(October 15, 2007)
Q: Hey Francisco, what’s up?
A: Hey Koen, everything’s ok, thanks for asking. It’s later here and I’m listening to some music.
Q: You’re the first musician from Portugal I’m interviewing, that’s cool. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your music?
A: Well, I’m a singer/songwriter from Porto, Portugal. I’m 25 and I started doing this 6 years ago. Some friends heard me singing just for fun and freaked out. They gave me a lot of strength and support since that moment. I think I can say that I’m in their debt forever. At the moment I work at the university I graduated from, but music is a big part of my life. I can even say that it is my “second life”.
Q: How hard is it to get recognition in Portugal? How is the music scene over there?
A: In my opinion the music scene over here is messed up. And I’m not saying this just because I’m not recognized, but because there are a lot of talented musicians that don’t have the chance to show their work. If you turn on the radio you’ll always hear the same guys, with the same songs. That’s not good…
Q: Have you had any good success with your music so far?
A: I can say I have. I’m always getting a lot of support from everyone who hears my songs. That’s good for me. As long as I continue to do what I love, song writing and singing, I’ll be a happy person.
Q: You recently joined Myspace.com. For a lot of musicians this has been a breakthrough because self-promotion through Myspace.com has led them to enlarge their fan base and in some cases it even led to a record deal. Has it done anything for you and your music yet?
A: Myspace gave me the opportunity to show some of my songs to a lot of people around the world. I have made some new friends, who are spreading my work. At the moment that’s all, but who knows if in the future I will get the chance to sign a record deal thanks to Myspace! 😛
Q: You make music in a band as well as solo. Which of the two do you like best? Or do you like to vary and do both of them at different times?
A: I like to vary, but to be honest I love the feeling of being alone at home, in my bedroom, writing and figuring out some melodies at the same time. Sometimes I have a song created in 20, 30 minutes…That’s neat.
Q: Most of the influences you name are either British Alternative or Modern American Rock. Which of those do you think reflects the most in your music?
A: I think it’s kind of a mix between both of them. British Alternative bands are doing pretty well at the moment, but Modern American Rock bands were always a reference for everyone who loves rocks music, including me. My biggest influences are Lifehouse, Coldplay, Sigur Rós, Damien Rice, The Stills, The Shins, Thirteen Senses and some other bands/artists.
Q: And of all the bands and musicians that influence you, who do you think are the greatest influence on your song writing and sound in general?
A: Lifehouse, no doubt about it. They, especially Jason Wade, changed my life forever. I became a much better person. I learned how to write because of him. Reading his lyrics, seeing that he writes with his heart and soul, about his personal experiences, about the ones he cares about, always being honest and emotional was the biggest lesson I ever could’ve learned. There’s also his voice, something unique in the world of music. And we can not forget that he’s also a great guitar player. Unfortunately I never had the chance to see them live and meet them, but someday I will, I believe. I need to thank them for everything they’ve done for me.
Q: When you write your songs, do you usually start with music or do you usually start with the lyrics?
A: That’s a nice question. Most of the times I start with the lyrics, with no specific order. There are moments when I start writing the chorus, others when I start with the verses. But I already started some songs with the music. I remember that one time I was walking on the street and suddenly a melody “started playing” on my head. When I arrived at my home I applied some nice lyrics to it and today it’s one of my best songs, “Dark star”.
Q: What are your thoughts on instrumental music? Do you think it can tell as much of a story as music with lyrics does?
A: I’m pretty sure it can. I can give you one or two examples. A few days ago I saw 4 amazing Icelandic girls, Amiina, playing live in my hometown, Oporto. I had one of the best nights of my life. They play a lot of instruments, like violins, piano, even a saw. And they rarely sing (I only heard them singing in one song). Like I already said, Sigur Rós are one of my biggest influences. I don’t understand a word Jónsi sings, but the most important in their music are the sounds, not the lyrics. They are great.
Q: What if a music magazine would ask you to do a cover of a song that you really don’t like. Would you still do it because it would be good exposure, or would you gratefully decline and wait for another opportunity?
A: To be honest I will never do something just go get some exposure if I don’t like it. So, I would gratefully decline and wait for another opportunity. Maybe I’m wrong but I’m feeling right.
Q: Portugal is famous for the Fado (transl. fate/destiny) music. Do you listen to that? Do you enjoy it?
A: I listen to it and I enjoy it. Have you ever heard about Mariza? You should listen to her work, she’s a great musician, with an amazing voice.
Q: I’ve only heard music with English lyrics from you. Do you also write songs in Portuguese?
A: I only have 3 songs written in Portuguese. Not that I don’t like to sing in Portuguese, but I prefer the English language.
Q: If you could pick one band or artist to tour with, who would it be? And why?
A: Is Lifehouse a valid option?! 😛 They are the best for me, it explains everything. I’m pretty sure I would learn a lot doing the opening act of their concerts.
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Day or night?
A: Night. It’s when my inspiration occurs more often.
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
A: I have only played in clubs, and I love the intimacy, preferably when it’s an acoustic show.
Q: Okay, final question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally & illegally?
A: Legally is good, illegally it’s not as good. We need to give credits to everyone who creates music, by buying their songs, helping them to promote their work.
Thanks Francisco, it was great doing an interview with you.
Please all visit Fransico’s myspace here: www.myspace.com/francismartinsongs