When Izzy Frances sings, it’s like she’s repainting the world in bright colors. She is recognized as an exciting up and coming songwriter to look out for. She has been featured in BBC Introducing, Impose Magazine and an impressive number of playlists on Spotify, which has given her over 39,000 streams. The release of her first three singles ‘You Lost The War’, ‘Safety’, and ‘Who We Are’ over the past two years has shown the raw emotions and songwriting prowess she carries, thereby attracting support from the media .
Izzy has been singing for as long as she can remember, she followed her passion for music by teaching herself piano from a young age. She later discovered songwriting when she wrote her first piece at 17 years old. She found that there was a therapeutic element to writing music and she could communicate about her life experiences through her songs. Her music explores themes of love, abuse and self-acceptance.
Hi Izzy, can you tell us more about yourself? Your background, family etc.
Hello! Of course – so I am a 27-year-old songwriter and singer from near London. Growing up my family moved around a lot and we would listen to a huge number of CDs and audio books as we traveled, which definitely contributed to my love of music and I get a huge sense of adventure out of it. I’ve loved singing since I can remember, although up until the age of 10 it was my dream to own a Big Cat Rescue Park…. But as a teenager my focus shifted, and I started doing a lot more music (and science). I played loads of instruments at school and then around the age of 17 I started writing songs, but at that point I never told anyone or played them for anyone. I then went to study Neuroscience at university and it wasn’t actually until I was living in London for my master’s degree that I started playing live and realized that music didn’t have to be my secret dream, but was actually something I could pursue. It’s amazing to think that 4 years ago it hadn’t even occurred to me to share my songs or seriously pursue music (as it seemed so frightening as a concept) whereas now I can’t imagine my life without this part.
How did you discover your talent and how were you certain that you wanted to pursue a musical career?
The first full song I wrote was actually after a traumatic event in my life and I had something that needed to pour out of me. I think this is part of the beauty of songwriting; the silver lining that comes from creating something beautiful or meaningful from a place of pain (not that songs can’t be written from happy or positive places too). At this point I had been singing for a long time, but this was my turning point towards songwriting, which is now what I love most. I think songwriting is just one of the most timeless, connective, and beautiful experiences you can have, and the immense joy and excitement I feel when I write (or co-write) a song I love is what makes me completely certain that I must pursue it. That’s not to say that a talent just emerged one day though. I’ve written a huge number of songs, some of which are quite frankly terrible, but with each you learn something new about writing, about yourself, and about what you want to say and how you want to say it, so I think that, while at times great songs and ideas do just appear out of thin air, a lot of it is about time, dedication and openness.
What has the journey been like so far?
It’s been exciting, terrifying (I was interviewed on the radio by BBC Introducing which was incredible (and they were lovely) but it was hands down one of the most frightening experiences of my life), joyful, tiring… but more than anything just amazing fun and a real adventure. I’m very lucky to have a really supportive family and also to have worked with a lot of wonderful people a lot, which has made a huge difference. Ultimately though it’s hard to get your music heard and to get it out there, so I think for anyone it can feel a bit relentless or demoralizing at times. But that’s where loving what you do makes the world of difference, as instead of just focusing on the end goal you can then enjoy the entire journey no matter where you are or where you end up.
You recently wrote a song, “Beautiful World” for Big Cat Diary, can you tell us about that? How did you feel when you were approached and how did it happen?
As I mentioned growing up it was my dream to own a big cat sanctuary and I was also obsessed with Big Cat Diary on the BBC. A couple of years ago my parents met Jonathan and Angela Scott (who both worked on Big Cat Diary as a presenter and spotter respectively) and as soon as I found out I did not rest until I’d met them too. Jonathan and Angie are truly inspiring people – they have lived an extraordinary life creating wildlife documentaries and capturing beautiful photographs, especially around the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, and through this they have managed to convey just how sacred nature is, as well as the destruction and damage being caused. When Angie and Jonathan started setting up the Sacred Nature Initiative, which seeks to reconnect people with our planet and to inspire, educate and conserve, the discussion was around using multimedia avenues as a spotlight, and together we came up with the idea of having a song to go alongside the documentaries and photographs. I then wrote Beautiful World with the wonderful Helen Boulding and Jonas Persson, whom I often co-write with, and the whole process just felt seamless and really uplifting.
What do you think your music communicates?
