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Interview: Frankie Davies on her debut album, songwriting process and touring with Chris Young

We spoke to the UK country singer-songwriter as she released her debut album.

Frankie Davis
Credit: FD Music

Since releasing her debut EP, Dancing All Night, back in 2015, Frankie Davies has become a fixture on the UK country scene.

The Jersey-born country singer and songwriter has been a regular feature at country festivals around the UK, including Nashville Meets London and Country to Country, and has toured with artists including Ward Thomas, The Shires and Charlie Worsham. Earlier this month she released her debut album, Wherever I Go.

I spoke to Frankie recently to learn more about the new album, how her approach to songwriting has changed over time and what Chris Young’s manager taught her about touring.

Hi Frankie! How are you?

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I’m good, I was just trying to catch some sunshine outside. It’s kind of weird, it’s freaking me out actually – all the weather that keeps coming. It was freezing yesterday and now it’s all warm. It’s weird!

You’ve just released your debut album – can you tell us more about that?

I can! It’s my first album, called Wherever I Go. It was recorded in loads of different places – Nashville and London and I think even Liverpool. But I’ve been doing it over four years, I think, maybe three and a half. It’s just being an independent artist – we’ve been waiting for funding and working it all out, but I’m finally there. I’m actually just really excited and anxious and scared! [laughs] But I am excited, I am really excited. All the feelings, all the feelings! [laughs]

How did recording the album in those three different cities influence the sound of the record?

I was worried about that aspect, and I was thinking of recording it all in the same place. But actually when I was going through all that with my producer Peter, he said it was kind of great that everything was coming from a different place. It’s all about the songs really and how each place has really shaped those songs. And a lot of the songs that were recorded in Nashville I actually wrote out in Nashville as well. So I think there’s just a lot of that interweaved. And a lot of the songs have been recorded in three different places – so the vocals were recorded somewhere else, the guitar was recorded in Liverpool and loads of bits added. I think it’s just kind of made it all gel. I hope! [laughs]

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Were that any songs on this album you found particularly easy or particularly hard to write?

Some are easier than others but I think I’ve chosen all of these songs because they kind of just flowed out of me. I think maybe the rockier ones – let’s say… it’s been so long since I actually wrote these songs that I have to really think about it. You Don’t Know Me, I had to really think about it and how I wanted to actually put that message out. There’s a whole story behind that song and I needed to get it right, and I know that that took me a couple of weeks. But most of the songs I’d say take just me writing it out, in a day or even over a couple of days, but no longer than that really. I find it easier to write on my own because I can just really get into that zone and put everything down on paper and just let it all flow out of me.

Did you find your writing style and approach changed over the period of making the record?

Yeah, definitely. And it’s just so apparent now as well when we went back and changed a lot of the songs from what they originally were three years ago, just changing them slightly. Also the last two songs are the most recent songs I’ve written, and I kind of wanted them to be at the end of the album because I wanted it to show a bit of progression of how my songwriting has changed. But it’s really strange. I think as I’ve grown older – and I know I’m not that old! But as I’m getting older I’m putting more of my soul into my music and more of my heart. I know that when I wrote High On Love, it is a made-up story and it was my imagination running wild. I do that less now, I think. It’s more of just writing down all my emotions and putting them into a song.

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Why did you choose High On Love as the album’s first single?

Well, I think that song represents what the whole album is like in terms of style. It’s fun and I wanted it to be a song that wasn’t too serious, because that’s who I am – I never take myself too seriously. It’s kind of a song that when I play live and tell everyone the story about me accidentally writing a stalker song, because it is a song about unrequited love but I didn’t realise it sounded like a full stalker song. And whenever I tell the audience that they giggle and whatever. But I think I wanted that one because it represented who I was.

You’ve also recently released the video for the single. What can you tell us about that?

Yeah, it’s quite a simple video but I love it. It’s probably the funnest video I’ve ever shot. We did it in two hours. We shot it at dawn, at about five o’clock in the morning, in one of my favourite places in Jersey in Gorey. It was the most perfect day, it was just beautiful. But it’s basically talking that stalker song and putting it into just a bit more simple version of coming back from a night out or a house party, not feeling too great and reminiscing about these evening that happened in your head. And then as I’m walking along I’m realising that none of that really happened, basically! [laughs]

Has the music scene in Jersey had an influence on your own musical style?

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It hasn’t had much influence on my own style, but only because I know that country’s really been growing in the last few years and when I first started in the music scene there it was more singer-songwritery. There was rock bands and pop bands. But it’s a really great little scene. I’ve got quite a few friends that have come from Jersey and they’re doing great, and everyone knows everyone. I’m really excited to see some of the younger acts in Jersey come through – I could name some if you wanted. But it’s more singer-songwritery over there. It’s a good little scene.

Is there anyone you’re listening to at the moment that you think more people should know about?

Oh God, there’s so many! I love Tenille Townes, she’s just… I love her so much, I can’t stop playing her. And I love Lennon Stella’s new stuff, even though it’s so pop really, in comparison to what she was doing on Nashville. But friends-wise I love Lisa Wright and Laura Oakes. There’s just such a great country music scene in the UK now. There’s so many great artists. There really are! [laughs]

You’ve toured with the likes of The Shires, Ward Thomas and Chris Young. Who’s been your favourite person you’ve toured with?

Oh God, that is hard! But it would be Maddie and Tae, because they’re just babes. They’re so lovely. We still stay in touch and they’re really supportive. But yeah, they were great fun. They loved drinking wine with me and it was great! It was great fun.

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What have you learnt from touring and being on the road?

It’s way, way more fun with a buddy, especially when I’ve done a lot of shows and stuff. Chris Young’s tour was the first major one I’d done and I was really hyped up after the gig. I think we were in Berlin and I was about to go out after the gig and say hi to people, and Chris’ manager said, “no, I’m gonna stop you right there. You need to sit down and just calm down and chill out, have a drink of wine for half an hour and collect yourself, and then go out and talk to people.” And actually I’ve started doing that with every show, because you do get too hyped up and then it’s kind of a high you can’t come down from. It was a really valuable lesson that he told me you should do that, so I’m quite grateful for that.

You’ve got an all-female band who you play live with – was that important to you in terms of championing more women in country music?

Yeah, definitely. I’ve always been influenced by the Dixie Chicks and what they do anyway, and I always wanted a female band. But I think there’s just something about when women can play incredibly and blow everyone away, it’s just great. I love it. And I always get sad when I don’t have my full girl band, but they’re so good that they’re always in demand. My guitarist is in the West End at the moment and they’re having a great old time [laughs]. But I think it’s really important that we encourage young women to go into the music industry because it’s really hard.

What would be on your career bucket list?

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I’d love to play at the Ryman – who wouldn’t?! – and play on the Opry. I’d love to play with the Dixie Chicks; that wouldn’t happen but it’s just a dream. And to write with Dolly Parton, because I just love her.

If there was one song you wish you’d written, what would that be?

Oh! Ummm… Caitlyn Smith’s This Town Is Killing Me. I just… I cry every time I listen to it, I can’t control it. But that song gets me. There’s a few in the world I wish I would have written but that is one of them.

What’s next for you over the coming months?

I am planning a tour for next year. I have been writing. I kind of have no idea. We’ve got a few plans in the works, but it’ll be mainly touring and then hopefully later on next year I can start recording. But we shall see.

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