Popping Up: FLETCHER
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Beyonce and Katy were once unknown, too.
FLETCHER has spent her whole life preparing for pop stardom. She began vocal lessons at age five, perfected performance art via the best after-school job of all time (she impersonated Hannah Montana at birthday parties) and then immersed herself in the music business as a Freshman at the Clive Davis Institute. After assembling the requisite skills, the plucky 21-year-old took a year off school to write songs and develop her sound.
And the gamble paid off. FLETCHER’s debut single “War Paint,” an impassioned plea to accept yourself and others, became an instant smash on Spotify — racking up more than 10 million streams. (It was also named Spotify’s Most Viral Track). I caught up with the New Jersey native during a recent trip to Los Angeles and we talked about the various twists and turns of her pop journey, as well as her unique sound and imminent EP. Get to know the newcomer a little better below.
NAME: Cari Fletcher
HOMETOWN: Wall Township, New Jersey
WHEN SHE CAUGHT THE MUSIC BUG: “I started classical vocal training when I was five years old,” FLETCHER reveals. “I’ve always been really inspired by the big voices like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. My mom used to say that I would sit there and try to learn riff-for-riff what they were doing. She was like, ‘You need lessons. You’re going to hurt your voice!'”
WORK EXPERIENCE: The “War Paint” singer cut her teeth impersonating Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift at little girls’ birthday parties. “Oh my God, this is so embarrassing,” she laughs. “It was so ratchet because I looked nothing like Hannah Montana. I had the full attire — the wig and everything — but I would have to perform with these big glasses on, because I looked nothing like her.” And it wasn’t just a passing phase. “I did that all through high school.”
THE INDUSTRY: “I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but I wanted to learn everything else around being an artist too,” the singer/songwriter says. “I went to the Clive Davis Institute where they make you take classes in production, writing, marketing and branding. All really, really cool stuff.” That led to an internship at Troy Carter’s Atom Factory in Los Angeles.
“I saw them manage all these different artists that were at totally different stages in their careers,” FLETCHER continues. “From an artist like Lindsey Sterling, who’s a huge YouTube sensation, to Lady Gaga — Goddess of Pop. I was like, ‘Okay, I could totally do this myself.’ I wanted to develop myself as an artist. I went back home, took a year off school and headed down to Nashville.”
THE BIRTH OF “WAR PAINT”: The entrepreneurial diva ended up in a writing session with Jamie Kenney and “War Paint” was born soon thereafter. “I always had the concept for ‘War Paint’ in my head,” she says. “I knew it was a killer concept for a pop song. I didn’t know if it was going to be for me or if I was going to pitch the concept elsewhere. It has such a beautiful meaning. It’s so symbolic and colorful.”
A BATTLE CRY: “War Paint” is one of those magical pop songs that conveys an important message without feeling preachy. “I wanted to write a song about fighting for what you believe in and loving who you love,” FLETCHER explains. “It’s about opening people’s eyes to love and acceptance. Be who you are and love who love. Put your war paint on and don’t ever stop fighting for what you believe in.”
THERE’S AN EP ON THE WAY: Listened to “War Paint” several hundred times and craving more? Never fear, new tunes are on the horizon. “I finished the EP,” the newcomer reveals. “Right now we’re just kind of figuring out what songs we want to go with. We have a bunch of records to choose from.”
HER SOUND: One of the things that sets FLETCHER’s music apart is the use of atypical (ie. real) instruments. “I wanted my music to be a mix between programmed and electronics elements with super organic earthy stuff,” she says. “There’s a banjo in every song, there’s a cello in every song, there’s an acoustic guitar in every song. There are mandolins. There are tribal hand drums. Jamie even recorded me playing cups on the ground and then we reversed the sample and used it in a song.”
TOURING: Here’s some good news. It won’t be too long until New Jersey’s finest performs in a venue near you! “I’ve been playing with the same band for a year now,” she explains. “Jamie’s come down from Nashville a bunch of times and we created this thing that’s just as interesting as the music. There’s a girl on cello, there’s a drummer who has a sample pad that’s triggering off all the chants and the really cool drum effects. There’s a guy that switches between guitar and banjo. It sounds full. We’re looking at some potential tour opportunities for the fall.”
Watch FLETCHER’s “War Paint” video: