Model and melodic electro pop songstress: we meet Florrie the singer with Debbie Harry’s seal of approval
We catch up with the lovely and epically talented Florrie, bringing us the latest in beautifully melodic electro pop, for a New Noise grilling. Her success clearly stems from an innate obsession with all things musical, here she tells us about everything from aquatic-themed school plays and her long-suffering dad, to her kick-ass remixes and how it felt having Blondie aka Debbie Harry’s song-writing the seal of approval . . .
So your full name is Florence, but are you Florrie both onstage and offstage; is it a stage persona or is it Florrie all of the time?
No one has ever called me Florence except my nan when I was really little, and that was only in front of her friends when we went to her lunch club on a Sunday! I’ve always been Florrie. Both my parents had Aunty Florries so I think that’s where they got it from.
You’ve been described as a multi-instrumentalist and have been playing from a very young age – how old were you when you first picked up an instrument and what instrument was it?
The first instrument I ever played was the drums. I was six years old and on a family holiday in Greece when I saw a drummer in a local restaurant. It was the first time I’d ever set eyes on a drum kit and I was totally obsessed! We went there every night and he would hand me a stick to keep time on the hi-hat while he played the rest of the beat. When we got home I nagged my parents for a kit for about a year! I think I’ve always had a good sense of rhythm, my dad says I used to be tapping along to songs on the radio when I was two or three.
What’s this we hear about your first gig being performed in a fish costume?!
Haha! It was a pretty snazzy costume! I was in the school play and my class were singing a song about the sea or something and we were all dressed as fish. I remember I couldn’t reach the pedals because of my massive tail!!!
You’re Bristol born, and it’s such a creative hub. Do you feel that the city influenced your identity and/or your sound? How much is one bound up with the other?
It’s funny, when you actually live somewhere, especially when you’ve grown up there, you don’t really appreciate what it has until you’re not there anymore. Bristol is an amazing city with so many opportunities for musicians, but I guess when I was growing up I wasn’t really aware of it. I started a girl rock pop band with my friends at school when I was 13 and we played a lot of gigs around Bristol, but so were lots of other young bands in the area, so beyond that we didn’t really know much else. That was our world!
The lyrics of your new single ‘Little White Lies’ sound like a girl battling with herself, but the overall effect of the song is breezy and upbeat. How do you approach song writing?
Sometimes I feel really inspired and the song comes together very quickly, but a lot of the time I spend months working on a track. I’m a bit of a perfectionist like that. The music and chords are always written before anything else, followed by the melodies, and I usually write the lyrics after that. I like to be prepared for a writing session and come up with a concept for the song based on how the music makes me feel. I’ll spend ten minutes looping round the music and singing whatever comes into my head, with the help of some phrases and lines I’ve got written down, but a lot of the time I’m just singing gobbledegook! It’s like a melodic stream of consciousness, and I can end up with fifty melodies that I then narrow down to a few of the best ones. That’s why some of my songs have quite interesting structures: I never specifically try to write “a verse” or “a chorus” I just let my mind be free and work out how to fit it all together afterwards. It’s like a GIANT puzzle! ‘Little White Lies’ actually started out as a very different sounding song to the finished version. I went to Abbey Road and recorded lots of different beats and then started to think about what to put around them.
When you’re writing, do you have a particular audience in mind?
Not at all actually, I just write about things I want to write about. I love writing with my best friend Annie, who’s in my band too. We’re really close and spend a lot of time together so we can bounce ideas off each other, and know what the other one is thinking!
You released a couple of remixes on the ‘Sirens’ EP, including the Shadow Child remix of ‘Little White Lies’ (which sounds incredible!) It was the first time you had done this, what made you decide to do it then?
Ah I’m glad you like it! I’ve worked with both Preditah and Shadow Child, and think they are brilliant producers and genuinely lovely guys. I really loved what they did with both tracks so that’s why they’re on the EP. I’m lucky to have the freedom to pick what goes on, and I think people really liked hearing something a bit different.
If you could collaborate with any artist/artists (past or present!) who would it be?
John Mayer, Jamie Cullum, The Spice Girls, Bastille . . . or I’d like to play drums forPrince or The Beatles (I’d feel bad chucking Ringo off though!!)
You recorded a cover of Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’ for the Nina Ricci advert that you also featured in. It has a much softer sound than the original, but some of your tracks do feel a bit edgy at times. Is she an artist that influenced you? What artists do you feel have influenced you most?
I think Debbie Harry is amazing! You know when I got the Nina Ricci campaign I sent a lot of songs to them, and in the end “Sunday Girl” just seemed to fit the campaign perfectly. Saying that, I was a little bit worried about covering such a classic song. It made me feel better when somebody at my publishing company told me they had cleared the track with her and that she really liked my version! I grew up listing to a lot of 50’s and 60’s music, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis; lots of rock ‘n’ roll stuff which was my Dad’s influence…and a lot of Beatles! I think that’s where I got my love of melody. I also listened to a lot of stuff on mainstream radio, mostly when I would be driving from my Mum’s house in Bristol to my Dad’s in Gloucester. I would always have a favourite song of the moment and literally flick non-stop all the way there until I found it on a station!! My poor dad!!!
You’re such a busy lady! You model too right? How does that fit in?
I really got into modelling through music, and the Nina Ricci campaign was the first thing I’d ever done. I really threw myself in at the deep end! It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing, and I like to think the two, music and modelling, go well together, but music is my true love and passion.
What do you listen to when you’re chilling out?
At the minute I’m listening to a lot of classical music to chill out, which I’ve never really done before, but I watched this amazing film about Mozart the other day and I’m beginning to appreciate it more and more.. It’s funny because I really wasn’t into classical music at all when I was at school, although I had a music scholarship so had to play drums in the orchestra which was really weird! Sometimes I can spend all day listening to music at the studio, so I like to have a break from it when I get home and just be quiet.
Do you think that your association with the Xenomania production house, writing for and performing with pop sensations like Girls Aloud and The Saturdays, has affected your own style at all? And what lessons did you take away from your involvement with such a huge power-house of British pop?
I have learnt SO much from being at Xenomania, it’s literally my family and I almost can’t remember what it was like not being a part of it! I got a job as the house drummer when I was 19, and played on a lot of the records that they were making (it even feels funny saying ‘they’ and not ‘we’ ha). My first job was playing on Girls Aloud’s ‘The Promise’ which went on to be number one and win a Brit award…it was absolutely amazing. I remember going for my first audition and feeling like I had stepped into a dream world! Xenomania is in this beautiful house in a tiny village, full of amazingly creative people.
I’ve really learnt a lot about song writing and production in the last five years. It’s really useful to watch other people working and I’ve learnt a lot from my friends at the studio.
Your music is so varied, and this eclecticism seems to reach its peak in your recent song ‘Seashells’. What three words would you use to describe Florrie’s sound?
Emotive Melodic Pop!
Where are you going next, and can we follow you?
I’m going to Sainsburys…and you are more than welcome to join me!