"Was young and dumb, but now I'm just dumb," sings Boston-based Frances Forever (real name: Frances Garrett) on their new single, "Certified Fool" — a hook that perfectly captures the feeling of adult restlessness and regretfully sitting in our stupidity. "I wanna go back to high school," the indie-pop phenom continues, telling PAPER that they're "not smart enough to be done with school."
This relatable existentialism is how Forever has quickly built a young and devoted fanbase, beginning with their viral TikTok hit, "Space Girl," which would later be reimagined with chloe moriondo and appear on their debut paranoia party EP. Much like Forever's discography — with spacious production and easy, bright melodies — "Certified Fool" sounds like an instant classic.
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Where films or soundtracks typically focus in on our initial coming-of-age, Forever wanted to give attention to the second round of personal development — a chapter that's, in many ways, more complicated and ambitious than the first. And they do so with humility and humor: Mom uploading photos to Facebook, nearly killing potted plants, delaying tasks until tomorrow, therapy... lots of therapy.
Ahead of Frances Forever supporting Misterwives on tour and their first headlining show on November 21 at The Echo in Los Angeles, PAPER caught up with rising musician to talk about Paramore, home schooling and returning to the stage.
Would it be fair to describe your sound as "nostalgic," or do you think that categorization is far too simple?
The late 2000s definitely inspire a lot of my music, but I think genres are kind of dumb — just listen to my music. I love to experiment, from dipping a toe into more jazzy sounds, to Paramore-inspired heavy guitar songs. Take what you want.
You've seen tremendous success with "Space Girl." Why do you think that song has resonated with so many people?
I think it was a song that a lot of people needed. People need happy gay songs, and everyone has gone through yearning over someone that they see as perfect and ethereal — someone who takes you to a whole different world.
What was it like working with chloe moriondo on an updated version of "Space Girl"? What do you think she brought to the track?
chloe was so fun to work with. I think she brought such a cute, fresh new perspective to the song. Even just chloe's giggles in it make me smile and her line, "I'm spinnin' on Saturn when you call me your little human thing," made me audibly gasp when I first heard it. It's definitely my favorite version of the song.
How do you feel "Certified Fool" builds off or grows from your paranoia party EP?
paranoia party to me is the journey I went through college, dealing with anxiety and discovering my identity. "Certified Fool" speaks to a sort of second coming-of-age, of graduating college, trying to figure out where my space is in the world, and scrambling to learn all the knowledge I feel like I missed in school.
In terms of references, what were you listening to while creating this single? In what ways did that seep into "Certified Fool"?
I love the hook, "Was young and dumb, but now I'm just dumb." Tell me about when you wrote that — is that what opened up this track lyrically?
That line was actually written by my partner, Robin Andresen. I had a line that said the same thing, but in a more complicated way and Robin just goes, "Why not just say, 'Was young and dumb, but now I'm just dumb'?' They also came up with the title for the song. I insisted on giving them songwriting credits.
Do you actually want to go back to high school? What're some of your favorite memories from that time?
I actually don't — that line means that I feel like I still have a high school brain and that I'm not smart enough to be done with school. High school was a rough time for me, especially having just moved to a new state when I was 13.
You were home schooled, right? How do you think that experience impacted your life and, perhaps, the way you approach music?
Being home schooled was definitely the only way I could've been as involved in music as I was. Wednesdays were my music days, and I had a full day of piano, vocal and guitar lessons. It gave me so much room to be creative and to learn on my own time.
Where was the single art photo taken? Tell me about that memory and why you wanted to include it on this song.
The single art was at my first concert ever, a Selena Gomez concert. I think it's so cool to think of seeing that stage and dreaming about performing up there one day, and now I actually get to. "Frances finished college to go onstage."
What're you most excited about with going back on tour?
I'm most excited for playing with my full band, who are all made up of some of my closest friends. We've never toured before and I just know it's going to be an incredible experience. Who wouldn't love playing music with your friends every night?
Photos courtesy of Lani Parrilla