FIVE FAVOURITES: Francis Of Delirium

Creators of swirling, grunge-infused guitar tunes, Luxembourg-based duo Francis Of Delirium write songs about the ever-evolving nature of human emotion. Together, songwriter & guitarist Jana Bahrich and her collaborator Chris Hewett have released two EPs via Dalliance Records, with their most recent offering, Wading, continuing Jana’s narratives of personal resilience and enlightenment.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jana to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired the band’s song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Francis Of Delirium’s latest single ‘I Think I’m Losing’ at the end of this post.

1. Arca – KiCk i
I found Arca through the newest Euphoria episode. There’s this one scene where they use Arca’s music and it’s this crazy gunshot type beat and it sounds so smoke and it is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I spent weeks trying to figure out where I could hear it in full but it turns out it’s not released. In the process though, I became obsessed with her album KiCk i. I’m trying to get better at electronic production and I like to use Kick i as my north star, less as a template to copy but more as the realization that anything is possible. She’s so creative in everything that she does which I find very inspiring, plus her songs just do something to my body that makes it feel like it’s exploding. I love you Arca.

2. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People
Hoping this will pass as an “album” even though it’s an EP! This is my favourite Sufjan project, easily. I feel like in this era Sufjan Stevens was making music for kids who were in the school brass band and so I felt very seen. I love the way he uses horns and trombones in All Delighted PeOple and the song-writing is still so strong, he also just gives you so much time to settle into each song which I love. The first Sufjan Stevens song I ever heard was ‘Casmir Pulaski Day’, my friends showed it to me. I went home that day and then learned it on the banjo. I spent a lot of my teens consuming solely his music. Then I realized his music was in Little Miss Sunshine which was my favourite movie then, so it felt like Sufjan was the man for me.

3. Half Waif – The Caretaker
Half Waif has such a wonderful ear for melody and uses vocal harmonies so wonderfully. Even on the first track, you’re almost immediately hit with those harmonies and they’re so beautiful and her delivery is heart-breaking and pulls at your chest. I couldn’t tell you how she’s influenced my song-writing but she must have because I’ve probably listened to The Caretaker everyday since it came out. Similarly to Arca, I often reference Nandi’s production choices, she has an incredible ability to make electronic sounds feel so tactile and warm and human, I just love everything she does. I first found Half Waif through her Tiny Desk which is also incredible, I say it a lot but I just love when artists give you their whole voice and body in a performance, it becomes so easy to connect with them through that.

4. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
I don’t know how much I can express how much I love this album. When it comes to rock music and I look at someone like Car Seat Headrest, it’s just a reminder that you can and should keep making music on your own and you should make whatever it is you want to make. Especially since Chris and I record our own music, I found it really helpful to look to other artists that were making music on their own and read articles from them to try and figure out how to do it on their own. Then lyrically and performance wise the album is perfect to me, I find a kind of peace whenever I listen to Twin Fantasy. There’s always something unexpected in a Car Seat Headrest song when you listen to it the first time and I really value that, I feel like you are walking along some dark long winding road whenever you jump into a Car Seat Headrest record.

5. Heart – Dreamboat Annie
A lot of my favourite songs and albums I’ve actively disliked before I love them. For some reason, I couldn’t get into ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when I was young and then I turned 14 and it was the greatest song I’d ever heard. I have a specific memory of this one rock station in Vancouver that would always play Heart all the time whenever my dad and I would drive to Taekwondo, and I thought it was some of the worst music I’d ever heard. After maybe 5 car rides, I was obsessed with Heart. If my dad and I go on a drive anywhere now, we definitely scream and sing along to ‘Crazy On You’, that song is so good, and they’re both so talented it’s crazy. They give everything to all the songs they play and that is something I try to do with every performance of our songs.

Thanks to Jana for sharing her favourites with us!

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Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen

ALBUM: Wilsen – ‘Ruiner’

A collection of thoughtful songs that allow space for reflection and growth; Wilsen‘s latest record Ruiner is a deceptively quiet listen. Released via Dalliance Recordings, the album is soft in terms of volume, but lyrically it speaks loudly about overcoming and accepting inherent introversion, and self-doubt.

“Making this record was somewhat of a coming of age process,” guitarist & vocalist Tamsin Wilson explains. “We’re getting older and becoming more deliberate, less precious, less measured, trusting [our] instincts more.” Perhaps it’s this trust that led the band to partner with acclaimed producer Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver) and mastering engineer Sarah Register (Protomartyr, U.S. Girls) on their new record.

“I can be a ruiner…” confesses Wilson on the album’s eponymous opening track. Written in a moment of “self-sabotage”, her vocals float beautifully over Johnny Simon Jr’s atmospheric, shimmering guitar sounds, belying the negativity that informed the song’s context. The gently tumultuous ‘Align’ follows, with more layered guitar and meandering lyrics about having the guts to go steady with someone.

The catchy refrain and Drew Arndt’s bass lines on ‘Down’ stick in the memory, while the gentle acoustics on ‘Wearing’ compliment Wilson’s lyrics about being worn down (“like a bag stuck in a tree / I’m helplessly clinging on”). ‘YNTOO’ flows in the same vein, before the guitars slowly swell for the final minute of the track.

The brief ‘Birds, Pt.1’ and the thoughtful, extended ‘Birds, Pt.2’ beautifully bookend each other, with the poignant ‘Wedding’ sitting in between. The infectious, full-sounding ‘Feeling Fancy’ celebrates the power of inherent shyness. As Wilson states in the song; “Everybody’s got a story”, and regardless of the volume it’s told at, it deserves to be shared and acknowledged.

The penultimate ‘Fuse’ looks forward with reassuring confidence, leaving you “ready to disco, baby”, whilst closing track ‘Moon’ is the most stripped back on the record. Tentative and delicate, it reiterates the idea that shyness and confidence can exist comfortably side-by-side.

A subtle, but powerful record that speaks to those who are trying to find the balance between being comfortable with themselves, and trying to refrain from being a Ruiner; Wilsen’s latest offering is a poetic, reverb-strewn, dreamy affair.

Listen to Wilsen’s new album Ruiner on Spotify.
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Photo Credit: CF Watkins

Kate Crudgington