FIZZ makes music that sounds like the sonic equivalent of dropping Mentos in a Coke. On their song “The Grand Finale,” an explosive reaction of pop sensibilities and playful lyricism transforms into a melodic menagerie that plays like “Bohemian Rhapsody” from another dimension.
FIZZ is the vivacious pop outfit of pop singer dodie, Irish songwriter Orla Gartland, experimental musician Greta Isaac, and sonic aficionado Martin Luke Brown — four best friends from the U.K. who individually boast successful solo careers and have now become one of indie pop’s newest supergroups: think boygenius but with a heaping dose of whimsy. Their paths crossed professionally at first, singing backing vocals and playing in bands for each other’s solo work, but the exact moment FIZZ came into fruition is a murky memory. “There’s a text dodie sent to Orla, around 2021, like, ‘Do you want to start a band,’” Martin tells NYLON, but this is only a trace of the band’s formation. FIZZ was born from the quartet’s natural evolution from colleagues to friends to bandmates.
Uniting their fan bases with an otherworldly exploration of escapism, FIZZ celebrates the sacredness and silliness of their friendship on their debut album, The Secret To Life. Its 12 songs spin twenty-something existentialism into maximalist psychedelic theatrics. “Blink twice, you’ll miss the highlights/ God, it’s a hell of a ride,” they harmonize over crashing drums on “Hell Of A Ride,” balancing lyrical angst with a wide-ranging sonic landscape. The band is built on an aesthetic of excess: maximalist in color and energy in the world of FizzVille, where FIZZ’s album resides.
Between giggles and mimicked guitar riffs, the energetic four-piece chatted with NYLON over a recent Zoom call about the making of their debut record, touching on how they found collective creative freedom, channeled feminine frustration, and built an eccentric world for themselves with The Secret To Life.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
NYLON: You all were friends long before bandmates, but do you remember the moment you became FIZZ?
Martin: We don’t really know. We’d all been down to Middle Farm Studios to do live sessions for Orla in 2021, and Pete, the guy who runs Middle Farm and produced our album, said: “Seeing you guys perform together is really cool.” I booked [the studio for] a week but we didn’t know what it was going to be. I wanted it to be a holiday from our music careers. We wanted this to be egoless where we’re not thinking about how [the music] is perceived or aiming for radio. All of those things start coming into your mind the longer you do it because you want to have a feasible career, but we wanted just pure fun. It was an exercise in letting go and saying yes to everything.
What does being in a band together mean to you?
Orla: For me, it’s letting go. It’s easy to get bogged down in details when it’s your name and face, but trust falling back onto each other with every aspect of this project allowed me to not sweat the small stuff.
Martin: The moment you start promoting stuff you feel like it might be contrived, or you’re exaggerating for the sake of people’s consumption. But the music’s so untainted, it’s a time capsule. The songs are made out of joy, love, silliness and friendship. I’d never really get that in my own project.
Greta: What’s been special is capturing the in-between of what happens in music. It’s the things you don’t hear on a record: the energy of the room before you hit record and the mistakes you make but correct. There’s a tactile energy between people when you play in a band.
dodie: I never really had a successful writing session before FIZZ. I’d try but feel so stuck on what I wanted to say. Writing with these guys was the complete opposite. All of my ego and technicality came up but then I’d be like, “Fuck it! Who cares!”
“It’s a mirror to being in your twenties, from being super vulnerable to being stupid.”
You said FIZZ was something else before. Did the band originally have a different name?
Martin: We were pretty close to being called Drew Bandymore.
dodie: It’s so stupid. We should’ve done it and gone on her talk show.
What was the writing process like? Were you all bringing in bits from your solo work?
dodie: It was a mixture. Usually, Orla would write a verse and chorus. Or, one time, Gret and Martin were in the bath, I came home, and they were like, “Record this!” I put my phone through the door and did not look! That turned into a song called “Strawberry Jam.”
“Strawberry Jam” is one of my favorites, but “As Good As It Gets” stands out as this immense track cathartically tackling misogyny. How did the song come together?
Greta: Originally, it was a lot more pop punk, “American Idiot” vibe. But we started to realize, thematically, [the track] was leaning toward the feminine experience. Matt, our drummer, and Martin on the piano were guiding it. They were the solid pillars that meant Orla, dodie, and I could express ourselves lyrically and melodically.
We wanted [“As Good As It Gets”] to be poetic: it starts off as something typically feminine, soft and gentle, like the way we’ve learnt to move in the world. The whole song is just about realizing your worth. It’s not coming to this big conclusion, it’s just a, hang on, wait, when did I choose any of this?
The record moves between that vulnerability and playfulness, like on “Rocket League.” How did you all find that balance?
Martin: Honestly, we’d think about what song goes where and what we need at a certain point in the album. Generally speaking we just followed our energy. The quiet stuff like “You, Me, Lonely” and “Lights Out” are the tracks people would expect from us given our [solo] projects, but we didn’t want to do just what people expected.
Greta: It’s a mirror to being in your twenties, from being super vulnerable to being stupid. It feels like a snapshot of this time in our lives. It’s giving range!
It is! The album intro, “A New Phase Awaits You :-),” gives listeners a chance to escape from reality. Was this also an invitation for yourselves?
Orla: I wrote the opening script for that after having a little… [mimics smoking a blunt]. In “The Secret to Life,” we don’t say what [the secret to life] is, so it feels like we’re selling hot air and luring people in with this Scientology energy. But was it an invitation for us to also step into that? Absolutely. Recording that was one of the weirdest fever dream musical moments I’ve ever had. It didn’t feel weird to do a spoken word elevator piece, which speaks to how crazy we all went.
The band and album have such eccentric and unique imagery. How did you land on FIZZ’s visual aesthetic?
Greta: When we were talking about the creative direction of the album, words that kept coming up were: retreat, fantastical, and escape. We wanted to mirror the experience of writing the album in the visuals. We referenced films we liked growing up: Willy Wonka, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. These technicolor films take place when someone is being taken out of their normal lives and into another world. They’re odd films trying to make something joyful and a little bit strange.
So we made up this world called FizzVille where everything exists, it’s this part-town, part-theme park that creeps up in the digital world and will be a feature in the live show. We worked with [photographer] JP Bonino who helped realize FizzVille. It’s a world that keeps expanding.
This is my most important question. FIZZ, what is the secret to life?
dodie: We don’t know… but I’m starting to think it’s going outside. [Laughs] I’ve changed my mind a lot. I think it’s gratitude.
Greta: I thought you were going to say Gret.
dodie: Gret is the secret to life.
Orla: One of us needs to have a deeper answer to end this interview.
Martin: I think the secret to life is community. Finding your people, looking out for each other, and being nice. Nothing groundbreaking.