Would you care to introduce yourself?
Yep, I'm Fran, and I normally wrap myself in the moniker, Ajimal.
How would you describe the music you make?
This is always that question that you can't answer without sounding outrageously dickish... I think I'd describe it as ghosty-minimal-folk, largely because I employ a lot of reverb, because I try to boil the songs down to just what they need to be... certainly live at least, in the studio it's amazing to be able to go to the other end of the spectrum and build it up with anything you like… and folky because that's inescapable and I hope the songs tell stories. That's what I'd like them to do anyway.
How did you start out making music?
I started playing piano when I was very young, and was quasi-forced into it for a long time, or at least actively resisted it. So I never really enjoyed piano, and would sort of dive off the piano stool during lessons, but I always loved melody and harmony, so then started fannying around on other instruments and rediscovered piano in my teens. I played in a couple of bands and was surrounded by some great writers, so sort of started to copy what I'd learned and make it my own.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
I try and represent an idea… I think in order to be inspired by something it has to produce some sort of polar reaction in you, either love or joy or disgust or fear or marvel or whatever it is, doesn't really matter whether it's 'good' or 'bad', and then just to try and explore that. I carry a notebook round with me a lot and jot things down if they pop into my head, or things people say or stuff I find at exhibitions or wherever and then all these sort of different lines and ideas form the basis for where I start lyrically.
What can people expect from your live shows?
Live, I often boil Ajimal down into quite an intimate and minimal performance when I'm solo, I really like the idea of having silence in a show - you can't guarantee it will work but it's an amazing thing to hear a room full of people be completely quiet - and if you manage to achieve that you have to use it musically, and not just trample over the space. I've used wine glasses and singing bowls and things and flung them on a poor unsuspecting audience member, and I quite like that guerrilla gig idea that you take the audience by surprise a bit, plus it's so much more interesting if sounds are coming from different places around the room too. For other shows it's been great to involve a band, particularly strings and drums and things, so the idea behind Ajimal is to have a fluid line up where I ask different people to be involved depending on what sounds I want to make.
What are you all listening to at the moment?
I actually just started listening to Both Sides Now, by Joni Mitchell, who I love, but hadn't heard the newer version of A Case Of You, and was sort of paralysed by the beauty of the arrangement. I also just got the Olafur Arnalds' album Living Room Songs, which is also absolutely stunning. Apart from that there's a lot of really interesting stuff coming out of Newcastle at the moment - Minotaurs (possibly my favourite band), Mammal Club, Let's Buy Happiness, Grandfather Birds, Blank Maps, In Cities... so listening to a lot of them.
What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
Footnote to Love [Part One] is the first track from an EP about the idea of Childhood that I'm working on with Mick Ross (Frankie & the Heartstrings, Minotaurs, Let's Buy Happiness) and a lot of musicians and friends from Newcastle, so that will hopefully be finished soon and come out towards summer time. I find the idea of what it means to be a child today, and indeed what it means to be an adult, fascinating, so I wanted to make a work about it and explore the idea. That's the first step, and we'll see what comes next!
Footnote to Love [Part One] by Ajimal