In Conversation with Fickle Friends
On the 6th of March I sat down with Fickle Friends front woman Natti Shiner and bassist Harry Herrington in a strip club above Fibbers prior to their York gig (yes you read correct, although thankfully it wasn’t open to everyone’s relief). With their debut album released on the 16th of the month, it was interesting to discuss the reception to their new music and the challenges that face rising musicians in the media. The band who have been together since 2013 seemed very proud to discuss their experiences that came with the creation of their album.
So how did the actual production of the new album go? Did anyone in particular take a lead with the lyrics or instrumentation?
Natti: There’s mainly like three of us that do the writing. Jack, our synth player, is more like the producer of the band and will produce something up to a certain level and then go and work with a producer to finish it off and reach the level we can’t reach ourselves. But the lyrical side is more a joint effort between the two of us and Jack. The way we started writing it is because we love like Phoenix and Two Door (Cinema Club).
Harry: We have started to get a bit more into proper pop music, or like the production of that kind of music to try and marry that up with the indie style that we like.
Has there been a lot of pressure from fans over the last few years to get the album out. You guys have been active since 2013 so I take it they have been asking for a while?
Natti: (Laughs) For an album? Not really. It’s more just been an odd comment asking when the album is coming. I think people know that you have got to be at a certain level to release a record and I think we have waited till the right time. I mean we could actually have waited another year. Artists like Anne-Marie haven’t put their first album out yet but are global superstars. We are an indie band so there’s more of different route that we have taken – build a fanbase first.
You had challenging first two years since starting the band due to not having a label, how did you overcome that drawback and build yourselves up from deciding you wanted to be a professional band?
Natti: Never start a band thinking ‘oh we need to get a record deal’ because we started our band just to be a band and write our own music. It was only when we started to get a little bit of success that we got a booking agent and made us realise it was something worth pursuing. The most important thing is write good music or write something that’s going to mean something to someone and they can identify with it. That’s the only way you are going to get fans really. If you 100% believe what you are doing is great, then someone else is going to as well.
So, with you guys being in the media spotlight more has anything changed? Have you found there’s more demand for what you are supposed to behave like or achieve?
Natti: Not really. The only expectation is to be good role models I guess. It’s so easy to trip up to make a comment on twitter and it can offend someone or someone can pick it apart and you are like “oh f*** that’s not what I meant to say,” especially when so many young girls follow us. If I made a comment about body image like off the cuff because it’s very easy to be self-deprecating, I forget if I write something like that then all these kids might be like “what the f***, if she thinks that then I’ll think that way too”, you know what I mean?
Harry: We have to dress cool more often now. Can’t just be slouching around going down the shops. Someone sees me and realises I feel like they are going to ask ‘oi what you doing?’ and I’ll say ‘oh don’t look at me right now, this isn’t the real me I swear!’
Natti: The other day I had to get the train to London wearing like pretty much pyjamas and I had to get changed just in case someone in Brighton recognised me. I’m so glad I did because I was waiting for the train and two girls walked up to me and said “oh I love your band!”. I was stood there thinking imagen if I was in my pjs right now.
Image is a popular focus in the media when looking at musicians right now. How do you feel about a lot of bands and singers these days being accused of caring more about their image than their actual music? Do you feel you that you focus on image in Fickle Friends?
Natti: Its massively important but I think it’s important to not look like you are trying too hard. Its kind of a difficult thing.
Harry: It can’t be the most important thing; most important thing has always got to be the music. Its still got to marry up though.
Natti: Yeah, I read stuff all the time about bands who are commented on for being fixated on their image that the music doesn’t mean anything which is what you don’t want to be. However, at the same time you want to be perceived a certain way for the brand so its kind of like a weird balance you have to find.
Harry: It can work for some bands but there’s not always longevity in that as some styles are always going to fade in and out.
Do you think you guys have good connections to your fans by using platforms like Instagram and twitter?
Natti: Yeah, I think that’s super important. I think the feeling you get when you tweet someone, like when I tweet people I love and I get a reply, even now I’m just like ‘ah they know I’m alive!’ They are the people who are buying your music and sharing it with their friends. We have this group of kids called the Fickle Fam who run this twitter account and they are so sweet – we are so engaged with them. One of the girls in the group is doing some artwork for us and it’s like giving back to them because they are so passionate and give so much to us, it makes sense to reply and take the time to do that.
Harry: And its easy to do as well, we are like replying to them on Instagram or sending an emoji. Be like “ooo love that!” It’s brilliant.
Natti: Just send a heart and they love it! Takes a second but means a lot.
Finally, mostly out of curiosity, why the name fickle friends?
Natti: It’s really not a good story! I didn’t come up with it, it was a mate of mine who just came up with the name. We were going to be a DJ duo and were like ‘oh fickle friends because we are fickle-friends’ and I was like ‘oh ha-ha’. We tried it for some audition and it kind of just stuck.
Harry: We should make up a story on the spot every time to go with it. Should bring that back (laughs).
Fickle Friends debut Album You Are Someone Else is out now.