Los Angeles duo Neil Frances (Jordan Feller and Marc Gilfry) have today released their new six-track EP, Stay Strong Play Long. The EP includes the mega-hit “Music Sounds Better with You” which has been streamed over forty million times.
Jordan and Marc have put together a track-by-track breakdown of the songs which make up the EP, so press PLAY and read the history behind each of these tracks.
Our label came to us with the idea of putting an EP together and we thought it felt like the right time to release something more substantial. We’ve also included our two covers on the EP so they get a vinyl release which I’ve always wanted for them so it all came together nicely and didn’t feel forced. – Jordan
Marc: This is our cover of the classic disco tune by Womack and Womack. The original recording is stunning. Personally, it wasn’t until I started singing the lyrics that I realized that it might be one of the saddest songs ever written. It’s so relatable to anyone that’s gone through a difficult breakup or lost someone dear to them. It’s a really emotional song to perform live for that reason. I know that it gets me emotional thinking about someone very dear to me every time we play it. The original recorded version is a much faster tempo than our version. We slow it down to let the lyrics speak.
Jordan: Teardrops by Womack & Womack is one of my all-time favourite songs. If you haven’t seen the film clip on youtube do yourself a favour. This is one of the first recordings Marc and I ever did together and I’m proud of how it’s held up over time.
2. On the Lookout (feat. Raffaella)
Marc: Our collaboration with the talented Raffaella of NYC was one of those afternoons where musically and lyrically everything just clicked. It was probably no more than a 3-hour session and by the end, we knew Raff had something really interesting lyrically and also really special melodically. I think the way the song connects social media culture’s violent obsession with celebrity and a breakup is pretty genius, and we have to give credit to Raffaella for coming to us with such unique insight.
Jordan: On The Lookout with Raffaella was our first collaboration/feature with another artist/singer. She’s such a wonderful lyricist and had such a strong concept in mind that we just let her run with it.
3. Falling for You
Marc: Falling for You is one of our tunes where Jordan had written practically the entire instrumental track before I started working on it. I remember thinking to myself, “wow, this instrumental and synth line is so good that all I have to do is not screw it up with some shit melody”. So I hope I didn’t. I had just spent some time with a really special someone who I sort of started falling back in love with all over again during that time, and so she was really present in my mind and I was remembering what it felt like the first time I slept over at her place and I literally didn’t sleep that entire night, and how the next day I felt high and disoriented because when you don’t sleep the world can get all topsy turvy. It was love. But I guess a skeptic might wonder, is that love or just lack of sleep? I don’t know, but I’m not sure you can delineate between the two. It’s sort of a chicken and egg thing, maybe. But anyway, I just remember thinking about how much I love the way that she moves, and how when you really love someone you can just sit back and watch them and be fully entertained.
Jordan: Looking back at the way we made Falling For You I love the fact that this one was just Jordan & Marc. We love collaborating but for some reason I take a weird sense of pride in the fact that this one was just the two of us. About 3 weeks before the first major Covid outbreak, we were djing at a venue in Downtown LA when I heard the DJ after us play a certain 80’s record that caught my attention. There was a section in the song that I’d heard sampled in a house track that I loved, and it was a bit of a ‘aha’ moment. Inspiration hit. I went to our studio the next day and wrote the track. Marc heard the track and instantly put the vocal melody down.” They add, “Lyrically, this track is about sleepless nights lying awake thinking about that special someone. It’s about falling so hard for someone that you find yourself stunned and stupefied simply by the way they move.”
