A new dream team are on the scene, with buzzy live sets and an album on the way – meet FIZZ. Read our latest Dork Playlist cover feature now.
Words: Abigail Firth.
Photos: Em Marcovecchio.
Styling: Rubina Marchiori
Assisted By: Francesca Russo
Assistant Team: Jake Martin, Lily Goddard
Scattered around Brighton are posters featuring a hypnotic red swirl and the phrase ‘A NEW PHASE AWAITS YOU’, beckoning you down the rabbit hole of Fizz, a secret band playing at The Great Escape. Down at Shooshh, a club under the arches on Brighton seafront, the surprise is revealed at 9:30pm, as the four-piece step on stage amongst giant lollipops and toadstools, a graphic behind them – also featured on their posters – giving a clue as to who they are before they arrive.
The group consists of dodie, Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown, who, up until now, have largely been known for making introspective, singer-songwriter jams for their individual artist projects. Fizz changes everything. That’s immediately obvious when we meet on Thursday afternoon outside Shooshh, when each member of the group emerges from the venue in different twisted-Alice-in-Wonderland style outfits, ready for our photo shoot.
A week later, in dodie, Greta, and Martin’s flat, they’re considerably more understated as they gather on the sofa at 10am for a chat. It comes at the end of a hectic week where the four launched the band, started promotional shoots, played their first gig, flew to Barcelona to do more photo shoots, flew home and signed their deal (Greta even found time to get her nails done at Gatwick airport).
“We’ve had our first few rock star days, so we’re definitely still recovering,” says Orla.
“But we’ve sat on this music for like, over a year?” dodie adds, “and we’ve been planning since then, but I think all the real-world stuff is very new.”
They’ve been living in each other’s pockets for a while now, with the aforementioned trio sharing a flat and Orla in one just around the corner; she’s happy to waltz in whenever she likes.
“We’re actually conjoined now that we’re contractually obliged to hang out with each other,” she says.
The idea for Fizz came around a couple of years ago when Martin found himself feeling deflated about life and how it was affecting his music. An off-the-cuff remark about starting a band to have fun again developed into an actual project when they spent a week at Middle Farm Studios in Devon recording whatever they felt like.
“I definitely felt like I was getting super grown up and starting to think about, like, saving money, long-term career prospects, getting a house, security – all the really unsexy stuff,” Martin explains. “I think all of that filtered its way into my day-to-day with music, and I started compromising on all fronts and just working on loads of things that I wasn’t particularly passionate about. I sort of jokingly said to [Greta and dodie] one night, oh, shall we start a band and just have fun again?”
He continues, “We ended up doing the album with Pete Miles at Middle Farm, who’s this, like, wizard producer; he’s amazing and does literally look a bit like Gandalf, and he’s worked with all of us in different capacities. He was like, why don’t we have a week, and you guys can all come up and play, and we’ll just capture it, and it’ll be amazing. And then we did it, and it was the best week of all time.”
“It was everything about music that I think we’d all missed so much,” says dodie. “It was completely egoless. There was nothing like, what are we trying to say? Who are we? It was like, let’s just write this; this song’s about strawberry jam and getting high in Brighton; it was just pure play.”
“We’re all each other’s biggest fan”Orla Gartland
The result is ‘The Secret to Life’, an album that’s equal parts psychedelic and ramshackle, merging perfectly nonsensical lyrics with twenty-something existentialism, it ponders our purpose while ultimately declaring there isn’t one, and we’d all be a bit better off if we gave in to our inner child. Screaming as therapy is welcome here, as is having a tab of acid by the seaside and turning your brain off for a bit. Overthinking is out, and fun is absolutely in.
“Going down to Middle Farm, it was like our experience as people and as friends was enough,” says Greta. “We didn’t have to pigeonhole it into anything; it was just like…”
“This is what it is,” Martin finishes off.
“What Pete loves is just like joyful, real live chemistry between people in a room, and it all happening in the room and not in the computer, basically,” Orla says, explaining the recording sessions. “I also think it was a playground for him because he was let off the reins to do his thing in the most him way possible. No overthinking, there’s literally no time to overthink because we’re just doing it so quickly and committing to the thing before you even had a chance to think about it.”
“I always feel so excited to tell people that basically the whole album is us writing, recording and producing it all at once,” adds Greta. “Everything you can hear is literally everything that happened. There’s one song on the album called ‘The Secret to Life’, and as we were writing it, we were recording and producing it, and that’s what’s on the album.”
Letting go of control has been both a crucial aspect of creating this album and essential for each of the group’s personal development. With all four of them feeling like they were taking their solo projects too seriously, going back to basics and altering the intentions behind creating music, almost reverting to just doing it as a hobby, completely changed their outlook. Orla mentions she’d have been happy if it never left their laptops, but there’s something to be said for ‘The Secret To Life’ being as necessary of a release as anything they did take seriously.
“It doesn’t even need saying, but music’s got so saturated now,” says Martin, “and I think everyone approaches artistry in a way that is so considered, and so self-A&R’ed to the nth degree that actually, it’s really blindingly obvious when someone’s just done something for the pure joy of it. I just think it’s refreshing.”
