(By: Angela McLean)
By day, Langston Francis is your average high school student. By night, however, he is an on-the-rise singer/songwriter booking shows with artists like New City and Hayley Kiyoko and getting airplay on the biggest radio stations in Canada. His world changed in November 2017 with the release of “FCKD IT UP,” his bold debut single that is now nearing one million listens on Spotify. His early 2018 follow-up “Fall from Grace,” an infectious track about giving into lust and the emotions that follow, continues to shine a light on the 17 year old’s refined talents and maturity. There is certainly more success to come, making Francis a new artist to watch.
RUtv News caught up with the Toronto-born artist to talk about new music, avoiding eye contact and why he’s already looking forward to 2019.
You just released a new single, “These Nights.” How did that song come about?
I actually recorded that song when I was 14 and we kind of sat on it. It’s interesting how a song can kind of grow with you, like now when I listen to the song it totally makes me think of different things than it did before. It’s about people in my life that aren’t even in my life now.
You filmed the video here in Toronto. Did you have specific locations in mind, or did you just go out and look for what made sense?
It was the most on-the-fly video we’ve done. My friend Jan thought of the treatment that morning and we went out that night. I had school the next day so I didn’t want to shoot late but we didn’t start until 10 p.m. and ended around 1:30 a.m. To put it in perspective, we shot the “FCKD IT UP” video over three days and “Fall from Grace” was done in one day but it was a solid eight hours of shooting. This video was literally just like, let’s go around my neighbourhood and have fun, and for three hours of shooting it actually ended up turning out pretty well.
You often busked around Toronto when you were a young teenager. How did that help prep you for where you are today?
I think that prepped me a lot with understanding how I can captivate people’s energy who aren’t necessarily there to listen to me. The funny thing is so many people used to take videos of me on their phones so I’d love for someone to somehow make the connection or something if they did discover my music and DM me a video of me, because I actually don’t have that many videos!
The “Fall from Grace” music video was shot with a vintage camera.
You’ve talked about being interested in photography, filmmaking and other art mediums. How does that in turn inspire your music?
When I’m creating music, sometimes I like to just do it not thinking about the finished product, but because I’ve always been inspired by different art mediums I can envision in my head how I’d want things to look overall. I think of what the video could look like and the artwork and whether we’re going to do some type of poster and things like that. I’m thinking about the whole package and that keeps it fun and interesting.
Your debut single “FCKD IT UP” launched your career. Why did you decide to use that song as your introduction to the world?
Coming out as someone who is 16 and especially being categorized as a “pop” singer, you can often get kind of pigeonholed. There are obviously these crazy talented singers like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes and I think with those types of artists sometimes they sort of get put in a box and even if they’re grown up there’s sort of this feeling put on them like you’re not allowed to cuss or you’re not allowed to make adult music, or even if you can it takes you a long time to be able to break out. I feel like it just set the tone well for me being a new artist on the younger side.
You recently opened for Hayley Kiyoko in Toronto the night before your birthday. How was that?
That was one of the most fun opening experiences I’ve had. I literally woke up that day at like 11 a.m. and I had a birthday party the night before, so I was a little bit tired. I found out about the possibility around 2 p.m. and then at 3:30 p.m. they were like, “Can you get here at 4:30 p.m. for soundcheck?” I was like, “Guys, I’m an hour away!” Obviously I was going to do it, but I literally had time to put clothes on and head out and then I was on stage at 8 p.m. Her fans are incredible and Hayley’s a great person.
Have you had any awkward on-stage moments?
It’s always super funny with those small intimate shows because the people in the front row, they either don’t stop staring at you or it’s kind of this weird thing where if you do make eye contact, one of you kind of looks off to the side. I think being a new artist maybe sometimes people think that I’m like super experienced up there but I’m nervous too. This is all a dream to me, so it’s kind of cool when I see people letting loose and having a good time because that’s really what I’m trying to do too.
You’re still in grade 11 and continue to go to school while balancing performances, recording sessions, rehearsals and interviews. How do you do it?
It’s super hard! At the end of the day, I feel really blessed to be doing what I’m doing and I have this crazy opportunity to be working with a major label at this age. I just tell people in my position to keep their priorities straight. Keep yourself surrounded with people that are keeping you focused.
What’s next for you? Any plans for a tour or EP?
I’m playing shows in Montreal (July 5) and Sherbrooke, Q.C. (July 7) opening for Jain and playing at Festival d’été de Québec (July 6). Otherwise, there’s some stuff in the works that’s the most exciting stuff that I’ve ever even imagined being a part of and it’s looking like this fall and forward is going to be a really exciting time. I’ll also probably hopefully be doing my first shows in the States. 2019 is looking pretty great too. We’re always thinking long term, but I also want to enjoy the journey.
Thank you, Langston! “These Nights” is out now.
(Header photo courtesy of Sony Music Canada)