Queer representation is something that is more important than ever before with a growth in social media platforms opening up a new dialogue on acceptance. Gen Z are now leading the way with huge conversations opening up about gender, sexuality and identity. People are feeling more seen and understood, with diversity taking to our screens, feeds and airwaves.
FLETCHER is an American pop artist who is sharing her raw truth with the world. Opening up about her queer identity, she’s explored lust on the absolute bop ‘Forever’ and then introspectively explored heartbreak on her acclaimed EP ‘The S(ex) Tapes’. But now she’s in the healing stage and is currently preparing her debut album. Taking a moment to look back on her queer journey, she realised that Katy Perry’s breakthrough hit ‘I Kissed A Girl’ was a key moment in self-acceptance for herself. It was the first time that the middle school version of herself finally saw herself represented in the media. It was the moment she realised that she too could be a pop star, and it didn’t matter that she was queer.
Circling back to that cloud parting realisation, she’s paid homage to the song in her addictive new single ‘girls girls girls’. Confidently asserting her sexuality and journey in the song, she sings Katy Perry’s famous refrain while bringing her own perspective to the forefront. And what she’s most importantly doing is giving back to her community by using her platform to provide more representation in media, and giving some young queer kid someone to look up to and feel not so alone through her music.
I recently caught up with FLETCHER to discuss the impact that Katy Perry’s hit single ‘I Kissed A Girl’ had on her own queer discovery and why she wanted to pay homage to it in her new single ‘girls girls girls’, as well as explored the self-healing process she went through post-releasing her acclaimed EP ‘The S(ex) Tapes’ last year. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘girls girls girls’ is a song that celebrates queerness, and it also hears you paying homage to the generation defining single ‘I Kissed A Girl’ by Katy Perry. Where in the process of writing this song did you decide you were going to sample it and bring a new perspective to it with the chorus?
FLETCHER: It was actually something I set out with the intention to go and interpolate because this song was such a big part of the marking of the beginning of the discovery process for me. It was so taboo at the time to hear about girls talking about sexuality through music with even the idea of women kissing women. It was such a key point for me at the beginning of that journey that really helped me start to discover my truth. So I knew I really wanted to take that song and use it in a way to talk about my queer experience.
It’s such an iconic song. I remember when it came out because my mum was dropping me off at middle school and it came on the radio. My mum gasped at the lyrics, and it was in that moment I was like “fuck, I think I like girls” *laughs*.
TB: Well looking back at it ‘I Kissed A Girl’ really was a pop culture reset as it opened a dialogue of queer acceptance in media that paved the way for artists like Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga to also speak their truth through their art in the years to come. Do you remember watching that shift happen and think “oh, it’s actually okay to feel the way I feel”.
F: Yeah, 100%. I remember growing up and knowing that I’ve always wanted to make music and to be an artist. I aways loved pop music, but I was never seeing any big examples of queer people talking about that and their experiences. So I thought maybe I can’t do this, maybe this isn’t the career path for me. So when I finally started to see people be honest about those experiences and represent their truth through pop music, it was the moment that I was like “no, this could be me”.
I’ve fought a lot of push and pull with that my whole life in terms of “is this something I should open up about” and “is this something I should talk about” in fear of alienating people and pushing them away. It honestly has been quite literally the most anxious decision of my life whether to be honest about my experience and who I really am. You owe it to people like that, and that’s why representation and telling your truth is so important. People need help putting words to how they feel, and to see someone living their truth is so fucking invaluable.
TB: I know that you’re 27, and I’m 27 as well and I remember growing up and desperately trying to find representation for myself as there was no one really that I resonated with in the media. The first person that I felt like represented me was Adam Lambert, but then when he spoke his truth he was suddenly no longer the front runner for American Idol and came second, and then was censored and caused uproar when he kissed his male bassist on stage at the American Music Awards. That was quite damaging as a young closeted queer kid as i thought I couldn’t be successful if I was outward about who I was. But obviously that has changed now, and it’s so exciting to see that dialogue shift and representation become so much more inclusive.
F: It has been so beautiful to see that shift happen over time as I think in the past artists were so pigeonholed by their sexuality. It was like “LGBTQ artist….”, it was always what preceded the name. There is a great element of that as it’s such a big part of people’s identity and their experiences, but it’s also that Gen Z are queer as hell. It’s not that more people are suddenly queer now, it’s just that there is more representation, language, acceptance, and safety for people to step into their truth and speak about their sexuality and identity.
TB: Yeah, representation is definitely more important than ever before, so who are some queer artists that you think we need to get acquainted with because I did see that you’ve just announced our homegrown G-FLIP as your support act next year?
F: Ugh, I love G! We actually just met a couple of weeks ago. We got coffee together and they were telling me about their experience, their life, their dreams, and how they came over to America to try to give it a go as they aren’t as well known here as they are back home. So I was like “dude, come out on tour with me. People are going to love you”. We just became really fast friends and now we text all the time. They are my homie!
But yeah, G is incredible, L Devine is someone I am such a big fan of, I have a song with Hayley Kiyoko coming out in 2 weeks, and then obviously Troye Sivan, Sam Smith and Demi Lovato are also all incredible. It is so amazing to see the pop space filled with so many queer artists, it’s so inspiring.
TB: You teamed up again with Kito for this track. How did the creative process of this track differ from when you worked on ‘Bitter’ together?
