Last week, I caught up with Brighton 5-piece Fickle Friends. Could the people behind their infectious, pop-indie bangers be as fun-loving and bouncy as their tracks make out? Damn right, they are. I present to you Natti, Sam and Harry (plus a quick, last minute cameo from Chris). #ChillSexyVibes. Enjoy.
I’ve just found Fickle Friends on Tinder. What would their bio be?
Sam: These are the kind of questions we should be asked.
Harry: Chill sexy vibes.
Sam: That’s like the little thing –
N: No, “chill sexy vibes” and then a little palm tree emoji.
S: Definitely. Chill sexy vibes with a palm tree is good.
We’ll go with that, I like it!
N: It’s good!
How did the name come about?
N: Uh … none of us came up with it. I just had a running joke with my friend that we’d always bail on each other’s plans and then we wanted to be DJ’s and shit …
H: We basically need to come up with a good story ‘cause –
N: That’s the most boring story, that’s the general story and it’s sooo boring!
Ok, if you had to make one up now then, right here, what would you pick?
S: Ok, now you’re putting us on the spot.
N: We’re actually not friends, we all hate each other. We’re the fickle friends. I have to tolerate them. We each have our own splitter van. We’re massive massive divas. When we’re on tour –
Is that why you’re all ill, ‘cause as soon as one person gets it you just purposely give it to the next out of spite?
S: Ow, spite.
N: We’re quite nasty people.
Well you’re very good actors on stage.
N: We thought we’d just fake it ‘til you make it.
You sure you don’t want to stick that on your Tinder bio?
S: Haha, chill sexy vibes, fake it ‘til you make it and hip hop styles.
I saw a tweet just describing you as a blend of The 1975 and Jessie Ware.
N: I saw that today!
Yeah, you retweeted it! Is this as accurate as it gets in your eyes?
N: I did. I kinda liked it.
S: What was it?
N: It was 1975 mixed with Jessie Ware. I love that. I’ve been compared to Jessie Ware before but then I don’t really hear it ‘cause she’s so great and I don’t know …
S: I think that’s pretty good. The 1975 are very good.
Well, Fickle Friends are very good (not brown-nosing or anything).
N: Nah I like that. We’ve been described as that, 1975, Bombay and HAIM’s lovechild before. That’s alright.
S: I think that’s my favourite so far.
N: I like it, there’s some cool themes in there, it’s great.
S: 3 of my faves.
Sounds good! What’s been the standout moment of the tour so far?
N: Going to Boingzone and High Altitude. We’ve been to 2 trampoline parks so far.
S: Have you ever been to a trampoline park?
I’m going Friday for the first time! There’s one round the corner here, did you not fancy it?
It’s called Planet Bounce.
N: PLANET BOUNCE!? Nooooo, we’ve got to go.
S: Best name so far.
N: Planet Bounce is better, to be fair. There’s Boingzone and High Altitude, but Planet Bounce is the best.
You should just plan your tours on where there’s trampoline parks.
Did yours have a basketball court?
N: Yeah! Basketball court, ball pit.
S: Trampolines on the sides! … Also, Southampton was such a sick show.
N: Yeah, it was crazy, overwhelming, ‘cause we’ve never done a headline there.
S: No we haven’t.
N: It was rammed, people were just losing their shit.
H: This one was actually, apart from the technicals, I always like coming to Nottingham.
Yeah. “Have you got any idea for your album name, guys?” Erm, yeah “Chill Sexy Vibes. I’ve got a really strong idea for the logo, I like the chill sexy vibes.” Would you buy it?
That brings me onto my next question actually. It seems you’ve done the “Nottingham Circuit” in terms of gig capacity backwards; just a year ago you played Rock City, then Rescue Rooms in December, now The Bodega. What crowd do you prefer, large or intimate gigs?
S: I prefer this one.
N: Rock City was amazing.
H: It’s completely different though because this is our show and these people came to see us, whereas before they came to see Amber Run or Saint Raymond before, so it’s different. It’s kind of like, poaching their fans a bit. These are those fans that actually love the show and come watch us.
N: Which is amazing, but you can’t take away from like playing in Rock City. There’s like 3,000 people and they sang me Happy Birthday.
S: Oh yeah, when the house lights came on.
N: They all sang me happy birthday and I was like “what is happening, this is mental”. It was like, this is crazy. But like, we’re out doing our merch with people afterwards, doing our sign-up lists and stuff and everyone who came to chat to us, when you see them come to your own show, that’s cool.
