Written by Katelyn Wynecoop
Summer has finally turned. It was evident as we walked down the dimly lit streets of Spokane last Friday night. The brisk winds of autumn swept across the sidewalk outside of The Bartlett, the dark skies and pale moonlight setting a rather ominous scene for the night’s performance. Yet, as we walked through the doors the atmosphere completely changed.
The room was buzzing with anticipation, eager to witness the talented array of supporting artists leading up to the night’s headliner, Romaro Franceswa. Having worked with Franceswa earlier this year, we were glad to catch up with the artist at his first headlining gig in Spokane, WA. His track “Terra Cotta” with Justin Hartinger is still one of our favorites, so any chance to witness a live performance of his is one we’d never miss.
Franceswa crossed through the curtains and onto the stage alongside his drummer, Tieren Simon, and DJ Marvelous. The warm décor and intimate layout of the venue was ideal for an event of this nature, giving the fans a chance to get up close and personal with the performers in a comfortable environment. This was an element Franceswa took full advantage of, his commanding stage presence taking on another level of intimidation as he locked eyes with the audience members with each word that he spoke.
Throughout his performance Franceswa shifted between passionate vocal pieces such as “Kiss The Sky” and high intensity hip-hop heaters like “Right Now”. As for Simon, he attacked each track on his drum kit with such ferocity I swore his drumsticks were about to snap in his hands. The energy bouncing between the stage and the floor was electric, with frequent eruptions of engagement from the audience and at one point a full-blown mosh pit as both Franceswa and Simon leapt into crowd. By the time the show came to a close, the only question on my mind was, ‘when can I see this again?’
Having just experienced such a powerful performance, it was hard to believe that just an hour before we’d seen this group playing foosball and dying of laughter. Just before show time, I sat down for a quick interview with both Romaro Franceswa and Tieren Simon.
How does it feel to headline your first show outside of Seattle?
Romaro Franceswa: It feels freakin’ amazing. It feels like I have worked my ass off and have a great team around me to support me and to support the movement. It feels good—it’s just a family affair.
How does it feel to play here tonight compared to the last time you performed in Spokane? You’ve come a long way since then.
RF: It was different because last time I was here on somebody else’s merit. I was here with Sam Lachow—shoutout Sam Lachow—but this is MY name. You feel me? You know what I’m saying? This is a Franceswa show. It feels bigger, it feels like I can build to the same crowd and fan bases of artists like Sam Lachow and recreate that the next time I come to Spokane. It just feels so good.
Your new single, “Kiss The Sky”, just came out. What was your inspiration behind that?
RF: I love Jimi Hendrix. He had this line on “Purple Haze” that said ‘excuse me while I kiss the sky’ and I was just like, ‘yo, nobody has ever really captured this moment,’ like ‘excuse me, but I need time for myself, I need time to rise and to be above all of the pity and all the petty bullsh**.’ So that’s why I sampled him in the song.
What’s next for you?
RF: Trying to get these guys on a tour on our own merit, a Romaro Franceswa tour. I’m trying to come to colleges. I’ve never played a show at WSU, I’ve never played a show at UW. I want to hit these colleges up, get those fans, and tap in with those college kids. We’re getting that in the works. I also have an EP coming out and an album right after.
I’m just working, making music. I’m trying to continue to make moves. I’ve got to continue to be on billboards. If you do something one time, it’s cool, but if you continue and have consistency with it then it’s unmatched. I want to be truly undeniable in Seattle. I want to be undeniable as a black man. It’s harder for a black man to get out there in Seattle hip hop, but people like Dave B and I are making strides to change that. I take pride in that, and I take pride in taking my brothers with me.
Tieren, how’s it been being on the road with Romaro?
Tieren Simon: It’s fun, we’re always getting into weird situations. There was one time where we thought we were going to die but we ended up just getting free ice cream. It was like, the biggest twist of all time.
When did you start drumming?
TS: Probably around thirteen. I went to my first concert, it was a Paramore concert, and at the very end Zac Farro threw out his drumsticks and by chance I caught one and went home and started looking stuff up. That’s my Disney story.
You’re the drummer for a couple different bands including Deelyle, TeZATalks, and Sam Shoemaker. Do you have difficulty balancing your time between them?
TS: I think the difference between legends and those who are easily forgotten is that the ones who last through time have been willing to put in the hours to nurture their craft into something special. That means fully dedicating yourself to what you do, and with that comes sacrifice. When you really want something, the simpler things in life like sleep become less and less a priority. Life is short, you have to work hard and find what you love.
• • •
Without a doubt, there are many great things to be seen coming from these two in the near future. We at Big Slide are very excited to see what’s next!
Written by Katelyn Wynecoop