'Dopamine & Dance Moves': Interview with Franc Moody
Having just made their mark across several UK tour dates, and set to continue to do so across Europe this week, we thought there was no better time to sit down with Franc Moody as they prepared to douse Belgrave Music Hall with their signature cascade of intergalactic funk. Led by Ned Franc and Jon Moody, this collective of musicians have been recording and performing since 2016, and have succeeding in conjuring up hit after hit of dazzling dance floor anthems including 'Dopamine', 'Night Flight', and 'Dance Moves.' As the venue geared up for the night ahead, we sat down with the band and discussed how the music-making process works for them, what to look out for in the future, and just how this glittery genre fusion of 'cragged-out funk' first came to be.
So to kick things off, could you just introduce yourselves and tell us your roles within the band?
Ned : Hi I'm Ned Franc, and I sing and play guitar a bit as well.
Jon: Hi I'm Jon Moody, I play keyboards, oboe, bit of guitar, and we both write and produce the music.
Now for people who haven't heard of you, how would you describe the sound of Franc Moody?
Ned: We always say it's kind of a cragged-out funk, electronica, soul, dance mishmash. It's like a hotpot of different sounds basically.
Jon: I'd say DIY dance music.
I wanted to find out a bit more about how you guys first met, and how Franc Moody came to be. How did it all began?
Jon: So we were both playing in bands in the same scene, and a few of these bands got together and we bought into a warehouse space in Tottenham in North London. It was just this empty barren space and we converted it into an analogue recording studio. That was where we really got to know each other I suppose. We didn't have any money to do these studios up so we started putting on parties. So me and Ned would host them and run these things and it was great fun, and it was kind of like the whole inspiration behind the dance music. Back then we were playing much more 50s and 60s rhythm and blues. It's still the same energy that we are going for with Franc Moody, you know. It's the same concept of filling a dance floor and having a wicked time. That was where we were hanging out and it was off the back of that that we decided to try and start writing together. Then we quickly picked up management and they said to us that we should start an artist project we were said 'No, we're done with bands!', but then here we are.
So you've been very busy recently; you've been to London, Bristol, Nottingham and more, and you're off around Europe in the next couple of days. How's that been for you? Are there any shows coming up that you are particularly looking forward to?
Ned: The tour so far has been incredible, all of them sold out, I mean Shephard's Bush the other night was our biggest headline show to date and that was amazing. On the continent, the ones I'm personally really looking forward to are Amsterdam- that always sells out really quickly and it's always a pretty good crowd as well- and Copenhagen. Also Warsaw as we've never played in Poland so that should be an interesting one.
Jon: Yeah it should be great fun, man.
So you've played a variety of different festivals over the past few years, but from the larger and more expansive festival crowds to the smaller and more intimate gigs, what live environment do you believe best compliments your sound?
Jon: I feel like we love the small sweaty club atmospheres, and I think tonight's gonna be wicked. We've been here before you can get a really intimate feeling in the room. But then you know the bigger stages like Shephard's Bush, although it's a 2000 cap room, I feel like everyone was just in a party together, so I think there's a challenge of keeping that small room energy as we grow and progress.
Ned: We just love playing live, that's where we really flourish. The studio tees it up for the live setting when Franc Moody turns from a 2 piece to a 6 piece, and we feel in our element and feel most comfortable in that setting. We all have a live background.
Your first EP released in 2016 was an instrumental EP, and yet your 2017 release ‘Dopamine’ saw the inclusion of vocals. What would you say led you to take the decision to go from this instrumental sound to this more vocal approach to song writing?
Ned: Not having vocals wasn't really our choice initially. We were like 'nah, we're from a songwriting background with singers and stuff so I dunno', but then our management said it would be a really good place to showcase the instrumental with our playing and production and the dancing side of things, so we got into that and did the EP off the back off their suggestion really and it was a really nice way to introduce Franc Moody.