That’s true actually, you guys were great last time. At that Rock City gig, I bought your single ‘Play’, as I walked out and looked back, I saw you all signing stuff but the bouncer wouldn’t let me back in. Luckily I got the attention of one of you and you came out, grabbed the CD, got it signed and brought it back out to me!
H: Well …
S: Haha, don’t you take the credit!
H: I’ve claimed it.
S: We just like to thank everyone, firstly for coming because that’s just great.
N: But who knows, we might get to do Rescue Rooms. I know it’s like we’ve gone backwards.
S: But now we’re looping back round.
Do you not fancy just going the other extreme and headlining the new Motorpoint Arena?
S: Haha, yeah let’s just jump in.
That’d be sick. Are there any plans for an album after this tour?
N: We’ve kinda written it.
N: I mean, we’ve got a lot of writing to do, like after this tour. We haven’t written a song in, like, we’re the kind of people itching to write music like “ah man, we need to write one soon!” so I think when it happens we might come out with a couple bangers and then maybe throw a few on the deluxe. It is technically written.
Any idea when it’s going to come out or just cross that bridge after the tour?
N: Either late this year or beginning of next year. We don’t have a name yet. It won’t be-
Not “Chill Sexy Vibes”?
H: Haha, good old chill sexy vibes.
N: Haha, oh what would they say?
Can you please pitch it to them even if you know it’s going to be a no?
N: Let’s do it, seriously.
Who is it, Polydor?
N: Yeah. “Have you got any idea for your album name, guys?” Erm, yeah “Chill Sexy Vibes. I’ve got a really strong idea for the logo, I like the chill sexy vibes.” Would you buy it?
I’d buy it, yeah! It’s The Brits today isn’t it? In celebration of The Brits, the award for ‘Best Album Name’ for next year goes to “Chill Sexy Vibes.”
N: We’ve just made a whole new award, just because the name of this album was so good.
H: Those chill sexy vibes. I think we could call an album that.
N: I bet you could.
H: Call it what you like.
N: The 1975’s new album name is ridiculous.
H: It’s just a bit of a mouthful.
N: Maybe a bit much? But hey, their last one was called ‘The 1975’ so …
Haha! So, you’ve been described as “a band best appreciated live” by Audio Addict.
N: Who said that?
N: That’s so nice, that was such a nice review.
Yeah! If you had to choose between just playing covers live or just recording your own music but never playing to a crowd, what would you choose and why?
S: Own music for me.
N: I couldn’t be in a functions band and be completely happy about it. Writing is such a massive part of it, it’s like contributing something to the world, you know what I mean?
H: It’s like what you said Natti as well, we’re craving to write. We’re always craving to write. We couldn’t go around not writing our own songs.
N: I’ve tried the function band, so have you.
S: Yeah, I’ve done it. I dunno, six months?
N: You have a good buzz when you play but you don’t get any real satisfaction from it ‘cause it’s like playing other people’s songs and it’s the same thing all the time.
Ok, going a bit political now. Recently, there was uproar on the lack of female musicians represented on a Reading festival bill. Natti, where do you stand on the ‘women in music’ debate? Would you like to see more female musicians in the spotlight or does it come down to pure talent as opposed to ‘we need a male guitarist, female drummer to fit the quota etc.’
N: I think it’s what you said, it’s talent. It’s not like it’s a sexism issue, I think it’s that they like to make mountains out of molehills in that respect. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to see more women in music because obviously I would, but it’s more the fact that you like a band because they’re great, not necessarily because they’re fronted by a woman or fronted by a guy. It’s like “this band is fucking amazing”, it’s not “oh I love this band because they’ve got a girl in it, oh that’s great it’s doing loads of stuff for women in music”, yeah it’s cool but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. That Reading line-up is curated by a certain person, they’re not going through being like “oh we’ve got to do an even amount because that’s fair”, it’s actually “this band’s amazing, this band’s hot at the moment, this band’s releasing an album this year”, it’s literally like that. I don’t think that the other mentality even contributes to the way that they put that lineup together, but yeah.
S: I’m exactly on the same page. I just think that if you’re putting on a festival, you want to put on the music that you love, and if the music that you love hasn’t got a single woman in the lineup then it’s not because there’s women that you don’t like.
