The Naked Eye is a London based collaborative project centred around singer/songwriter Frenchie. She first caught my ear when I heard, ‘River of No Return‘ back in December of last year. Then earlier this month, she returned with ‘Burned‘. These two tracks are featured the self-titled six track EP which was released in February. Frenchie answered a few of my questions recently explaining what the process was like putting the EP together describing the experience as a roller coaster and telling me what inspired each song. You can read more below:
How long have you been involved in music?
Since I can remember…I started singing at a very young age, around 4 or something. I remember music having a huge impact on me. I’d go into my older sisters’ rooms and they’d be listening to Nirvana, Björk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lauryn Hill and Portishead. I’d just sit there, sing and listen to the albums on repeat, whilst in some sort of trance.
After leaving school, I began singing and writing with a few different bands for fun but never thought I could do anything with it. As I had lots of interests, I was originally going to study something completely different, but then I kind of fell into music college by accident. Looking back now, it was a very good last minute decision haha!
How did The Naked Eye happen?
In my third year of music college I took a songwriting module. My songs were sent to the production team and that’s when I started collaborating with French producer Charlie P. I had a collection of songs I wanted to record, so we worked on the arrangements and sounds together. We then started experimenting with a rhythm section (Jim Macrae, Andres Castellanos and Tim Sentance) to translate the sound for a live setting, mixing electronic references with raw, organic instrumentation.
What was it like working on the EP?
Um…quite a roller coaster! People don’t realise how much hard work goes into putting a record together. It’s a full time job! The recording process, managing creatives, the mixing/ mastering, the art work, PR/marketing, finance…on top of all the anxiety over sharing personal material. There have been so many lessons, but I’ve been blessed with people’s help and knowing who I can and cannot rely on creatively/professionally.
What inspired the lyrics of each song?
Relationships, experiences, poetry, art and dreams that I’ve written down.
In the ‘Intro’, It was very important to me to make reference to my French roots. It’s a beautifully seductive language, so I translated the lyrics from ‘Embrace Me’ into French with producer Charlie.
‘Embrace Me’ is a very special song to me, inspired by a poem my ex wrote. It’s about surrendering to love.
‘Come Wonder’ grew out of a strange dream I had about my ex, which started off very romantic and peaceful but then ended with me breaking his legs so he wouldn’t leave me, recreating a scene from the film ‘Misery’. Slightly worrying… but the thought stuck with me, and I became fascinated by the way your dreams can suddenly change, dramatically or violently, in mood and tone.
‘River Of No Return’ was inspired by a few things. I had to write a song for an icon at uni and I choose Amy Winehouse. I was attracted to this toxic relationship at the time, which I knew was doomed from the very start, and I guess I saw a similarity between this relationship and hers. I’ve always been influenced by her songwriting style, it’s so honest, raw and direct.
I chose the title and began penciling in lyrics after discovering two paintings at the Tate Britain, ‘Ophelia’, by John Everett Millais & John William Waterhouse’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’. The themes of both paintings are based on a love that’s cursed and will ultimately destroy you, with both female characters floating down a ‘river of no return.’
‘Burned’ is the rawest and most exposing song I’ve ever written, about a time when I’d just ended a very hurtful and toxic relationship that was almost forbidden and secret. I’d become part of a love triangle and was really angry with the way that the girlfriend and I had been treated. I couldn’t understand how he’d managed to get away with his careless and selfish behaviour. I guess this song was a way for me to communicate with him and make sense of my feelings.
Sweet Boy’s lyrics are about being infatuated with someone the years of strange, magical chemistry we had. It’s funny looking back on it now as I wrote the lyrics before I could ‘give in’ and trust him whilst he was telling me all these ‘sweet’ things haha!
What are your favourite songs off the EP?
That’s impossible to decide! They have become something I’m very proud of, and I guess it depends on my mood. At the moment it’s ‘Embrace Me’ as the ending makes me feel euphoric like I’ve swallowed a bag of MDMA and I’m flying haha!
The EP was released in February, what has the response been like?
It’s taken me by surprise and been incredibly rewarding. I’m so humbled and grateful that people like it and are having their own journey with it.
Are there plans for a full length album?
What is next for The Naked Eye? Are there any shows coming up?
I’m currently writing and recording new material to flesh out the live set as well as reworking old songs that I’ve written. I’ve been collaborating with some incredibly talented and hard working musicians/producers recently, and I’m also working on an exciting surprise to share with you all in due time!
Lastly, what one word would you use to describe yourself?
Um…Floofy. It’s a word I made up and I think it describes me perfectly. It means feisty, fabulous and goofy all in one! haha!
You can stream the EP below and if you love it support the project and buy it over on iTunes