What do Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson all have in common? They participated in various seasons of American Idol. Young singer-songwriter Francisco Martin has gone down the same path and is now creating his own journey to musical success. The 19-year-old from San Francisco quickly moved to Nevada after the show to record as many demos as possible and has released his first original single ‘Swollen’ in October. As this year has proven to be a whirlwind of events, Martin has been able to navigate his place in the music industry through virtual writing sessions and an abundance of Zoom meetings, hoping to one day meet with industry professionals in real life.
American Idol’s live shows coincided with the start of lockdown in the US. How did you experience this?
It is funny. We were only in LA for about a week and a half when they called us all into a meeting and said “You guys have to go back tomorrow it is not safe. We have to quarantine at home but we might be back in April,”, and that never happened. Once we got home, a whole new way of filming was introduced. We had to do all the production work and sing at the same time and we had to literally stay up every single night to upload videos. It was fun but it also became very tiresome. You jump from being a contestant on the show. Just singing, picking your songs, hanging out with friends to basically doing your whole entire production. We still got help from all the producers, but it was definitely a big change for all of us. Overall it was an amazing experience.
Did you ever feel as if the pressure was higher because of lockdown and that “normal society” stopped?
In the beginning, I was very overwhelmed, and I am still overwhelmed. It is like a rollercoaster to me because when lockdown just started, I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. Once it started sinking in and the show was over, I was really scared about what was going to happen. Keeping up the social media presence was hard for me because I do really want to keep in touch with my supporters but I have never really been a big fan of the platforms and the effects it has on me. I have always loved to create and to sing, so that has never been a problem for me, but of course with the whole entire lockdown, not being able to see people, not being able to produce with other people in the room, it takes away from the experience and it is hard so I try to balance it all out. It is crazy. I am just starting as an artist now. The way I have been introduced to the music world has been very unique. I got introduced to an industry that was trying to adapt to life with Covid and a global lockdown. It is also an extremely stressful time, politically and at times I don’t know how to react to that.
How do you as an artist and a person differ and intertwine?
In the first stages of my career, I really wanted to create a persona so that there would be a barrier in order to have my artistry come first. Yet I have always wanted to be very honest with my supporters and in my music too. I am a very anxious person, and I have never wanted that to be confused with the artist in me. I also tend to write very sad songs because that is what I love to do, but I don’t want that to be mistaken as me being a sad person. I’ll take accounts of me, but I blow them out of proportion. I don’t get my heart broken every day, and I am definitely not sad every day. Right now, it is hard to differentiate me as a person and me as an artist because I feel like I spilt most of my artistry into myself and now I am feeling more. And I can’t seem to figure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
How did the idea for ‘Swollen’ start?
‘Swollen’ was one of the songs that I had written whilst on the show. The idea came after an encounter with a girl. I had started to fall in love with the idea of her. We only spent one day together, and the underlying basis was clearly friendship yet the idea of love crept up on me when we were getting to know one another on a personal level.
Do you think different cities have a different influence on your music?
Yes definitely, when I am in Nevada I feel saver in a sense because I am just by myself, in my own little world. When I am in LA, there are just so many things. I don’t think it affects my music but it affects my mindset a little bit. These different places (San Francisco, Nevada and Los Angel) have an impact on how I am feeling and my actions but it doesn’t necessarily change the way I make music because I have a clear direction of what I want to write and who I want to be as an artist. No matter where I am at, I know what I want my music to sound like and that never really changes.
Text by: Lauren Dehollogne