Francesca Lombardo has cultivated a sound of her own, one that represents her multidisciplinary musical background and transcends the dance floor via an emotional narrative of dreamy soundscapes, stirring melodies and hypnotic rhythms. Italian-born and classically trained, Francesca carved her path in electronic music. Crisscrossing the globe as a DJ and live performer, she’s played monumental shows including IMS Dalt Villa, Burning Man, Tomorrowland, Get Lost and Circoloco. In tandem, Francesca has built up a formidable back-catalogue of music on esteemed labels: Crosstown Rebels, Mobilee, Leftroom, One Records and her own Echoe and Echolette imprints amongst others.
Always pushing boundaries in the name of creativity, Francesca’s live show sees instrumental ensembles of varying sizes perform her intricate productions, whilst her finesse as a DJ and undeniable vocal prowess further distinguishes her from the crowd. Now entering a new phase of her career, Francesca prepares to unveil her debut album, a collection of songs representing the essence of what she’s all about. An LP that is forward- thinking, powerful and made from the heart. Live musicians feature, merging the world of electronic music with Francesca’s classical upbringing, set to uplift and engage people from all walks of life. The outcome is a combination of grand compositions, paired with subtle, nuanced numbers.
There’s no doubt that Francesca’s passion and drive for innovation in music serves as the fuel to keep her inspired and relevant, destined to soundtrack our lives for years to come. I managed to grab a few moments of Francesca’s time after she returned from Burning Man to talk about her musical background, her music and label, and what she has planned for the remainder of this year.
At the age of 13, Francesca joined the Conservatorium of Music in Italy to study piano and music theory and later studied vocal techniques in popular music performance in London. I spoke to Francesca about her early years in music and what drove her passion for music back then?
“I was always very passionate about music, my father and I shared this feeling, so it felt obvious that I was going to be a musician. I started learning piano at the age of 6, in a private music school and continued my studies there until I entered the Conservatorium in Mantova. I was also studying singing and playing guitar, however, singing was my big dream.”
After entering the Conservatorium for several years, I Francesca fell in love with electronic music and left in order to move to London to study music technology and find a band. “It had always been my dream to go to London and pursue music, ever since I was really really young, and I did it. After many years in London, I decided to join a part of Thames Valley University, where I graduated in vocal techniques in popular music performance.”
I asked Francesca what was it that drove her to move from Lombardy in Italy to London, and if there was anything she really misses from back home… “I wanted to move to London since I was 5. I don’t really know why but I was making up words in English and was already pretending to sing in English. I knew London was where I had to go. I miss Italy but I don’t miss living in Italy. I go there often and I still see some of my friends and still do the things I liked and did 20 years ago. Italy is a beautiful country but I don’t miss the life I had back then. Maybe once I have achieved what I originally had in mind, then I can move back, but I don’t think that will be anytime soon.”
We went on to speak about some of her early and biggest influences over the years where she was quick to mention her father… “he told me how to always believe in what I wanted to do and to just go for it. He also always reminded me to not worry about the consequences as long as I would be happy.”
Moving forward a little towards Francesca’s productions in electronic music some of you may be aware that she used to produce music under the name Jackie Misfit. This all changed after Francesca’s huge remix on Crosstown Rebels of New York’s duo Walker & Royce. I was keen to know why she decided to change to her real name… “I wanted to start with a fresh name and one that was actually my real name. Jackie Misfit was having a lot of fun for sure but I wanted to be myself on this new project.”
Since that early remix, Francesca has gone on to create a number of very successful releases and has recently made her debut on Anja Schneider’s Sous Music. I asked Francesca how the release came about and her relationship with Anja…
“Anja and I have become close during the last couple of years. She has always supported me and I appreciate her a lot. I have always admired and followed her as an artist and now, after getting to know her, I admire her as a person too. I sent her Spondylous she soon got in touch, suggesting she do a remix and release the EP on her label. I was well happy to work with her.”
