By Shafniya Kanagaratnam
Francis Nyugen- Tran, who also goes by FrancisGotHeat, is a multi-platinum music producer from Toronto. At just 22 years old, he has produced for popular big artists such as Drake, Big Sean, Eminem and local talents such as Roy Woods and Anders. However, Francis remains humble and unfazed by of his success, and who views himself just like everyone else.
Francis came up with the name "FrancisGotHeat" when he was looking for a Twitter handle that hadn’t already been in use. He admits he was embarrassed by it because it sounded cool back then and ironically enough he wasn’t producing then either, but he eventually stuck to that name.
© Youtube | Drake
Before he started producing, Francis grew up playing the piano, violin, saxophone, drums and various other percussion instruments. His interest in production was sparked after watching a video of producer Ryan Lewis making beats in the studio. He became intrigued since Ryan was also a multi instrumentalist like himself, so he decided to give producing a shot.
“It kinda opened me up a bit."
Francis is a notable alumni from The Remix Project’s Recording Arts Academy, where he furthered his music production skills. The Remix Project offers programs for marginalized youth from Toronto and Chicago, to provide them with an opportunity to enter the creative industries or further their formal education. Francis also talked about how The Remix Project helped with his soft skills saying: “I am not a very talkative guy or a collaborative guy, I am pretty reserved and shy”. Francis was hesitant to work with others, until he was told he was required to collaborate with his peers at least once. He knew it was for the best and the effort paid off once he entered the industry, stating “ I have an easier time approaching people. I don’t mind doing all of that right now”.
“ Basically as a producer, you have to do whatever it takes to make the record to how you want it to sound.”
“It’s different”, said Francis when reflecting upon his experience on being raised by immigrant parents. His parents emigrated from Vietnam and resided in the Regent Park neighborhood. “They were skeptical on letting us go outside, so I was cooped up inside most of the day unless, I was going out to play basketball with my friends", Francis recalls. His parents thought he spent the rest of his time indoors on the computer playing video games, but it turned out to be young Francis creating beats instead.
“ A lot of people get stuck to the textbook way of doing production. Art is subjective, you want to be unique, so why do to want to learn to do it the same way as the next guy?”
Francis decided to pursue music production straight out of high school, but his parents were against his career choice. “They wanted me to go to school and get a degree,” said Francis, but they also encouraged him to continue creating music as a hobby instead. It took a lot of back and forth to justify his career as a producer, but he said that they couldn’t understand. Over time his parents have become more accepting of his decision, and when describing his parents change in perception he said that they now say: “You know what, he is actually doing okay, even though he didn’t go to school”.
“Don’t think about your ethnicity when making music, because at the end of the day, it is not about that.”
“Initially, when I would go to a studio and no one knew who I was, when I walked in they didn’t know I was the producer. They thought I was the runner or engineer.”
Throughout his career, Francis admits there have been a few racists occasions in the past, but seldom faces them today due to the rise of Asian and ethnic producers in the industry, which also changed others perspective in the industry on minorities talents. Proud of his Vietnamese heritage, Francis said that he tries not to focus so much on his ethnicity when it comes to his career, but master his craft instead, stating: “It doesn't matter if I am an ‘Asian producer’. I am a producer at the end of the day and that is all that matters.”
“I hate sending beats”
Francis also reflects upon the struggles of being a young, but inexperienced producer in the industry. Usually the management team sources outside talent to contribute during the production process, but sometimes, including Francis, they’re are not physically in the studio themselves. Francis explains that it annoys him ‘to go back and forth on email’ to tweak minor parts because it strains the creative process and is time consuming.
“Personally, I don’t think I will ever feel like that I have made it.”
“I mean maybe if I win a Grammy or get like a #1 Billboard hit, then I will say that I made it,” says Francis. However, he also said that he knows there are other notable goals that many might not be able to achieve, stating: “The fact I have one major album, is more than what a lot of people can say.” Even if he doesn’t achieve those goals, he would be proud of all the work he has done.
“I never thought I would never be where I am today at all.”