INTERVIEW WITH FRANCINE GORMAN

Sorveiv Interview

Francine Gorman is a writer, editor, content producer and music consultant based in London. Having trained as a music journalist at Paris-based magazine Les Inrockuptibles, she became features editor at The Line of Best Fit, and content manager at Vevo.

Since 2013, Francine has worked predominantly in the Nordic music sector as a member of Nordic Music Export, the editor of new Nordic music platform Ja Ja Ja and booker for their monthly club nights in London and Berlin, and as editor of the Nordic Playlist platform. Francine is now also running her own consultancy service, focusing on the Nordic, digital and export sectors. Other than that, she can be found writing short stories, DJing, travelling, and watching Huddersfield Town FC

Interviewed by Andy Inglis

AD: Daniel and I invited you to join our team. You said yes.
What were you thinking?!

FG: Well, dear Andy, having known you for a long, long time, I was just thrilled to bits to have a valid excuse to wind you up on a daily basis! And now I get to do the same to Daniel! It’s great.

I remember having a chat with you ahead of last year’s Sørveiv though, and we talked through what you both were hoping to achieve, what you disliked about other events that you’d attended, and what you felt the drive and ambition of Sørveiv Conference needed to be to effect the changes you deemed necessary. I  agreed on every level and was really inspired by how driven the team was, so to have the opportunity to work with people that are so genuine about offering up an alternative is really exciting.

AD: You have one of those project-based jobs that I find tricky to sum up in a sentence. Reckon you can do that for our readers?

FG: I tend to tell people that I work in ‘Nordic music’, then if they still seem interested, I might share a little more information. I’ve been working for Nordic Music Export (NOMEX) since 2013 on projects such as Ja Ja Ja and the Nordic Playlist, and in March this year I shook up my work status a little bit to be able to incorporate a few more angles and ideas. As such, I’m currently working on a handful of consultancy, editorial, strategic and production projects in different sectors of the industry, all with the bold and noble ambition of spreading the good word of Nordic music as far and as wide as possible. I find it a bit hard to explain though, so I just chuck some info up on this website every now and then and hope for the best.

AD: You spent some time living and working in Paris at the cultural magazine and institution Les Inrockuptibles, then you went to Vevo France, and you currently do some work for (French streaming service) Deezer in their London office. What’s your favourite item from la Pâtisserie?

FG: Great question, slightly sad answer. I’ve spent a fair portion of my career working in France, and the Patisseries are a thing of wonder. They take you back in time, making you feel like you’re the star of a Jean-Luc Goddard film. I developed a bit of an addiction to pistachio macarons and éclairs au café when I lived in Paris; I could probably shift two or three a day. But then things took a turn. While in the midst of this decadent, delicious diet, I began to realise that I didn’t feel great – and that’s how I found out I was allergic to milk. A sad and tragic end to what had previously been a beautiful relationship. So now, I’m all about the pain de campagne. My éclair days are, sadly, SADLY, done.

AD: You spoke at last year’s hugely inspiring (to me) Tallinn Music Week about AI vs Human Playlist curation. What’s your take on it?

FG: I did indeed, and had an interesting chat with my fellow panelists about it beforehand, trying to think of alternative angles that we could find on a topic which, we all agreed, had been debated plenty of times before. A few things got me particularly animated though, one being the diversity factor. With a small pool of editors curating an entire service’s playlist output, how can we make sure that everyone’s getting a chance to be heard? And how can we make sure that algorithms are being taught to be representative too? It’s something that I’m still considering a lot, and hoping to have the chance to raise at Sørveiv Conference this year.²

I’m a big advocate for AI and human curation living side by side. I’m excited and completely in awe of these algorithms that seem to be able to read my music-loving mind. But at the same time, AI doesn’t have that ‘wildcard’ factor that’s so important in music discovery. Algorithms know that I listen to Thee Oh Sees and Dungen, but that doesn’t explain why I love Miguel so much. How could an algorithm guess that I’d also be into that?

So in my eyes (and for my ears), it’s really important that the two methods co-exist harmoniously. Humans know how to throw something totally out of the blue and potentially life-changing in front of you, whereas it’s going to be pretty hard work for algorithms to figure out how to do that.

AD: You’ve been visiting and working with Norway for a few years now.What was your entry point and what are the most interesting professional, cultural or social differences between the UK and Norway?

FG: The first time I went to Norway was to attend the magnificent Slottsfjell Festival, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been back since. I’m a big fan of working in Norway, and with Norwegian folk in general. I’m from Yorkshire originally, and I think we’ve got a few things in common: Norwegian people tend to be quite forthright when they speak to you; no beating around the bush. So do we. Norwegian folks have great accents; so do we.
One of the things I really like though, is the inclusiveness of the Norwegian music industry. I think it’s a supportive place to be making and working with music. There are a lot of funds and bodies in place to help you figure out where you want to go and how to get there. And there are incredible artists emerging and returning right now, so it’s great to be working with such a continual stream of great music.

AD: It’s your first time in Kristiansand and at Sørveiv Festival and Conference. What are you most looking forward to, and do you have any preconceived notions about what to expect?

FG: I’m looking forward to being in the midst of the conference, seeing how all of the people that we’ve invited interact and engage with what’s going on. And also checking out the bands that will be playing festival arm of Sørveiv, as there are some brilliant, brilliant shows in store.  Also, Andy’s told me that I’m heading to the Norwegian Riviera so if it’s anything less than that, he’s going to be in trouble.³

 

¹ Jesus. What a nightmare
² Francine need not worry. She’s moderating a panel on curation
³ I may have said this at some point, yes