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First Look Friday: Embrace Ruby Francis’ Fly Style, Music + Dopeness

Photos by Brett Russell for Okayplayer.

A couple of weeks ago, we preemptively introduced you to this London-based, triple-threat known as Ruby Francis, which did pretty well if we say so ourselves. Her premiere, “Paranoid,” earned over 70K plays on Soundcloud as a new audience of music lovers digested her delightfully silky-smooth brand of R&B. Alongside her on this audio-adventure is Shift K3y, a chart-topping producer behind “Touch,” which hit #3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Since our post, though, Ruby Francis has been stacking plenty of new material in preparation for the release of her debut project. Influenced by the likes of D’Angelo to Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, Ruby Francis is an amalgam of funk jazz, heavy soul and gorgeous grooves. All in all, this talented musician has a style that’s all her own, which means your ears and eyes will instantly welcome this English ingenue.

Personally, we are enjoying, appreciating and loving her music from across the way. If you haven’t heard “Paranoid” and its unmistakable pop-tinged, future R&B sounds — then you’ll surely appreciate this live performance of “Move,” another stellar track from Ms. Francis. This week’s First Look Friday subject is the real deal, as Ruby Francis proves to be a budding creative, she talks to us about her love of Joni Mitchell, how the London music scene can be tough and why one song in her discography was so true to life.

Be sure to keep you ears and eyes open for a possible new album from Ruby Francis! Enjoy!

Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact on both sides of the U.S. What is it that the blokes in London are seeing and hearing that the world has yet to discover?

Ruby Francis: The music that London produces is reflective of the diversity and multiculturalism that we have. There are no barriers between wealth, age, sexual orientation or race. I feel that there is not much music that you cannot find in London. I mean, I can go into a bar one night and hear some folk music, then go into the same place the night after and it has turned into a Dancehall and Bashment night [laughs]!

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

RF: With my dad being a bass player and my mum massively into music, there was always a really huge range of music being played in my house. Stevie Wonder goes without saying, y’know, and I could write an essay on why he’s one of my cherished influences. Chaka Khan is another [because] her voice and tone are absolutely incredible. I love her production, she’s super-clever and able to create the catchiest songs. And although she doesn’t quite fit in with the names mentioned, Bjork is another inspirations of mine. My parents love her and they always used to play her albums.

When I became about 12, 13-years-old, I got really into Pharrell [Williams] via N*E*R*D and followed whatever he released. He is so distinctive and I can really relate to his production when making my own songs and projects. Later on, I got into a lot of Neo-Soul music — India Arie, Jill Scott, D’Angelo — which you can probably hear through most of my own works. Around that same time I discovered Joni Mitchell and was completely blown away by her lyrics and melodies. The list [of influences] could honestly go on forever!

OKP: Your song, “MOVE,” is a very dope sounding song and has placed you on the radar of music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist in London? How have you reacted to your first bits of press?

RF: Thank you! Developing as an artist just happened quite naturally and I was lucky enough to meet the right people at the right time. It was always something from the age of two that I knew I needed to have in my life—one way or another—and my parents were always supportive of that. It wasn’t until I met Shift K3y till I really knew what I wanted to do. He was the first one to show me that I could actually really pursue a career in the music industry and not just do it as a hobby on the side. It helped that he was actively doing it himself.

It does get tough, though, developing as an artist in London. There was no way that I could have thrown myself straight from school into a full-time music career coming from a working class background in an expensive city. I had to work, and worked in a retail store for four years, but now 100% of my time is on music. In terms of press, it has been really great to get some acknowledgment for my work! I’m so grateful that people are feeling my stuff! It is amazing!

OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene in London? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?

RF: London is responsible for producing some incredible music dating back over 100 years. I’m lucky to have been born-and-bred here, y’know? It is important to have such a mixture of music and people all in one place. I think that you’ll start to see a movement here consisting of real music and artistry, similar to Los Angeles and what’s happening for Kendrick [Lamar], Thundercat, The Internet, etc. In fact, it is already happening here with the likes of Alfa, Emmavie and Dornik to name a few.

OKP: What are some elements that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?

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Kevito

is the managing editor of Okayplayer. His top three MCs are: 1) Andre 3000, 2) Scarface, and 3) Black Thought. Debate him on Twitter @KevitoClark.

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