BU Sessions: Allison Francis
Help from clouds, trees, dreams, magic, and coincidences
Visiting the Myspace and YouTube pages of folk singer-songwriter Allison Francis (COM’11) is like flipping through an old sketchbook. Raw and imperfect, some recordings are done via webcam. Others sound like they were recorded on a whim using a laptop microphone. No formal releases of Francis’ music are available yet, but she’s okay with that for now.
“I don’t love recording like I love writing and playing music, so everything that I do in terms of recording is pretty low-fi, DIY stuff on my Macbook,” she says. “From my perspective, my music isn’t supposed to be polished. It’s just supposed to be real, and I want any potential recordings to sound as much as I sound live as possible.”
Just don’t mistake Francis’ laid-back nature for a proclivity for writing subdued, earthy tunes. Charged by the hard strums of an acoustic guitar and the slight rasp in her heartfelt vocals, Francis’ songs demand attention.
“I used to write songs just for my own comfort and to express myself,” she says. “But at this point in my life and role as a songwriter, I feel like I have a few urgent matters to address with the world, and the best way that I can do that is to sing to as many people as possible.”
In addition to Neutral Milk Hotel, the Mountain Goats, and the Beatles, the songwriter finds influences in “clouds, trees, dreams, magic, and coincidences.” Francis started playing guitar eight years ago, at first writing what she describes as “silly faux-punk songs derived from eighth-grade angst and emotions.”
“By junior year of high school, I was writing songs with a little more depth, more based on experience,” she says. “When I got to Boston for school in 2007, I started writing more consistently and have hopefully been improving since. To be honest, the stuff I’m proudest of, I’ve written in the past year or so.”
At BU, Francis has grown as a musician. In 2008, she joined the Base Trip Records roster. She has played shows in Montreal, Boston, New York, southern California, and her hometown of Portland, Oreg.
Planning to move to Montreal after graduation and “probably bum around and play music,” Francis is banking on neither her public relations major nor music for a day job. “The main goal is to not waste time doing anything I don’t believe in,” she says.
“I will never plan on professional success with my music,” she says. “ But I know that I will always be playing it.”
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