Coming from New Jersey, Cari Elise Fletcher -simply known as Fletcher introduced us to her sound with the EP « Finding Fletcher » in 2016. Led by the powerful and combative « War Paint », it displayed 6 tracks of honest and nuanced pop. In 2019, the 25 year-old American singer songwriter promises to cross a new step in her career in the form of a second – even rougher – EP. The excellent « Undrunk » serves as an introduction to this collection of tracks (including « If You’re Gonna Lie » and « About You ») which captures a singular and particularly intimate moment of her life. Behind her undeniable charisma and pop-star aura hides in fact a generous and very determined, down to earth young woman, while advocating transparency.
On The Move: Hi Fletcher! Thanks for having us. We know you started singing at a very young age. So, what would be one of your first memories related to music?
Fletcher: I started with piano lessons first. My piano teacher was making fun of me and he told my parents that it was taking me way too long to learn « Mary Had a Little Lamb » on the piano. There was the recital coming up and he said : « We should have her try singing, just not picking up the piano ». So, I ended up doing vocal lessons from that, and I started with classical training when I was about 5 years old. So from a very young age, music was there. It’s been like a very big part of my life.
« music is the one way that, I think, I can say anything and everything »
On The Move: You later studied music at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU (New York University). At which point in your life did you feel like you could make a career out of it?
Fletcher: I don’t know if I ever had a specific moment when I told myself I could do this. From a really young age, it was just the only thing that I felt like made sense, and the only thing that I was really passionate about and that I really loved. I think from as long as I can remember, it was when I learned what the music industry was. When I was around the end of middle school, going in to high, I was about 14 years old and I was like: «Ok, people have careers out of this!» So, that was just my goal from that point on, I wanna sing and write and make music for the rest of my life.
On The Move: You released « Undrunk » at the beginning of this year. It’s a very personal track, about a past relationship. Are there some topics that could be too personal to be put in a song for you? Or do you feel like there is no limit and no taboo?
Fletcher: I think it’s so funny that music is the one way that, I think, I can say anything and everything. I feel like I say things in my music that I wouldn’t be able to say properly. The fact that I put like a melody to it and some pretty lyrics, and then some people sing it too, it is such a funny concept. « Undrunk » is a song that I wrote about a situation, a relationship that I never got any closure from. It is sort of all the things that I wanted to say to that person and it’s just like a page torn from my diary. No, I don’t really think there is anything that’s like too taboo or something that I wouldn’t say with music because I think that now more than ever, people are just seeking for sincerity and realness. At least, in terms of the artists that I love and look up to, it’s the people that are just being real about their lives. So, yeah, the more real that we are, the better of a place the world will be.
On The Move: « Undrunk » is all about how you wish you could have un-do things with that person. You sing « Wish I could un-love/un-call/un-fuck you ». Do you really wish you could erase it all or did this relationship make you grow?
Fletcher: Having « Undrunk » out and it being such a vulnerable real song, it was something I was a little bit nervous about. The idea of vulnerability is something I’ve been really uncomfortable with my entire life. And I’ve always been like a people pleaser, and I don’t like to make other people feel uncomfortable and so, with this song, I knew that I was definitely pushing some boundaries in that way. But I mean, I’m also from New Jersey and I have no filter. I have kind of a potty mouth and putting out this song was scary for me but it also was incredibly freeing, and helped me move past that point of my life. Because now it doesn’t feel like mine anymore, I’ve shared it with the world and it could be somebody else’s story now too.
On The Move: What are the main differences between your first EP « Finding Fletcher » (2016) and the upcoming one, which « Undrunk » will be featured in?
Fletcher: I mean, the consistency is there because it’s me, it’s the same artist and something that I have always done with my music is really to try to paint a picture and tell a story and to just drop someone into a feeling, into a moment. A very specific feeling and moment. I think this next body of work is just way more honest than the last one. And I think « Undrunk » is just a really good tip of the iceberg representation and foundation for who Fletcher is both as a person and an artist, to think forward.
On The Move: Does the EP format suits you for now or do you wish you could release a more important body of work?
