Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Oliver Francis

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Oliver Francis over Zoom video! 

The Columbia, MO rapper, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Francis creatively nods to Blade Runner and The Fifth Element as much as he nods to The Weeknd and Travis Scott. Now, he presents a bold blockbuster vision without boundaries.

After amassing 100 million-plus streams, selling out shows, and receiving acclaim from Elevator and more, he widens the scope of the genre, fusing sci-fi ambition to gritty trap.“I had a bit of a breakthrough,” he admits. “I wanted to mix these great sci-fi movies with melodic hip-hop, trap, and pop. Once I struck this balance, I was on a roll. This phase took a conceptual turn, and it tells a very loose story. Thinking conceptually allows me to say things a rapper wouldn’t normally say. At the time, I was sick of saying all of the same shit about Balenciaga bags over and over again. I was tired of using the same drums too. I wanted to break out of the box and try new things sonically and lyrically.”

A lifetime dedicated to music enabled him to do just that. Hailing from the small town of Ashland, MO, he grew up listening to Green Day, skateboarding, and obsessing over alternative culture to the “very conservative Midwestern landscape. Raised by musicians, dad played guitar and performed worship music in church—where Oliver also picked up the drums. Listening to punk and emo, he played in numerous bands with the dream “to become a famous rock star. He worked as a janitor for five years as he quietly wrote and recorded music. Taking the reins as a producer and artist, he introduced himself in 2017. Off his Essentials EP, “Aahhyeahh” posted up 39.5 million Spotify streams followed by “Anti-Grav,” “Gemini,” “3 Deep,” and “Chernobyl”—all of which also cracked the 10 million mark on Spotify. In between, he packed shows on tour and dropped three albums, culminating on 2019’s The Adventures of Oliver Francis. Praising the latter, Elevator predicted “[he] is destined to become a superstar.

Working out of his bedroom studio, he expanded the sonic palette for this next chapter.“I’m a guitar player and a drummer, but I find a lot of samples for my music,” he explains. “I stumbled on an eighties synth sound, and I knew immediately I had found where I wanted to go. Over the summer and fall of 2020, I was running about ten miles per day—and I even ran a marathon. Running allowed me to think creatively. It was during this time I knew where I was going sonically, and everything fell into place.”

He kicks the door open with “Toxic Paradise.” As if musically finding the nexus between Travis Scott’s Rodeo and Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, a glitchy beat cuts through booming bass as he sets the scene with intensely anxious rhymes, “Girl, you know that heaven’s overrated, and you know that the angels honestly hate it. Co-written with Aaron Gillespie of Underoath, it culminates on an irresistible and infectious refrain.

“It was the discovery of the sound for sure,” he explains. “As far as the overarching narrative goes, it’s the moment where I arrive. I’m landing in Los Angeles, looking for drugs, obtaining them, and taking them, ultimately. ‘Toxic Paradise’ is giving away a piece of yourself to get high.”

The entire project traces this story as the protagonist from “Toxic Paradise” goes undercover as part of a resistance against a mega-pharmaceutical company called Violence Labs. Twists and turns follow as he falls down a rabbit hole of deceit, lust, addiction, and ultimately catharsis.

Ultimately, Oliver Francis gives the world something it has never heard before in 2021.

We want to hear from you! Please email [email protected].

#podcast #interview #bringinbackpod #OliverFrancis #zoom #aspn #americansongwriter #americansongwriterpodcastnetwork

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