When Substream talked to Brighton pop band Fickle Friends in February of 2017, they were a little over a year away from releasing their debut album, You Are Someone Else. Even without an album, the band still had a dedicated and passionate following. That fanbase was built on the back of a handful of spectacular singles and EPs released up to that point. Fast forward a year and a half, and Fickle Friends are doing better than ever. You Are Someone Else–released in March of this year–is a great listen, and the band has followed it up with even more music in the form of remix EP You Are Someone Else (Versions) and new single, “Broken Sleep.” As we speak, Fickle Friends are traveling across North America on their first major tour on this side of the Atlantic. Last week, I spoke to frontwoman Natassja “Natti” Shiner about the tour and the band’s whirlwind 2018.
I spoke with Shiner the morning of the band’s Philadelphia show, just one day after the tour began in Washington, D.C. She is pleased by how the first show went, saying ” It couldn’t have gone better. It was a very warm welcome from the Washington crowd.” The United States are not wholly uncharted territory for Fickle Friends. In the spring, the group did a series of three shows in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Shiner jokes those shows were quite different from the current tour since they got to fly everywhere instead of taking a van.
While this is the first American tour for Fickle Friends, it’s not like the band is a stranger to the road. Shiner says “we’re quite used to touring. You just kinda slip into it, I guess. It takes one day to iron out the kinks of being on tour and doing the show and you stumble across a lot of issues.” On that last point, she emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adjust to differing venues, conditions, and the host of technical difficulties and general unexpectedness life throws at a band are all key parts of a tour.
This even extends to each night’s setlist, which can change on a whim depending on the circumstances. To start with, Shiner explains “I think we just want to play the best set we possibly can and also give the people what they want.” Once the general list is settled, the band sees how a particular night is going or how a crowd is reacting to shape it further. She gives You Are Someone Else album track “Paris” as an example. While it builds to a lively bridge, “Paris” is definitely a mellower track. If the venue Fickle Friends are playing is intimate or a crowd is feeling mellow, they’ll keep “Paris” in. If there’s a more rambunctious crowd, it gets removed to keep the energy up.
Those album tracks are already a big hit on this tour, much to Shiner’s delight. “We put some songs on [the setlist] from the record–some album tracks–and we don’t really expect people to know them, but oh my god they knew every single word to every song from that album and it was crazy,” she says with a grin. Having You Are Someone Else out in the public has been great for Fickle Friends in general. Shiner describes it as “a weight has almost been lifted,” not having that deadline hovering over her head. She further explains its loosened everyone up to have more fun on this tour and to get in a creative headspace once again, hence the new music that’s come out even after the album release.
Time and experience have also imparted another important lesson onto Shiner and the rest of Fickle Friends: you have to take care of yourself physically. Shiner admits that in her younger days, this was not a focus. She remembers “I used to just get drunk every night and I’d smoke a pack of cigarettes and I’d stay up until God knows what time in the morning and then just think I could do it all again the next day.” It turns out she could not do it all again the next day. She explains this would often cause her voice to weaken for a good portion of her shows. She says as an artist “your priority is making the show great,” so she’s gotten much better about taking care of herself and her voice as both a way to be healthy and to ensure the best possible experience for concertgoers.
Each artist has a way to ensure their health and their mental wellbeing on tour, and Fickle Friends are no different. Shiner reveals “I’m a massive Yogi so that’s what I do. Meditation and yoga is the thing that completely keeps me sane.” The other members have their own routines as well. “I think with Sam [Morris] and Harry [Herrington], our drummer and bassist, they run,” she explains. Fickle Friends are also vegan, and Shiner explains they love exploring a city to find the best cuisine they can while seeing the sights.
Talking to Natti Shiner, it’s clear that touring is something that’s close to her heart and the hearts of all the members of Fickle Friends. Whether they’re playing a lowkey set in a small room or blowing the doors off with thousands of their fans, Fickle Friends pour everything they have into their shows. While every tour must end, it won’t be a surprise to see Fickle Friends back out on the road for years to come.
Fickle Friends have several shows remaining on their North American tour. A list of those dates is below, and tickets can be found on the band’s website.
Fickle Friends Tour Dates
10/03 – Beat Kitchen, Chicago, IL
10/06 – Three Links Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX
10/08 – Globe Hall, Denver, CO
10/09 – Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, UT
10/11 – Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA
10/12 – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA