New Video: JOVM Mainstay Miles Francis Confronts Male Privlege in “Good Man”

Over the past decade, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Miles Francis has developed a reputation as a musician’s musician — and arguably one of New York’s best kept secrets. Interestingly, the longtime JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of their career to when they learned the drums at six, then guitar, bass, keys and percussion.

As a working musician, Francis has toured the world with Arcade Fire‘s Will ButlerAntibalas,  EMEFE and Superhuman Happiness — and has collaborated and performed with  Sharon JonesAmber MarkAngelique KidjoAllen ToussaintTV on the Radio‘s Tunde Adebimpe and a lengthy list of others. And as a result of those collaborations, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Francis stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of 2018’s debut EP Swimmers, which earned praise from The FaderStereogum and KCRW for material that saw the New York-based artist blending an eclectic array of influences including David BowiePrince, Afrobeat and a childhood obsession with early 2000s boy band pop.

Earlier this year, Francis released two singles “Service” and “Popular.” Both tracks continue an ongoing collaboration with Lizzie Loveless and Lou Tides (best known as TEEN‘s Lizzie and Teeny Lieberson).

The New York-based artist has released two singles this year — “Service,” which was released earlier this year and “Popular,” which features Lizzie Loveless and Lou Tides (best known as TEEN‘s Lizzie and Teeny Lieberson). Both tracks will appear on Francis full-length debut, Good Man.

Whereas the Prince meets Afrobeat-like “Service,” is a darkly ironic send up of the over-the-top obsequiousness of boy band pop, “Popular” is its anthesis, featuring an ego-driven, narcissist, who craves undivided attention. “Popular” manages to be simultaneously breezy and full of the dangerous sort of menacing anxiety and insecurity — that of a man.“I grew up with Backstreet Boys posters lining my bedroom walls, floor to ceiling,” Francis recalls. 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. That anxiety and impulsiveness is the place from which ‘Popular’ grows out from.” 

Francis goes on to say that “Service” and “Popular” are “my own little Jekyll and Hyde. “One minute, it’s ‘I’ll do anything for you’ – the next minute, it’s ‘I don’t care for you.” They addd “I am interested in man’s two-faced-ness – our ability to show one thing to the world and someone completely different in private.” And as a result, at their core, both songs are about the male 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.” About “Popular,” in particular, Francis says ““Everyone indulges in having an ego and wanting to be recognized, but men seem particularly bent on the power element — whether it’s taking up space in a room or leading a country.”

Whereas the Prince meets Afrobeat-like “Service,” is a darkly ironic send up of the over-the-top obsequiousness of boy band pop, “Popular” is its anthesis, featuring an ego-driven, narcissist, who craves undivided attention. While centered around Francis’ unerring ability to write a rousingly infectious hook, “Popular” manages to be simultaneously breezy and full of menacing anxiety and insecurity, evoked through rapid-fire drumming, slinky and angular guitars, buzzing bass synths and twinkling keys. “I grew up with Backstreet Boys posters lining my bedroom walls, floor to ceiling,” Francis recalls. 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. That anxiety and impulsiveness is the place from which ‘Popular’ grows out from.” 

Francis goes on to say that “Service” and “Popular” are “my own little Jekyll and Hyde. “One minute, it’s ‘I’ll do anything for you’ – the next minute, it’s ‘I don’t care for you.” They addd “I am interested in man’s two-faced-ness – our ability to show one thing to the world and someone completely different in private.” And as a result, at their core, both songs are about the male 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.” About “Popular,” in particular, Francis says ““Everyone indulges in having an ego and wanting to be recognized, but men seem particularly bent on the power element — whether it’s taking up space in a room or leading a country.”

“Service” and “Popular” will appear on Francis’ full-length debut, Good Man. Slated for a March 4, 2022 release, the album’s material explores and questions masculinity, male conditioning and even the New York-based artist’s own gender identity — all of which led to Francis coming out as non-binary earlier this year. “At the start of the protests and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter last year, I realized the most direct way I could help was to get a drum and go out to marches and keep a beat for organizers,” says Francis, who soon assisted a friend in the founding of a New York-based collective called Musicians United. “In the beginning the goal was to get involved with anti-racist work, but the experiences I had and the people I met through the Black Trans Lives Matter movement opened up my whole world. It gave me a new mirror to see myself in, and helped me to find my own queerness and nonbinaryness.” 

From those experiences, Francis finally realized: “When I’m in my studio, it feels like being completely free of the outside world, free of gender, free of everything except me. I feel like I’m finally figuring out how to take that freedom beyond my musical expression and bring it into every aspect of my life. Now I want to share that feeling with everybody.”

Good Man‘s latest single, album title track “Good Man” is centered around Francis’ unerring knack for crafting infectious hooks paired with buzzing bass synths, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, wiry post-punk guitars,, big horns, skittering drums and beats, and the New York-based artist’s dryly ironic delivery. Sonically. the song nods at Talking Heads and Bowie while being a seething indictment of prototypical “progressive-minded” men, who — well, are still men blinded by their own privilege.

Francis explains that the title track came from conversations with “progressive-minded” men who still had blind spots around issues like the #MeToo movement: “‘Good Man’” is about a particular patriarchal phenomenon that I’ve grown increasingly mindful of in the men around me. It’s sung by a man who preaches progressive values, who identifies as ‘one of the good ones’ – -yet he fails to recognize his perpetuation of patriarchal behavior in his own life. There are lots of outwardly ‘bad’ men out there – but it’s the ones who claim their ‘good’-ness that can be particularly troublesome and capable of causing real harm. The songs on my album follow someone wrestling with their true nature, and at the heart of that process is the question of what ‘being a man’ even means.” 

The recently released video for “Good Man” continues Francis’ ongoing collaboration with director Charles Billot: The video features the JOVM mainstay as the visual’s protagonist and villain facing himself in a distorted mirror — and the end result is the video’s main character slowly cracking up as a result.

Francis will be opening for Antibalas at Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday. Tickets and info are available here: https://www.brooklynbowl.com/events/detail/antibalas-10109695