The duo behind Neil Frances come from two different worlds, and yet their union sounds destined. Jordan Feller and Marc Gilfry first met in 2012. It wasn’t until four years later that Jordan called Marc to lend vocals to some demos, which were intended as a placeholder. As with the best of accidents, the two liked what they heard and Neil Frances was born.
Jordan grew up in Sydney, then spent time in London, before landing in Los Angeles. Marc, a California native, grew up outside of Los Angeles in Rancho Cucamonga, in a house across the street from his aunt, uncle and cousin. Since childhood, the two found themselves exposed to a range of music, from opera, disco, hip-hop and more, all of which informs their songwriting today.
These influences can be heard on Neil Frances’ dreamy debut EP, Took A While, consisting of five lustrous, reverberating dance tracks featuring one infectious melody after the other. Their sound caught the attention of Jungle and Poolside, who they toured with earlier this year. When the music discovery platform, The Wild Honey Pie first heard their music, they quickly invited them to play the launch of their Los Angeles dinner party series (held in early November) at Checker Hall.
Culture Collide spoke to Neil Frances about their 2018 highlights, musical backgrounds, collaborating with The Wild Honey Pie and more. Read on.
Culture Collide: How did your upbringing influence your musical taste?
Marc: My dad is an opera singer, that’s his day job. When I was a kid, my mom teached jazzercise a lot and now she teaches choir. I have a lot of classical musicians in my family, so I was raised around that and appreciate it. When it came to family BBQ’s we were listening to Doobie Brothers, Chicago, The Bee Gee’s, Mariah Carey…
Jordan: My first love was hip-hop music more than anything else. I couldn’t believe what guys like Snoop Dogg were saying on records, I was just wide-eyed. As I got older I got into DJing and parties around Sydney, and dove head-first into dance and electronic music. I’m still in love with that music.
But then also my mom would listen to ridiculous disco music. I’d be going to play football on the weekends with all these other under 10 year old kids, and my mom would be banging out Ma Baker and Sunny by Boney M. out of her car. So it was a bit funny, but I think that’s probably why I’ve got a strange disco pulse in me.
Marc: And why you’re not an athlete.
Jordan: That also could be why I’m not an athlete.
CC: What’s one of the most memorable thing that’s happened for the band this year?
Marc: My dream came true this year, which was opening for Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I’m such a crazy, huge fanboy of that band and of Ruban, the lead singer. We opened for them in Orange County and it was a really amazing show. I was scared shitless to talk to anyone in UMO, so I didn’t, which is good because I didn’t make a fool of myself. They were rad.
Jordan: I would also say UMO. I’ve personally been a big fan for a while. Also finishing the tour we just did was a real accomplishment. We did so many miles in the car, drove from one side of the country to the other, and played with some great bands like Poolside and Jungle. I think we drove from New York to LA in about 2 ½ days. The vehicle did not stop for 2 ½ days.
Marc: I’m amazed the van didn’t break down. That was an achievement.
Probably the greatest sense of accomplishment I felt on that tour was when I kicked Jordan’s ass at FIFA finally. There was an X-Box in this van and it got really competitive and Jordan was dominating the entire tour, and right at the end I just whooped him.
Jordan: I was so mad I couldn’t look him in the eyes, I had to take a moment. It was dark.
CC: How did the Wild Honey Pie dinner party collaboration come together?
Jordan: They are big fans of our music and reached out. They gave us great feedback on the songs they heard, and when we put out the EP they threw out the offer to have us play one of their parties. We planned something different for the set that we were excited about, there were some Doobie Brothers and yacht rock influences in there.
CC: Favorite dinner and drink pairing?
Marc: Snickers and red wine. I highly recommend the combo, it’s really good. Dinner pairing? Pizza and Coca-Cola.
Jordan: I was going to say that too.
Marc: I just crave Coke anytime I eat pizza.
CC: Who are some of your favorite acts?
Jordan: Going back to all the hip-hop stuff, all the producers like Dr Dre, etc. Early dance music is a big influence. French disco house. Daft Punk and all that stuff. That’s a snapshot.
CC: Who are you listening to right now?
Marc: Touring with Jungle and Poolside was great. Unknown Mortal Orchestra. We like Tame Impala. There’s this British singer name Bakar who’s really great.
Jordan: I really like King Krule.
Marc: One really influential one for me, is our friend Sam Wilkes, his new album is really great.
CC: What are your plans for 2019?
Jordan: We want to record an album and release new music. Keep touring as much as we can. I love playing shows.
Marc: We have some potential things in motion right now, but I think 2019 is going to look a lot like 2018 with support tours and festivals. And an album, definitely an album.