A moment with Sleuth (aka Melissa Francis)

A moment with Sleuth (aka Melissa Francis)

Hey, congrats on your release, ‘Alter Ego’.
Thank you! ‘Alter Ego’ is my third release. Fly By Design was released in September as well. It’s been a very creative year – two full albums (Umbra Anima and Fly By Design) and an EP (alter ego) produced, and a fourth album (lux) written, due for release mid-2020.

Tell us about the creative process on this one?
These three tracks were written over about 12 months, while I was also working on side project Sleuth and The Guru, which was a jazz-funk fusion type of album called ‘Fly By Design’. The songs were too electronic to be included as part of that project but worked somehow when put together.

What inspired the change of sound on this release? Are you always experimenting with new sounds?
I’ve always loved Hardstyle and drum and bass music, but until I started working with various co-producers over the last 12 months, I hadn’t written for it before now. As well as releasing my own stuff which is really varied, I’ve also collab’d with 2 other producers in Adelaide, and another in Macedonia as well; one was hip-hop, one was trance/house, and the other is really dark jazz-electronica. So I guess I’ve always been spanning multiple genres with what I’m working on, it’s not just a recent change.

With your fourth album on the way, how are you approaching it?
‘Lux’ is different yet again, with a few songs co-written with my husband that have a harder funk-rock edge to them, and a few harder electronica ones as well. There are also a few more melancholic songs written for it that hearken right back to my first release, so I am still exploring those folk and alt blues genres too. It’s important for me to be able to play my material live now rather than to backing tracks (which has unfortunately been the case for the more complex funk material) because I really want to build more of an organic following. That’s something which can only really happen through playing live gigs, so I’m hoping the summer tour grows it a little for me.

As a musician with genre-spanning abilities, how do you define your music?
It’s pretty hard to define my music – I guess my vocals and lyrics would be the main feature of what I do, and I layer these over a variety of styles – electronica, funk, blues, and jazz. Vocally, there’s a lot of variation as well even within those styles – sometimes it’s not dissimilar to Katie Noonan and Aretha Franklin, and then it can be contrasted with shades of Amy Winehouse, Beth Gibbons, and even Suzi Di Marchi. Complex, diverse… maybe?

Release: Alter Ego is out now.