Music is a universal language like no other and can influence how we feel a huge amount. Because of this I really want to write songs that are either positive, empowering or supportive in order to try to bring something positive to the listener. That being said though I also write to vent or just for fun and I’ve written songs on a huge range of topics, inspired by books I’ve read, things that have happened in my life, or things that I’ve just imagined or daydreamed about. Of my songs released to date though the themes include inner strength after sexual assault, being brave by being vulnerable, being true to who you are and with Beautiful World, connecting with and helping to heal the natural world. For the most part I’ve written about the relationships we have with ourselves or with others, so writing Beautiful World was a welcome and refreshing change of pace.
We see you’ve gotten quite a number of recognition from BBC Introducing, Impose Magazine and close to 40,000 streams on Spotify. This is massive! How does it feel knowing people see you and listen to your songs?
It feels so wonderful and exciting! It’s my dream to be able to share my songs and pursue music and songwriting as a career so I feel really grateful to every person who listens or supports as they are helping me to continue on this journey. So just a huge thank you!
What does music/songwriting mean to you?
Honestly, I don’t know how to put it into words… maybe I should write a song haha! Listening to music can reduce me to tears or make me dance for joy, as can songwriting. I spend a huge amount of time (probably too much) listening to music and songwriting / singing and it is such a beautiful way of connecting with people, of healing, of learning and growing… It can inspire and motivate us, bring back cherished memories, ground and calm us… There’s not much it can’t do in my book.
If you weren’t a singer, what do you see yourself doing ?
Well during the day I actually work in research and I am starting my PhD at the University of Cambridge in October and will be working on a project examining infant neurodevelopment. So I’d probably be doing that (or I’d setup a Big Cat Rescue park).
Do you have bigger dreams? If you do, what are they?
I hope I can always keep writing and recording songs and to be able to keep sharing them with people and to connect with a wider audience. I’d also really love to one day write for and with Halsey or BTS as the topics they write about really resonate with and inspire me and I have huge respect for them as artists (along with many many other artists).
What is your creative process like?
It really varies. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head and I make a voice note of them and then sit down at my piano and work them out later (or in that moment if I’m able to). In those instances, the song often writes itself in about half an hour and flows quite readily, and I think this happens more when I’m feeling quite strongly about something. Other times I may not be feeling particularly inspired but will sit down and make myself do some writing. This can be a slower process but I think it’s important to have some structure around songwriting as, even if the song doesn’t turn out great, melodic or lyrical ideas from it may work well with, or inspire, another song or idea. I also have notebooks, diaries, and notes on my phone with quotes that I hear come across in books or just lyric ideas I think of randomly and sometimes flicking through these can give a lightning bolt of inspiration.
When co-writing it really depends on who you’re writing with and what their process is like – I think one of the main things with co-writing is to be open and flexible as it can be a great way of learning new techniques or approaches that might work for you (and equally valuable to learn what doesn’t work as well for you).
How do you get inspired to write new songs?
This also varies. I find inspiration in nature a lot so just going and clearing my head on a nice walk often helps to make space for ideas. Equally I tend to write when I feel strongly about things that have happened perhaps in my life, or in the life of someone I know or care about, or equally I can get far too emotionally attached to characters in books and films so I’ve written songs based off events in these as well.
Who are your musical inspirations?
I love a huge range of music including a lot of Classical and Jazz as well as Pop. Growing up I particularly listened to Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Snow Patrol, Taylor Swift and The Corrs but I’m also a fan of Milo Greene, Foxes, Birdy, Wolf Alice, Sam Fender… the list is endless.
How is your daily life like?
So at the moment I’m working from home (like most!) and most days I have a pretty set routine where I get up, run, sometimes go cold water swimming, and then do my job in research during the day and do music in the evenings and on weekends!
What challenges do you face as a musician?
I think for everyone it’s a challenge to get your music heard. There’s something like 40,000 songs released on Spotify every single day… it’s just a huge number so getting your songs to listeners who may like it can be a real challenge. Along with that because social media numbers are so important these days (and social media is not my strong point by any means) it has taken the focus away from the music and means success doesn’t always equal talent and vice versa. But ultimately everyone is in the same boat and all you can do is your best and to try enjoy the process and journey as much as you can.
Any word of advice for other musicians/songwriters?
Find and focus on what brings you joy (but don’t forget about the other bits), leave behind people who push you around or belittle you, and don’t give up! If it’s your dream it’s worth it.
Thank you for doing this with us.
Thank you for the wonderful questions and for all your help and support!