Luxembourg isn’t known for much. I can say this as someone who has lived here for five years and still get perplexed looks from people who are unsure of where it is or even if it’s a country. And that’s from Europeans. You can take this time to pull up a map and have a look if you are wondering where it is – hint: it’s sandwiched between Belgium, France, and Germany.

Outside of having the second highest GDP per capita in the world, it’s unlikely you’ve heard of us, and to be honest, it’s fair. We’re a country that is run for bankers and investors and any attention Luxembourg garners, unfortunately, tends to be about the financial sector rather than the arts scene. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have artists and musicians to shout about.

Enter, Francis of Delirium. A project born from the mind of 22 year old, Canadian born musician and artist, Jana Bahrich. Francis of Delirium is a good reason to shout and be proud of any local scene, no matter its size. Set to release her debut album, Lighthouse, on March 22, 2024, Francis of Delirium is modern alt-rock full of melodious, guitar-driven pop hooks that pulls influence from naughts indie rock, while also having some of the tonal warmness and fuzz of modern alternative pop and indie acts.

The name Francis of Delirium was donned at 17, after Jana had cut her teeth playing cover songs in bars around Luxembourg. For the most part she is a solo artist, but works closely with her collaborator, Chris Hewitt, who helps flesh out and produce songs. While Jana had been writing her own songs previously, it wasn’t until teaming up with Chris that the proverbial wheels were set in motion.

‘The main way we write is, he [Chris] will be on drums or on his midi [drum pad], and I’ll be finding the chord progression and singing. Then I’ll go away, kind of refine everything, and then come back just to sort of look at it together. It is a pretty collaborative process. It’s just sort of nice to not have to sit alone and figure something out, it’s much more enjoyable making stuff that way I think. We kind of go in and jam every single day of the week and we will just kind of see what comes out. Sometimes the more productive ones are when I have come up with something before, but most of the time, because we are jamming so often, I’ll just kind of go in and do that process with him.’

It’s a formula that seems to make for highly productive output. Every year since 2020, Francis of Delirium has released a new EP, with each one building upon the musical foundations set out in the last. There are noted grungier aspects to the first couple of EPs, All Change and Wading, and with it lots of teen angst and themes of isolation. Tracks like “Quit Fucking Around”, “Karen”, and “I Think I’m Losing”, are three songs, in particular, that garnered some early acclaim for the young musician. Like many budding musical projects, the conditions for recording were less than adequate and this led to Francis of Delirium‘s first few outputs being rough and edgier. She divulges, ‘the first EPs we were just recording the drums in a basement like next to a laundry machine. So they just sounded really closed. Just by nature of where we were recording and the skill level of being engineers. Before, when we wrote songs for the first few EPs, what was happening was that there was so much anger. It was my teen angst really showing and now I feel like I’ve kind of chilled out a little bit more.’

But Jana is no longer in her tumultuous teenage phase and it shows in the tone of her debut album Lighthouse, which she started writing in the summer of 2022. The album is a spiritual sonic successor to The Funhouse EP which introduced more melodic layers including reverb soaked vocals and dreary ethereal guitar tones. To quote her inspiration for her debut album from the releases press information, ‘for this album, hope is the prevailing feeling I’m left with after making it and listening to it. The idea is that there is this light guiding you out into a space where you can be more open and accepting of love and joy. Even as you gain or lose love, it never really goes away; it just transforms itself, moving into other relationships with you.’

Lighthouse is a spectacularly warm and inviting debut album that is a tonal shift from her rock-inspired ‘early years’. Gone are the grunge-y riffs and lo-fi production of the previous EPs, and instead we are veering off into more dream pop territory but with fuzzed guitar tones and lots of open, poignant melodies that are built on the back of added synths, as well as sing-along choruses. There’s favouring of whispered vocal melodies over singing, adding to the mid-paced melancholic and ruminative soundscape. While she can only sound like herself, I’m reminded of similar restrained vocal performances from Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Phoebe Bridgers, especially on her Stranger in the Alps album.

‘We used a lot more acoustic guitar when starting songs. That was a little bit different. We would normally be starting with drums and electric guitar but, honestly, a lot of the time it’s kind of intuitive. These songs were just coming out this way. This was kind of a theme that I was just kind of circling. There wasn’t that much different to our process. I mean our first two EPs we wrote in a basement standing up, like really kind of jam style, and these songs were written sitting down.

‘It lends itself to some sweeter melodies. We went into a studio to get the drums and it had a nice big room, so that just lent itself to more open recording. But even before, with the demos, we were already leaning into just something that was richer but also more open. That was why the acoustic guitar felt so important to me because it kind of brings the sound out in a different way.’

For someone that is still coming into themselves as an adult, Jana has crafted an album that sounds like the work of an ‘old soul’. Lighthouse isn’t just an album that thematically talks about the concept of love, it instead walks the listener through the various stages, depicting both beautiful and tumultuous moments that we experience when love blossoms and then dies out.

‘I wanted to explore love from all angles. Generally, I’m always writing from a personal place, so I was just kind of following what I was feeling in my everyday life. I didn’t go into this with, like, ‘this is a concept album about love’. It just kind of ended up that way to be honest. Once we started track listing the album we made sure that when we put these songs together we were exploring from every angle. I just wanted something that was more open and I knew I wanted to explore something more open and vulnerable than what had been written before, especially the EPs before The Funhouse which was a bit more removed from me.’

It’s a concept that Jana seems to have thrown herself into with vigor and fresh eyes. “Real Love” relays the beautiful sentiment that when you are in love with someone, nobody else’s love even begins to compare. While Lighthouse does focus on love it doesn’t only concern itself with the romantic side. In particular, album closer, “Give It Back to Me” goes beyond the love we feel for a partner and focuses on how love is a gift that can be shared.

‘I feel like everything is sort of leading to “Give It Back to Me”, which is sort of a statement of love and kind of giving it to your community as a gift. For me, I kind of saw the album as a whole as this kind of beacon of striving towards lightness. The album is exploring romantic love and then this song, to me, is sort of about love that lasts beyond romance, and just supporting your friends and supporting your family. It’s like a gift that you get from learning to love other people. That was the sentiment that I was trying to explore. It’s a really affirming song and it’s something I just wanted to give to the people that I love.’

There is a relatable aspect to Francis of Delirium that is endearing and comforting, despite its unabashed pensiveness. On top of the drive to create music that is emotionally endearing, Jana does all her own art for her albums and merch, as well as directing her own music videos. When an artist is that open to putting themselves out there and trying to get as involved in all aspects of their own art, you can’t help but pump your fist and be happy that they call your local scene home.

You can keep track of everything Francis of Delirium is up to on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as pre-order Lighthouse, which comes out March 22, on Bandcamp. Francis of Delirium will also be touring the EU, US and Canada in support of Lighthouse and you can find all the dates at her website.

The quotes in this interview were edited for clarity.

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