Sophie Frances Cooke - better known as Frances - is well set up to become the next singer/songwriter du jour. And that’s not just because she’s got the same label and management teams as Sam Smith.
Cooke has already cut her teeth in the biz through songwriting for other people, and earned top-notch indie credentials by releasing her early EPs via Communion. “The first people I met, industry-wise, were my live agents, who came on board really early,” she explains.
“They got me one of my first London shows, which was a Communion night at Notting Hill Arts Club. I met Maz [Tappuni] there and a few of the other guys who run Communion.
“We were chatting to them for a while; I did some other stuff, they heard the music, and they really wanted to do something label-wise with me. We agreed we’d do my EPs with them - I’ve always really wanted to be a part of them in some way, I really love what they do.”
So how did Capitol get involved? Well, Cooke “just kind of met them on the circuit”. The 22-year-old adds: “I was doing loads of songwriting, not necessarily for me, but for other artists, so I was in sessions all the time. I’d sing on every demo, so my voice just floated around loads of offices.
“I was writing with so many different people, and even if nothing was happening with me yet, if they were published or shopping for a record deal, they were giving out these songs with my voice on.
“My manager met a young guy who works at a publisher, whose mum was best friends with my A&R at Capitol. So it’s incestual, but I think we would’ve always met them eventually. They’re great; I was in no doubt to sign to them.”
Fate is certainly one way of looking at it. Rounding out Cooke’s team is manager Grant Motion, who she met while studying at LIPA in Liverpool. “He was managing me on his own, then happened to meet Sam [Evitt] and Jack [Street], who run Method Management,” says the singer. “They got on really well and had the same ideas and principals. They really loved what Grant was doing, so they joined forces.”
It’s been a fast ascent for Cooke, who certainly wasn’t expecting to be shortlisted in so many – including the BBC Sound Of poll and BRITs Critics’ Choice. “I didn’t expect to be included! Those came out in like, November, and I’d only released my first EP a few months before. I’d ruled it out. So I was quite happy to be considered - it was amazing, like Yes! How the hell did that happen?”
Now, a debut album is on the cards for the rising star, due towards the end of this year. She says: “About half the album is songs I’ve written on my own, and the other half is from sessions. I didn’t plan it like that, it’s just how it happened.
“Luckily, the ones I wrote on my own are marked as singles, which is very lovely. I wanted to keep it varied; if I wrote it all on my own I don’t know if I’d be a bit self-indulgent.”
And after the record is done, it sounds like Cooke might want to go back to her songwriting roots – she’s already passing along tracks that she’s “in love with but don’t quite fit the album”.
She adds: “When I get some rest after this album, in a couple of years, I’m definitely going to go back in and do lots of writing with some other artists.”