Toronto based singer-songwriter/ producer Francois Klark is bringing intriguing elements of his vibrant music influences to his intricate percussion heavy soundscapes and transporting his listeners to the inner depths of outer space.

I had the amazing opportunity to chat with the South African native about his artistic journey where we discussed his music influences and the making of his extraordinary cinematic latest single and accompanying music video for “Run”.

SR: What is your story?
FK: I was born in a town called Rundu in the Okavango, Namibia. I grew up being exposed to the vibrant music and culture of, not only the white Afrikaans people, but also that of the Mbarakwengo people who lived in and around the Omega military base where my family lived. My family would eventually move back to South Africa. It was in the small town of Potchefstroom, that I, through singing in choirs, had the opportunity to explore all the music and cultures of my fellow South Africans. I went on to Uni in South Africa to study graphic design, but after two years had the opportunity to go study music in Toronto, Canada at Humber College. That was the big shift that set me on the course to pursue a music career.

SR: How would you describe your music style?
FK: My music is deeply inspired by my upbringing in ‘world music’ and classical music. I combine these with my love for electronic production elements. The result is alternative pop anthems that slink between epic and intimate soundscapes which are alarmingly tribal, doused with provocative hooks, flickering synths and live instruments and often cinematic and orchestral-based elements.

SR: What Influenced you to become a singer?
FK: I’ve always been interested in music. Music is so closely tied to family for me and probably one of the biggest reasons that led me to pursuing a career as a singer. I remember music being part of our household for as long as I can remember. It was just another way of living everyday life. We could jump behind the piano anytime and the house was always filled with music and singing. As mentioned previously, choir also played a major role in steering me towards becoming a singer.

SR: Was there a particular moment that made you decide this is what you wanted to do as a career?
FK: A really big turning point for me came during my 2nd year of Graphic Design studies at the University in my home town, Potchefstroom. I entered a song into the University’s songwriting competition. The winner got the opportunity to perform their song in the Sanlam Auditorium in front of nearly 1000 people. My song was selected as that year’s best original composition, which in turn meant that, well…somewhere I had to get the courage to play that big venue. Up until that point I have never sung in front of such a large audience and only ever played piano in front of my parents and siblings. I suffered from a fair bit of stage fright for most of my life, but somehow had the courage to step out on the stage by myself & play the song that night – definitely the most formative and proudest moment of my life. The performance went well and I believe that that was the pivotal moment that changed the course of my life and that has led me to where I am today.

SR: Which current artists are motivating you?
FK: Dave Matthews, Labrinth, Cass Lowe, Emeli Sande, Coldplay, Chris Martin, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Stromae, A Tribe Called Red. This list can go on forever.

SR: What are the most challenging thing/s about being an artist?
FK: I personally find it hard to balance the creative and business sides of music. Making sure that working hard on the business side doesn’t drain you and leave you too tired to be creative and avoiding focussing solely on the creative side so much so that the business side gets neglected.

SR: What inspired the song,’Run’?
FK: My obsession with the stars, space and the sky, previously explored in my debut single ‘Spaceman’, once again served as my muse – this time leading to the creation of my sophomore single ‘Run’. I was staring up at the moon one afternoon as it hung ghostly pale against the piercing blue sky, my mind transfixed on the fact that it merely reflects the light of the sun with a cold, far lesser shine than it’s light source. I was mesmerized by it’s beauty as it so convincingly tried to fool me into believing the illusion that it produces light itself. This made me think of the moon as the sun’s lover, a lover that only takes love (light), deceitfully pretends to love back, but the love is in fact a mere imitation of love – a poor reflection. In the song I liken the love of this lover to things that aren’t real, physical, or are just mere illusions (a ghost, a mirage in the desert, a shadow), and realize the importance of getting as far away from it, as fast as possible. The music video for ‘Run’ expands on this theme by telling the story of a lover in a relationship similar to the relationship between sun and moon described above. It was important for me to not only explore the more painful side of love and relationships, but also to challenge the viewer to evaluate how they perceive the validity of another person’s feelings and emotions. It is my opinion that we often discredit the validity of the emotions & feelings of those we can’t relate with or whose lifestyles we don’t agree with. I therefore chose to portray a couple in a relationship that isn’t widely viewed as normal by the majority of society. I want to impress on the viewer that we are all part of the same human experience – The love and heartbreak that you experience is no different, no less real than someone who is different from you.

SR: What was filming the music video like?
FK: Two full days of running through rain and puddles while being chased by a camera through one of my favourite cities – I had an absolute blast! It was great working with Miguel Barbosa (Yeah!Films). He was also the director for the lyric video that we shot for ‘Spaceman’. It is always a pleasure to work on projects with him and his team.

SR: What advice would you give to anyone who aspires to be an artist?
FK: Write all the time. Surround yourself with truly genuine and good people. Make true friends, not contacts. Don’t follow trends – trends will pass by the time you’re ready to release your music. Be true to what comes naturally to you. Find a purpose for your music – it wasn’t given to you to serve you.

SR: What is next for you?
FK: The release of my debut album this May.

Catch all the latest news on Francois Klark on his official website

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