Finding confidence in vulnerability with Fletcher
FLETCHER has been building her journey in the public eye since appearing on The X Factor USA in 2012 as a part of the girl-group, Lakoda Rayne. After departing the show and the group, she started the process of discovering who she was as an artist. Staring at herself in the mirror, she started questioning what all these important pieces looked like, but was also simultaneously questioning her sexuality. For any young person this is a daunting experience, but then you add a place in the spotlight, and all of a sudden the anxieties and stresses are magnified. All she could do was return to the music and write it out, and that’s where this story really begins.
Her debut EP, Finding Fletcher, was released in September 2016 and truly mapped out the introductory foundations for this musical journey. With a light pop sound reminiscent of Rachel Platten, she let the stories of love and self-discovery take centre stage. ‘War Paint’ and ‘Wasted Youth’ propelled her into a global spotlight with huge playlist additions and impressive streaming numbers certifying the conversation that she was a newcomer you needed to keep an eye on.
With heartbreak fueling an emotional unraveling, she returned in 2019 with an ultra-vulnerable body of work that saw her stepping away from the light pop music she originally delivered, and instead soaked herself in an hyper emotional palette. ‘you ruined new york city for me’ was an EP that saw her winning over a legion of fans with the honest ‘Undrunk’ and the accompanying ‘About You’ and ‘All Love’ which both received a lot of love on streaming platforms.
Now, she’s unveiled her third EP, The S(EX) Tapes, which hears her finding a deep confidence within her vulnerability. The production is dark, brooding and pulsating with lead singles ‘Bitter’ featuring Australian producer Kito, ‘If I Hated You’, ‘Feel’ and ‘The One’ offering a strong insight to the different stages of her break up.
With all the accompanying visuals captured by her ex-girlfriend while they quarantined together during lockdown, the whole EP is a cohesive and honest depiction of this four year relationship that she explains keeps cycling. We caught up with FLETCHER to dive into raw vulnerability that this EP layers itself with, as well as the creative processes behind the songs ‘Silence’ and ‘Sex (With My Ex)’ that further detail the strong vision she has with this project.
‘The S(EX) Tapes’ is not only a confessional EP, but it’s also an immersive body of work. So what do you want people to walk away thinking or feeling from listening to it for the first time?
For me, the reason why I called this EP ‘The S(EX) Tapes)’ was because a sex tape captures somebody in their most vulnerable form and in their most raw, honest and wild state. I ended up shooting the visuals with my ex, and we were quarantined together the entire time, and she’s somebody that has always captured me in an honest and vulnerable light which is why the “ex” is in parenthesis.
I’ve always been someone that has been really honest in my music, and as a person in general with the relationships and people in my life, but I think this EP is the most honest I’ve ever been. What I think differs from this body of work and the last one is that usually when I write stuff by the time it comes out I’ve had more perspective, space and time to process something. Whereas with this one, I’m super in the thick of it right now.
I’m super in the heat of our time together coming to a close, and our quarantine time ending, so this EP is really a time capsule of the last four years of my life. In terms of what I want people to walk away feeling or thinking… I think I just need to walk away knowing that I’ve laid it all out there. So if that makes somebody else feel like they can do that too, and be a bit more honest in their lives and relationships, then that would be amazing.
Life is complicated, and love is complicated. It doesn’t make a lot of sense at all, and it’s not black or white, and it’s just a fucking journey that is weird to navigate. I definitely don’t have the answers, and I don’t know what I’m doing. So for more people to be okay with saying that is something I’d love to encourage.
It really is a bit of a time capsule that does capture a break-up that has evolved during isolation, which coming from someone who also went through one can admit isn’t fun.
It’s not a good time at all! But also, maybe it is because usually we have the bandaids to put over it with all the distractions. But what are you really healing when you’re doing that?
Absolutely! I have to say that ‘If I Hated You’ immediately hurt my soul but also simultaneously brought a lot of comforting thoughts.
It definitely makes it so much harder when there’s still a lot of love for them. It’s almost like, I wish you would do something to just fuck me over and make it easier for me to grow and learn all the things I need to learn and experience. That song is definitely a really good foundation of what the EP looks like, sounds like and what it’s really all about.
