Upbeat and optimistic Fickle Friends are the creators of sonically exciting earworms and impossibly catchy guitar riffs. Certain to go down in the indie-rock hall of fame, the euphoric quintet is far from slowing down. Their latest release ‘Million’ is a tantalizing teaser of the bombshell of an album that is set to drop in mid-January.
‘Million’ represents everything fans need during these tumultuous times – a positively uplifting track awash with luminous synth-pop textures to remind us that we are never alone. The emotional intensity portrayed through lead singer Natti Shiner’s vocals allows this larger than life song to leave a lasting impact on fans. One of the first tracks to be written for the upcoming EP, this track has stood the test of time. Described as a “quirky love song” by Natti and produced completely in-house, this song perfectly shows the band’s evolution and transition into self-produced music and is truly a feat to be proud of.
Sitting down with Natti and keyboardist Jack Wilson, we talked all things COVID-19, new releases, and favourite upcoming bands.
‘Million’ is your latest single, what’s the story behind it?
I think it was the first song that we wrote when we were like, “let’s do some second album writing.” It’s quite a long time ago that we wrote it but it stood the test of time. We always knew that it was one of our faves. It’s just a quirky love song, really. It’s just about having vibes with someone and chemistry and energy.
Have you got anything in particular that motivates you to keep making new music?
I’m of the mindset of, like, “do as much as possible.” — if we didn’t have music and stuff to focus on, I think we’d probably be in a ditch somewhere. So if that isn’t motivation, what is? It’s like what keeps us going, you can put everything that you’re feeling, whether it’s good or bad, into a day of writing, and it’s like proper escapism. We like releasing music constantly, so we’re releasing songs every four or five weeks and it gives us purpose.
Tell us about ‘The Weird Years’.
The last two years have been absolutely mental — it’s been so weird. It’s basically just our kind of, like, diary of what’s been happening, on how we’ve been feeling, and how we’ve been dealing with it and the process of putting that into songs; and we essentially went into our own kind of lockdown in 2019, didn’t we? We had a self-made pandemic the year before by taking a year out, so we’ve had, like, two years of kind of not being able to, like, play properly. It’s just the musings of people slowly going insane.
What’s the reasoning behind the album being a multi-parter?
We just wanted to keep releasing music. At the time we were in the first lockdown, so we couldn’t come to the studio for a few months and we had a handful of songs that kind of could be finished and could be ready to go; and everything else needed a lot of work.
So we were like, “how do we not completely stop? I guess we’ll just have to put the first five out and just go for it and try and make this kind of like a multipart album and it will give us a little bit more breathing space.” We started releasing music and then the pandemic happened and we stopped and it was frustrating – we weren’t just going to sit and wait; do nothing for a whole other year.
If you could pick one track each off the album that you’re most excited for fans to hear, what would it be?
J: I am excited about some good ‘IRL’, in real life, which is coming out on the first day next year. It’s just really fun and like really big and like fun.
N: The last two songs that are coming out as part of the whole of season one are two of my faves. Very, very contrasting — I’m really proud of it.
Since ‘You Asked Someone Else’, how do you think your sound has evolved, or you’ve changed as a band?
It’s more DIY than it was — Jack now produces everything, although he kind of was to an extent before, but kind of, I guess, because we were with a major label, and being shopped around a lot of producers and stuff with that first record; and it was a bit all over the place and we had so many different people working on so many different songs. Whereas now it’s just us, really.
We were just doing a lot of learning and figuring out how we like to do things and trying to get other people to maybe help us achieve what we want to achieve.
It’s really important for us that we are allowed to just be doing what we want to do. That’s when people make really good stuff — it’s not been forced.
What do you think is an important lesson you’ve learnt about being in the music industry?
I think there’s a lot of stuff we learned from trying to please a lot of other people. Whereas now it’s just kind of we’re doing it for ourselves, and I think we can look at a song and be like, “yeah, that’s not right.” — and we can try and better it! Whereas before, there was so many busybodies kind of having their say.
Trust your instincts. Trust yourself.
If you could’ve had any artist collaborate with you on your album, who would it be?
J: I really get into these questions, I actually think about it and you try and like picture them singing on it and stuff. What we said in the past, we used to say Calvin Harris, because it was funny. I like Pharrell Williams, just thought that was so outrageous that it can be funny if we did some of them.
N: I can actually just imagine writing a song with Calvin Harris. Oh, to be honest, I’d I cry; I’d cry from start to finish. I’d want it to be ‘A Sky Full of Stars’-epic.
J: Beautiful song, Harris and Coldplay. You can’t go wrong.
Who are some of your favourite modern and upcoming bands?
N: We really like a girl called Grif. She’s cool. Barney Fletcher!
J: But try not to get the word out too much, it’s better when it’s underground. We love Joan.
J: All your sad-girl indie – Beabadoobee, Girl in Red, Soccer Mommy. This is my 2020 jam. Some of these aren’t fresh because I wouldn’t say Benee is up and coming anymore – she’s made it, dandelion.
Baby queen. Griff, as I said, great; a girl called Lou Hater; we like this band called Bamily.
We like all of Laurel’s new songs and Cosmo’s Midnight.
In terms of Fickle Friends, what do you think is coming next for you guys?
We’re making music videos and we just made that little lyric video for ‘Million’. It was just us sat in here drawing and doing little animations and putting stuff together. We’re just kind of slowly building up, like, a little Fickle Friends world, I guess.
Have you got a message for your fans?
Hope you’re all staying safe.
Just, I guess, the main thing is, no matter how you feel, you can always find purpose every day, even if it’s just getting up and having a shower, but feel like if there’s anything that you can do and you find, like, a bit of joy in it. Make that a priority.