Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Francesca Wexler is a Toronto-based rapper who raps and adapts on a variety of sonics. The versatility in flow and production really proves that she deserves to be added to your daily playlist. While the production always has a lot going on, Francesca reigns over the beat and knows exactly how to keep your attention with intricate, clever bars. Her latest single Cherry Fields Forever, is not only serotonin boosting based on the beats, it’s also got some incredible lyrics. The wordplay and the alliteration feel one of a kind, something you’ll never have heard before but be grateful That Good Sh*t put you on when you do.
*intro written by the incredible Kat Friar*
TGS: If you just wanna start off by telling me your name, where you’re from, just a little bit about yourself.
FW: My name is Francesca Wexler and I’m originally from Lagos, Nigeria but right now I’m based in the Greater Toronto Area. I’ve been writing since I was 14 but I only really started making music in June 2020, around the peak of the pandemic.
TGS: That’s amazing, so when did you first start getting into music? What’s your first memory of loving music?
FW: Do you know Sunday Morning by Maroon 5?
FW: That’s the first song I remember being obsessed with. I would belt it and mimic the instruments until everyone in my house was sick of me. Growing up my dad would play artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Fela Kuti. My mom would play Dolly Parton and gospel music. I’ve always loved R&B and gospel. When I moved to Canada, I got into rock. I was a latchkey kid that was pretty much raised by Much Music and MTV. Everyday after school, I would watch music videos from artists like Green Day, Billy Talent, The Killers and Maroon 5. The first rap song I ever heard was Jesus Walks by Kanye West and I became instantly smitten with hip hop. I have such an appreciation for all kinds of music because I was raised around all kinds of music.
TGS: Yeah that’s gotta be one of my first ones too. Sunday Morning is one of my favourite songs from my childhood for sure. That makes me wonder, okay so I was listening to your music - I’ve been listening to your music, but I was listening this morning and I was listening to the song Sweetheart, and I really love that song and the beat specifically - it seems like it’s a lot more influenced by those kinds of soft rock kind of sounds. I’d love to hear a little bit about that song and how that came together for you.
FW: I made Sweetheart while going through a hard breakup. A breakup in a way, is like a death. Sweetheart embodies the five stages of grief that happen when you split up with someone. So those five stages— the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression, the acceptance—are expressed throughout the song. “That don’t mean I need a fucking Deepak!,” is the denial. A lot of the first verse is anger. I start to soften towards the end of that verse and when I sing “you came to me when I was in my sleep, you still give me fever” and that’s the bargaining coming into play. The depression can be heard when I’m meditating on sad shit like when I say, “remember when you said you hated me? Casually like you were asking me if I was making tea?” And then there’s the anguish. The song is saturated with it but especially when I scream “I tried, I couldn’t get a grip.” The acceptance comes with the last “I feel it coming, fever.” There’s a resignation in my expression, kind of like it is what it is. Making it was my way of letting go of a bad relationship.
TGS: That’s incredible, in what other ways do you - or do you in general - use music and your writing process, your creative process, how does that help you cope with and deal with certain situations that you’re going through in your life? Like when you’re writing a song, creating a song, does it help you work through difficult things like that?
FW: Yes! But I didn’t do it on purpose. I started writing at 14 because of heartbreak. I didn’t consciously think “let me process my feelings through that,” but in hindsight that is exactly what I was doing. The thing is I was brought up in three places: Catholic school, the church and an immigrant household. And for different reasons I always felt like I had to flatten and shrink myself to fit into those environments. So music was the only place I had carte blanche to express myself and to say whatever the fuck I felt and that was seductive to me. It was liberating. I found a home in it.
TGS: Yeah. That makes complete sense. And it definitely comes across to me that it comes really naturally to you. It's just kind of like a natural way for you to express yourself. And I think that's why I think the artists that make those beautiful music are the people like that where it just flows through you really naturally. And it's just an easy way for you to express yourself. So I think that's awesome! I'm curious about, cause you were saying earlier that a lot of your music that you grew up loving was from your family and things like that. Is your family supportive of your music and everything that you're doing?
FW: They're not rap fans like that. Rap doesn't resonate with them. It's not of their generation. But what I do appreciate about my upbringing is that—I guess when you come into a new country, you have to have like a crazy amount of self-belief like, you're not gonna make it if you don’t have an almost delusional amount of self-confidence. So I never felt like there wasn't something I couldn't do if I didn't work towards it. So even if we don’t share the same music tastes, we share that same belief that you can do whatever you want to do. Even before I was a good rapper, I felt like I was the shit. Even when I was a bad rapper, like I look back and I'm like “this is horrible” but I still felt like I was the shit. I always had that because of how I came up.
