After a good old stuffing of mince pies, pigs in blankets, to many brussel sprouts and overindulging in alcohol, the year that was comes to a close. The giddiness of cherry picking new years resolutions is upon us and an exciting new year is upon Fenne Lily.
Fresh from the Dorset shores of the south, Fenne’s folk hue has captured the ears of budding music fans for the last two years and the last two years have been somewhat successful at that. A handful of single releases, support slots for the likes of Marika Hackman and Palace and the prospect of an upcoming debut album, her biggest resolution is surprisingly get over her fear of loose buttons.
As far as resolutions go, getting over fears is an ambitious one. How does one even start to conquer the dread that something has over you?
Her debut release ‘Top To Toe’ has received over 18 million streams on Spotify alone, and what an accomplishment. A success such as this could be somewhat a fear to many artists as they progress throughout their career. The notion of always trying to reach that very same level within each body of work can become somewhat an obsession. But to Fenne it seems to be the total opposite.
“I’m never thinking ‘man that last one went down well, I’m going to make the next one similar for safety.'” she explains, “Totally the opposite. It’s a blessing that the first song I released was received so well, but it could be a curse if I let it. I never want to become lazy and stick to a formula – it would drive me insane.
“Success is such an insidious concept because it suggests an end point – like you’re searching for some kind of calculable validation. I feel I ‘succeed’ every time I finish a song and am still proud to call it mine.”
However, it’s humbling to her to know that people are listening to and connecting with what she is making. “Praise doesn’t make me see myself in a better light.” she says, “The more I’m told I’m doing a good job, the more crippling my self-doubt becomes – it sounds stupid and I’m obviously very encouraged by kindness, but the darker part of my mind never stops suggesting that everyone might just be being nice.”
I’m pretty sure that the praise and listening figures isn’t just music lovers being nice. Fenne’s music is delivered with such grace, its hard not to feel a degree of emotion after every listen.
Another release that Fenne should feel pretty successful about is her latest offering ‘For A While,’ a delicate track that’s held tightly together by her intricately raspy vocal.
“I wrote it after my then boyfriend told me he was moving away and we had a couple of months to stay in love. The grieving started immediately and I was so sad for the end that I knew I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the time we had. So instead of talking about it like an adult, I wrote a song. When I came to record it, I wanted it to reflect the part of me that respected and accepted his decisions, not the part that wanted to cry and give up. So it was important that I made it fuller than the sound of ‘Top To Toe’ and the earlier singles.”
The exciting prospect of a debut album seems nothing but an organic next step for Fenne to take. We’ve been teased with multiple single releases over the last two years, but now it could be time for a body of work that truly captures Fenne’s delicately personal storytelling.
“You know those teachers who whispered when they were angry and it made you question what to do with your face? The album is like that but music.”
Not one to give anything remotely obvious away, this brief description of her upcoming release leaves us puzzled; yet transfixed upon the idea of what this record will hold. For the time being we’re just going to have to settle upon her back catalogue and upcoming live shows as Fenne heads out on the circuit in just a few weeks time.
With shows at Eurosonic Festival, London and Bristol, Fenne looks towards the prospect of incorporating a full live band into her set for the very first time.
“Getting a band together has seemed like a natural and necessary move since recording all summer; I never intended my live show to be just me forever. I’m glad I’ve had this time to get comfortable with my songs and myself on stage, but recently I’ve started craving some other people up there with me. It gets lonely.
“The songs themselves have got a surprising amount of instrumentation on, too. I just whack my voice up high in the mix coz I’m an ego maniac.”
Continuously allowing herself to grow as an individual and as a musician, it seems that Fenne Lily has embarked upon the biggest growth in her career to date, despite her only being knees deep in her ‘just getting started’ days. Her mantra to always look forward and not dwell on past successes is intelligent and humbling. It summons you to remember that she’s an ordinary (yet extremely talented) human with her dark days, just like the rest of us.
But, she’s willing to find the light and continue upon a journey of self-discovery. Fenne’s in for a sensational new year for sure and we can’t wait to witness it unfold with her.
Words by Lewis Smart