N: They’re not discriminating, it’s just that that’s the great music at the moment. I love it when I go and see a band, like Rae Morris’ band, the female drummer, I can’t remember her name but she’s absolutely amazing, she’s fucking wicked. They’re should be more female musicians doing that thing but it’s just a thing that’s developed over time. You get more guys applying to music schools to do bass, you get more guys applying to play drums and stuff.
H: We went to music school and well over 50% are guys, that’s just how it is, more boys do music than girls.
N: I’d love to see more girls doing it and it’s more that that’s just how it is at the moment. They don’t see enough women doing music so therefore they think that it’s not something they should do, which I think is wrong, I think it’s crap.
S: That’s the issue.
N: Yeah, that’s the issue, that’s society, that’s the way that people perceive women, like oh, you’re a singer”. People say to me all the time like “oh, you’re in a band, you’re a singer” … like yeah, but I also play synth, I play guitar and I write songs as well, like I actually contribute a little bit more. That’s just a little judgmental but yeah. It’s not about the people who curate the festivals, it’s just society really. “IT SHOULD CHANGE!” I was a feminist for about 5 minutes. It’s alright, I’ve got to do an interview about this in Glasgow or somewhere.
S: What do you think about that shit?
I read about it, but at the same time I was thinking if a band’s big at the moment, you’re going to pick them over picking a lesser-known band just to even out the ratio. It just comes down to who in this generation is joining a band. You can’t turn around and force 50% males and 50% females to join music schools or start up bands with an even divide. It was an interest read to be fair and I’ve interviewed a couple female musicians and always wanted to hear a female’s perspective but have forgotten to ask up until now.
S: Nah man, I like it, good question.
Very deep haha. How much does the “current musical climate” affect your musical style? Are you comfortable with your sound or do you think 2 years down the line your music will be in a noticeably different “genre”?
N: I think it’s a combination. It just so happens that like, our music is kind of like that throwback feel, indie-pop which is quite popular at the moment, it’s literally by accident. It’s just a culmination of us and what we’ve been listening to over the past 5 years. Of course, it’s going to be a product of what we listen to which is like, Phoenix, Bombay, The 1975 and then we’ve also got some of the 80’s influence from our parents like Michael Jackson, Prince or whatever. I think we’re comfortable with our sound, it’s distinctive, we know that it’s us if you listen to it on the radio, but there’s so much room to develop and move from there. We’ve been quite consistent.
S: I don’t really know where we’re going to be in 2 years. I’m really excited about it but I have no idea, but I think that’s really exciting that anything could happen, that anything could change.
N: It’s like if you listen to ‘For You’, one of our earlier songs, then if you listen to ‘Brooklyn’, there’s an obvious difference, there’s an obvious development there and a progression. But at the same time it’s still in keeping with everything that we’ve done, you can still tell it’s us, it’s still got that sound. Just like The 1975, they can do an indie rock tune like ‘The City’ and then come out and do ‘Love Me’ or something where it’s like, it’s still them, 100%, but it’s just that they’ve been influenced more by the 90’s R&B or whatever or like David Bowie. It’s just whatever you wanna wake up and write that morning.
If you could all be born again in a past era, which would you choose?
N: Haha, these questions are so good.
S: These questions have been really good.
H: You should send them over to all the other people.
N: We get such boring questions. “Where did you meet” …
S: It’s all the same like, but coming up with cool questions, like that first one “what would your Tinder profile be?”. Brilliant question. So what was it, if we could be born again, what altogether as a band or?
Yep, all of you, as a band, but just in a different era.
S: That’s cool.
Haha, yeah, even though you hate each other, you’ve still got to be in a band in some other period.
H: Mine would be the 50’s ‘cause that’s sick. I’d get like, a top hat going on.
N: It’s the music though, we’re a band right?
C: Yeah, yeah, you’d have a lovely little dress alright!
N: No, no, but my background’s in like, the soul, jazz.
C: We’d be full on jazz musicians.
N: I mean the obvious answer is the 80’s, but then again, 87 –
S: I’d love to be Craig David. Late 90’s, early noughties, UK Garage, seriously. They still have it as well, Craig David’s back! Back!
N: I hope we get to play V Festival! Is he playing?
S: He’s playing Secret Garden Party.
N: You’re right, he is!
S: The one year we don’t get booked for it …
N: No no no, he’ll be at Bestival without a doubt.
He’s everywhere! He’s at Detonate here, Parklife, just wiggle your name in there, you know, I’ll slip in a good word … and yeah, V. I’m religiously there so if you do get on the bill, say hello!
