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27 November 2014

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Fran Rodgers (pic. Mark Newton)
Fran Rodgers (pic. Mark Newton)

Mansfield songbird

Interview with Phill Huxley
Singer-songwriter Fran Rodgers may have now moved up North, but she's not going to forget her Mansfield roots. Click the link on the right of the page to hear clips of two of her songs.

Fran Rodgers was born in Mansfield in 1982 and grew up in the Notts town. It was there that she developed her love of music and learnt the guitar. She moved to Leeds to study in 2000 and soon began writing her own songs.

Her songs deal with the subjects of love, loss and hope and she has been gigging regularly for about a year, performing solo and unaccompanied.

We caught up with Fran to ask her a few questions and find out how much she really knows about her hometown of Mansfield.

You are from Mansfield, but you now live in Leeds. Surely Leeds can't be better than the mighty Mansfield?

Well, there’s nowhere quite like Mansfield is there! But I feel very at home in Leeds now, I studied for 4 years there and, as the cliché goes, they really were the best years of my life… But it’s the music scene in Leeds that is keeping me there, it’s really thriving at the moment and there’s so many opportunities for gigging and recording.

What was it like growing up in Mansfield? You describe it as an old mining town. Were you glad to move away, or do you still have a fondness for it?

I’ll always have a soft spot for Mansfield, it holds a lot of memories for me, and my parents still live there so I go back fairly often. I was very happy as a child but as I got older, and into music, I really felt the need to move away. There wasn’t much of a music scene in Mansfield, and I was ready for a fresh start, with new friends and new places to go.

Your mum is French. Do you think this has had an influence on your musical style?

I’ve definitely been influenced by the music my parents like. My mum was fascinated with the English language, and listened to music that relied a lot on the lyrics, people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. So I suppose it’s influenced me in that way. And I love singing in French; it’s such a beautiful language, even the simplest of phrases sounds so much better in French than it does in English. 

You list some of your influences as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Nick Cave and Jeff Buckley. All men! Are this Any there any women that also influence you?

"I love singing and I love being on stage. I still get a moment of panic just before I go on... but it’s fine once I’ve started singing."
Fran Rodgers

I’ve been listening to Blue by Joni Mitchell a lot recently. The song-writing on it is incredible, and her voice just blows me away.  

How old were you when you started playing the guitar?

I was 18, I started on the day I left school to revise for my A-levels!

You are self taught. Does this mean you have a more unusual or unique style of guitar playing?

I learnt to play by working out songs by the artists I listen to, so my style is very influenced by their music. I love the simplicity of Leonard Cohen’s guitar work, and the intricacy of Nick Drake’s.

Can you play any other instruments?

I play piano, although I’m a bit rusty now. And I learnt the clarinet for a while at school but it never really inspired me!

The lyrics to Happy Song feature the line "I'm in a world filled with Morrissey's words and it's easy to cry" - Are you a big Smiths and Morrissey fan?

I have so much respect for Morrissey. He’s truly original and distinctive, and his lyrics are fantastic – he really has a way of saying exactly what you’re thinking.

How many gigs have you played? Are you a nervous or confident performer?

I’ve played about 15 gigs, most of them in the past few months. I was very nervous when I first started, and it did affect my voice, but I’m fairly confident now. I love singing and I love being on stage. I still get a moment of panic just before I go on, when I wonder why I’m doing it, but it’s fine once I’ve started singing. I like seeing people’s reactions to my music, especially when I’ve written a new song, and I think there’s something magical about live music, that doesn’t always come across on CD.

Would you like to be really famous and on a major label or would you prefer to be more of an unknown quantity and retain your artistic control and integrity?

Somewhere in between would be perfect. I don’t have a desire to be famous; that’s not why I play music; but it would be nice to be able to make a living from it. It’s the only thing I’m really passionate about, and the only thing I can really see myself doing in the future. And I think it’s very important to stay in control of what you’re doing, no matter what the incentives are.

Mansfield Quiz

Fran has now moved to Leeds, but we didn't want her losing touch with her Mansfield roots, so we set her a ten question quiz about her hometown.

1. Who is the most famous singer to have ever to have come from Mansfield?

Alvin Stardust. CORRECT

2. What is the nickname of the football team?


3. Who is the manager?

No idea. WRONG - Answer Carlton Palmer

4. Which 70s pop band is the shopping centre named after?

Erm…The Four Seasons? CORRECT

5. Who is Mansfield's MP?

Alan Meale last time I looked. CORRECT

6. What was Mansfield famous for NOT having until the 90s?

A Train Station? CORRECT

7. Which former 007 reputedly once lived in nearby Ravenshead?

Don’t know. WRONG - Answer Roger Moore (allegedly!)

8. Which of the following lower league Britpop bands were from Mansfield?
A. Marion B. The Hybirds C. The Candyskins

Never heard of any of them! WRONG - Answer B. The Hybirds

9. Which page three girl/model is rumoured to have once worked in the aforementioned shopping centre?

...??? WRONG - Answer Jo Guest

10. What is the name of the memorial in the central market square?

The Bentinck Memorial. CORRECT

Final score 6/10 - Not bad!

Click the link in the top right of this page to hear clips from two Fran Rodgers songs - Out Of Time and Song to a Stranger.

last updated: 20/04/05
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