Whilst discussing her work we went on to speak about Francesca’s production style. I asked Francesca about what sort of things she looks to lay down in a track first. I wanted to know more about how she constructs her music in the studio… “I don’t have a formula really. Depending on what sound I want to hear first, I play all the synths, fx and drum machines and explore the mixer before I record anything live into the DAW. I like to try different things and once I am happy to record a jam in. After that, I lay down the vocals if I have any and I do some editing if needed. Sometimes I take the project on the road and edit, or just give it a bit of time before I go back to it.”
We went on to speak about some of her favourite gadgets in the studio… “I am loving my Arturia Beatstep Pro! It’s a great piece of equipment, a great controller. I also love my latest addition which is the Arturia Matrixbrute.”
As if Francesca wasn’t busy enough she also runs two labels, Echolette which has been around since 2010, and its sister label Echoe. I asked Francesca why she was so keen to start up her own label…
“The main reason I started my own label was to be able to release the music that I wanted to. The freedom of releasing the music you like feels really good as an artist, whether is yours or others.”
Jedsa Soundorom made his debut on Echoe in September with his ‘Pavalaguna EP’. I asked Francesca what first grabbed her attention about this artist, and this particular release… “we became friends and he sent me some of his music. I knew already he was a great DJ and after listening to his tracks I fell in love with them straight away. Together we decided to release two of the tracks he sent and he suggested DoubtingThomas as a remixer, I decided to make the other one.”
As mentioned earlier Francesca also runs Echoe which is the sister label to Echolette that began only a couple of years back. I spoke to Francesca about why she wanted to start a sister label… “I wanted to have two different sounds, a bit like my career, Echolette is more chilled and musical, while Echoe is more dancefloor orientated.”
Being a label owner, Francesca is always on the lookout for new artists and music. I was keen to know who some of her favourite new artists have been over recent years… “I love Oona Dahl because she is special and different from anyone else. Her style is angelic and she has great ideas behind her music and she is very original. She is also a great DJ.” Oona is a DJ and artist I have been a huge fan of for some time now, and one we certainly love in the Decoded Magazine office.
Moving away from her productions and labels, for now, we went on to speak about her live performances. Anyone who has witnessed Francesca’s live performances will know she has used orchestral ensembles of varying sizes to perform her productions. I was keen to know more, and how these superb live performances came about…
“It has always been a dream of mine to play with an orchestra. When I started to write my album, I was introduced to Andrew Waterworth and we started to arrange strings for some of the tracks. This led to us to playing live together with a quartet. Later, he arranged all the tracks for an orchestra, as we were asked to do a live show at Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand. We then took this show to other places, although my live show has evolved since then.”
If you have not witnessed Francesca’s live work then you need to add it to your list. Whilst discussing live performances I often wonder what the artist thinks when they are presented with a wall of phones staring back at them. I asked Francesca her thoughts on mobile devices at gigs and whether she thinks they are a positive or a negative… “I think it can feel somewhat weird when you are performing and half of the people are watching you through an iPhone. Even more after your gig when you get asked to take a thousand selfies. This is the way things have gone and it’s a people’s personal choice. I don’t use the phone much when I’m at a concert or gig or event, but then I can regret not having any pictures. I feel the only reason why mobile phones are so present is that people want to keep the memory of the night.”
Italian’s are well known for their love of great food and wine. I asked Francesca about some of your favourite dishes and wines when she gets the chance to kick back and relax… “Indeed we are! I love natural wine, I am obsessed with it and I can hardly drink wine that is not natural anymore. There are plenty of them, especially in Italy and France, it’s hard to choose one. They are all great. About food, I love colourful food, with a lot of vegetables, and flavours. I, of course, could start talking about pasta, pizzas, and meats, but my diet has changed slightly and all those mentioned are occasional nowadays. I try to find the balance between healthy and delicious food.”
Finally, I asked Francesca what she has planned for 2018… “I have some great gigs coming out in the US and South America as well as the Middle East and Europe.”
I would like to thank Francesca for speaking to me and wish her all the best for the future.
Photo credit – William Worrell