THE superb Fí...
has been telling me about her new track, Feel Better, and how it differs from her previous song, Éalú; whether there is more coming along in 2019 and which artists/albums have made an impression on her – she selects a great song to end the interview with.
The Irish songwriter recommends some artists we need to check out and tells me what it was like working in L.A.; if she gets time to unwind away from music and whether there are any gigs booked in the diary – Fí gives some advice to musicians coming through the ranks.
Hi, Fí. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. I’m great, thank you - and yourself? My week has been manic, stressful; loaded and exciting. Happy to take a breather after assignments and my single just released.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes, of course. It’s Electro-Pop, commercial but tinged with dark, Alternative and atmospheric elements. It’s important though that, stripped back on piano or guitar, the song is strong without all the production. I love a good, anthemic chorus built on a story or personal experience.
Can you tell me about your new single, Feel Better? What is the story behind it?
It’s basically about deflecting all that’s fake and embracing the real truth. It’s a dark and self-deprecating song being true to yourself, not getting too caught up in the façade of who we think we are meant to be and (the humdrums) of what it means to lead an extraordinary life instead of just being who we are. Chase the unknown; we chase to find the spark that may ignite that fire of desire or ambition within us. Whether that be music, alcohol…whatever we need to distract ourselves to make us feel ‘ a little better’.
There’s highs and there’s lows; ups and downs, and not every day is significant or extraordinary. But, it’s how we perceive the little things that happen which help make us appreciate our individual journeys that little bit more.
How does it differ to your previous track, Éalú?
I feel like they’re very different, sonically. I wanted to test myself, vocally, as I usually sing in my upper range so it was a change for sure. There was about five hours worth of harmonies on the track too so it’s definitely more built up and stacked in that sense. Both have Dance elements but I guess it’s more pop than Éalú which probably leans towards the electronic side. But, Feel Better still embraces the dark production elements.
I believe you have been recording in L.A. What was it like working over there? Tempted to move over there one day?
I was. I booked a mad, spontaneous trip to L.A. one night back in March. I definitely regretted it after but, thankfully, it all worked out and ended up being a really amazing experience. Everyone loves Pop and everyone is so, so talented. It’s a bit surreal but also easy to get wrapped into it. I felt like that was my real life when I was over there but it’s also consuming; like everyone is trying to be somebody. I think every session I was in they were a bit like, ‘Who is this Irish girl?’; but every experience was enjoyable and I definitely learned a lot over there.
The atmosphere is so collaborative and fun and sometimes pressurizing to get the song completed in the given time. (There’s a vibe off of bouncing ideas and finishing a song when it comes together in the room). Sharing your experiences and thoughts with songwriters you have just met is, in theory, kind of unusual but it can be cathartic and it was a really refreshing change from writing on my own. I think, if my circumstances were different, I possibly would but I also like the idea of going there for short writing trips. It feels like a transitory place; idyllic and exciting, but I was happy to come home to reality and non-industry world after six weeks.
I love London, though. I had plans to move there but it’s still in my sights.
Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?
My influences have really changed over the years, so I guess it’s a combination of all of them. My first influences was ’90s Pop. I had a major obsession with Britney Spears and loved Spice Girls and Samantha Mumba. When I first started out, naturally, I started in the real Singer-Songwriter/Folk sound. Alanis Morissette and Gabrielle Aplin were definitely on replay. I love a wide range of music but I guess you’re drawn to listen to the music you create.
I’d say Halsey was a major influence for my change in sound. I used to follow blogs on a daily and I heard her first single years ago and instantly loved her music, which was well before her hit with The Chainsmokers. I love how poetic she is and the way she tells a story: it’s clear she has something to say. Other artists like Dua Lipa, Dagny; Verite, Allie X and Tove Stryke are absolute Pop queens who are doing their own thing in their own right but all still different within the pop genre.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
I have a lot of songs to release in the coming months - I’m aiming for January for my next release. Hope to write more, gig more and perform more and just keep building and gaining more traction with my music. Hopefully, I’ll start writing more with other artists and do more songwriting too.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I feel like releasing Éalú was a highlight - just as I put it off for so long and I didn’t know if anyone would like it. I did everything myself so it’s a scary thing just putting yourself on the line after putting in so much work into it. You hope people will love it. Hearing it on your favourite radio shows is just such an amazing feeling and, when people hear it spontaneously in the car or shop, that is like mind-blowing.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
I was working in a school and I had just started putting up demos of original songs a few years ago. One of the staff members told me I needed to listen to Alanis Morissette. My style of music was very different back then and the next day he burned me a C.D. of Jagged Little Pill and I really loved it. Her songwriting is so true and her voice is amazing.
Gabrielle Aplin - English Rain
I was watching so many YouTubers a few years ago; how they played and wrote music and I wanted to do that. I found Gabrielle online and loved her music. She was self-taught too so it inspired me to buy a guitar and teach myself to write and play.
Halsey – Badlands
I was writing really poetic, folky songs but also had written a lot of Pop songs. I wasn’t sure what style of music I wanted to record but, when I heard Halsey, I was drawn to her kind of style of Dark Pop. I love her stories, her lyricism and how she just did her own thing. She was not getting radio plays until Closer and she was building fans online long before her radio hit.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
Ohhh, this is tricky. I used to ask Santa for karaoke machines for as long as I remember. I’d get any and every type of karaoke machine. I’ve probably developed a bit since then! A new iPhone would be lovely (hint hint). I’ve had the worst year for phones and technology. I think I’m on my fourth.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I think Britney Spears. I idolised her when I was like when I was, like, six and I think it’s that case of mad dreams coming through life full circle. Dua Lipa, though; like I’ve been obsessed since her demos years ago. It’s crazy to see her blow up. Supporting her would be pretty magic.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Patience, persistence and perseverance...
Don’t compare yourself to others: just keep on going in your own lane and somehow, somewhere along the way the pieces start to fit together. Write every day. You’ll write awful songs but really great ones too. The more you write, the better you become. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and support you. It eases the load and pressure. It’s important to not compare yourself because every journey is so different; people break out and get discovered in different ways.
What you don’t see is the team of songwriters, pluggers; managers and producers behind one ‘hit’. Someone can have instant success but a short-lived career whereas someone could take years to gain traction and then have a lifetime of success. I guess success is also measured by how you perceive it and what you want to achieve. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Where doors close, others will open so stay with it. Stay positive and keep on going.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I have a headline show in Whelan’s on 13th December as part of Midnight Hour. I’ve only recently started performing again so I’m finding my feet with how it’s all done and the best way to perform the songs. I’ll definitely have more to come in the next few months. Keep an eye out.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yes. Loads and loads of great new artists. Xo Mo are from my hometown and are killing it - also the nicest guys in the World. FLYNN is from my hometown too and he’s just blown up recently. I love this new artist called GRAACE. I have her music on-repeat. Also loving ORKID and Charlotte Lawrence at the moment.
IN THIS PHOTO: GRAACE
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Ironically, music is my chill time. I started studying a Masters recently, so I haven’t had much chill time. Though, I’m looking forward to a Christmas break where they will be plenty of chill! I’ll probably spend that time writing and I love a good book. I go out with friends and I also love the gym. Apart from music, I find it’s important to take time to yourself to do something completely different to take your mind away from it.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Yes. I’ve had this on-repeat lately…