We heard that Brighton based 5 piece Fickle Friends were touring in November and thought it would be great to have a chat with them before the madness kicked off. We spoke with Natti (vocalist) on the morning that Donald Trump had won the US Presidency campaign, yes folks, that was DONALD FRICKING TRUMP....god, I never thought I'd be typing that in a million years, heaven help us all...... ANYWAY, back in the room. Natti took time out from rehearsing with the rest of the band to chat to us about how they formed, their forthcoming tour and most importantly, what she would like for Christmas!
Natti, we know Fickle Friends are a 5 piece indie pop band from Brighton, we know you have a new single out called 'Brooklyn', can you tell me something about the band or a band member that not many people know?
Hmmm, an interesting question, we all live in Brighton but we have a Northern lad from Yorkshire, Jack is Brazilian but he's lived here all his life and I was born in Switzerland so I guess we're from all over the place! Brighton is the place that we just all came together.
Is there still a good vibrant scene in Brighton?
It's great, Brighton is the reason why we still have hope in humanity!
With this morning's news, we need every scrap of that going!
Huw Stephens had the first play of 'Brooklyn', how did it feel when you heard it played on the radio?
It was super cool, Huw has been a big supporter of our over the last year and we're really lucky to have him on board, it's just the other radio stations that are really tough to break into. Huw does the evening show on Radio 1 which is a pretty big deal but it would be great to get onto more!
Were you all sat together when he played the song?
We were played on the radio a couple of years ago so the novelty of hearing yourself on the radio kind of wears off after a while, it's more the family members that get excited when they hear us on the radio!
I'd like to go back to the early days of the band, where did you all meet?
Sam (drummer) and I met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, we were there for a year, we met Chris at an open mic night in Brighton. Jack was in my class in Brighton and we were paired together to perform a cover of Wham's 'Last Christmas' one year and we just got on really well. Jack's friend Harry who he'd known for years was invited along to form the 5 piece!
Can we look forward to any Christmas singles from you this year?
Not this year, if we start writing a Christmas song, it might be ready for next year!
You've got to do something to stop X-Factor getting to number 1!
Exactly, it's getting a bit silly now!
Your music has a real funky groove to it, who would you say are your biggest influences?
I would say that it's a collective influence, mainly the bands that we were listening to when we were 16 or 17 years old and these were the bands that made us want to start our own band. Friendly Fires, Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club, they were all the albums I had when I was learning to drive and probably the music I listened to most back then. Ellie Goulding was another artist, she was a little bit different from other singer songwriters and I really wanted to be like her. I guess we also drew influence from Michael Jackson and loads of other more classic acts.
Do you all share the same tastes in music?
Three of us definitely do, as the main writers of the tracks that really helps! Everyone has their own tastes, Chris was bought up on Hendrix, our drummer Sam is really into punk music and also a lot of dance music, we all have such a broad range when it comes to music as it’s so widely available and being in the industry, we’re exposed to it so often, I guess we just consume so much and as long as it’s not grossly offensive, we’re normally into it!
I hear what you’re saying, plenty of grossly offensive stuff out there in the pop charts these days!
How do you approach songwriting, do you follow a set process (melody first then lyrics) or does it change every time?
I guess we have a set process, we write a demo, recording it as we write, usually it starts with one of the guys having a loop or a beat and then we’ll just work with that, I usually have a book of various lyrics and words and one thing from either input can inspire the track and it just kind of comes together via that process rather than lyrics then melody or vice versa. We go back and rewrite stuff all the time, I remember having to rework the chords like six times until it sounded right, I kind of sleep on it and then listen to it again the next day and you always pick up on things that could be improved.
I guess the risk of doing that is that you’ll end up over-engineering things? End up taking much longer in the studio?
I think the writing and the recording process is a little different as we only go into the studio to record once we’re settled on the song, we keep everything we’ve written but usually with the writing, we have to keep on bettering what we’ve done because otherwise, when you get to the recording stage, you’ll end up going over it in an attempt to make it sound better but in fact, you realise that whatever happens naturally at the beginning gives you the best take!
We’re actually still working with Mike now, we have him working on our album, he also did ‘Brooklyn’, I think it’s us learning to let someone else into our world, we’re so used to having to do everything ourselves, having someone else, especially as respected as Mike bringing our tracks to life is great, he can offer more to us, pick up things that we may not have thought of which is really cool.
Did he share the same approach to recording as you did?
I think there’s always a period of ‘getting to know someone’ and warming to the way that they work, this happened during the recording of Brooklyn, it was the first week that we were in the studio and the first time we had ever recorded with him and it was a little bit weird as we didn’t really know each other, we’d only been on a walk with him and had coffee and chatted through our ideas for the album, it was quite an experimental week but having done that was great as now, we all get on like a house on fire and understand how we work.
