Natti Shiner has just finished reading Sapiens, a book that is a brief history of humankind.
“It’s pretty bloody thought-provoking.” she tells me, “I think I could discuss for hours the scientific future ahead of us.” She continues to debate with herself; surely with all that humans have achieved, cures would have been found? But so much money is generated from prescribed medicine, so “WHAT IS REAL?!”
Whilst we don’t have a conclusive answer to theories and debates, one thing is for sure – Fickle Friends are currently killing it. Having just announced their forthcoming debut album, You Are Someone Else, the only way is up. The reason? Probably that inquisitive nature that the five piece possess and run with. Their electro-pop nuggets of songs are clever and emotionally invested, upbeat and leading a trail of danceability but ultimately thought-provoking and observational. “Basically I can’t write a happy song,” Natti laughs, explaining the poignancy of the lyrics colliding with deliciously cherry red and juicy basslines and sensuous beats. “But we wanna write music that makes people dance and strut down the street with their headphones on you know? The soundtrack to every teenager’s game of flip cup.”
Describing the past year as “a massive learning curve with peaks and troughs,” the experience has led to the band learning to worry less. That, and to “crave less… basically appreciate everything positive that happens instead of being consumed by negativity.” The music has curved into this notion. If a Fickle Friends’ track were a person they’d be one of those happy-go-lucky types, one that tackles any sort of problem head on and with an attitude to be envied. A glass half full person. Somebody who goes out of their way to help others first. A romantic and a best friend to everybody. But also somebody who takes no shit. Basically, the epitome of the band. “We write music for ourselves. Like, completely. Fuck being told what to be.” Natti explains, “People see through that. My favourite thing about being in this band is that we have all had the same vision and don’t settle for anything other that what we think is the best.
“I love making people feel happy and dance, but also think about and identify with the sometimes melancholic subjects we touch on.”
Their hands-on approach has crafted a small world for Fickle Friends and their listeners. They’ve quickly become friends, with the bond tightened from extensive touring and releases. They never stop. “We’d never wanna get complacent,” Natti says, “We aim to be very 1 on 1 with our fans, I constantly ask for their opinions and ask questions to make them feel like they’re as much a part of the Fickle Friends world as we are.” The connection is as tangible as their bubblegum pop rhythms and the gentle line of funk that makes your feet move when listening. Today, it’s what we need; to have a band who genuinely care, are honest and open. “Music has always been an incredible vehicle for talking about stuff that’s difficult to admit conversationally. I think it’s exciting at the moment with people becoming much more open and forward about their personal stories and issues.” Natti starts, “The more honest you are the more people, especially kids, are going to identify with what you’re doing.” Latest single, ‘Hard To Be Myself’ explores a headspace that more and more people are experiencing and tackling. Discussing the tribulations of social awkwardness and anxieties, it’s a dizzy journey that hooks in the subconscious.
“So I’ve always been a pretty confident social person. And a couple years ago I got a spike of anxiety which was so alien to me. I was so confused by it and had no idea how to deal with it’s unpredictability.” Natti recalls, and the lyrics become even more real, “I’d turn up to a gathering of people who I wouldn’t know that well… and where I’d previously have flourished in that kind of environment, I felt my whole body turn into knots and I couldn’t breathe. I walked straight through the room and sat outside by myself just fucking wishing I could be someone else or my old self just for an hour.”
‘Hard To Be Myself’ is about facing that feeling, and how you may begin to be pulled out. “If our music allows even one person to openly discuss their mental health then we’re achieving something amazing. There are so many other bands and artists who do the same. This is why music is so important and always relevant.”
One of the most important things to the band is establishing that relationship on stage. Writing to ensure that songs translate live, the show is the backbone to Fickle Friends. “Over the past few years we’ve become this well oiled touring machine it’s quite funny.” Laughing that the routines of touring have changed, the band no longer fall into the trap of excessive drinking and late night drive-throughs. “Now we flip the Travelodge beds in the morning and do a workout, or go for a run then go hunt down the best vegan cafe in the city. Are we lame?”
Nothing is going to stop Fickle Friends. Not even breaking down in the middle of the motorway at a traffic light on the last day of tour. “We found high vis jackets in the tour van and the road safety dance was born.” They’re formidable and determined, passionate and pure, and they’ve earned the rep. They dance through the negative, lean on one another, think forward, and always make the best of a shitty situation.
Photos by James Harker
Words by Tanyel Gumushan