The EP opens with ‘Silence’ which immediately has this slinky and funky groove to it. What was inspiring you sonically during this writing season, because sonically to me it felt like the sequel to ‘Forever’?
One hundred percent! I wrote this song in the studio with Caroline Ailin and Emily Warren who are the masterminds behind a lot of Dua Lipa’s smash hits, who we absolutely stan so hard. Queen Dua!
I was talking with them about my situation, and the reason that this song is first on the EP is because it does feel like the bridge gap between ‘Forever’ and what this new project sounds like.
I really wanted to have a super funky baseline, and it was actually the song I was most stoked to play live as I’ve been playing with this incredible bassist called Blu DeTiger who is so sick on TikTok, and she absolutely rips the bass on ‘Silence’. But it’s definitely the bridge between what was, and what is now.
That’s the one that really kicks off the story of like, “Fuck, I know I need to go take some time, space and silence to go and sit with the shit I’ve been running from my whole life, and the things that get in the way of romantic relationships, the relationship with myself and my relationships with the other people in my life”. So yeah, that is the song that kicks everything off. And we actually shot that video underwater in a fish tank, on an iPhone, and it’s definitely a vibe.
You worked with Australian producer Kito on ‘Bitter’. Are there any other Australian artists that you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
I’m a really big Troye Sivan fan! I LOVE everything he makes. I think everything he does is aesthetically pleasing, artful and super beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed following his journey, and think he’s just really fucking talented, and such a great writer. So I’d love to collaborate with Troye one day!
I think not only is he super talented, but he’s really creating a platform to talk about queer representation and queer topics that haven’t really been spoken about this way before. In particular, on his new EP he has a song called ‘STUD’ which is a beautiful commentary about how in queer media we only show one stereotype of a gay male who is chiseled and always shirtless, and he questions that if he is still a stud to his lover if he’s not that. Which I think is so powerful and relatable.
Oh, totally! I think thats the thing within queer representation in general is that it’s really portrayed as stuff for people that are the most palatable, most digestible or most understandable version of it. Which is something that I definitely want to help change, and something that I think we are beginning to see a change in.
There is so much stereotyping in the community in general. We just need to do a better job within the queer community, and lift up our trans brothers and sisters who are by far the most suppressed and marginalised.
But I mean, anyone having those conversations where they’re like, “I don’t see myself in that, am I still valid”, is so important as I think it’s a really fucking powerful thing to talk about. We need all the perspectives, we need all the voices. It’s honestly what changes the world.
‘Sex (With My Ex)’ closes the EP and it’s very cinematic with it’s vivid imagery. So can you explain to me the creative process behind this track?
All of the songs are in a really purposeful order. It starts with ‘Silence’ and goes into the idea of “this would be so much easier if I hated you”, and then you’re single and exploring everything. And then ‘The One’ and ‘Shh… Don’t Say It’ happens, and you realise it’s quite an emptying experience, and then ‘Feel’ happens which is the embodiment of the weak moments where I text and I call going “fuck, I love you and miss you”. And then I fly to New York, we meet up and have sex, and then I flew back to Los Angeles 48 hours later for a meeting.
I got back into the studio and I’m just like “I just had sex with my ex, and I’m fucked up now”. So I just sat down with the co-writer, and the lyrics are exactly what happened. We turned the text message from right before we met up into the lyrics. It unfolded pretty seamlessly, and it was written pretty quickly and we finished in under two hours.
I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because I’m from Jersey, but I don’t have a filter. Everything is just very honest and as it is. The last lyric in the song is “goodbye forever, until next time”, and we’ve always been in a cycle, and it’s funny cause I wrote that lyric, and then we ended up cycling again, and now the EP was done and we spent all of the time doing the visuals together, and now we are back at ‘The Silence’ again.
‘The S(EX) Tapes’ is out now. Buy/stream here.
Words by Thomas Bleach. This interview is a companion piece, and Thomas continues the conversation on thomasbleach.com.
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