First things first, let’s introduce you to Cari Fletcher, otherwise known as pop artist “FLETCHER.” Throughout the past year and a half, FLETCHER has been moving through the process of finding herself at the end of a four year relationship, getting to know who she is now, and working on her art throughout it all. When quarantine struck, FLETCHER and her ex (Shannon Beveridge) decided to quarantine together, and thus “THE S(EX) TAPES” were born. With provocative lyrics, strong vocals, and DIY videos to every song on the album shot and directed by her ex. This project is filled with humanity, truth, and empowerment we need right now.
While pop videos are typically made on large sets with even larger teams – these videos genuinely do feel like you could almost be watching a sex tape with how raw, emotional, and intimate they are. You can almost feel the emotions that the creative pair faced and you get a taste of the connection that brought them together in the first place. It is a good reminder that sometimes there is more to a relationship working out than just wanting it to.
The videos to “THE S(EX) TAPES” show that out of the struggles of quarantine, art was still at the forefront of people’s minds – and creation doesn’t stop when the world does. If anything, it appears to have given space to the kind of content that may be hard to pitch or hard to make the time for during normal day to day life pre-pandemic.
FLETCHER provides an important space in pop by showing that there is room for the LGBTQ+ community in mainstream music today. With “THE S(EX) TAPES,” providing a space of normalcy for those within the community to have relatable art that talks about love, sex, and the struggles of any relationship. She shows that the gender of who you are singing about does not change the emotions behind it. That being said, for those who rarely hear love described with the pronouns that mirror the way they love, it can mean so much to have music that feels like it was from a perspective they know. It can be easy to forget that not so long ago, there wasn’t anybody to look to if you loved in a way that was outside of how you were told you were supposed to.
The songs themselves on “THE S(EX) TAPES” really encapsulate the emotions of meeting someone perfect for you at the wrong time in life. For anyone going through a hard breakup, this album is sure to be a lifesaver to blast in your room late at night. The tracks don’t shy away from the more challenging emotions in a breakup with sorrow, love, bitterness, fantasy, and brutal truth being just a few of the ones running throughout the whole project. FLETCHER vocalizes the things you hear your friends whisper at 3 am when they are curled up next to you on a couch feeling their way through heartbreak.
FLETCHER’S actual vocals are strong and clear while maintaining an emotional tone that only adds to her storytelling lyrics. The base tracks of the songs are synth-heavy with a focus on rhythmic beats that grip your hands as they pull you along for the ride side by side with FLETCHER . She shows us that pop vocals don’t have to lose depth but can rather be built on top of it. Throw THE S(EX) TAPES on and give it a listen while getting to know FLETCHER a little bit better below.
How are you?
I’m good! Life is just super weird and crazy at the moment, and things have just kind of been overwhelming in every sense of the word, but I’m doing my best. You know, I feel like that’s what everybody is just trying to do is to do their best right now, and I’m just trying to take care of myself and take care of my heart.
So in your newest release, “THE S(EX) TAPES”, you switch gears a little bit from some of your older stuff into more daring lyrics and themes. Was that planned, or did it just kind of happen organically with how your life is going?
I mean, I feel like always the common thread throughout all my music is that it’s still just always a really real representation of exactly where I’m at in my life and what I’m kind of going through in those moments. “THE S(EX) TAPES” is kind of just where I’ve been at in my life over the last couple of years of this music being written. I think what’s different about this project though, is that it really is so in real-time, and it is just such a living and breathing body of work. It’s just exactly what I’m going through in my personal life at this moment. It’s never really about just a character that I’m stepping into or some sort of PR story to accompany the music; it’s just straight up what Cari the human being is going through. So yeah, It wasn’t some, plotted thing to do. It just kind of was just kind of what I’m personally going through.
Yeah, I sense that everything sounds very honest, and it’s cool in a fresh way.
