Music & healing from a toxic relationship: a conversation with Frances Hope

I recently met the canadian singer-songwriter Frances Hope to talk about her latest single "STAY" based on her past trauma in a toxic relationship, and in one of that magic moments that happen when two people connect sharing similar experiences, we couldn't stop talking and confronting each other about this topic.

This post is dedicated to all the people that are in, or are healing from, a toxic relationship. We tend to think that only love relationships can be toxic and that the victim is always the woman - this is certainly what happens more often, but any relationship (friendship, or even workship!) can be toxic and hurt in the same way. So, even tho this conversation is written from the perspective of two women (me and Frances), I hope that it can help in some way every person who need to read that we all are vulnerable, that it is normal to feel in a certain way and that it is possible to find the strenght to be free and to heal.

But before, let's meet her! Frances Hope is a singer-songwriter, natural performer, poet, multi-instrumentalist and indie-folk artist from Victoria, BC. Her music is inspired by early Joni Mitchell and remnants of Lana Del Rey and Brandi Carlile. She is an advocate for mental health, as her own struggles led her to begin songwriting to process and heal her own emotional wounds. Little did she know, that her words would touch others relating to similar experiences, and shining a light on universal themes of vulnerability, mental health and healing have become one of her raisons d'être.

Frances Hope

Frances was a recent contestant on Season 8 of a Canadian singing competition called The Shot: Remastered, and won a Battle of the Bands competition to take main stage at the Dragon Boat Festival in Victoria this past summer. She has released a debut EP album, and two self-created/mixed singles, and received second place in a global songwriting competition out of Nashville, TN. Her music is an eclectic combination of sweetness and grit, and her sound has been characterized as "edgy ethereal" and “intimate and touching with subtle and emotional insight”.

She is presently teaching a virtual songwriting class for kids and preparing to release a single and music video, and a new EP album titled Lifeline. Her song, Mistaken Identity has been recently played on both Indie 101.5 FM and Unsigned BC (CFRO 100.5 FM) radio. 

Listening to "STAY" is like opening the door of a secret place where Frances invites you to enter in with her smooth and calm voice. The sweet and melancholic melody that underlines the lyrics, seems to bring acceptance, peace and healing to you too. I'd say it's a totally immersive experience in the feelings, through a path that ends with the light of forgiving yourself for what you feel.

  Frances, can you talk about the first concept of "STAY" and its meaning?

"STAY was dreamt up while at my piano, while contemplating how to bring the feeling to life of being powerless, angry, hurt and broken, but still wishing that the person who broke you in the first place would ask you to stay. In my opinion, this song is the representation of love as an addiction, and the push-pull of the toxic relationship, where everyone around you asks, "why didn’t you just leave?". I needed to voice the reason we decide to stay in those situations, so others healing from the same type of heartbreak can take solace in the fact that they are not alone. "STAY" is a letter to those needing to forgive themselves for what they experienced, and recognizing healing is non-linear and nothing can be gained from a relationship that makes you suffer"

How did you decide to release it and make it a single?

"The collaboration began after I posted a short video of myself playing a moody and emotional version of the song on the piano. A talented up-and-coming producer from Calgary, named Spencer Lillo, happened to see the video and contacted me about creating a pop-rock version of the song, which I was really excited to try. Together, we managed to transform the song into a very compelling, new emotional and compositional direction. I’m grateful for how we transformed my initial ballad into a powerful, alternative pop-rock anthem that hits you right in the feels, and I believe it will resonate with others who have experienced the same thing. "STAY" takes you on a journey of shifting from a place of sadness and insecurity to a sense of resolve that you deserve much more, and the only person who can secure your healing is you"

As you said before, people need to forgive themselves for what they experienced. Being a "survivor" of a toxic relationship myself, this is so big to me. I couldn't forgive myself for a long time and I finally started to cope with it only when I read tons of material about the behaviour of a narcissist person. I think that understanding what really happens in these kind of relationship can be the first step to heal. Can you talk about your personal experience?

"Yes, I was in a narcissistic relationship that ruined me. It was subtle. A slow-burn, where I was too young and naïve to see it for what it was. What began as safe, secure, loving, enigmatic and exciting, slowly turned sour when I realized the object of my affection felt nothing. His burdens and baggage exceeded my own in his mind, and he was empty and cold. He was unable to feel anything in the wake of my own trauma and when my face fell or a tear slid down my cheek, he turned away and was void of emotion or regret. Needing to be the star, and playing the role of the mentor, the lover and the hero to its full potential, squeezing every ounce of self-importance out of me that he could. If I remained weak, he could be strong. If I was less talented, he could be the pariah who owned the stage and gained vitality from the spotlight, from me. A shiny and innocent plaything he could toy with and sink his claws into at any time he wanted"

Did you find healing while writing/singing this song? Can you talk about the power of music, in every form (if we sing it, or if we listen to it), in helping people healing from such a big trauma?

"It is healing! It’s hard sometimes. But we need to dig into the trauma to try to heal from it. I find it meditative to write and feel things through my music - music is the most powerful things that exists and is a religion on its own. It heals is as a global community and keeps us connected through gender, ethnicity, sexuality, geographical location and it's meant to unite and make us feel less alone. I hope that if someone is going through the same thing and is in a toxic or abusive relationship, and these words resonate, they will find the strength to leave, and understand they deserve better and are worthy of someone that cherishes them. Hearing words that are relatable have such a massive impact on people, and I truly hope it will help heal and maybe save women from the same type of trauma I experienced. Writing and performing it is cathartic but I hope it resonates and influences those needing a nudge in the right direction"


Do you feel stronger now, after this experience? Did it influence your musician path? Can you find in this a sort of "positive" aspect of what you experienced?

"Not always, no. Still on my own journey unwinding everything. It gave songwriting material for sure and what doesn’t kill us does make us stronger and more resilient. But that in itself takes its toll, and pads is with more trust issues, etc. but on the other hand, teaches us to be more self reliant and forces us to pick ourselves up from to rock bottom"

I personally succeeded in move away from that particular situation thanks to a person near me who helped, and almost forced, me to open the eyes. Often people near us can help, even tho it's always our decision and if we don't want to wake up to reality, no one on Earth can help us. What is your experience in this? Would you suggest to seek help outside?

"I suggest therapy haha! Lots of therapy. But at the end of the day only you can make the decision. So reach out and trust your family and friends have your best interests even if you can’t see things for yourself clearly"

Thank you Frances for sharing your experience with us and for releasing this song with the hope to help in some way people who suffer, or suffered, of the same trauma.

If you liked this article I'd love if you'll contact me through Instagram or e-mail to let me know what you think about this topic, it would be amazing to expand the conversation! And of course, go check Frances Hope music out, she's awesome!

Frances Hope

Instagram: @franceshopemusic

Linktree: Frances Hope


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