No matter where you look, a new pop artist seems to be breaking the music surface. Of course, TikTok has played a vital role in the surge of new talent, and it’s hard to track them all. But if you look carefully, you’ll see that there are quite a few gems, and singer-songwriter Francis Karel is one that shines bright.
Karel quickly rose to fame online with his jaw-dropping and melodic voice and garnered fans like Meghan Trainor, Zedd, and Bebe Rexha. He’s quickly amassed more than 2.3 million followers on TikTok, earning over 25 million streams on Spotify, and landing the amazing opportunity to tour with multi-platinum artists like MAX and Andy Grammer.
But now, the singer-songwriter from Jakarta has released his debut EP Handle With Care, and in an interview with United By Pop, Karel discusses what it was like crafting the tracklist for his EP, the concept behind his title track, touring with Andy Grammer during the summer, and much more.
Hi Francis! How are you? Huge congrats are in order with the release of your debut EP Handle With Care. How excited are you for it to be finally here for your fans to enjoy?
Hi there! I’ve been good 🙂 and thank you so much! I’ve been sitting on most of these songs for the longest time, so I’m really excited to have them finally out. Hoping everyone loves them the way I do.
Now let’s talk music! The title track, “Handle With Care,” is such a catchy tune, I can’t get enough of it. But it also features such personal lyrics that I think a lot of young people of this generation can resonate with. How was it to explore those emotions, and what do you hope this song does for those who are feeling those same types of feelings?
It was honestly a concept I’ve been sitting on for a while. It was sparked by someone I met a year ago, and I had all these emotions that I couldn’t make sense of. I think for me, writing this song was a way of acknowledging myself & how I feel – which allowed me to accept the baggage I think I come with and how to work with it instead of having it push against myself. So I’m hoping this song can help other people with acknowledging/working with their own pros & cons.
Each of the six tracks (which, by the way, are just absolute bops!) on your EP feature not only heartfelt ballads but such captivating and snappy pop songs. How were you able to find that perfect balance when putting together the tracklist?
I think as soon as I figured out the intention in my writing, I started to notice a timeline for each of the songs. They all just fell into place accordingly, which (I’ll be honest) was not at all the intention I had but glad it turned out that way, haha.
I know that this EP is the first out of three that highlights your journey in LA since moving from Indonesia. Will the next two feature songs that didn’t make this track list?
As for now, I believe so! Initially, I had a different vision for my project, but when all this fell into place, the road map for each project became so much more clear. I did bump a song from the first EP to the third, so I can’t wait to put that one out.
And track list aside, I gotta ask. What was it like joining Andy Grammer over the summer as one of his opening acts for his The Art Of Joy Tour Pt. 2? I’d imagine it was a dream come true!
It was truly an honor! Andy’s an artist I’ve been listening to & inspired by since I was in middle school, so to think that I got to open for him after traveling across the world is still mind-boggling. I see him as one of my musical parents, but that’s just me being hyperbolic.
Before our conversation comes to an end, now that your debut EP is out, what can fans expect next? Will they get a taste of your next EP in the next few months, or will they have to wait until next year?
There’s more in store before the year’s end, so I’d tell everyone to buckle up & expect emotional turmoil. On behalf of my writing, I apologize for bringing out any repressed emotions.
Francis Karel’s debut EP Handle With Care is available to stream here.