recently took some time to chat with me about all of this and a plethora of other things that inspire her.
Izzy Cihak: You’ve recently been working with Linda Perry. How has that experience has been? What have you learned from her?
Frances Lion: Linda’s wonderful! I was absolutely petrified at first though. I used to always play “Whats Up?” at my pub gigs when I was 14, so it was super strange to then be working with her. She’s amazing to work with and can pump out songs. She’s taught me loads of things, mainly to stop over thinking everything I do, stay strong, and to trust my instinct. She always says to me, “Be a tree.”
Izzy: You’ve also been doing these “Van Sessions” for a while, which I really dig. How did that idea come about?
Frances: Van Sessions first came about just after the first lockdown. I was so tired of not being able to play any shows and honestly pretty bored at times. I love driving around in my van and checking out new beautiful places. My cousin, who works in film, was living around the corner, so we decided to park up in some local spots and create Van Sessions.
Izzy: In addition to these things that have been going on in the past year, what have been some of the highlights of your musical career so far? I understand that you’ve already done a ton of international travelling with your music.
Frances: I travelled a lot when I left school and played music anywhere I could. Travelling’s always been a huge love of mine, so it’s always a highlight being able to do it with music. Touring, meeting, and working with new people never gets old. I’ve been lucky to play some amazing venues such as Hammersmith Apollo. Playing that venue was magical; it’s such a beautiful venue and you can really feel the magic of all the legends that have stood on that stage.
Izzy: I noticed on your YouTube channel that your recent music has been billed as “Frances Lion,” as opposed to your older music, which has you billed simply as “LION.” Does this rebranding represent a new phase of your career, or a change of direction of sorts?
Frances: I like to think of it as a new phase. Nothing’s changed massively but I’ve definitely grown as a person and feel more authentically me than before, especially when it comes to song writing. Frances is my middle name, so it feels more personal, not to mention how much easier it is to find me on the internet (It used to be impossible… haha.)
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans or potential fans to know about you, whether your aim as an artist or your approach to music?
Frances: I guess an aim of mine is to always be myself and encourage other people to always be themselves, there’s so much fake shit online these days and it can be an absolute head fuck. I can be quite a closed book when it comes to my emotions so I put a lot of my sadness and frustration into my music, I guess you can learn a fair bit about me in them.
Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
Frances: So many things influence my music: travel, people, love, film. I’m forever influenced by different music. I grew up listening to some incredible artists, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles. I was also obsessed with Damien Rice, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, The Strokes… The list could go on and on.
Izzy: And, not to detract from your music, but before we go, I have to ask you about your style. In all the videos I’ve seen of you on the road you look like a glam rock vagabond, which I totally love. What is it that inspires your style? Do you have any style icons?
Frances: Thank you very much. Normally I just throw on a baggy T-shirt and some fishnets. I’m quite lazy when it comes to getting dressed and most of my clothes are falling apart with holes in them. Debbie Harry’s always been a bit of a style icon for me, she always looks so effortlessly cool.
Izzy: Finally, I understand that you have a lot planned for the rest of 2021. What can we expect from you throughout the rest of the year?
Frances: I have lots of new music coming, which I’m so excited to finally release and then hopefully, if the world decides to go back to normal, I can finally play some shows!!