F: We actually wrote a couple of different versions of this. There have been 3 different interpolations of this song using ‘I Kissed A Girl’ in different ways, but this was just the one that just felt like the way we should go. Working with Kito is just so easy in terms of having such a great creative chemistry. It’s funny though because there is always a line in the song that she doesn’t like, and it’s always the one that ends up being the most popular lyric *laughs*. Every time we are writing she will be like “I hate that” and I will be like “great, so that’s the one we need to leave then” *laughs*.
TB: What lyric did she hate from “girls, girls, girls”? Was it the Old Fashioned one?
F: No, that is an iconic line though. We actually changed that lyric so many times. We tried “sipped her like “reposado” at one point, and “sipped her like gin and tonic”. We went through every alcohol as that was one of the lines we weren’t sure about. But she didn’t like “I put my finger through the loop of your jeans”. I was like “that’s hot! That has to stay”.
TB: On TikTok you revealed that the lyric “sipped hеr like an Old Fashioned” was actually inspired by watching Taylor Swift drinking an Old Fashioned at her birthday party and thinking it was hot. So what is FLETCHER’s drink of choice?
F: I totally watched Taylor Swift drink an Old Fashioned and thought it was so hot that I was like “that has to be the lyric” *laughs*. But in terms of my drink, it depends what mood I’m in and what sort of night I want to have. If I’m feeling like being a classy bitch then my go-to is a dirty vodka martini. There is something about it that makes me feel like I could do anything, and nobody could stop me from the activities that are about to take place. But if I’m trying to have more fun and get a bit rowdy then you can’t go wrong with a tequila soda. It’s basic but it works.
TB: And where on the hot scale are those drinks placed compared to an Old Fashioned?
F: *Laughs* A tequila soda is so fucking basic that to me that is like a 3 on the hot scale. If I saw a girl drinking a dirty martini though, then I would be like “I’m your wife”. So I would give that one a 9. But a woman drinking an Old Fashioned is like a 50.
TB: ‘Healing’ is a track that kick started this whole new chapter for you. It heard you confessing “I ain’t there yet but I’m healing”. How important was it for you to release this song first, as it did feel like a bridge between ‘The S(ex) Tapes’ and this next chapter?
F: Yeah it totally was a bridge. I came from this space of just being so radically honest about a relationship dynamic that I was having. Like, having ‘The S(ex) Tapes’ out there in such a public way while I was simultaneously healing from it didn’t really give me much time to process it all. It was all kinda happening at the same sort of timeline. What the process between ‘The S(ex) Tapes’ and ‘Healing’ looked like was actually this process of healing taking place. It was about how to find myself in the middle of a pandemic when I don’t have people applauding me, and I’m not on a stage. I used to base so much of my worth on my productivity, so when I’m not busy I was trying to process what my worth now looks like, not in a relationship. I did a lot of inner-child work, which is where all of our trauma comes from anyway, but it really was this experience of healing. I’m still a petty bitch sometimes, obviously, and I will forever tap into old feelings through my songs as they are real and raw. Just because you’re healing doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly some woke and perfect human who never has a negative emotion in their life, as that is totally not the point at all.
TB: You’ve just teased everyone on TikTok about a collaboration you’ve done with Hayley Kiyoko called ‘Cherry’, and it sounds like an absolute banger. So what is a little fun fact that you can give us about this track, and what we can expect from it when it drops in 2 weeks?
F: Well Hayley and I have gotten together a few times now to really fully bring this to life. I had written this idea first prior to bringing it to Hayley. While I was writing it I wrote “Cherry, Hello, nice to meet you my name is Cari”, and in my head I thought it would be a sick feature with Hayley Kiyoko because she could easily say “Cherry, Hello nice to meet you my name is Hayley”. So I ended up sending it to her and we got into the studio and re-wrote some parts and she wrote a verse and she just brought a whole new life to the song. It was such an amazing experience, and she’s also one of my absolute favourite artists and has been such a key part of my own queer journey, so I’m like on cloud nine over the fact that we even have a song together.
TB: At the end of 2020 you had a feature song in one of the most important movies of the last year, ‘Promising Young Woman’. From screening the film first before you wrote ‘Last Laugh’, do you feel like it added an extra pressure for you to make sure you got the vibe and messaging right?
F: As a creative person whose mind is constantly scattered all the time and overwhelmed by the possibilities that I could write about, there was something actually so amazing about going in with a very specific intention about something I wanted to create. I watched the film and it was so important with all of the messaging about the way we talk about rape culture, sexual assault, and how we deal with it as a society. It started a very important conversation and I was like a) I need to be a part of this soundtrack and b) I need to nail the song. So there was a bit of pressure, but I was so inspired from watching the movie. It was that very last scene where he receives a text message from her, and in my head at the cinema I was like “oh, she had the last laugh”. I went into the studio the next night and we wrote it in 2 hours. There were no rewrites. What you hear in the movie is literally the demo from that night. They didn’t even use the finished mastered version that’s on streaming services in the film. There really is this raw, day of, emotion that is with the song in the film which is really cool.
TB: You have sold out your entire North American tour in a matter of minutes, which is an impressive feat. But, can we expect to finally see you on Australian shores in 2022?
F: Honestly, it has to! I have to get to see you guys ASAP!
‘Girls girls girls’ is out now!