NewTracks New Artist: Grace & Sam Fran

NewTracks New Artist: Grace & Sam Fran

Grace & Sam Fran. There’s something in the name that by itself talks of light-hearted fun and musical energy, and the bright-spark Tāmaki Makaurau/Kirikiriroa duo certainly doesn’t disappoint on that score with I’m A Liar. Catchy and intricate electro-pop rhythms paired with simple but ear-wormingly invasive lyrics… and a neat visual twist to boot! NZ On Air picked their song for their NewTracks October compilation.

What are your full names, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Grace Wood – I grew up in Auckland. Learned both the flute and piano but I am by no means exceptional at either of them (haha).

Sam Franicevic – born and raised in Hamilton, NZ. Plays guitar.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Sam: I went to Hamilton Boys’ High School specifically to spend time in the music department there. During the 5 years at school, I went on two music tours with the guitar band, to Fiji and Rarotonga, and learnt from some amazing musicians. Hugely formative time for my music. 

Grace: Same for me actually. I used to book out the music rooms at school at lunch and mess around on the piano writing songs. We had a big music department & lots of opportunities to play, which was great. 

Any other projects might we know you from?

Grace: In high school I won the Lion Foundation Songwriting competition. I also have another track on Spotify (Young, Naive & Reckless) with a few spins. But I’m pretty undercover (haha). I’d be suprised if people knew my other stuff.

Sam: This is my first release with NZ On Air. I had previous releases supported by George FM, and a remix with Finnish-Kiwi pop-star Neekoh Falling earlier this year. 

What’s the background of how Grace & Sam Fran came to be? 

We met on Instagram in May 2020. Sam was approaching other NZ musicians looking for vocalists and liked Grace’s song Echo Thoughts. Originally, he reached out to do a remix, but Grace liked his songs and asked if he had anything he could send her. Sam wrote the instrumental for I’m A Liar the next day, sent it to Grace, and we worked on finding the perfect vocal for the next couple of weeks. It came together extremely quickly, but has taken a long time to finally see the light of day!

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

Grace: I used to write chords & lyrics first, but now I have more of a production-based approach. Sometimes it might just be a sample I find that sparks a whole song. At its core though, my music’s the same – it’s almost always autobiographical.

Sam: I used to work alone, purchasing vocals online or writing pure instrumentals (or worse, trying to sing on my own tracks). Since deciding to work only on collaborations with other artists in NZ, my songs have begun to really connect much more with my listeners, and my own sound has really begun to develop. 

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Grace: Getting the song played on The Edge was a bit of a pinch-me moment. I grew up listening to the station and it was really cool to be on it. 

Sam: Biggest highlight to date was release of My Sunrise remix on Magic Records, which just eclipsed 25,000 streams. Awesome to have a label release and official remix. 

What makes I’m A Liar stand out for you as a single?

It’s an upbeat, electronically driven song, juxtaposed by Grace’s soft indie lyrics on the top line. The song itself has EDM roots but still feels organic because of the many guitar layers. We believe it is a fresh take on contemporary pop, but still has a catchy melody that stays in your mind long after listening. 

What is the story behind I’m A Liar?

Grace: I’m really fascinated by the ways people hide their emotions. I wanted to capture that feeling of putting on a show, despite feeling quite different internally. I think a lot of people can relate to the pressure of keeping what they feel inside so that they don’t burden others.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Sam: I like the first two lines. ‘I miss you in the morning, sometimes in the night.’ Why only sometimes in the night? I think it is so intriguing and immediately draws you into the song. 

Grace: Mine is the backwards snare sample you can hear in the first verse. Sam put it in the first demo of the backing he sent me and it won me over – he tried to take it out in a later edition and I fought him hard on that, haha.

Who did you record/produce the single with and where? 

Grace actually uploaded the song to be distributed and released as the title track of her EP earlier this year. She’d been talking about applying to NZ On Air support, but had almost written it off because she thought the chances of acceptance were so low. Grace didn’t actually tell Sam that she decided to apply last minute, and we found out only days before the song was scheduled to release that we’d been accepted! 

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

“I wanna listen to that one more time.” 

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

Sam:  If I show a song to someone once, and two days later they’re still singing the melody back, then I know it is gonna work. 

Grace: It’s got to feel like a bit of me. That’s how I know it’s authentic enough for me to release it.

Who else is in your team?

Scott Seabright – Mixing
Chris Chetland – Mastering
All else independent. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

Grace & Sam Fran are working on new music together right now!  Individually, we both have new music lined up. Grace has an EP planned for release in 2022, and Sam Fran has two remixes and two singles prepped for release late 2021/early 2022. 

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there? 

Grace: I’ve applied a couple of times with other tracks. My advice is just apply. You never know. 

Sam: My advice is write with other NZ artists. Collaboration breeds inspiration. 

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

Grace: I don’t currently perform live so that means I technically don’t meet any of the criteria for live performance – luckily I meet other criteria. I’m looking forward to getting on stage and hopefully changing that!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Sam: I’m a music producing nerd. I watch everything and anything to do with production, mixing, mastering… the lot! 

Grace: Yeah same, my Youtube feed is riddled with music production how to’s. 

Any last words?

Thank you so much for featuring us. Means the world to have our music out there. Stay groovy.

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