Recently, the London funk and soul collective known as Franc Moody dropped their debut album Dream In Colour; a lush and fun-filled record that will have you smiling from start to finish. Their style has hints of Hall & Oates meets Phoenix, two of our favorite bands, which meant it was only fitting for us to invite them for the latest edition of our Director's Cut series. Below, they breakdown the funk and give you a "behind the scenes" look at how Dream In Colour came to be.
Words by Franc Moody
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Dream In Colour
This is the title track of the album and lyrically sums up the ethos of what we were trying to explore with this selection of tunes. It explores the often difficult relationship between technology and real-life that faces us each and every day, the onslaught of information that is a feature of our world.
This intergalactic slice of funk is our nod to the rave culture we're so inspired by. Its made up of the staple palette of Franc Moody sonics, with a chunky, driving bass and guitar riff kicking things off and a little feature on the oboe. It also features Jon’s family string section. We’re honoured that Daph and Bry ’Sock’ Moody bless our records with their world-class playing. Good to keep it in the fam!
We always thought of it as an album track but when we got it into the mix we realised, although unconventional with its long intro and outro, it should definitely be put out as a single and given its place as a solid chunk of the FM sound.
Skin On Skin
This tune definitely harkens back to our soul sensibilities. A quicker tempo, but a more laidback feel.
There was something instantly gratifying about the simple chord sequence and vocally and lyrically this tune came together really quickly. The feel of the chords and groove instantly gave the tune a kind of sexy lilt whilst the phrase “Skin On Skin” had been hanging out in our song title book for ages so immediately felt a perfect fit.
We were also really keen to have vocal harmonies and staggered “ooh’s and ash’s” like the doo-wop groups of old. Something slightly “bubble gum” but cool at the same time. There’s something really cool about performing it live with all interweaving vocals on point.
We were also keen to keep it from being too throwback. Adding the right sounding kick drum, synth lines and chorus on the guitar immediately took it into the Franc Moody sonics.
Charge Me Up
This is a song about renewable energy….. sort of…
The bass line actually popped into Jons's head when we were in the middle of tracking some vocals in a session for someone else. The next day when we went to listen back it was just one of the hundreds of voice notes we have on our phones, you know when little ideas pop up in your head every now and again and you need to quickly record them before you totally forget! Usually, the moment passes and you end up listening back to some strange melody which makes absolutely no sense. This one, however, came back in full force the next day and when we started layering up the track in the studio it got funkier and funkier and eventually made it on the album. Definitely inspired by the old school deep funk grooves of James Brown and Bobby Byrd. It’s not trying to change the world with its lyrics, just designed for good, clean fun and the good times.
Flesh & Blood
When we were first discussing putting an album together, we realised it was gonna be a great opportunity to show some more shades and flavours to FM that we knew we had in us but hadn’t really had the opportunity to expose yet. Maybe there’s a nod to Daft Punk's Something About Us, a record we have always loved and thought how cool it is that the French production masters had those strings to their bow. This slower tempo, chunky interlocking kick drum, and bass groove was inspired by some Ramsey Lewis grooves we were digging. The grooves were actually a much faster pace, but it really locked when we were jamming ideas at a slower pace. It all came together super quickly after that foundation was formed. The lyric is a celebration of all things beyond the tactile and physical makeup of our bodies, layers deeper than just our flesh and blood.
To be honest the weeks before leading up to writing this record we had hit a bit of a wall creatively. We were trying to write ‘bigger’ songs (whatever that means) and getting carried away with ideas that weren't really genuine. So one day in the studio Adam, our manager came in and we were chatting about the project as we often do, and we sort of reset our mindset on what we are trying to achieve. Moments later we got the main groove together, and this is the only song on the record where the bass isn’t played by either of us. This is Adams killer B Line!! It quickly came together, like most strong ideas, adding the oboe and string motif (we basically sang the exact same line to each other there and then) and the little synth hooks.
This record is designed to excite. Capture that feeling of ‘take-off’, that little butterfly in your stomach right before you know something pretty special is about to happen. Definitely one of our fave grooves on the album.
She’s Too Good For Me
We wrote S2G4M many moons ago, a few years before Franc Moody started. We came up with the foundations of the tune-up at our old warehouse studio in Tottenham, but it was a very different back then, think more Rhodes and Ernest Ranglin vibes, more rootsy with 1/4 inch tape drum breaks. When we started the Franc Moody project we knew it was a song we eventually wanted to release, it just needed a Franc Moody makeover.
Grin & Bear It
This started off in our tiny cupboard in North West London as a trucking little groove that we’d made by chopping up and looping this rhythmic pattern we’d made with spoons and these strange “Howler Monkey-Esque” vocals.
It all seemed to come pretty quickly from there. The “call and response” bass and guitar lines really make the song bounce along nicely with the 16th’s in the hi-hat and the synth and lead guitar lines just gave the tune that necessary lift and identity.
Vocally it really seemed to snap into place quickly. We really wanted a tune where all the vocals were sung as a thick harmony, akin to a kind of Gospel style vocal. Something melodic and soaring. We even chucked in a couple of descants for good measure.
The lyrics really speak for themselves. We all tend to “grin and bear” it from time to time, that “stiff upper lip” mentality. Hopefully, as a world we’re making steps every day towards being more open, a process that definitely requires bravery but ultimately helps.
Night Flight Reprise
This idea came about when we were looking for a moment in our live set to bring the energy right down and to provide a moment of atmospheric calm before the storm that lies ahead moving into the last run of tunes in the set. We had the idea to use the oboe motif in Night Flight and build the sonics around it. We wanted it to feel like you were hanging, a moment of clarity as if you were paused in space looking at a vast view of the solar system. I guess inspired by what astronauts describe as ‘the overview effect’ which is supposed to be an overwhelming sensation and realisation of perspective when you look back at the earth from space for the first time.
We recorded this in a church in Sussex (south of England) very close to where Ned grew up. It was so nice to have the guys in the band record this one with us and to keep the ‘DIY’ nature of the FM recording process.
This Is A Mood
A Hall & Oates inspired bop, a very last-minute offering on the album! Luckily it came together super quickly in the studio and we just managed to get it into the mix before at the 11th hour. We wanted to create a cool, simple but driving beat that allows the slippery bass line and guitar/keys parts to weave and interlock around it. The chorus is a long circular sequence that we elaborate on in the outro section with some saucy slide guitar layers added by Luke, our guitarist on the road.
A Little Something For The Weekend
This started as a bass and drum groove with the traditional mix of cross-rhythm Juno, ballistic SH101 riffs and this wet Franc Moody Rhodes sound we get by applying Vibrato.
Then we added some choppy off-kilter guitar and these slightly over the top Brian May style harmony guitars at the end.
The whole tune as an instrumental was there but it didn’t quite feel right for the album. We tried a thousand different vocal hooks, lyrical ideas and nothing seemed to stick. We were ready to consign the song to our already full folder entitled “almost finished songs”.
Then at the 11th hour, we had this idea of doing something more “spoken word”, inspired by people like John Cooper Clarke and Sleaford Mods. Our own speaking voices sounded really shit when we attempted it so we thought of people we could ask and through a family member, we enlisted Marieke who’d provided vocals for Franc Moody collaborators Thool before. She jumped at the idea and we got her in to record one evening.
Lyrically we’d been toying with “Vice” as a title. We wanted the verses to provide statements indicative of a perfect and strict holistic lifestyle whilst juxtaposing that with a chorus that celebrated Vice. Marieke’s delivery was perfect and added so much charisma and melody to the song.