Tone Talk with Francesca Brown

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Photo by Erik Austin Savoy

Hello, I’m Francesca Brown, and a little bit about me. I like to think that my shared roots, which were split between California and Illinois, have been very influential for me as an artist. Music was always a big part of life growing up. I got to see a lot of great music living in between Chicago and Milwaukee. In my late teens, I moved back West. It was around this time when I dove into the world of folk and Americana. I started listening to a lot of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Loretta Lynn, and more traditional folk such as Pete Seeger, Odetta, and Jean Ritchie, to name a few. I think through folk music; especially, I really got a good handle on songwriting. My music tends to be a bit more twangy these days, gravitating towards country. This year, I hope to complete a new album embracing the California country sound.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

Tone is the quality of sound you create, and I suppose over the years, tone has become about much more than that. It’s the overall vibe of lyrics, the way you strum or pick, the character or intonation of your voice, all the elements that set the scene for a song, and, of course, it’s all subject to change.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

I’m pretty basic. I don’t really use pedals myself, however, when I play with the band Ivan, the electric guitar player has a pretty amazing pedalboard to achieve some of our dreamy yet swampy sounds. Currently, I am playing my Epiphone Dove and have no desire to play anything else right now; I’m weird like that, but maybe in a couple of years, I’ll change my mind.

What about strings?

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I like Elixir NANOWEB.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

In a digital world, I like to keep it as true as possible to be more analog sounding if I can, meaning I do like to play with sounds in certain spaces or using different mics, older mics, etc.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

Communicate with sound people and or when it’s a smaller unknown venue, and maybe even bring my own PA/ gear.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Play out and share your music. Try and form a community with other women, especially those who play too — we need more women supporting women.

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