S: Haha. So Natti, what era would you be born in again, besides noughties garage.
N: I have to say the 80’s because, just because.
S: Wear the big shoulder-pad suits, definitely, bright colours.
H: You want them pads.
N: I just want to be in Prince’s band basically. I’m not black and there’s no sass. I’m too white for this shit.
H: To be fair, I’m probably too white for the 50’s as well.
N: I dunno, maybe …
H: Black, proper musicians, coming in hard.
N: Ah no, what about … Jack Kerouac, when was that set? The 50’s? Maybe it was the 50’s. And Delta, down there with all the amazing jazz musicians, yeah you’re right man, I’m on board. I’m sorry. What’s that film, ‘Midnight in Paris’? Where they kinda jump to different decades.
S: That sounds alright.
N: Really good film!
S: Really good, bring that back around.
N: Gonna watch it tomorrow.
S: Where would you be born?
Me? I’d love to be in the 90’s. I was born in the 90’s but I mean I’d love to be 20 in the 90’s. You’ve got grunge and all that coming about.
N: Spice Girls!
S: Oh yeah, you’ve got grunge over from the states, like Nirvana and stuff. That’d be amazing. It’s weird, we had rave culture, they had grunge in America. We just had people getting off their heads looking to rave the day away.
N: Yeah man!
Ok, final question. It’s one I always ask everyone and earlier Clean Cut Kid gave me the best answer I’ve ever heard so far. So you’re headlining a one-off special gig. Where would it be and what 3 support acts, past or present, unknown or world famous, dead or alive would you choose and why?
S: There’s a venue in America, I think it’s called Red Rocks.
N: You’ve got to think outside the box!
S: No no, it’s really cool, it’s essentially in a cave. It’s a big amphitheatre. That’s where I’d have mine.
H: How much budget have we got for this shit?
N: We could have it under the sea!
Clean Cut Kid had the most ridiculous budget so just go one more!
S: Maybe scrap Red Rocks, scrap it, let’s rethink it!
N: If you could go, in like, build your own Death Star situation do you know what I mean?
S: How would we get the people there?
H: There’s no limit on budget! Richard Brand …
N: Hahaha! Richard Branson. He can sponsor the whole event. So we’ve built our own Death Star. I’m assuming we’re all familiar with Star Wars. We’re not talking some creepy, dark, powerful shit, we’re just talking like “this is a Fickle Friends kind of, mini planet”.
H: Can it be in the shape of a palm tree?
H: I think it is.
S: It’s also like, diamond encrusted so it glitters in the stars.
A diamond encrusted, palm tree Death Star?
S: It’s almost like a disco ball but it’s shaped like a palm tree.
N: Ah, disco ball’s good for me actually, ‘cause then it’s still a planet. Disco ball Death Star. Richard Branson is sponsoring the whole event and is like ferrying people on rockets to the event, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, sponsored by Virgin, a free-for all. I imagine there’s also a limit on tickets ‘cause its obviously not make-believe, it’s kind of like a lottery situation but it’s a Death Star. It can fit a lot of people.
S: So now we need to think of 3 support acts. We’re headlining, ok. What can be the warm up act? I think Michael Jackson.
N: I was gonna say, do you open with MJ?
S: He’d really appreciate the fans.
H: You open with MJ.
S: Michael Jackson. Full band, full production.
N: Big old thing.
S: This is it.
Black MJ or white MJ?
S: Black MJ.
N: Black MJ. We’re talking like ‘Bad’.
S: He’s got his whole discography.
N: He’s transitioning, you know when you’ve kind of got like, his ‘Bad’ album.
Ok, so because we’ve got a diamond encrusted, disco ball, palm tree Death Star.
N: No no, not a palm tree anymore, we’ve got disco ball.
Ok, so because we’ve got that, can we blow another rule out of the water and have a blend between Michael Jackson old, but can he go back young and be in the Jackson 5 when a song prompts it?
H: Yeah! Per song he’s playing, that’s what he looks like.
S: Yeah yeah yeah! So he changes to which song, dependent on which era the song is from.
N: Ahhhh, what do we follow that with!
How do you follow that?
S: I don’t know whether he should open though.
N: What do we do, do we get Stevie Wonder?
S: Maybe we should get a DJ on first, like Daft Punk? They’re pretty space. They fit in with the Death Star disco ball.
H: They’re kind of like, in between the acts though.
