Francis Neve made something of a splash with his debut mini album 'The Second Time We First Met' and has kept the ball rolling with a string of rave reviews for new single 'Winterbury'. We thought it high time we found out a bit more about the man in question:

R13:Singer/songwriter seems a bit too generic a term, how do you describe what you do to people who may not have heard you?
F: I suppose I see myself more as a kind of performing producer than a singer songwriter. I really like to use the process of recording as a way to realise my ideas. The songs are rarely complete and written before I start to experiment in the studio.

R13:Tell us about the new single 'Winterbury', what's the story behind it?
F: Winterbury is the 5th track off the album and when you listen to it in that context it's an important part of the narrative that flows through the record. At the time it was written I was with a girl and we came up with the name of a fictional place after spending time together at a seaside town. I suppose if I'm really honest about it, it was a brief encounter in my personal life that really inspired the lyrics and the atmosphere of the song but at the time I felt I was writing about the characters I'd created for the record.

R13:How did you come to have Lucy Randell involved?
F: Lucy was introduced to me through a close mutual friend. She needed help with some writing and production on her own material. As soon as I heard her voice I knew I had a sound that would work for her. Lucy typically makes more soul and R & B music. We worked together finding a vocal style that would suit the Francis Neve record and in Winterbury she really produced an amazing sound. What she gave me was so subtle and soulful but still gave the lyric the gravity that it needed.

R13:Have you been surprised with the amount of positive press you've received so far?
F: I try not to think about it too much if I'm honest, especially in that way. I was one of these people where I could get 10 great reviews and then one bad one would come along and it would completely floor me. That's not a great way to be so now I just try to take all the positives on board and keep low expectations. It is good to know when music lovers like my stuff. I worked really hard on it so the fact that people are feeling it is really rewarding.

R13:Your music is quite lo-fi and stark in many respects, were there any artists in particular that inspired you to develop that sound or was it more of a natural/organic process?
F: It was definitely a natural process that came from making the album. In the run up to making the record I was writing a lot of busy sounding stuff with "wall of sound" production but as soon as I started making the record things felt different. The idea behind the story dictated the mood and atmosphere and I always seemed to find that each song sounded better and more complete as I stripped away the ideas that I had earlier layered up; to leave behind just the bones almost. By just leaving the essentials of the rhythm and the melodies, and bringing in sounds rather than melodies more often than not made listening back to it feel more satisfying.

R13:You opened your own studio in 2009, how hard is it to balance your own career with running the studio?
F: It's pretty difficult sometimes because there aren't always enough hours in the day but really without my studio and live sound work I wouldn't have such broad and relentless exposure to music and production. Really I have to say that my job is as important to me as my creative career because it has made me a better artist and in many respects has taught me how to make better records and produce music.

R13:I understand you played most of the instruments on last year's mini album, 'The Second Time We First Met'; was that because you had a clear idea of how you wanted it to sound and did it turn out how you intended?
F: The main reason I played most of it was because I was always there at the studio! Often I had ideas that I had to get down there and then and a lot of those original takes ended up being keepers used on the tracks. There were a lot of times when I really need other peoples input on the music and that was when I called upon the people like Paul Finney and Tom Maxwell. Together they would give me performances that really complimented what I was doing and made it feel and sound more like a group than just one person. The sound grew as I went a long and it all turned out better than I had hoped.

R13:What was the thinking behind releasing a mini album as opposed to a full length album?
F: I wasn't really planning it as a mini album. I had this story to tell and it quickly limited me to just the 7 songs. It was almost 8! When it came to track listing I only wanted to use the strong songs that each told a part of the story. I didn't want any fillers on there. It ended up as 7 and now I'm really glad. It seems to be a bit of a trend lately to have fewer songs on an album so I'm glad I got in early!

R13:BBC 6 Music have already play listed you, do you think that was a defining moment where you thought things were starting to move for you?
F: It was brilliant to get love from BBC 6 as it is such a great station. I have a lot of respect for what they do. I'm really pleased about how that is all going. It gets your music out there and in to people's working day or on in the car stereo and as a writing musician what more can you ask for?

R13:Any plans for more live dates further afield? Will fans catch you at any festivals this summer or a full UK tour?
F: We are playing Catch in Shoreditch on the 14th April and then the live diary is closed as I am going to be in the studio writing for most of this summer with just the odd gig here and there.