“From the start, we were like, regardless of whatever happens, we should do this every year,” adds dodie. “We should come down to Middle Farm and write off the bat. And that’s so nice to get that feeling back again.”
Recording this album also gave the four a chance to push themselves both artistically and as friends.
“Ultimately, we’re all each other’s biggest fans,” says Orla. “The core ideas are sometimes coming from us, but having the balls to actually commit to it is so much about the other three just being like, GO! Any moment of doubt or like, ‘Oh, I’m not so sure. I don’t know if I want a song about Rocket League’; it’s like, shut up and do it!”
Just because the album was made with fun in mind doesn’t mean it’s devoid of sincerity, either. Rather than it being rooted in pure childlike ambition, it’s grounded in its lived experience of being made by adults finally letting their emotions free.
“There is a wonk to it,” says Orla. “It’s not like pure Disney joy; there’s something very human and real and not quite perfect about the lyrics that run through it.”
“It wouldn’t exist without pain,” adds Martin. “I think that there’s so much pent-up energy; when you’re a kid, it is just joy, joy, joy, isn’t it? Whereas this is like, joy that sort of been suppressed for 10 years.”
“Yeah, coming out through this filter of flawed adults trying to conjure up joy,” Greta finishes.
“It was like, let’s just write this; this song’s about strawberry jam and getting high in Brighton; it was just pure play”dodie
“So much of me is wrapped up in being perceived as cool,” Martin continues, “and so much of that, especially within Brit culture, is to be understated and to shrink yourself and be humble. The idea of just being a little kid that’s being brash and screaming and banging on your chest is actually so liberating. I feel like I’ve just never allowed myself to be that.”
It’s not only the album creation that honours the members’ inner child; it’s the styling, which feels like they’re playing dress up (Greta even has to take her shoes off to walk across the pebbly beach), the illustrated logo, the fact that they picked a band name based on the idea it didn’t sound like a band name, the promo for the secret gig being a Fizz-sleeved packet of popping candy.
All of that contributes to the sonic world the album exists in, which pulls from zany 60s and 70s influences – not niche ones either, we mean the big names – Elton John at his campest, The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers era, they even have a bash at their own ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with ‘Grand Finale’.
“‘Grand Finale’ is so ludicrously ridiculous,” says Martin. “I can’t even believe it every time I listen to it. There’s no way I would have done this even two years ago. Even having the vocabulary to dick about to such an extent, psychologically as well as actually musically, being able to be that ambitious, it felt like a pipe dream that people only made music like that in the 70s.”
“There’s like a theatrical, dramatic, uncompromisingly flamboyant style in that era,” adds Greta. “There’s a band called Jellyfish that I’m obsessed with that was definitely a huge part of what I grew up listening to, and it sort of found its way into the references for the album.”
“I also wonder if because we’re reverting to our first love of music like we’re referencing all of the music we heard in our childhood that our parents showed us, maybe that’s where our core comes from?” dodie asks herself.
Balancing out the record’s childlike wonder is its subject matter, best exemplified in their first release, ‘High in Brighton’, which also happens to be the first song they wrote.
“We started writing it at that table just behind Martin,” Orla points to the kitchen table behind the sofa. “We had a couple of ideas in our pocket when we went down to the studio for the first time, mainly because I was really fucking nervous. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than working with your friends.”
dodie plays a voice note of the initial recording they’d made before heading to the studio, a high-pitched rendition of the chorus melody.
“I think lyrically with ‘High in Brighton’, it sets the tone for the beginning of this journey – this quest that we’re all going on,” Greta says. “It felt so perfect. I love how Beach Boys-esque it is; all of us are singing together, and the chorus feels like this huge explosion; it felt like it was the right song.”
Of course, we have to fact-check if they’ve been high in Brighton before, which prompts an enthusiastic yes, and a recommendation to try it if you’ve never done it before.
As Greta says, this is just the beginning of an exciting new journey for Fizz, one that officially begins with the release of ‘High in Brighton’ and their first full band show at Hoxton Hall in June, followed by the festival circuit and a proper tour later down the line with the album release.
But there’s just one more thing: what is the secret to life?
“Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out!” says Greta. “If you could ask your readers what they think the secret to life is, that would be amazing.”
“We are really wanting to collect as many answers as possible,” says Orla.
Dear Reader, the floor is yours. ■
FIZZ’s album ‘The Secret To Life’ is out 15th September. Follow Dork Playlist on Spotify here.
Dress: Rabbit Baby
Sweater: Rosie Evans
Hat: Rosie Evans
Bow: Lauren Perrin
Socks: Be Nina
Top and shorts: Bertie Wells
Vest: Ralph Lauren
Hat: JW Anderson
Body: Rabbit Baby
Corset and skirt: Rosie Evans
Tights and gloves: Lauren Perrin
Hair clips: Jewel Chather
Earrings: Xhen Xhen