Entertainment & Arts

Frances shares her SXSW tour diary

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Media captionFrances performs Grow at the BBC Introducing SXSW showcase in 2016.

Upcoming singer-songwriter Frances made her first appearance at the South By Southwest festival in Texas last week. She shares her diary and photos of the event.

A nominee for the BBC Sound of 2016 and the Brits Critics' Choice award, Frances looks set for stardom this year.

Her harmonious piano ballads have seen the 22-year-old compared to Adele, with Gigwise praising the "stark beauty" of her vocals.

Once an aspiring violinist, her life changed when her teacher sent her to meet a film composer for career advice.

On a whim, she played him a pop song she'd written for fun - and moved him to tears. "He said, 'you should just do that. It's great."

Image caption The singer entered the Spotify trending charts in America after performing at SXSW

Describing herself as a "little ginger cookie", the Berkshire-born musician got her break after being championed on her local BBC Introducing show.

Since signed by Sam Smith's management team, she seems destined to emulate his mass popularity.

Last week, Frances visited Austin, Texas, where she played the BBC Introducing and PRS Foundation showcase at the influential SXSW music festival - which has accelerated the careers of acts like The White Stripes, The Strokes, Imagine Dragons, Franz Ferdinand and Chvrches.

She shared her diary and photos from the three-day trip with BBC News.

Image copyright Frances / BBC
Image caption Arriving in Texas for a hectic three days of music and interviews

TUESDAY 15 MARCH: Exploring

Austin is sunny, vibrant and beautiful. I've spent today absorbing a little too much heat but the perfect amount of music! I didn't really know what to expect from this famous festival, but it's exceeded my expectations in all sorts of ways. At night, you could compare the main streets to a strip in Kavos (Corfu) or somewhere similar.. just a lot cooler and a whole lot more indie. Then, if you walk even just a couple of minutes out of the main areas, there are some beautiful green spots with stunning views of the river.

Today I took refuge from the searing sun in Spotify House - a great little hub they've set up where amazing artists and bands are playing throughout the day and night, with refreshing cocktails and, of course, some subby hipster tunes to fill the gaps between sets.

Looking forward to day two: A couple of shows for me and a bit more exploring.

Image copyright Frances / BBC
Image caption Austin by night


Today began at the famous Iron Works BBQ. I arrived there at 11:00, as it was the location for a filmed interview with the lovely Jo Whiley for Radio 2 and BBC Introducing. People were already queuing up for their BBQ fix at 11am. Was it breakfast? Lunch? Brunch? I have no idea, but they were keen and rightly so. It looked incredible and I'll be returning there when I know I have a free afternoon for napping, just in case.

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Media captionJo Whiley catches up with Frances at the SXSW Festival in Austin

Jo and I had a lovely chat and we were both looking forward to the BBC Introducing showcase where I would be playing later that evening at Latitude 30. My first show of the day, however, was at Barracuda for a New Shapes showcase. Great crowd, chilled lunchtime atmosphere, it was a dream first show for me.

My stage time for the BBC Introducing showcase was midnight, (or 05:00, according to my body clock) but I was kept awake with the excitement of being able to watch Isaac Gracie and Billie Martin, who were on the bill before me. They were just brilliant, such a joy to watch. Stage time arrived and the crowd were certainly under the influence but we had a wonderful time together and I was so happy with how receptive everybody was.

A massive thank you to BBC Introducing and PRS for having me play, it was a lot of fun!

Image caption The show got a great reception
Image caption The crowd seemed to be paying attention...


Today I got to meet some lovely people and chat about what I've been up to - writing my album and how I've found the festival so far. I've heard some artists say that they find interviews tricky, but I just love a good chat. Everyone has been so kind and supportive, which has been great, especially so far away from home.

I was also pleased to feel a spot of rain today. It was refreshing after the blistering heat of the last couple of days.

Image copyright Frances / BBC
Image caption One of my interviews was with Chelsea Briggs from the US entertainment show Hollywire

For the afternoon I checked out a really cool part of the festival on Rainey Street. A bit more space to move around, great food, great music and a bit more chilled than the buzz of the main strips. Just my cup of tea.

While there I managed to catch Spanish indie band Hinds. Just four girls rocking out on stage - they were great! Looking forward to tomorrow, my last show of the festival at St David's Church. A relaxing way to finish a crazy week.

FRIDAY 18 March: Goodbye!

Image copyright Frances / BBC
Image caption Playing by candlelight

Today was my final show day of this amazing festival. I didn't have to be at the venue until the evening so I was lucky to catch Låpsley performing in the afternoon at the YouTube Music hub. She was amazing, I'd never heard her voice live before and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Turning up to the venue for my show in the evening, a beautiful church named St David's, I was greeted with the warmest of smiles from the church staff. The main room, where I would be performing, was gorgeous. Showtime came and I took to the stage in front of an attentive, respectful and candle-lit audience. They were with me for the whole show. Laughed with me, listened to me and even sang with me at the end. A dream way to end my SXSW experience!

I've had a great time in Austin this week. Not just playing the shows and watching music but also exploring some of the beautiful nature surrounding the buzz of this city. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to come back really soon.

Image copyright Frances / BBC
Image caption Goodbye, Austin!

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