For Fickle Friends, the alternative pop band with an 80s edge, 2017 has been a packed year, from touring with The Kooks to performing at major festivals, to recording their debut studio album. Their imaginative, happy-go-lucky, synth pop sound has enraptured fans worldwide and ahead of starting their UK tour in October, the lead singer Natassja Shiner took the time to answer some questions…
So what was it like to go on tour with the Kooks?
It was really fun and pretty crazy because it was such a big operation going on. We had a chef making dinner for us every night which was so crazy. Not like the kind of tours that we’re used to, where we have to scrounge around for scraps. We didn’t get to hang out with The Kooks as much as we wanted to because they all have wives and kids, so when they finish the show they leave but I think what we learnt the most is that their show is put together so well and they’ve been doing this for 15 years now so it is something to really aspire to.
How does it compare playing your own shows to supporting big established bands?
I think that you can’t really compare the two because with your own shows, the people have paid to come and see you so they know your music and everything, while with The Kooks and performing at festivals, you are having to win people over, which puts a lot of pressure on the show and you, so it just isn’t the same.
So you’ve spent a lot of time touring, what are the highs and lows of touring life?
The highs are playing the shows and getting to be in new places every single day and it’s a little bit like being on some sort of mad holiday. And then the lows are the earlier mornings and having to drive through the night sometimes and if you have a bad show everyone feels it.
Are you excited for your UK tour to start?
Yes, it starts on the 6th October and I really can’t wait. I’m so excited!
Do you have a standout show or festival that you’ve played?
I think definitely some of the festivals we’ve done this year have been pretty standout. Community Festival this summer completely blew our minds! It was so mental because there were 40,000 people! I won’t ever forget that.
What’s a band or singer that you’d love to tour with?
Paramore! Straight up!
What sort of artists and bands inspired you to start making music?
It was kind of all the bands that we were listening to when we were learning to drive so all the albums that I had in my car at the time. So it was bands like Two Door Cinema Club, Friendly Fires, Phoenix and Justice just to name a few so a lot of the original indie pop bands.
Are you making the music you thought you would make when you first started out as a band?
Our sound has definitely changed but I think the kind of music we make now was bound to happen because of our mutual love of indie pop and 80s revival.
I read that you wrote your latest single ‘Hello Hello’ in 28 minutes, is song writing something that you would say comes naturally?
Well, it’s three of us who do all the writing for the band and then Jack and I do the bulk of it because we’ve been friends for so long and writing together for 6 years so it’s a pretty well-oiled machine now. We know who does what and what works best. Sometimes you do get stuck, so for example, our next single we spent about a year writing and rewriting, whereas ‘Hello Hello’ was written in our Airbnb in L.A. and we thought this is cool. We just did a voice memo and it was 28 minutes long.
we’ve been friends for so long and writing together for 6 years so it’s a pretty well-oiled machine
Has the way you write songs changed at all?
It’s always been pretty similar. So we write and record at the same time to build a demo. I sing through a microphone with loads of auto tune to try and bring out interesting melodies that I would never normally have gone to so it’s sort of like an accidental melody. We do more things like that now than we used to because I think Jack has got better at producing and we now have the gear at home to be able to do that sort of stuff.
What’s the process of producing your debut album been like?
There have been highs and lows. We had this dream of creating the whole thing with Mike Crossey in L.A. We did some of it, but we didn’t get it all done, so that dream was a little bit tainted. So we’ve been producing it with other people and it’s now become an album which loads of people will have worked on which is so cool but it wasn’t quite what we intended.
Do you have a release date for the album?
Well, they actually gave me the date yesterday which is so cool but I’m not allowed to say. I can say that it is the first quarter of next year!
What is the music of the moment for you?
My favourites at the moment are Paramore, Will Joseph Cook, Dan Cole, Nothing But Thieves and then we are all loving Hôn right now.