Fletcher: I think we live in such an interesting time now with the era of streaming and digital and I think my favorite artists are the artists that are just putting out content as they want to. Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and artists that are just sort of constantly present. I do at some point want to put out an album but I think for the time being, people are just getting to know me and I just want to keep giving them music and songs and put out a body of work when people care to have a body of work from me.
On The Move: Is the EP finished now or is it still a work in progress?
Fletcher: All the songs are done, yeah. This whole EP is about one person, the same person that « Undrunk » is about. It’s about having my heart broken for the first time by my first love. Heartbreak is such an emotional rollercoaster and each song is sort of a moment in time along that emotional roller-coaster. Like I said, I just really wanna drop something into a very specific scene. I don’t have a date for the EP, it’s gonna be this summer. And every single is just another chapter to the story. This next EP is all about one era of my life so I’m excited to put it out and for it to be kind of a final closure of that situation.
On The Move: Your song « I Believe You », which came out a year ago, was written regarding the #MeToo movement. Why did you feel like you needed to turn that into a song?
Fletcher: I’m really fortunate that I get to work with so many amazing female collaborators. It’s really important to me to surround myself with powerful, strong and intelligent women. I’m so lucky that I get to work with so many of those. Regarding that song, I was in a studio with a co-writer that day and she was sharing her experiences about sexual assault and abuse and what she had been through. I had been in that setting many times before and it sort of hit me that we had to write about this. I never wanted it to come across as me capitalizing off of a movement or a moment in time. It was just because the #MeToo movement has been talked about right now but those things are happening for as long as time has been a thing. It was really important for me to be able to give those women a voice and a platform in a way that they haven’t had in the past.
On The Move: Who are the female figures that have been important for you, musically or personally?
Fletcher: There have been so many women. From people I worked with… I was an intern for a long time for a management company and for a publishing company that were both run by very strong women. People that I looked up to and that I saw as role models. My mom is a strong female figure in my life. My friends, women that I grew up with, and just like other artists that I think are really strong representations and female figures. There are so many but the ones that are all unapologetically using their voices and being themselves and sharing their stories.
On The Move: You said in another interview : « I wanna be the artist that I really needed as a little girl ». Who’s this artist then? Can you describe her?
Fletcher: I think she’s somebody that’s just a human being. I think growing up, we looked at all these female pop stars that were just so glitzy and glamorous and filtered and perfect, and they were really good dancers. Those were all things I didn’t align with and didn’t see myself as because I was like : « I love music and I love to write and I have a perspective and a voice but I don’t identify with this. » I feel very much like the anti-pop star. And also just being a queer woman, that wasn’t represented in any way when I was growing up. So, just to see somebody that was just like herself, being a human being in the process and being really honest about the fact that life is not fucking perfect, and neither am I.
« I feel very much like the anti-pop star »
On The Move: What’s your use of social media in that perspective?
Fletcher: It is an important thing. The people that have been loving my music are so funny, and are so like on the pulse of what’s happening in culture. I feel like I’m finding out new jokes and new things through them all the time. I love that! I love that interaction. Just hearing people’s reactions to « Undrunk » and the music and their own stories… This has been the coolest thing for me. I mean people are tweeting me that I’m here in Paris, telling me « we wanna see you, where are you ? » though I’ve never been here before. The fact that there is even like one person in the city that likes my music is so fucking cool.
On The Move: You recently toured with LANY around America and Canada. How did you feel about it? Is it hard to sing to an audience that isn’t here for you in the first place?
Fletcher: Totally. That’s like my biggest struggle and fear, being an opener and walking out to a crowd that is not there to see you. It feels like you kinda have to win them over in a way. And I’ve been an opener before for Bastille – which I’m a huge fan of – and X Ambassadors. It is a scary, nervewracking thing because they are not there to see you. So there’s a sense of extra added bit of pressure to be like « I really have to deliver it, I hope these people like me ». But that’s just it with anything. As human beings, you want people to like you, you know, you just want to be liked and… I mean at least, I do. I will never compromise who I am for that but at the same time it’s definitely a real thing.
INTERVIEW BY CORALINE BLAISE PHOTOS BY DAVID FITT