New York City singer, songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Miles Francis shared a party-ready remix of their single “Service,” as reimagined by electro-pop duo Overcoats and premiered via Earmilk (“otherworldly, dripping with hypnotic energy”). The original “Service” video is an alt-pop romp exploring the dark side of devotion from earlier this year – complete with mesmerizing boy band clone choreography that mirrors Miles’ own recording process in quarantine. Hana Elion from Overcoats said: “I tried to bring the percussive energy of a Marvin Gaye song with the modern elements of Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.” Francis continues: “I think of ‘Service’ as a cry for help masked as an offer of help, and the remix perfectly captures and elevates that anxiousness and unsettling persistence.” Francis will also be playing a hometown show with Kaleta & Super Yamba Band on October 6 at Baby’s All Right – tickets here.
This follows kaleidoscopic single & video for “Popular,” featuring Lizzie Loveless and Lou Tides (aka Lizzie and Teeny Lieberson, formerly of TEEN) on background vocals. To celebrate the release, Francis took to the streets of New York for live performances from a moving truck – watch footage from “Popularalooza” here. The polymathic artist is also known for collaborating with the likes of Angélique Kidjo, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and Arcade Fire’s Will Butler.
Naming shapeshifters like Prince and David Bowie among their essential touchstones along with Afrobeat music, Francis ultimately alchemizes those inspirations with their childhood obsession with early 2000’s boy bands. The result is a highly percussive form of art-pop, both lavishly orchestrated and visceral in impact. “I grew up with Backstreet Boys posters lining my bedroom walls, floor to ceiling. That era of music is dear to my heart, but upon closer look those songs are ridden with anxiety, songs about male adolescence written by grown men.” Francis matches their incisive observations with a direct outpouring of feeling and, in many cases, fantastically offbeat humor. On “Service,” they deliver a pitch-perfect send-up of the over-the-top obsequiousness that pervades countless classic boy-band songs (“There’s this very impulsive offering of help and support, in a way that makes you wonder if there’s some other motive that’s not named in the lyrics,” Francis notes). On “Popular,” that seemingly supportive character is turned into a monster. “It’s my own little Jekyll and Hyde,” Francis adds. “One minute, it’s ‘I’ll do anything for you’ – the next minute, it’s ‘I don’t care for you.'” The music reflects that shift, as “Popular” barrels forward from the first drumstick count-in to the last guitar lick. “I am interested in man’s two-faced-ness – our ability to show one thing to the world and someone completely different in private.” “Popular” and “Service” are, at their core, about ego. “Power is essential to the male ego. That ego is a house of cards, of course, threatened by even the slightest loss of control. These songs and videos are meant to illustrate that delicate balance between control and disarray.”
Photo Courtesy: Charles Billot