Yeah, I appreciate that. I definitely went through a weird moment in my life of thinking, like, Okay, you know, we’re in the middle of the pandemic like there’s so much happening in the world. Like what? You know what? How do I still put out something? Because people are just craving truth more than ever. And so it’s like, how do I put out something that, um it’s sort of a reflecting of the times. And I think, you know, the only way that we can really do that is just sort of by being honest about the human experience that we’re having. So I feel like this is probably the most honest portrayal of my human experience that I’ve had up to this point.
Was creating such an honest breakup album and then filming to videos alongside the ex that it was about cathartic at all? How did the two of you handle the emotions and challenges around that?
Yeah. I mean, a lot of people have been like, why the hell did you do that? I think you know the music and the music writing process has been over time; the oldest song is “if I hated you,” which is about a year and a half old. So in terms of writing it, it’s always been a really cathartic way for me to sort of process what it is that I’m feeling. I think since we ended up quarantining together and spending almost six months together us making these visuals was just sort of like our way to close the chapter, and to be able to process exactly what it was that we were going through, and what we were kind of feeling. It was really difficult; it was just a series of a lot of really complicated conversations about, being together or breaking up – or the future – what we’re both needing and lacking – and like what we needed personally. So “THE S(EX) TAPES” is kind of just like a time capsule of the last four years of our relationship that we spent together. It’s just a really honest portrayal of what it means to be 20 something trying to navigate love and a relationship like, your independence and the relationship with yourself, and all this sort of really shitty things that come with that, but also all the beautiful things that come with it too. So I think we just navigated it by really honest communication, which is tough. Being honest is hard when there are so many emotions that are at stake. But you know, telling the truth is just, kind of like the only thing that sets you free from it in the end.
So with something called, like “THE S(EX) TAPES” and with the videos, they seem very empowering. Were they? What does empowerment mean to you?
Yeah, I think you know moving through this phase of my life I’m in right now, a really big part of it has been exploring my identity and sexuality and feeling more confident in that than I ever have before. I think getting to be captured in that way by somebody who’s always kind of just seen me as my realist self and has always really captured me in that way has been special. It’s the whole reason you can call it a sex tape – it’s somebody being caught in their most vulnerable form, and you know, my ex is always somebody that caught me in that way, so it was really empowering. I think a really big part of empowerment to me is feeling the freedom in a space to explore. You know, I think freedom sort of goes hand in hand with empowerment and feeling safe enough to explore yourself. It’s just about doing whatever the fuck you want whenever you want to do it. I think as women, there’s so much stigma around us exploring our sexuality and our pleasure. Sex positivity is really important for me to continue to talk about and to encourage people to embrace themselves, their life, and to just have sex – or don’t – or to just do them. That’s definitely a really big thing for me with this project.
What does vulnerability as an artist mean to you?
I think vulnerability can look a lot of different ways. I don’t think vulnerability is a one size fits all. I think that that’s a word that just gets, like, thrown around a lot. I think it’s something that changes in time. I think the root of vulnerability is just being gentle with yourself. For a long time, I looked at the idea of being vulnerable as just a really scary thing that was like, Oh, you shouldn’t air your dirty laundry kind of thing, or you shouldn’t talk about the things that make you feel scared, or that other people could criticize you for, when it’s actually just the complete opposite. It’s actually the thing that I’m like, Oh shit, and this is my superpower, this is the thing that makes me feel invincible.If I bear at all and I let people know about my honest experience that I’m going through, and then that helps somebody, that then helps somebody else – I wish that I had that. I always say I need to be the artist that I needed when I was a little girl. I wish I saw examples of people just being messy, and human, and like not having it figured out. I try to be really honest about that because I think there’s this idea of everything needing to be so aspirational, glamorous, and perfect when it’s just fucking not the truth. That’s not what real life is, so I think vulnerability is just about living your truth and letting people in on that. It is scary, you know, vulnerability is not easy. It’s not an easy thing. But it’s not something that I think we should be afraid of, and I think it’s something to embrace because when we all do it, the world just ends up feeling a little bit bigger when we all kind of show our goals a little more.
