Reading Festival: Interview with Fickle Friends

From the dreamy climes of LA to the sweaty press tent of Reading Festival, Fickle Friends have put recording their debut album on hold for a few days. After recently signing to Polydor, and with their latest single ‘Cry Baby’ all over the radio, we caught up with Natti and Jack from the band just as they came off stage in the NME/Radio 1 tent.

So you’ve just got off stage – how was your set?

Jack Wilson (keys): Super fan thanks!

Natti Shiner (vocals): Yeah it was kinda overwhelming actually. I think thats the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to, so I think we were freaking out a bit, but it was badass!

I can imagine you’ve had a pretty mad summer playing to bigger and bigger crowds now your name has grown so much? How has that been?

Jack: It’s been a lot better than last year – we haven’t done many, but it’s been good.

Natti: We’ve been back and forth to LA because we’ve been doing our album out there, so it’s not our usual 25-festival stint – we’ll just do the odd few, but the ones we have played have been pretty awesome.

‘We just got used to being ‘band peasants’ I guess’ – Natti, Fickle Friends

You mentioned LA – How has it been going from Brighton to California to work with Mike Crossey? (Ex-producer for The 1975, Wolf Alice) Has he changed the way you write songs at all?

Jack: We’ve been doing lots of writing in the studio and that’s been really cool because we’ve got this little space in the studio where we can just demo songs and stuff.

Natti: We feel a lot more creative and LA has definitely influenced a lot of it in a weird way, especially because we’ve been back and forth a bit, but yeah it’s really cool!

Do you feel like the hazy golden skies have changed what you’re writing about compared to the slightly greyer hues of Brighton?

Natti: I’ve definitely written a few songs about LA, and when I love it and when I hate it.

Is it quite a love/hate relationship then? Not all beautiful beaches, palm trees and rollerbladers?

Jack: It’s too hot!

Natti: A lot of it is quite dirty and quite grim, but then obviously you get Santa Monica and Echo Park…the Topanga Canyon is amazing! It’s an interesting place – I don’t think theres anything quite like it.

How are the songs sounding? Are they sounding different with Mike Crossey or are they still ultimately Fickle Friends?

Jack: It’s still Fickle Friends. We haven’t really finished that much – we’ve finished our next single which sounds great, and everything’s kind of half finished, but it’s going to be great.

Where did you do Cry Baby?

Natti: That’s LA. We’re all in the album world now so everything going forward from ‘Cry Baby’ is a Mike Crossey special!

Is it fair to say its a different kind of sound from ‘Swim’?

Natti: It’s three years apart! Theres quite a massive gap in the writing. Its got a bit more ‘us’, a little bit more intelligence maybe.

What is that beginning sample? Is that a synth?!

Jack: It’s just a synth! It’s this thing we made in Logic and it sounded a little bit like a steel drum…

I thought it sounded like a steel drum!

Jack: Yeah and then we just put a guitar over it!

So how was it six months ago when it all happened with Polydor – you were suddenly going to re-record ‘Swim’ and get signed? Was it a relief at the time, did it mean you could relax for a bit?

Jack: It was difficult because we were running out of money, and we didn’t have money to buy gear, so it was great to have someone back us up and invest in us.

Natti: It was so weird because it wasn’t just like you walked in one day and it was like, ‘You’re getting a record deal!’ – it just didn’t really sink in because we just kinda got used to being ‘band peasants’ I guess, but then we were like, ‘Shit, this is my fucking job now!’ and we haven’t really had many days off since.

Does it make you relax and enjoy the whole process because you’re not worrying about filling the van up with petrol for instance? Can you enjoy days like today a bit more? 

Jack: Absolutely!

Natti: Having a crew is the best thing ever – having people pack down your gear and organise your life – our tour manager’s stood next to us! – is great. I don’t have to worry about anything! I’m just going to get drunk, watch a few bands, go to bed.

Jack: There are new stresses though..

Natti: Like pressure stresses!

Is this pressure for tracks to perform well and for people to go mad over new stuff or what?

Natti: It’s more that like, we got signed and there’s such an expectation there and we feel it – we just want to succeed you know. I want to do an album and for people to be like, ‘Wow that’s amazing!’

‘Cry Baby’ is out now. Watch the video for the single here: