It’s rare for a burgeoning artist to understand what their voice is early on. It’s uncommon to know what lyrical style and content works best and most efficiently, what sonic qualities define. But Frances Garrett (a.k.a. Frances Forever) is a unique artist. Garrett, who prefers the pronouns “they” and “them,” is set to graduate this year from Clark University and they have already landed on a style and tone that is both immediately recognizable and particular.
Listening to Garrett’s latest single, “Space Girl,” which has amassed millions of spins, is to understand their dreamy dichotomy. Bouncy music meets at times-eerie, confounded vocals and subject matter befitting of Garrett’s spirit. The artist, who released a new video for the song today (below), is already working on new music, too. Some of these songs, which they plan to release later this year, will include bigger production methods while still maintaining the same kernel of artistry that makes Garrett stand out.
“Sad songs don’t always have to sound sad,” Garrett says. “Putting a lighter tone onto it is almost more enjoyable. You can cry to it, you can dance to it. That’s what I want it to be.”
Garrett says music has been part of their life since childhood. They started piano lessons at 6 years old and as they got older, their mother, an English teacher, homeschooled Garrett. There was an entire day (Wednesday) dedicated to music. There was room for trial and error, experimentation. The pressure and regimen of average public school was absent. Garrett enjoyed this. They started writing songs in high school, but it wasn’t until meeting a new friend and collaborative producer that things started to take off. Along the way, Garrett was diagnosed with ADHD, which caused them to lose focus on certain tasks. Music, however, wasn’t one of them. So, Garrett decided to dive deeper into the art form.
“Ever since I can remember,” Garrett says, “I’ve wanted to do music. I almost went to the Berklee College of Music. But I struggled focusing on things that I didn’t care that much about. When I was diagnosed with ADHD, the person said I almost had to do music— it was the one thing I could hyper focus on.”
For Garrett, music is therapeutic. In a way, it’s a language they are fluent in since they’ve been engaged with it since early childhood. Garrett, who was born in Baltimore, moved to the Boston-area around 13 years old. As they got older, they immersed themselves in the local arts, attending concerts and exploring areas of the city like Cambridge. In 2018, Garrett released their debut EP, Pockets, which featured songs they’d written on single instruments but that were built up through more collaborative efforts. The tracks represent different moments of their life. But the music they’re making now, Garrett says, has evolved even further.
“The music I’m working on now,” they say, “has really evolved past the one instrument stuff. It’s been really cool to have that door open for me.”
One of the creative and sonic aspects that sets Garrett apart is the multi-part harmonies on much of their work. The musician says that they joined an a cappella group when they began college and by doing so found more insight into musical direction, vocal layering and much more. The application of harmonies signifies one of several evolutionary steps for Garrett. But despite all the accomplishments, Garrett says, there is still a sense of discomfort in their psyche.
“I definitely experience a lot of imposter syndrome,” Garrett says. “Especially right now when I have more eyes on me than I ever have before. When I first started putting stuff out, I think the freedom of something failing was fine because then no one would know. It’s more nerve-wracking to put stuff out now.”
Over the years, Garrett has been buoyed by the internet as they’ve developed their creative abilities. The internet is important, they say, because of its connective abilities and chances to exchange art and information. Recently, Garrett has enjoyed discovering covers of their own songs and fan drawings. With a large following on Instagram, Garrett, who says, at times, they’ve thought about deleting their social media accounts when life gets too swamped, sends out new music and important information to adoring fans. But despite the new attention, the natural moments of self-doubt and whatever else may come their way in between, Garrett hopes for a solid, positive future with increased chances of connecting with more people again down the road.
“I really just have wanted to tour for a long time,” Garrett says. “As soon as it’s safe, I’m going to go out there and mosh to ‘Space Girl’ and go across the country.”
But music, for the artist, remains paramount. It always has been and likely always will be. Without it, an important lens through which they view the world would be absent and, therefore, darkening. For Garrett, the art form is both an important thing to cling to and an opportunity to discover something completely new in the world altogether.
“There are some rules,” Garrett says. “But you can break all the rules and it’ll be okay. I think it’s really nice not to take it super seriously. You can say a joke in a song and that can be the whole song. Music definitely gives me a feeling of freedom.”
Photos by Audrey Cannon