FIZZ’s vibrant debut album was born out of a desire to tear up the rule book and try something different. ‘The Secret To Life’ flits from piano-led soft roc, to woozy ‘60s inflected psychedelia and Queen-evoking melodrama – and that’s just within its eclectic closer ‘The Grand Finale’.
It’s bright and buzzy, brilliantly good fun, and something a little different for the band of musical pals who made it. “We were all a little stuck in our artist projects,” one quarter of the collective, Dodie, explains of their mindset in the studio. “I know that I was desperate for an escape of some kind, and I feel like we’ve had a lot of nights where we just hang out and write stupid songs, and this is like a joke that’s been taken too far,” she adds with a laugh.
Joining Dodie are Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown – all artists who have previously enjoyed their own successful solo careers. Having been pals for 10 years, their musical lives have interweaved over the course of the last decade – be that supporting each other on tour or playing in each other’s bands. Speaking in their publicist’s office in north London, the easy chemistry that comes from their long-standing friendship is immediately evident, as they switch between both gently ribbing and celebrating one another.
Now, though, they’ve united as FIZZ, their own alt-pop supergroup. Invited by producer Pete Miles [Architects, Torres] to the countryside Middle Farm Studios, there they were encouraged to write in whatever way they wanted to. “It was super joyful and fun, and unlike any other experience I’ve ever had making music. It was a trip,” says Isaac.
While the intention hadn’t been initially to create a full-length album – “so little conversations were had about the music that we were making and what it would be,” Gartland explains – the creative floodgates were opened, and thus, ‘The Secret To Life’ was born.
NME: ‘The Secret To Life’ begins with ‘A New Phase Awaits You :-)’, where you offer listeners something to “lift you up and get out of that funk”. Did you find making this album got you out of a funk?
Dodie: “Oh my god, totally. I was absolutely stuck, and we said yes to everything when we were writing, there were no bad ideas. In fact there were too many ideas, I’ve never written songs so fast and so fun.”
Gartland: “It felt like we were running the collective tap in a way that I had definitely not experienced for a really long time – if ever – and it was like the energy of us all being there made the writing really different. When someone’s energy dipped, someone else could pick it up, and that’s not something I had ever experienced before.”
Do you think this experience will change how you write your solo projects?
Dodie: “Definitely. I think letting go a little bit more will hopefully allow some doors to open. Before Fizz, I felt like there was a structure I had to stick to and a lane that was mine”
Brown: “I feel like I’m more ambitious now. Everything feels achievable after you’ve written a song with eight key changes. Before, the task of aiming for something big and grand was something I talked myself out of all the time.”
Isaac: “I definitely feel much braver, and like I trust my instincts a little bit more creatively. Being around these guys and feeling validated in your experience really helps your creative process. I’ll definitely carry that into my own music.”
‘As Good As It Gets’ is a powerhouse single that sees you take on misogyny in a really cathartic way. How did it come together?
Isaac: “I was doing these down plucky things on the rubber bridge [of the guitar], and we wanted it to feel quite punky and have a lot of drive to it. Originally it really did sound like ‘American Idiot’, very punk-y and loud, with a lot of energy behind it. Slowly it turned into something different. We built a bit of a story around it, and then we wanted it to sound soft and feminine and beautiful to begin with, and then erupt into something much more angry later on.
“We had an assistant engineer called Soren Bryce at the studio with us, who’s also got a project called Tummyache, which is very dark and post-punk and beautiful. She felt like quite a subtle reference point for us creatively; and she sang on the song with us. I was having a shit day that day, and it felt like a really cathartic moment. It felt like that anger I was holding in my body was fuel to be able to sing the song.”
Was there a specific moment that inspired that song lyrically, or is it a lifetime of moments?
Dodie: “There’s definitely a few nuggets of real stories in there that we all just inherently know, because we’ve shared them.”
Gartland: “I think a lot of experiences of just not feeling enough. Particularly as a female, in the industry and out of it, where you get that little fire in you and you’re told or shown in some way that your feelings aren’t enough. For me when it erupts into that really high note Greta sings, it feels like that’s been building up for years.”
Isaac: “It feels like the whole thing is a pressure cooker. In my experience, I’ve equated a lot of worth to my appearance or how palatable I am to dudes, and deconstructing in my 20s has been really powerful, and this song’s a direct mirror to that.”
The music industry has changed hugely since you all started your careers. Were there things you felt like you had to consider – like TikTok – when working on this project, you didn’t before?
Gartland: “I think for all of us, the release plan was not thought about during the making of the music. What was essential to the bubble that we created making [the album], was ignoring completely how it might come out, and how you might present it, or even whether we will put it out at all.
“There were points where I was thinking ‘I would be so happy if this music never came out’; it was all about the process and about the time. But I also felt really proud of it and felt like I wanted to put it out. But yeah, [the industry] has definitely changed a lot since we’ve all started. God knows where it ends up!”
Brown: “I really feel like the culture of Fizz is so apparent, what we’re about, without us having to shove it down people’s throats. If people come across it, they will get it, even if they absolutely hate it, which I’m totally fine with.
“And I think people will hate it as well. It is what it is, and it’s so boldly what it is, and that in and of itself is so amazing, because I know people can just discover it. I don’t feel like we’re fighting for a way to cut through the noise.”
‘The Grand Finale’ is almost the antithesis of these short, digestible TikTok clips, as it’s full of such grand ideas…
Brown: “I feel like the conception of this project is an act of rebellion against the industry. It’s ironic that we’ve ended up signing with Decca, who are a lovely team and are really on board; but we’ve been in the industry in our own ways for the best part of 10 years, and have seen the evolution of streaming and TikTok becoming more and more prevalent.
“Us going to Middle Farm as friends was purely a holiday from music, because it is so cynical and horrible as a landscape, truly. So no, we didn’t think about TikTok, and I still don’t want to think about it. I know it is necessary, and people consume music really differently nowadays. But I think the whole conception of this project is very counter culture, and hopefully people get that and they see that we’re putting out songs that are five minutes-long and think, ‘That’s cool. People aren’t doing that anymore’.”
FIZZ’s debut album ‘The Secret To Life’ is out on October 27