On the Couch with Mace Francis

Mace-Francis-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Mace Francis?
I am a musician and composer based in Perth. I love big band jazz and have committed the last 20 years to being involved in that genre through performing, composing and organising events. My main creative vehicle is my 14-piece Mace Francis Orchestra, but I’m also the artistic director of the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO), lecturer in jazz arranging and composition at WAAPA, and festival director of the Perth International Jazz Festival.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would live overseas for a long period of time, either to study or work or just… because. I would love to be fluent in another language and to experience another culture for a longer period.

Who inspires you and why?
Musically, I am equally inspired by the greats and my peers. There is so much to learn from the people around me and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by amazing musicians and composers from my students to colleagues and mentors. I am also really inspired by people just doing things. It is very easy to talk about making an album or organising a tour or writing that Fringe show… but when I see someone actually do it, make it, present it – that is so energizing and inspiring!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would like to live without waste and be able to live by creating negative carbon emissions. I try to live now by being aware of my environmental impact on the world. Things like reducing household waste, recycling and reusing as much as possible, eating a plant-based diet, using public transport or biking/walking as much as possible. I know these are small things, but if we are all aware and do small things, it adds up. I’m also aware that I counteract that with air travel (when that was a thing), using lots of paper for sheet music for my band, owning an old car which is not fuel efficient etc. It is all so complex!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love Japan – the food, the culture, the language, the intensity of the cities and the beautiful country-side. I have some really lovely friends there that I would love to see again, hanging out in parks eating snacks and drinking beers, frequenting small bars… hmmm there’s a running theme.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Kings Park of course. I am always blown away how beautiful it is and I don’t know why I don’t visit more often. When international guests visit, a trip to Caversham Wildlife Park is always necessary to see koalas, kangaroos and wombats.

What are you currently reading?
Animal Farm. I have never read it before.

What are you currently listening to?
Trombone Song Cycle – it is a really beautiful album of songs by Melbourne vocalist Josh Kyle with the music arranged by Andrew Murray for a trombone quartet – yes four trombones and voice! The music draws on jazz, classical chamber music and pop and I cannot stop listening to it.

Happiness is?
When everyone in the band and audience is having a great time! It’s also napping in a park on a beautiful sunny day.

What does the future hold for you?
Celebrating my bands (the Mace Francis Orchestra) 15th birthday on Thursday 22 October at The Rechabite in Perth. I’m really proud of this band, the band members and all we have done. I am also writing more music and planning events and concerts for 2021.


Mace is the Band Leader of the Mace Francis Orchestra – who celebrate their 15th birthday on Thursday 22 October with a performance at The Rechabite Hall, Perth. For more information, visit: www.macefrancis.com for details.

Image: Mace Francis (supplied)

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