Franco Bolleurs discusses making music as An Awkward Social, his new album, music as a form of therapy and what’s next
By Emily May
Franco Bolleurs, better known as An Awkward Social, is an electro-folk musician from Pretoria, South Africa. Although he is originally from Middelsburg, Mpumalanga, he moved at a young age with his family to Pretoria and has been writing songs and making music for most of his life. In 2017, he purchased the last bit of gear and software that he needed and solidified his role as a producer, enjoying the independence he has experienced in writing, composing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering all of his songs himself. Bolleurs is semi-trained on piano and guitar but taught himself everything else via the internet. Bolleurs is creating a buzz with his recently released debut album Games, with many enjoying the album’s ever-relatable themes and dynamic soundscape. Bolleurs recently released a lyric video for “games”, the title track from his album. Staff writer Emily May spoke to Bolleurs recently about the new album, making music as a form of therapy and what’s next for him! You can follow An Awkward Social and stay up-to-date on all upcoming music and tour dates and can stream and purchase his music via the following links. You can check out the video for “Games” below.
Google Play- https://play.google.com/store/
iTunes/Apple Music- https://itunes.apple.com/us/al
You recently released your debut album Games. What can you tell me about the inspiration behind the album? The album artwork is amazing (I love cats!)! What can you tell me about the idea behind the design? Who drew the artwork?
The album was inspired by my love of games and how most of the games I enjoyed through my life have some sort of substance to it, if you know what I mean? I wanted my debut album to be something I am proud of and can stand behind, especially lyrically, which I like to think is An Awkward Social’s substance.
The artwork has my two cats Winston and Monkey on there. I commissioned a guy through Reddit (https://www.instagram.com/azl
Your goal has been to be able to write, compose, record, produce, mix and master all of your songs yourself and you started taking the role as producer seriously in 2017 when you were able to buy the last pieces of gear and software that you needed. What led you to work towards these goals?
I have always wanted to make and release my own music. I am an introverted person myself and the idea of going into a studio and recording with strangers have never been something that appeals to me. I usually have a very specific direction I want to go into on a song and am a bit of a control freak, so it makes it much easier if I can do it myself. I also have some hearing issues and I can stutter on occasion, so confidence was also a major reason. Luckily now I can make music or record whenever the mood strikes me. That said I still have a lot to learn.
Your album explores the themes such as the need to stay true to who you are and resisting the urge to give into societal pressures. Do you tend to gravitate towards these kinds of themes when writing lyrics?
For this album and probably my first EP as well, the lyrics are heavily influenced by my life and my view on it. I wanted to stay true to myself and share my story as I feel there are plenty of other people who feels the same, but for the next EP I will experiment a bit more with the lyrics and vocally.
You love music with strong lyrics and believe every song you write should have some sort of message. What is it that draws you to music with a message and what kind of message are you hoping to convey through your songs?
I am drawn to things that come from somewhere true, like something I can associate with. If I could convey only one message I guess it would be that people need to think for themselves more in this increasingly automated world.
You are originally from Middleburg Mpumalanga but have since moved to Pretoria. What prompted your move to Pretoria?
I actually moved with my family when I was 13 years old.
You have been making music and writing songs for most of your life. Did you grow up in a musical family? What led you to decide last year to release some of your songs to see if people liked them? How has the response been?
I would love to turn music into a career. Especially if I can write and produce for other artists. I have also been producing for about 11 years, and I realized that I don’t have much to lose by just releasing the tracks. I am not a massive fan of the singing, but I have to start somewhere and hopefully I can feature other artists in the future. The response have been great so far, I just wish I could reach more people!
You are a semi-trained pianist and guitarist but learned everything else from the internet. What was that process like for you?
A lot of Googling, cursing, YouTube, giving up and starting again. I went for piano lessons for 6 years from the age of 8 so at least I am able to read and write music which helped a lot starting out.
Who would you count as musical influences? Who are some of your favorite South African bands?
I was raised by bands like Blink 182, The Offspring, My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park, which all influenced me, even though I am not as loud as them. South Africa has some excellent musicians. My favourites are Jax Panik, Fokofpolisiekar, The Parlotones, Goldfish and of course, classic Leon Schuster.
The track “Games” from your album is about dealing with depression. How do you feel that music has helped you to deal with your depression? Do you find that it is a good form of therapy? You have mentioned having lots of interests and hobbies. What do they include?
For me, making music is my therapy. It gives me an outlet, which I think is important for everyone to have. My other hobbies and interests include the following:
1. I have a degree in Informatics, and is currently doing software development as well. I used to do systems and application support.
2. I also enjoy design and drawing. I am relatively competent in Photoshop and have drawn a lot of crude doodles over the years.
3. Gaming, especially simulation and sports gaming.
You have mentioned looking for artists from all over the world to collaborate with. What do you love about collaborating with other artists? Who are some artists you would love to work with?
I would love to move more towards producing for other artists and here is my top 5 artists I would like to produce for:
1. Matt Maeson
2. Jon Bellion
3. Andrew Belle
5. Mark Hoppus
What’s next for you? What are some of your goals going forward?
I am currently working on a 5 track EP that will come out early next year. It is going to be a bit heavier and more experimental and I am very excited!