S: Ok, they’re fillers.
N: Yeah yeah yeah, you’ve got a DJ on the changeover and –
S: You’ve got Daft Punk on the DJ set.
Ok, if you’ve got a DJ, you need an MC?
S: Who’s MC’ing?
S: No, we hate Kanye. He’s good, but we hate him.
N: Erm …
S: Potentially Biggie or Tupac.
S: I think I’d prefer Biggie.
H: I’d prefer Biggie.
S: Biggie Smalls on the MC. Daft Punk on the DJ.
H: This is getting out of hand here.
S: But that’s just the changeovers. We’ve still got 2 acts to do.
N: Yeah but who do you follow MJ with? He’s an opener.
S: Maybe he should be headline support?
Do you want to be involved? (Chris has just joined the interview) I’ll fill you in; you’ve got a diamond-encrusted disco ball Death Star which you’re headlining a gig on. Richard Branson is ferrying everyone over.
S: Sponsored by Virgin.
H: Tickets are free.
You’ve got 3 support slots which you can fill with any past or present act. So far, you have Michael Jackson opening with Daft Punk and Biggie Smalls as DJ/MC.
S: On the changeovers.
What 2 other support acts would you pick?
S: We need 2 more supports.
N: Who do you follow MJ with?
Chris: What about someone really random like Spice Girls?
S: I was just about to say that.
N: Woahhhh. That’s interesting actually. The thing is though, we’re supposed to build it up and we’re opening with MJ, do you know what I mean?
S: He probably shouldn’t open, he should probably be headline.
You can’t knock yourselves off though, that’s the one rule.
N: Ok, we’re going against the rules, this is against the rules. So you open with a banger, and then you get to the middle of the album and it’s like “good, really good, Spice Girls, hmm, interesting”.
H: Just the hits.
S: How about this. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing the entire Jurassic Park soundtrack. That’s ridiculous.
H: I don’t think people will be into it.
N: You need someone, ah man … you know like, The Rolling Stones or – they’re gonna come on and be like ‘BAM’
S: The Beatles! Goodness me.
N: I’d say The Beatles.
S: Nah man, The Beatles need to be in there.
N: They can be the middle then! The Beatles.
Ok, so The Beatles are the second support. Where are the Spice Girls going, are they in the bin or?
H: Spice Girls are –
N: They are shelved for now.
S: They’re the compares for now.
H: That’s what I was trying to say but I just didn’t have the word for it.
S: Ok, so the Spice Girls are going to be introducing all of these acts.
N: In their youth as well, we’re talking like 90’s Spice Girls, not noughties + 10. Ok, so Beatles middle. Who’s going to be the headline support? Is it somehow that we really love to listen to now or is it going to be someone ridiculous? Do you do a Friendly Fires or a Mutemath or a Phoenix, do you do that? Do we do something to warm us up now we’ve done the two crazies. Or do you get like Stevie Wonder? Or Beyoncé? Super band!
H: Ed Macfarlane, Jack Steadman, –
N: But Beyoncé’s so great too …
H: Beyoncé can do backing vocals –
N: She can feature. What? Beyoncé comes on with MJ?
S: Beyoncé’s going to do a couple of tracks.
N: She pops on for a couple songs.
H: And Stevie, he’s actually playing keys for-
S: Stevie Wonder’s playing keys for Michael Jackson.
N: Yeah yeah yeah! Good.
S: Then the super group, it’s formed of our favourite bands.
N: Ok, so Jack Steadman, Ed Macfarlane, what’s the lead singer – drummer from Mutemath!? He’s a good guy.
S: He’s good. We need a bass player.
N: Do we want John Mayer on guitar?
S: John Mayer on lead guitar. We need a bass player.
N: What about the bassist from Everything Everything!? He’s good and he’s also gorgeous.
H: That can be a special one for you then.
N: It doesn’t have to be, we don’t have to settle. This is a super band, I do love them though.
S: Do we have a percussionist?
H: I think the keyboard player is the one who plays keys in School of Rock. “Dude, you’re in the super band man, c’mon!”
N: You’re a saint. What about back-up singers?
N: HAIM!!! Yeah yeah yeah! That’s good, I like it.
That is a pretty impressive super band.
N: I like it.
S: So, that’s your gig, sponsored by Virgin.
N: And then we’ll come on and smash it.
I hate to say it but that has beaten Clean Cut Kid – by an absolute mile.
By Luke Matthews