Jon: We had some fun writing some little jams like that, and as Ned said there's a couple of tracks off that EP that really really wanted to put vocals on and they were like 'no, no, no' so we just just left it which was a really good shout. And then yeah, Dopamine popped up and we thought that was a wicked single to roll with, so actually, hats off to managers.
Are there any specific releases that you really remember being a source of inspiration for you?
Jon: Well, there's Childish Gambino's Redbone. Reading up on that, he was massively influenced by a band called Funkadelic, which was a massive influence on us and our attitude towards the way we try and make music. He says he was really inspired by them, and hearing it was like hearing these old- getting nerdy now- guitar pedals and things, the instrumentation, drum sounds, you know. It was all so George Clinton, and we heard it in this pop sensibility which was really inspiring. It gave us the confidence that we can be bringing that slightly old school sounds with the guitars, organ and stuff, and bring it up to date. So yeah that was a big release wasn't it?
Ned: Yeah, definitely. Who else? There's Igor by Tyler the Creator. I love how varied it is, and the lack of formula and the 'all-over-the-place' nature. I love that, it's a great album. It's clearly whatever comes into his head.
Jon: But making beautiful music at the same time.
How do your music tastes differ? Is Franc Moody the result of combining two very different sources of influence, or would you say that you are fairly united in your tastes?
Ned: Interesting question. I think there' obviously a massive crossover, as Jon said said, that we both started playing those 50s-60s New Orleans style swamp pop, that old RnB that we both love. But then I suppose Jon was more into the electronica than I was perhaps, whereas I was more into the heavier side of things.
Jon: Yeah you were definitely into the heavier bands. Yeah any choral music from the 1800s is bang up my street as well!
How do you see your tracks usually taking shape? What’s the process behind writing and recording music for you?
Jon: Yeah well there's no specific formula per se, but I think more often than not it will start with a groove, get a bass line down. If it's popping and poking and doing all the right things, or if we have a good little riff from something, then we'll try and take it further. That's usually the way things happen. We have a list of song titles and little lyric ideas floating about, but yeah only a couple of times has it gone from lyric to music. It's usually 'Is this a vibe? Yeah let's roll with it.' In our tiny little studio, we have it all set up so you can basically sit in the middle and reach any instrument. You can work quickly. Of course you come up with a few duffers along the way, but we can't just churn them about and always be hits.
You’re playing here at Belgrave tonight- have you had much to do with Leeds in the past?
Ned: Yeah we've played Leeds a lot actually. We've played Headrow House, World Island which was a sick festival. It was a really hot day right on the canals here. I loved it, great energy. We've played Belgrave before as well.
Jon: We used to party here a lot back years ago. We used to come raving up here so its really cool, and it's always felt like a special place for us to come.
Ned: And the Leeds crowd's always great. They always shout 'Yorkshire! Yorkshire!' which can sound like 'You're shit! You're shit!' sometimes!
What would you say has been the most defining moment of your career so far?
Ned: Well Thursday night was a pretty big moment for us, and its been a culmination of that since 2016 i Guess. I remember talking about the first every Franc Moody gig which was three years ago, when we played a social club, and we struggled to fill 80 people. So suddenly, to be able to do 2000 was nuts, really.
Jon: It was huge and on our home turf in London as well. But another huge moment was when we went to America in December for the first time. All the shows were amazing, bu San Francisco has a really buzz about it. We sold it out in under a day and when we turned up it was absolutely electric. To travel across the world to play a show and people really enjoy it, it's pretty humbling.
And finally, beyond the tour, what can we expect from you this year?
Ned: Well, coronavirus permitting, we're going to the continent on Monday for 8 shows, and then in May we are heading to the US for an 8 date tour.
Jon: West to East coast in the back of a tin can.
Ned: Yeah, and then festivals every weekend running form June up until October, really. Then probably America again in November.
Jon: It's exciting! I mean there'll also be a bit of seeing how the album goes, and it's great to see it picking up in Australia and Asia and stuff like that. So hopefully they'll be keen to book in some tours in the New Year. So yeah we're just gonna ride it out really.