BN1 talks to Fickle Friends ahead of Standon Calling 2017
Fickle Friends are a band formed in Brighton, and who still hold the city very close to their hearts. Getting together back in 2013 while all studying music at university, they spent an impressive two years touring relentlessly without a label or a manager. Most of their early songs were in fact written in their bedrooms. As singer Natti tells me, they got to where they are “the old-fashioned way”, and it certainly seems to be paying off. By the time they landed a record deal with Polydor they’d already built up a remarkable fanbase. “It helped our sound develop too – we’re like a well-oiled machine now.”
The band spent last year recording their debut album in sunny Los Angeles with Mike Crossey, a man responsible for recording the likes of Wolf Alice and indie-rock royalty The Arctic Monkeys. “California is so different to Brighton,” says Natti, “but recording there was incredible. The change of scenery really inspired us to write.” Apparently it was all quite a surreal experience. “You’re constantly going to the beach and cool bars and everyone is someone. Basically everything anyone’s told you about L.A. is probably true.” I ask if they’d ever consider relocating – but she reckons Berlin is the scene for them. “We’re more low-key. We’re set in our ways and Brighton bubble.”
Their sound is an amalgamation of all their influences, and has grown and developed with them. “It started off as just me and my songs,” she tells me, “and I kinda wanted to be Ellie Goulding back then.” You can hear the obvious musical influences of bands such as Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club and Friendly Fires, but I’m not surprised to learn they are hugely inspired by movies too. “We especially like the iconic ‘80s films, like John Waters stuff. The song Cry Baby is a direct take on his film with the same name.” Their videos definitely have a colourful American feel – think Miami Vice meets teen rom-com. But despite the neon-coated outer shell, Natti describes how she loves the concept of “seemingly cool and vibrant pop songs with weird dark undertones.” Latest single Hello Hello is incredibly catchy, proving their songwriting capabilities. Think The 1975 mixed with an ‘80s power-pop feel. Sing-along hooks and catchy synth riffs make it equally nostalgic and liberating, with a disco-tinge that leaves the taste of summer in your mouth. But it’s all too easy to lump Fickle Friends in with the general wave of flirty indie-pop. As catchy, polished and fun as their music seems, there’s a depth tucked beneath that really sets them apart from the rest. The concept of dark undertones rings true in last year’s single, Brooklyn. “It’s about struggling with anxiety,” says Natti, noting just how powerful music can be, and the importance for artists to use their voices. “I hope that people can take something from that song and know that it’s such a normal way to feel.”
Fickle Friends never seem to take a break from playing or writing. They’ve supported The Kooks on their farewell tour and are now set to play an extensive array of summer shows. Festivals have always been a big part of Fickle Friends life, having played over 50 in their first two years together. “We’re very excited for Reading and Leeds again. It was so good last year! And Secret Garden Party for the third time – but it’s the last one, which is sad.” I enquire about the album release date and she laughs – I guess they probably get asked this all the time, “We just keep adding more things!” Understandably they want to perfect their first album, and there’s no need for them to rush. Hello Hello and Brooklyn have done better than they ever expected. They say it will be released this year for sure, and it seems they just want to keep the anticipation going. Fickle Friends can expect things to be bigger than ever for 2017.
Catch Fickle Friends at Standon Calling festival on Fri 27 – Sat 30 July 2017, as well as Brighton Pride in August!