In spite of her serene demeanor, A glimmer kindles in Cari Fletcher’s eye when she speaks about performing. “Fletcher is my superhero,” she says. “When I’m on stage, I feel like this really invincible being that doesn’t have a care in the world and doesn’t give a fuck about what other people think about her. She’s strong and unapologetically herself, and that’s everything that I strive to be as a human being. I feel the safest as Fletcher.”
The superhero in question hails from a beach town in New Jersey, where she cultivated her verve for music and candid lexicon. Despite having different aspirations than her peers in school, she did gain something useful: Her name. “It was on the back of all my varsity jackets and gear,” she says of her surname. And so, Cari became FLETCHER.
Fast-forward years later, the surname has taken on a form of its own. You may recognize FLETCHER from her viral music videos, which have accrued millions of views on YouTube; Or maybe on Spotify, where her songs have been streamed nearly 100 million times and has already covered the popular New Music Friday playlist three times to date. Or maybe you’ve seen her on stage—at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Life is Beautiful, or one of the many festivals she has under her belt. The singer-songwriter, who somehow also found time to graduate from NYU’s famed Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, has already begun carving out a space for herself in pop music, and with the release of her new EP—due Spring 2019— on Capitol Records, it’s clear that she has much more to say.
FLETCHER is a storyteller; it’s evident in her evocative lyrics torn from her own diary of heartbreak and desire. As an artist, she identifies with pop poets like Ed Sheeran, Lorde and Taylor Swift. “I really want to lean into the Asbury Park, Jersey home roots storyteller angle, because that’s just what I identify as the most,” she says. “This big, glam, cookie-cutter pop star machine is not my schtick.” Her mother grew up in the famed Asbury Park, home to Bruce Springsteen and the esteemed Stone Pony venue. Having been raised in the area, it’s not hard to imagine why an artist like Bruce resonates with her.
She’s envious of the days when people wrote letters or called each other on the phone, when “double texting” wasn’t frowned upon. That hopeless romanticism is what makes her FLETCHER; she crushes hard, loves even harder, and is brimming with heart. The new six-song EP encapsulates this, from the happy-sad upbeat bops to the anthemic mid-tempos, and it all stems from one gutting breakup.
“The whole EP is like an arc and a storyline of me moving to New York City and falling in love and having my heart broken,” she says. The singer-songwriter was embroiled in a whirlwind relationship while attending NYU, an era that was clearly impactful for her, as each song on the upcoming EP draws from it. “Each song is like a moment in time, a feeling that I felt during the course of that relationship.” On one track, “If You’re Gonna Lie,” FLETCHER laments about the “absolute denial” of knowing your partner is cheating. “You know that you’re not good, and not in a good place, but you’d rather be lied to than not have that person in your life.”
After that painful chapter, the artist packed up and moved to Los Angeles with her best friend. She’s spent the two years since writing, sometimes spending 5 or 6 days per week in the studio, trying songwriters and producers on for size. She found a perfect fit with Malay who became her executive producer on the project. “I’ve been a really big fan of his sonic palette,” she says. Malay has recent producing credits with iconic artists like Lorde, Sam Smith, Frank Ocean and many more.
FLETCHER can’t help but brag about the talented women she worked with on the EP, including buzzing songwriters Ingrid Andress, Jennifer Decilveo, and Amy Allen (Selena Gomez, Halsey), who co-wrote FLETCHER’S first single off the EP, the simultaneously heart-wrenching yet catchy “Undrunk,” out January 25th. “I like working with females,” she says. “We are so underrepresented in the music industry and I think it’s so important to lift each other up.” For creative direction on the EP, FLETCHER worked with Emil Nava (Calvin Harris, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran) and Grace Pickering.
The singer-songwriter is raring to release new music. Since her successful independent debut in 2016, she’s released a few singles, including “Wasted Youth,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artist’s Chart; and “I Believe You,” a song dedicated to survivors of sexual assault. She hopes to focus more on female stories in her new music and represent women fairly and accurately. “Women are so boxed in to labels and sexuality—everything—we’re so confined,” she says. “I just want to be a representation of what it means to be a woman in 2018, 2019. We can cry and be really vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean that we’re weak. We should be able to speak up and stand up for ourselves without being labeled as bossy or combative.”
FLETCHER has been pursuing her dream from a young age. It began with mimicking Celine Dion and Bob Marley, long before proper classical training at age 5. In addition to Celine Dion, she cites voices of her generation, like Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Mariah Carey as major influences, as well as Stevie Nicks—all of which make sense sonically. But stylistically and lyrically, there was always something missing for FLETCHER: Transparency. She didn’t feel represented in music.
“There was never examples for me of artists and creative women that I felt like I saw myself in or really identified with,” she says, “or ones that just felt like a real human that was talking about their honest experiences of life, and sexuality, and being a young person trying to survive in the world.” So, the artist has set out to change that.
As an openly queer woman, FLETCHER has been heralded by the LGBTQ community for her inclusive lyrics. “Gender and sexuality are such a greyscale. It’s so fluid,” she says. On this EP, she sought to take gender out of the equation by singing to you instead of using gendered pronouns. “I never want somebody to be taken out of my song because of a pronoun, or because they don’t connect with or identify with what I’m talking about,” she says. “Having your heart broken is the shittiest feeling in the whole entire world. Whether it was by a girl, a guy, a trans woman, a trans man, a nonbinary person… Whoever broke your heart, your heart’s still broken.”
FLETCHER wants to be the pop star that wears her heart on her sleeve, one that stands for something. She wants her fans to feel, and to connect with her music in ways she didn’t have the luxury of in her youth. “I needed that when I was younger. It would’ve helped me so much to be able to see somebody that was living what I felt like my truth was too,” she says. “I want to be that for young women.”