4. Mr. Blue
Marc: Mr. Blue, lyrically, comes from an iPhone note I made while standing on a hill behind my neighbour’s house with a few close friends. Mr. Blue (and I guess for the sake of secrecy I won’t reveal who this person is) is a bit of a muse for me, and that day he was wearing an all-blue outfit: tie-dye blue pants and a blue shirt. So while we were drinking beers and looking at the back of this Ukranian Orthodox church at the end of our street that has a gilded, shiny, golden rooftop I wrote a haiku about my surroundings: Mr Blue, the church, the beer bottle, Ursula, etc. The haiku has since been lost because I changed that particular iPhone note into the lyrics for the song, which is a feature of the iPhone notes app that actually I’ve always really loved because it forces you to essentially save over whatever you have written down if you want to edit it, and then the timestamp on the note changes… so like.. creatively, there’s always that decision of whether or not the thing you wrote is worth keeping or should become something new with a new timestamp. I basically thought this haiku was trash, or only worthy of lyrical inspiration and not like… a standalone piece of art worthy of preserving. So I saved over it and now I’m kicking myself because I guess that would have been a cool little thing to show people now that we’re releasing the song. But whatever, you live and you learn. But for anyone interested, I think the haiku (or series of 2 haikus, which is actually what it was) was pretty similar to the below:
On the neighbor’s hill
Beer whistles like a jug band
I walk down the path
Tick tock Ursula
The church is radiating
I am creating
Jordan: Mr Blue is one of our most collaborative songs to date. Our bassist, Greg a.k.a The Wombat and I came up with the main groove which is just that single note baseline, drum machine track and piano chord. There was something mesmerizing about the groove. Marc came in and did his thing and the track kept evolving without adhering to a traditional pop song structure, it’s a journey. We called on Raffaella and Matt from Undercover Dream Lovers to do some backing vocals and also our friend Brijean played percussion too. I’m very proud of this song and all the different elements in it.
5. I’m In Love with You (Poolside is credited as a primary artist for this track)
Marc: This song was really unexpected. When Jeff (Poolside) came and met us in order studio to collaborate I think we figured we would end up with something more worthy of the dance floor. But we didn’t and thank god because we really love this song. It’s a beautiful love song. The idea for the melody came after Jeff came into the studio and instead of initially making music we ended up discussing our earliest childhood memories, and I told him about the first song I ever wrote. I might have been 4 or 5 years old and it was a bit like a doo wop style song. I sang the words “I’m in the spotlight for youuuuu, you can see it tooooooo”. Which I think must have been inspired by watching my dad perform on stage for my entire childhood and my understanding was that he was up there for us, his family. So anyway, that song, which I still remember, was sort of the influence for the overall musical vibe of I’m In Love With You, which is a little old fashioned and doo-woppy tune, in a way.
Jordan: I’m in Love With You with Poolside is another example of when collaborations go right. Jeff’s such a laid back guy and so easy to work with. He came to our studio and created this totally carefree vibe and it opened Marc up in this really cool way. The song wrote itself in like 20 minutes, the production took much longer but once you have a strong underlying lyric and melody idea the rest is easy.
6. Music Sounds Better with You
Marc: Oo oo oo. This one has really gained traction over the years and it’s really all because of Jordan. This was one of the earliest songs we worked on together and at that time I really deferred to him on everything as far as my style of singing and what songs we were choosing to record and cover (and I still do in a lot of ways). Initially, as some people may or may not know, Jordan and I were writing with the intention of having others sing our tunes. So there was this liberating, hands-off approach to writing that came with our early collaborative relationship. Very little ego involved. We were (and still are) very influenced by Nile Rogers’ career and approach to songwriting, and he has famously written very personal and amazing pop songs for other people. So anyway, I digress. One funny thing I should mention about this tune is that I begged Jordan to remove the “oo oo oo” from the top of the track. I sort of hated it to be honest. Little did I know that years later it would end up being the trademark sound of the song that its become and so loved by the community on TikTok who have chosen to dance to our song. Man… watching those TikTok videos really made me love the internet in a way I never had before.
Jordan: In a previous life as a world-conquering (failed) DJ I would call on Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust to save any dancefloor that I felt like I was losing. I’d never heard of anyone covering this track and I thought it’d be cool. The song has since taken on a life of its own which is crazy to us
Stay Strong Play Long by Neil Frances is out now on all major streaming services.