As part of the LGBTQ+ community, Do you think you know it’s important to normalize queer love and sex unapologetically? Was there someone in the media when you were younger that you looked up to or did you find yourself searching for that?
I think I was definitely searching for someone that I saw myself in. I think the people I got inspiration from were the people who were challenging the societal expectations of gender expression and norms – people like Madonna, David Bowie, Joan Jett, and Patti Smith. I really wish that I had somebody where I was like, Oh, wow, that’s me, I see parts of myself there, and I didn’t really feel that. That’s why it’s always been like my thing to be like, okay, I need to do that for all the little kids out there who just might see those parts of themselves in me. When it comes to showcasing and normalizing queer relationships, I think oftentimes in media queer relationships are depicted as this really tumultuous and difficult experience that is also so often overly sexualized and depicted through the male gaze. I think for me it’s a reason why I always have been careful about my use of gender pronouns in my music because I never want anybody to feel taken out of the context of a song; but also because it doesn’t fucking matter who the gender is if it’s like a trans woman, a non-binary person, like whoever it is that broke your heart or made you feel something, if that’s a human experience, it doesn’t matter who did it. So I think for me normalizing those sort of experiences as being just as valid and important as any other type of relationship is something that I always really tried to do, and that is important for me to do. I will always fight for my community. I also think it’s so important to understand where we came from and why I’m even able to speak about my sexuality as fluidly as I do. That’s a privilege – just being able to communicate who I am, that it’s a part of who I am, and that’s something I like always will fight for. But being queer is not my headline either. You know, like it’s not the coolest thing about me, it’s not the most interesting thing about me, but it’s definitely shaped my identity and has been a really big part of the person that I am. At the end of the day, it’s not the only thing, but it is a thing that I feel passionate about and will always fight for.
What is your favorite lyric, and what’s your favorite video of the project?
“Goodbye forever until next time”
is probably my favorite lyric from “Sex with my ex” and then my favorite video… My ex and I didn’t have a crew, and we didn’t have a set, we didn’t have hair or glam makeup. We ordered all the props online from Amazon or stole shit from my parent’s living room or bedroom for props and stuff like that. So every song and every visual just has so much love poured into it, and it literally came from my hands and my heart to the people watching. I had a really good time filming “Silence”. We were just in the ocean, and we ordered a fish tank off Amazon to get some of the underwater shots, then we also shot it on an iPhone. It was the first one that we did, and it was kind of one where we were like, oh, shit. We can make it, and we could do seven videos – we can make a video for every single song. I know it’s gonna be unlike anything that we ever planned for; it just sort of unfolded that way, you know? I was just like, wait a second, you know, we’re going through this really weird time, and we’re like talking about it so much, like what if we record the conversations, and why don’t we film it? Why don’t we show people what this experience that we’re having right now is like.
How are you taking care of yourself during the crazy times that we’re going through? Like, what’s your self-care look like right now?
My self-care is so funny. I’m still figuring out exactly what my self-care journey is because some days, I wake up, and I feel good, I’ve been journaling a lot, and I’ve been just spending a lot of time outside out in nature. I realized that I used to have this idea of being like, “I want to go out – and I’m just crazy – and I wanna party – and I just want to meet people – I want to do fun stuff and live this sort of glamorous artist lifestyle!” Obviously, that isn’t even happening right now anyway because we’re in the middle of the pandemic. But, I think I just realized that I’m actually the happiest when I’m just around a couple of people that I really love that really know me, make me feel good, or challenge me. I’m still figuring out what it looks like exactly, like some days I wake up and I just get sucked into the social media black hole, and I can’t get off. Which makes me feel like shit at the end of the day, you know. It’s a roller coaster that I definitely don’t have figured out, but I’m just trying to be gentle. I think the biggest most overarching theme of self-care just has to be being gentle with yourself and being compassionate with yourself. Taking the time to remind yourself that you are doing your best. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do.
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photos / Shannon Beveridge
story / Weslee Kate