I've had a super busy week, so I wasn't able to get to one of the biggest stories of the week that I've been most excited to talk about: Fletcher leaked her EP a week early. Back at the end of August, Fletcher announced that she had a new EP on the way called The S(ex) Tapes out September 18. She's been releasing tons of singles and music videos over the last couple weeks including the one for "Bitter" (dropped before the announcement), "If I Hated You", and "The One". I've been diligently covering it every step of the way, so now I'm excited to get to share all of my thoughts on the full project. This morning, I'm releasing my first listen reaction to The S(ex) Tapes on YouTube (find that here at 9:45am). For this post, because I get into the details of all the songs in the videos, I wanted to quickly share favorite lyrics and talk about the album in context of the world along with sharing some of Fletcher's recent quotes about it. Let's dive in.
The S(ex) Tapes came into the world with a chaotic, Wednesday morning release that I still haven't figured out how planned it was. The EP has 7 tracks, 3 new ones by the time it was released and came with a video for "Shh... Don't Say It". From what Fletcher's said, it seems like each song will get an accompanying video or "tape". She's talked about the album being all about empowerment and controlling your own narrative to explain the leak. Recently, she's done a press run with a couple magazines and radio stations, like Teen Vogue, along with doing a Q&A with fans on Twitter. It's given increasing insight into how this EP came about. I find it particularly fascinating because it adds to the amassing list of quarantine creations, though this one distinctly doesn't tackle the world's problems. It's a deep dive into the aftermath of Fletcher's relationship- created with the help of her ex, Shannon.
She talked about the realities of making art about your ex with your ex in the newest Teen Vogue article titled "Fletcher Talks New Album, Breakup, and White Privilege". One downside of working together is that you have to see your ex react to your break up song about them. "Some of these songs were painful for her to listen to. And it was like, well, how can we make something beautiful from that." Ella Ceron also talked to Shannon about her experiences. Shannon added, "Especially for an artist like Cari, she very much writes how she feels and it's very genuine. To read your ex's journal or diary is an intimate experience, and then to hear it and know it's going to be shared with the rest of the world adds a layer to that." I find it fascinating that the way Fletcher has chosen to work on this release has given a window into that other side of the experience that we so rarely hear about- what it means to be the ex.
In the same article, Fletcher also opened up about making the very intimate videos that have accompanied the songs and choosing the title of the EP. She explained, "In its raw form, a sex tape is somebody in their most vulnerable form and barest state." Of course, that leads to maybe some uncomfortable moments when making something that you're well aware millions of people will see. Fletcher acknowledged this and explained how she got through it, "The reason why I felt comfortable filming and doing that is because it was shot by her- by somebody that has always loved at me through a lens of the utmost lie and respect and has always seen me for me." Honestly, that quote gets to why I feel that this EP, for as revealing and sexy as it is, is so emotional, vulnerable, and comfortable. A lot of times, when I watch videos that have the same look as Fletcher's there's an undercurrent of uncomfortable feelings or you wonder why the artist decided to put themselves in that position. In Fletcher's latest videos, though, it couldn't feel more natural. I always believe that the conditions the art was made under come through in the final product. You can tell this is what Fletcher wants to be doing, and that makes me really happy.
Getting into the shift from the You Ruined New York City For Me EP into the S(ex) Tapes EP, Fletcher had some thoughts about the new place she's in, even though both are break up records. "This EP is so much more raw. I don't really have any answers and I don't know what's going to happen. I'm just really in it." At the very end of the piece, she elaborates on that idea by adding, "What we can all relate to here is like, these feelings and this journey of self-exploration and confusion. And that... I don't know, if you haven't gone through that, can you call me and tell me? Please give me your therapist's number, tell me what to do." She elaborated on this further in a video interview with Nic Kelly, giving an insight into her current emotional state and the difference in doing promo this time around. "I'm okay... I'm like very honest about how I am. Kind of like lost in the sauce of it a bit. Still in the like sleeping on the couch in my living room cause like my bedroom is too emotional and like reminds me of things." She went on to add that, "My last project I put out, I kind of had some time and perspective to process stuff and then like talk about it at a later date and kinda be over the situation. And now I'm just like 'oh fuck'. I'm so... It's like a cut that I'm just like looking at and trying to explain what it looks like without knowing exactly how it's supposed to heal. But it's a process, and I'm like here for it." As a closing thought on the topic, she added this important declaration: "I want to be my own best friend." Fletcher has handed us her open, festering wound to experience with her in real time, and I think that's really cool and takes a lot of guts. This sentiment of being a lost, confused, imperfect human seems to be her narrative around this EP and what I love about her music in general. I come back to Fletcher because her lyrics always spell out all the little, messy moments that we've all been through yet never talk about. Though, sonically, she's dancing through this break up, the lyrics paint a picture of her tripping up as she tries to move on.
What's next for Fletcher, though? I was surprised to see a second EP from her instead of jumping to an album on the heels of the success of You Ruined New York City For Me. In a quick conversation with Nic Kelly, she spelled out the choice in a way that makes perfect sense. "For my debut album, it needs to be about my explorations of the things I've discovered about me. Not how other people have made me feel. That's where we're moving to." I love this idea of the EPs being time capsules of the end of these two important relationships while saving the album for her triumphant moment of self-love and exploration. Conan Gray has been promoting his debut album for the last few months and watching him talk in those interviews has drilled into my brain this idea that you only get one debut album, so you have to be ready to say everything you need to say. Fletcher has no problem putting it all out there, but I admire that she's so focused on taking the time to craft an album with intention and for herself. Going along with that, when asked where Fletcher is going, she said, "I'm thinking that Fletcher is going to move into a space of like stopping writing about heartbreak. I can't be the fucking heartbreak bitch for the rest of my life." That last comment is so funny to me but also striking. I feel like we put female artists who write about breakups into such a small box that it's so important to prove that you can write about anything, even though breakup songs will always reign supreme. "We're pumping the breaks on sessions of a second," she added. Fletcher laughed and said that if she were to go write it now, they would all be "sad bops". While I totally respect her decision to take some time off and get into a new headspace, I live for sad bops and would not complain about getting more of them.
If you haven't already, go read the Teen Vogue piece because they talk a lot about fandom, LGBTQIA issues, creating a safe space, and finding your place as an artist that reminded me why I hardcore love Fletcher so much. It's a great way to get introduced to her as well. If you want to watch the short video with Nic, here's that Tweet:
Make sure you go watch my reaction video to get my takes on each of the songs and hear all my favorite moments. I definitely make some quality surprised faces while listening to the unreleased tracks. Find it here or watch it down below.
Don't forget to check out my many, many articles on Fletcher that have already come out down below along with my latest new pieces including Halsey's acting debut and how Billboard's changing chart rules are about to shake up everything.
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