Music

Rising Toronto pop star Langston Francis getting his musical degree in the real world

As high school summer jobs go, it’s a pretty cool one.

Not cool like Dickie Dee cool, but cool like travelling across the country performing your own hit singles in front of excited fans kind of cool.

That’s what Canadian pop artist — and recently graduated 11th grader — Langston Francis is up to this particular outta-school season.

He’ll hit Calgary Wednesday, July 25 for a show at The Rec Room, bringing to town his deep, brooding electro ballads that have helped chart him and earn him the title of “One to watch,” from any and every online or other publication. Hell, even Vibe is onboard.

On top of that, he’ll also be part of Roots Canada’s 2018 music-themed Sweat Style campaign, which should only raise his profile nationally.

Dude’s 17. And when September hits, the T.O. Kensington Market kid has to think about graduating.

You try doing that, balancing it all, and see how well you do.

But Francis seems as well-adjusted, as grounded as one could be, even if he admits to having moments of mild anxiety.

“I think some days things can get overwhelming,” Francis says, pointing to the need to focus on school while at the same time juggling a fast-rising music career.

“But also I try to remember I feel blessed to have the opportunities I have, that a lot of people wish that they would get to do what I get to do.

“So I just try to be thankful.”

Although he may seem like a newbie, he’s actually been on this path for quite some time. Having had formal training in piano and guitar, he then took it into his bedroom, where he self-taught himself further on his instruments and in songwriting, and then began busking to further hone his crafts.

It was at the ripe ol’ age of 13, when things took a leap, as Francis was discovered by his now manager, songwriting partner, co-producer and “mentor” Miles Jones.

Jones took him into a studio, where they recorded a demo to get the word out about the young talent.

It worked, as Francis was signed to a development deal with Sony Music Canada when he was 14.

The few years between now and then have been time spent grooming the artist, “to help me find my sound.”

Found.

You can hear it on his trio of released singles, FCKD It Up, Fall From Grace and the current radio riser These Nights — all of which are personal and relationship-heavy tunes wrapped in a rather distinct cocoon of warm synth.

Local Langston lovers will get a different version of them, as his Rec Room performance will be a solo acoustic set with just his his handsome, boyish voice and piano selling the singles.

Although it won’t just be a brief three-song set, as he’ll also be previewing the wealth of material his development has produced, but he and his handlers have wisely held back.

“I could drop two albums no problem with the songs that I have done, but instead to try and get more traction we’re going single by single and then we’ll probably go into an EP probably late summer, September,” he says, before dropping his own knowledge about the industry on the importance of playlist streams and the fact that “nobody buys albums anymore.”

Which brings us back to the idea of education and the fact that when the summer is done there’s still a senior year to get through.

And then?

While Francis admits he’s debating the idea of post-secondary school, he also knows that for where he is, how far he’s already come in the industry, that if this is is what he really wants to do with the rest of his life, there’s no real lesson plan, curriculum or degree that can help.

“I don’t know, I think especially with music, like, sure you can go to school for music and business and stuff,” he says. “But the best advice my manager got was when he was getting into it, he was like, ‘If you want to get into the music industry you have to get into the music industry. It’s hard to teach that stuff in the classroom.’

“So it’s cool that I’ve been able to get a headstart and try to run with it.”

Langston Francis performs Wednesday, July 25 at The Rec Room. For tickets please click here.

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at mike@theyyscene.com. He likes beer. Buy him one.

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