FancyNormal is an indie pop, synthpop duo from Melbourne.
In the coming years after a COVID vaccine has allowed the world to return to some semblance of normalcy, we'll begin to look at the positives that arrived in amongst all the carnage.
One such radiant outcome was the pairing of Noni and Jules, partners in life who'd had other musical projects but had never collaborated together – for fear their fiery personalities would douse any creative magic they created.
However, stuck at home during the original lockdown, they decided to see where things went and thus FancyNormal was birthed in a rainbow prism of sparkly, nostalgia-tinged synthpop.
Only releasing their debut single in October, today FancyNormal are taking the covers off their very first EP release titled 'Starters & Appetizers'.
Those new to FancyNormal, what's the elevator pitch of what punters can expect from you two (in the studio and on stage)? Okay, imagine this: you see a horse, it's a normal horse, just your everyday standard horse, but then you realise the horse is wearing pink heels, then you look up and the horse now has a rainbow mane and a giant sparkly horn and wings and is actually flying through the sky.
That's FancyNormal; we're a double-take, an ordinary unicorn in disguise here to paint rainbows over Melbourne. We haven't done our first live show yet, but can we just say, y'all need to hold onto your cotton socks because it is going to be absolutely fabulous.
The story of FancyNormal; how did you two come together to start making music as a duo? We were apprehensive at first to let the world know, but after a 112-day lockdown, we just don't care anymore. We met as awkward teens at a camp. We dated for a year and then it exploded with us absolutely hating each other. We took some time to heal and recover and ended up getting back together and well, here we are.
We always put off working musically together because we both have quite fiery personalities and when you throw creativity into the mix, it can erupt pretty quickly.
But when lockdown hit, we were bored sh.tless and knew we couldn't leave the house if we pissed each other off, so we gave it a crack and it's been an absolute roller coaster of emotions; overwhelmingly positive.
You released your debut single in October last year; now you have your debut EP ready for release; exciting times in the FancyNormal camp. How are you both feeling at this stage of the group's life? Well, we will officially be four months old when this EP drops and it has been so bloody exciting so far.
We were blown away by the response of our first two single releases. All of our friends and family got behind us big time – we owe them so much for all the support and kind words they gave us.
Let's drill down and unpack a bit of the EP, titled 'Starters & Appetizers'; it's five songs of glossy, '80s synth-pop inspired feels. How does it showcase FancyNormal to the uninitiated? We've been told it sounds like 'music you'd drive around to in GTA5' – we think that's a fairly accurate summary, haha.
The EP starts off with an instrumental track that 'melodically frames' a lot of the topics we bring up on the EP like depression, social anxiety and heartbreak. I think overall, the EP is a good spectrum of what to expect with our future releases; there's some pop bangers, there's some moody emotional moments, and there's some obnoxious '80s beats that will get anybody on board the nostalgia train.
I'm sure if allowed, you'd want to continue tinkering with each song to make them that little bit more perfect; but overall, are you happy with how the EP turned out? Yup! We have sat on these songs a while now, and once you listen to the same track again and again under a microscope you start to ask yourself, 'Is this even a good track at all?' and self-doubt creeps in.
But I think that's just self-confidence issues that a lot of up and coming artists experience – overwhelmingly we LOVE the EP and can't wait to share it.
The recording process for this batch of songs; did everything come together relatively smoothly or was it project that required extra attention, focus to arrive at the final product? This was the first time we ever recorded, so it was a steep learning curve. Everything is relatively straightforward until you start adding vocals, and then it's a whole other ballgame on the the production and recording side.
We spent a lot of time re-recording takes – I think because it was our first real go at it, we really had to spend that extra bit of energy.
You had studio assistance with Joel Dowling and Matt Gray who mixed and mastered respectively the songs on 'Starters & Appetizers'; what did they each bring to the project that enhanced the final outcome? Joely mixed all our tracks – we cannot rave about this guy enough; he perfectly understands our vibe and we were both blown away by the magic he put on all these tracks.
Most importantly to us though, he was an absolute pillar of strength throughout the whole thing, constantly reassuring us that our music wasn't sh.t and encouraging us. He's an absolute bloody legend.
With other musical projects, we've sent stuff off for mastering and it comes back marginally different to the final mix, but when we sent it to Matt, I don't know what he does, but the low end that came out was so bloody huge and warm – we've been so impressed with this guy's work.
Using pop as a lens, you raise subjects like depression, break-ups and struggling with social anxiety with your lyrics. Given these issues are so common, was it something you actively wanted to explore with this batch of songs? One hundred per cent, especially seeing as these issues were magnified in lockdown, particularly within the music community.
While as a society we are moving towards a better mental health system and wider acceptance, we still have so far to go and we think that it's super important to keep talking about this stuff, keep being vulnerable and keep being transparent, especially in a pop world that encourages a polished, insta-worthy representation of a life.
You've listed Carly Rae Jepsen and Whitney Houston as influences; who else inspire your creative, artistic juices? Ralph (@songsbyralph) by far is one of our biggest influences and surprisingly we're still introducing her music to people for the first time. We continue to be blown away by her stuff and she definitely remains at #1 for our top influences.
We're always listening to a bunch of different stuff, but Melbourne artist Kids At Midnight (@kidsatmidnight) is one of our idols. Janeo just has this knack of making all of her tunes ooze with nostalgia and emotion; something we definitely want do to more for our music.
Live shows; is that nearing reality for FancyNormal? Ooooo yes, coming very soon this year and we both cannot wait – both of us have so many ideas for our first one and a bunch of beautiful friends we'd love to get onboard to help out. Honestly we are both exploding with excitement.
Given the pandemic and lack of live performances, how much have you focused on your stage craft and preparing the live version of FancyNormal? We've definitely had to get back into it – both of us have done live performance in other musical projects previously, so it definitely isn't something unfamiliar but we would be lying if we said we hadn't slacked off at all from practicing instruments and scales haha – most of our energy has been invested into software, learning production and even the marketing/ PR side of being an artist.
Some fun questions: What's your ultimate fashion brand/ house that in a perfect world would be the wardrobe for FancyNormal's onstage attire? I think that if Flex Mami came out with a clothing line we would have her dress us. But if we're talking about clothes that exist now, definitely unlimited access to Urban Outfitters.
Best place in Melbourne for a 2am feed that will leave you with a food coma? Well, it used to be 24-hour but as you know COVID has kind of thrown a spanner in everything, so hoping they'll work back to opening at 2am, but Shujinko on Russell St is hands down the best ramen you will ever have. Everyone NEEDS to try this place.
How good are bananas? Those who follow your IG page will know haha! Hahaha. The thing about bananas is they're gonna make everything they're put next to, smell like bananas. We wanna channel that infectious fruit energy for 2021.
Which fictional character best describes your personality? So we are absolutely Tom & Jerry in real life. They're best friends that are always fighting but cannot live without the other. Noni is definitely Jerry; small in stature but with the confidence of a dinosaur and Jules is Tom; his chaotic energy makes sh.t interesting – where's the fun without a good chase.
Last show you binge-watched (and what kept you glued to the screen)? Okay it has taken me (Jules) YEARS to get Noni to watch 'The Office' (American version that is), and she never could because the she feels real physical pain at the awkward, cringey moments.
But we've finally crossed that bridge and have been making our way from Season 1 and it has been a blast for me seeing Noni experience all those classic moments for the first time and putting all those internet memes into context finally.