I agree, I think having that time to break each other in is really important, especially when you invite someone in to work on something as precious as your record!
Mike is amazing, really glad we went with him.
When is the album due?
No dates pencilled in just yet but it’s more than likely going to be next Summer to tie in with the festivals!
You have had a pretty busy Summer taking in Reading & Leeds, Latitude & Bestival, looking back over the Summer, which festival would you say you enjoyed the most?
I think it has to be Reading & Leeds, mainly because we’ve never played that one before and it was such a statement for us to be able to play on the Radio 1 NME stage, it was very overwhelming for us as there were LOADS of people there, a very poignant moment for us. The whole day that followed was just great, we were doing a lot of filming, checked out a few bands, hung out with Twenty One Pilots met Diplo and it was just a surreal day!
Any festivals booked and confirmed for 2017 yet?
Not that we can confirm at this stage, hopefully lots, we’d love to play Glastonbury, the best festival in the world!
You're about to head out on a UK tour, which culminates in your biggest London show at Heaven on Dec 1st, any parts of the country that you're really excited about playing?
We always love going back to Liverpool, this tour covers places that we’ve only played once before, it’s quite off the beaten track, places like Tunbridge Wells, we’ve only played in Exeter once before and that would have been a couple of years ago and I recall having to rent two hatchback cars and drive all of our gear down overnight and then do exactly the same after the show! It was an eight hour drive each way or something ridiculous like that! The show itself was SO great, it was at The Cavern in Exeter and it’s places like that that make it worthwhile, such a cool vibe! I think looking at the places we’re going to be visiting, we may have played festivals there in the past but not a regular gig, Oxford being one. We’ve done Cardiff before, Edinburgh, Liverpool, obviously London we’ve played loads before but we’re really looking forward to just getting out and hitting it!
What do you like most about being on the road?
(laughs) being trapped in a van with 7 guys is always a particular high point for me! I guess there’s a lot of travel and highs and lows in general, playing the show is great but then you’ve got to pack down and load out and get to the next town or city. We love being on the road, playing different places, meeting different people, I guess this is what keeps us going!
What do you like least about being on the road?
Sharing hotel rooms with guys, I’m the only female! I do miss some female interaction!
You need to replace some of the band with girls instead!
Maybe I should hire a merch girl to come along and keep me company?
I've never seen you play live before (I will be attending the Exeter show on Nov 26th), talk me through what I can expect?
Well, a lot of four to the floor dance beats, there’ll be a surprise during the show as well….
Ooh….will there be audience participation?
Definitely dance-a-longs, we tend to steer well clear of sing-a-longs, we’re not really the band that do the acoustic thing, lighters in the air, so no Coldplay moments I’m afraid!
Christmas is fast approaching, have you been good? and what is on the top of your Christmas list this year?
Ooh, I think I’ve been good this year…. I haven’t even thought about Christmas……I really should give this some thought! Erm….. privacy maybe? some of that for Christmas would be good!
Where will you be seeing in the new year?
You know what, I have no idea! None of us have given Christmas or New Year a thought yet so we’ll just have to see where we are nearer the time. We’ve been in America for a little while and we just don’t feel festive at all at the moment and I’m the most festive person ever! I guess we’ll be together somewhere!
Lastly, what are your plans for 2017 as a band?
We’re going to head back over to the States to finish the album, we’ll be doing a load more writing, festivals (hopefully loads of them), we’ll be on tour again, hopefully a support tour with someone, mainly album related stuff!
Which studio are you recording the album in?
Mike Crossey has his own studio in Woodland Hills, tucked away nicely! It’s small but perfectly formed.
Is it a residential studio or do you go your own way every night and meet back the next morning?
We usually just sort out an Air BnB and just come and go, it’s a bit like going to the office every day but nicer!
Natti, thanks so much for your time, I’ll leave you to get back and help the guys out in rehearsal, good luck for the tour and I look forward to meeting you in Exeter on 26th November!
Thanks very much, see you soon.
You can see Fickle Friends on tour throughout November across the UK, and at their largest headline London date so far on 1st December at HEAVEN, details below;
18/11 Fruit, Hull
19/11 Mash House, Edinburgh
20/11 Arts Club Loft, Liverpool
21/11 Bullingdon, Oxford
24/11 Cookie, Leicester
25/11 Moles, Bath
26/11 Cavern, Exeter (moved to The Phoenix)
29/11 Clwb Ifor Bach. Cardiff
30/11 Forum, Tunbridge Wells
01/12 Heaven, London