TGS: Yeah, that's amazing. It's really, and I think it's really important to have that attitude and you are the shit you're very talented. And I feel like you probably, you've probably just known your whole life, you know, and I think that's that's really cool. I'd love to know more about like your musical influences now and like who you're listening to now, what you're liking, how that influences your sound and things like that.
FW: My favorite artist is Brittany Howard. I love her song Georgia. I love The Alabama Shakes. I love Alt-J’s older records. I don’t listen to a lot of rap when I’m creating. Listening to the same genre I’m making bores me. I prefer listening to other genres. I listen to Fleetwood Mac. I love Silver Springs. I love Stevie Nicks. l love listening to rap when I’m not in creating mode. I love Smino. He’s really slept on. He’s bringing a new flavour and depth to rap.
TGS: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I think he's one of, one of my like favorite rappers of all time, especially like, as a lyricist. He's so creative.
FW: I’m jealous of his singing voice.
TGS: Literally his voice is perfect. He's amazing. I think it's really interesting that, you primarily make rap music, but then at the same time, a lot of what you're listening to is other than rap music. Do you feel like that gives you more room for creativity? Because I feel like maybe if you're listening to a lot of mostly hip hop and rap, maybe when you're creating, you'll have all of that music kind of in your head. But when you're listening to more things outside of hip hop and rap, do you feel like that gives you more space to be creative?
FW: It does, but I think that even if you only listen to rap, I still feel like it still gives you a space to be creative. Rap is a genre with such a diversity of sound. You have emo rap, you have country rap— rap really borrows and it has for a long time, even with the sampling. It's really a world without limits. I really do love rap because I started out with poetry so that's always going to be my home base.
TGS: Okay. So you started out with poetry. I'd love to hear more about that, what kind of poetry were you doing? Did you do any performances with your poetry?
FW: I think I did a performance in high school about Othello, but not really. I didn't really do a lot. Like I said, I started out at 14 because of heartbreak and I was writing my corny poetry for myself and it really helped me heal, but it was just a thing I did for myself. I think I wrote like a thousand pages of poetry in freshman year alone. If you really think about it, all my work has been poetry up until June 2020 'cos I didn't start learning to rap until then. And it's funny that you say it's natural, ‘cause I feel like it is natural to a point, but it's also a lot of practice, ‘cause starting out I was not good. Sometimes, I listen to my old stuff and I'm like, “damn, I’ve really gotten better” because back then I was down bad. I’ve really grown since then. To all artists: if it's not natural now, it will be soon. We have to remember that. Sometimes we have to grow into ourselves as artists.
TGS: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really good advice for a lot of people. Cause I see a lot of artists struggle with that, where they feel like it's not coming naturally. And like, if it's not coming through easily, then it's not gonna happen for them. But I think it's so true. If you keep putting in work and learning and building your skills, you can only go up from there, so it's really great and I'm excited to see you continue to grow and make more incredible music. Because I think that, you know, already, if you started learning how to rap in June of 2020, and you're at where you're at now, I think you're so incredible. So I'm excited to see where you go. And then looking to the future, like, are there any goals that you have for the upcoming year? Anything you're going to be putting out, anything like that?
FW: My goal is to continue to evolve and grow and to come into my sound.
TGS: Do you have any collaborations that you're looking towards in the future?
FW: No, not right now. I’m still learning to work with myself. I’ll definitely be looking to collaborate in the future. Just not now.
TGS: For sure. Do you do anything else outside of music? Hobbies, work, whatever. What do you spend your time doing besides music?
FW: I write, I read and I'm a hell of a cook. I also like to lift. It makes me feel like a superhero, a chubby 5’4 superhero, but a superhero nonetheless.
TGS: Okay. Awesome. Do you have any local music scene that you're involved with? Like where you live - has that really affected your music at all? Are there any other local artists that you work with or anything like that?
FW: To be honest, because I started during the peak of a global pandemic, I haven’t made any strong connections with artists in my scene. I’m a fan of an artist by the name of Dom Vallie though, he’s from Kitchener and he’s sick. I don’t sound like where I live so I’m not sure that my music resonates just yet. Whenever I’ve tried to reach out to Toronto bloggers, there has been a disconnect. I haven’t gotten love from Toronto just yet.
It's coming for sure. You're going to be getting love from everywhere. Is there anything else that you want people to know about you as an artist moving forward as your music keeps making its way out there and new people are hearing you? What do you want people to know about you?
FW: Everything I do is with feeling.