FLETCHER has long been labelled as an artist to watch. Now, in the midst of quarantine, the breakthrough pop artist is on her most emotionally transparent journey yet.
Clash caught up with the singer-songwriter over Zoom to hear more about her upcoming EP 'The S(ex) Tapes'.
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For many, lockdown has been a void of constructive productivity, but for FLETCHER, it has been one of overdue self-reflection. “I was quarantined with my ex-girlfriend for a bit. There was a lot of growing and I ended up making an entire visual EP about it,” she tells Clash. Although she admits being stuck indoors has had her downcast, she’s determined to make the most of her time: “I had this thought that 2020 can still be our year - it just looks really different. I feel like I’m having this big unveiling of truth, pouring out in so many different areas. It can still be my year in a way of transformation and maybe this will be the most important year of my life.”
When asked why she got involved with music, she describes it as a “lifeline”. “Growing up, I was a nervous kid. I didn't have a lot of friends. I kept a lot of things bottled up and I was really scared, but writing songs felt like a way of releasing things,” she explains. The artist went from writing in her diary, standing in as a Disney princess and Hannah Montana impersonator throughout high school, to landing a spot on X Factor USA. “For me, following the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and, and Whitney Houston and telling a story through the art of performance has been something that’s so important to carry through my music.”
Now with a rapidly growing fanbase, FLETCHER’s aspirations with her platform are simple — to keep it honest. “Now people are following me because they give a fuck about what I have to say and what I feel. I think people are craving sincerity and transparency more than ever,” she tells Clash. “I'm so over the bullshit. I'm so over the idea that everything's perfect. Life isn't that way, shit is messy and my life is a hot fucking mess. I have no idea what I'm doing the majority of the time, but things have to feel organic and that's why everything comes from my heart.”
Earlier this year, FLETCHER released the single ‘Bitter’ with the help of Australian DJ Kito. Speaking about the backstory of the song, the singer explains how it came to be. “'Bitter' came about in a really funny way. I actually didn't really have any intentions of putting that song out, but then it was synced in a TV show called The L Word. I started getting DM’s every minute like "bitch put out 'Bitter’!” and I was in quarantine, so I was like, fuck, I guess I should put out 'Bitter',” she laughs. “I actually wrote the song with one of my best friends from college who I had lost touch with because of an ex of mine, so when we hung out again, we had a lot of feelings and wrote ‘Bitter’.”
After the fans convinced FLETCHER to officially release the song, the singer got to work with finishing the production. “Kito and I finished it over FaceTime. Some of the vocals you hear are literally from my iPhone voice notes. From the conception to completion, it was all done by women. Shannon Beveridge, who is queer, directed it and shout out all the incredible women that I work with. We've all been bitter about shit in our lives and anybody's lying if they say that they haven't been.”
FLETCHER’s latest release ‘If I Hated You’ is out now. Having seen the video, Clash asked her about the inspiration for the track. “'If I Hated You' is the best visual representation of what the whole EP looks and feels like. The EP is called The S(ex) Tapes. All the visuals were shot by my ex and I wanted this EP to just be a really fucking honest representation of what it is like to love somebody, have such a connection, but also have all these questions,” she explains. “From exploring my sexuality to never having been on my own before and having co-dependency issues, or not knowing how to deal with shit by myself; I wanted to sit in that and heal from the things I've been running away from.”
For FLETCHER, this EP ties back into portraying her authentic self. “I wanted to start with 'If I Hated You' because it feels voyeuristic. Everybody's always putting up some kind of front or some kind of filter,” she tells Clash with a sense of frustration at the industry. “Women in the music industry have an expectation to present things in a way that feels relatable. Be funny but don't be too funny, be crazy but not be too crazy because you don't want to think you're off your meds. There's nothing wrong with being on medication, so what's the fucking issue with that?”
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Continuing, she explains how these impossible standard feeds into the record: “We have to be packaged in a way that's palatable and easy for people to understand, but life is not like that. 'If I Hated You' is filmed with six different security cameras in a room showing you what missing someone and thinking about them drunk at night feels like. It's an inside look at what's going on in my personal life.”
If you take a look at FLETCHER’s Spotify, ‘Undrunk’ sits proudly near the top raking in over 100 million streams. I ask the artist what it’s like to see a song reach that level of recognition. “'Undrunk' is kind of what started everything for me. I had put out a lot of songs that were really important to me, but this was me saying I wish I could unfuck somebody and about touching myself to photos... which is a pretty good representation of how I am as a human,” she admits laughing. “I don't have a filter, it doesn't exist. For me, oversharing is caring. I've always been that way. I am forever grateful for everything that 'Undrunk' did for me. It all just blew my mind. It's one of my favorite songs I've ever written. I fucking love that song.”
Speaking to FLETCHER over a video call gives an upfront idea of her personality; she’s open to all questions and gives everything an impassioned response, so when Clash asks her how she feels about having to talk on her sexuality in interviews, she falls quiet for a brief second. It's evident she gets asked to talk about this a lot.
“My sexuality has obviously shaped my experience and is a part of who I am. It's something that I will always talk about and I will always be open to talking about. Fighting for and standing with the LGBTQ+ community is something that I will always do, I will always fight for my community and I will always speak up about it,” she begins, “That said, my sexuality is not my headline. It is not the focus of the story. It doesn't matter if I wrote a fucking song about a girl, a boy, a trans or nonbinary person, or if I wrote about a fucking rock.”
Taking a minute to pause, she also throws out the a very relevant off-the-cuff question: "first of all, who the fuck created gender?".
Getting back on track, she picks up where she left off: "My favourite colour is turquoise, and this is also my sexuality; I'm queer. I will always talk about it and it's really important to me, but it's not my headline. My sexuality and the struggle with my sexuality is part of my humanity, but there's also a fuck ton of other things that make me who I am. We should always speak up, we should always tell our truth, but my sexuality is not at the forefront of my personal story.
“It's easier for people to understand somebody if they can put them inside of a box. I don't belong in a box. I wake up and feel like I take a different form every single day. Fuck the labels, fuck the boxes, fuck if you don't understand me — I don't really care.” Unfiltered, unbothered and undrunk, Cari Elise Fletcher aka FLETCHER is an act in the making.
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Words: Zoya Raza-Sheikh
Photo Credit: Shannon Beveridge
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