Pop for the open minded: In conversation with Fickle Friends

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By Isobel Turner, Second year Liberal Arts

We sat down with Fickle Friends to discuss pop music for open minded people, their new EP and whether or not dropping out of uni is the answer.

‘Social chaos’ is how lead vocalist Natti Shiner describes Weird Years, Season One, Fickle Friends’ upcoming EP, due for release in January. In response to the year’s unique challenges the band are trialling an unprecedented format, staggering the release of their next album by ‘season.’

Keyboardist Jack Wilson explains: ‘We’ve broken it up just so that we can do it gradually, instead of not doing anything for ages and then just having an album next year. There’s no shows and we need something to do!’

For anyone currently unfamiliar with Fickle Friends, Jack describes their work as ‘Pop music — I wouldn’t say intelligent pop because that sounds weird ― more like pop music for people who also like bands, and who are open minded.’ The band formed in Brighton in 2013 and released their debut studio album You are Someone Else in 2018. They now have upwards of 340,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and have played numerous shows in the UK, as well as touring in the US and Canada.

Despite the restrictions of lockdown, the band have managed the release of singles alongside DIY music videos. ‘I think if you’ve got any sort of camera, a bit of an idea and the ability to edit then you can do anything really!’ Natti observes. ‘We were like, “let’s go roller skating at midnight with a light and a camera” and then we did that video.’

She is referring to the video for ‘What a Time’, which has a retro vibe and bright colour overlays matching the upbeat tempo of the track. The video for another of their singles, ‘92’, is a nostalgic collage of old home videos. As Jack tells me, ‘Natti just had the idea to get home footage and stuff of her as a kid because it’s '92 and stuff like that.’

I spoke with Natti about her experience as a woman in the male dominated world of the music industry. ‘[The situation has] become very normalised to me because I’m in a band with boys and our whole team are boys, so there aren’t really any girls about. So I don’t really know any different.’ She adds: ‘You’re never going to be able to shake off that kind of feeling, of walking into a music venue and [people are] just like, “Oh - merch girl. Stuff goes over there” and you’re like “I’m actually in the band.”

‘I don’t know if I’ve got any advice apart from you’ve got to shake it off. There’s something quite empowering about being a woman in music, especially at the moment. And if you believe what you’re doing, just don’t listen to any shit that other people say if they’re telling you that, you know, there’s no point even trying because your voice is going to get lost in kind of an ocean of male voices. You’ve gotta keep chugging.’

Fickle Friends were formed while its members were attending BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) in Brighton, ‘We started the band at uni, it was second year, we slowly started it and then kind of edged out of it. But by the third year we were kind of a “real band”, touring and playing shows,’ Jack explains. ‘We used to do these little BIMM school open day things, and we used to travel around doing that so that was quite fun.’

In discussing uni ― whether dropping out is the answer or not ― the band move to dispensing sage advice on making the most of the moment. Natti says ‘Youth is about having fun and making mistakes and stuff — just having a sick time! When you look back at your uni time will you be like “oh I’m so glad that I went overboard and stayed inside and did all of my work?” Like no… I am work hard play hard. Life is about balance.’ Jack follows this up with ‘Work really hard on the things that are actually important and you want to do, don’t just work for the sake of it.’

Despite lockdown, Fickle Friends have had a busy year and have a lot lined up for the future. Natti explains that the coming EPs are like ‘A musical diary’ and that they ‘Haven’t been short on inspiration.’ There's a lot to look forward to from Fickle Friends in the coming months.

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Featured Image: Courtesy of Renegade Music


Have you checked out Fickle Friends' new material?

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