Interview: Melbourne’s FancyNormal is Anything but Normal on “Sober Spaceman”

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There are many ups-and-downs to a relationship, Melbourne’s Noni and Jules know this best. Recently releasing their 2nd song under the name FancyNormal, they’ve gone through a lot to get to this point. “It took us a good 4 months to know each other before we even wrote our first song”, claims Jules – the man behind the group’s production.

Recording their music in a closet padded with yoga mats, their experience so far has been an enlightening one as they continue to grow alongside one another. The chemistry that’s born from this is prevalent during my talk with them, as they riff off one another and genuinely enjoy each other’s presence.

This impression is even stronger through their music. “Sober Spaceman” is a laidback 80s-inspired synth pop jam that’s so well executed, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that Jules used to be part of an indie/punk rock outfit.

Noni, on the other hand, is the heart of the group. Responsible for the songwriting of FancyNormal, “Sober Spaceman” is based of her experience “of not wanting to take any risks, being afraid that if [she] cared or invested too much into a day, it would disappoint [her].”

Read on below for the rest of the interview and listen to “Sober Spaceman” here.


Turntable Thoughts:

Why don’t we start off with you guys telling me about yourselves?

Jules:

My name’s Jules and I’m from Perth originally. I’ve played in a few different bands before, mostly indie and a bit of hardcore punk, but never learnt how to do production. So when we went into lockdown, I was like “Okay, I’m gonna buy Ableton and learn.” It was super fun to do while we were bored.

Noni:

I’m Noni and in terms of music experience, I’m…not at all. I haven’t been a part of any creative projects to the extent that Jules has, but I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I love it and have always hoped to do it professionally at some point in life.

Other than that, we both work full time to finance this. [laughs]

Jules:

Yeah, super hard to locate any money for this. We just got our 1st month of Spotify streams revenue and it was like a dollar. [laughs]

Noni:

Which is fine! I think we went into this with an open mind. Wanting to do something creative just to bring a little bit of happiness out there, and that led to the birth of FancyNormal.

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Turntable Thoughts:

How did you guys get together as a group?

Jules:

We met when we were 19 or 20. The story was that Noni asked me what the difference between a bass and a guitar was.

Noni:

[laughs] We were in a band together when I just started singing, his younger brother was also in it. So I asked “You both play the guitar so what’s the difference?” and they laughed at me cause Jules plays the bass. From then, it bloomed into this beautiful friendship. 

We were together for a while and then we weren’t, and now we’re together again. I think it was one of those weird young relationships that was…a bit dysfunctional but we got through it in the end. Now, we can write songs about all those experiences that we had. 


Turntable Thoughts:

Jumping right into the music, why don’t you guys tell me about “Sober Spaceman”?

Noni:

This was really something that came out of me and my personal journey this year. So, I had a day off and looked at my wardrobe. I thought to myself “I don’t wanna waste any of my good clothes”

So the song literally came out of that space of not wanting to take any risks, being afraid that if I cared or invested too much into a day, it would disappoint me.

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Turntable Thoughts:

What about the title of the song? Was there any particular meaning behind it?

Jules:

It came when we were trying to find a name for the project. So we had two bowls and we filled them with adjectives and nouns which we jumbled them up. It’s also where the FancyNormal name came from. We got a lot of random things.

Noni:

Sweaty Hours. Allergic to Clowns. [laughs]

Jules:

Yeah, but something cool that came out of it was Sober Spaceman. We named a lot of tracks for our EP this way.

Noni:

Initially when Jules finished the track, I got this spacey sort of vibes anyway. So I thought “Sober Spaceman” would be a very good name for it. This was before we wrote the lyrics and content for it, but we still stuck by the name.

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Turntable Thoughts:

In your press release, you guys said that you’re influenced by Carly Rae Jepsen & MGMT. What aspects from their music did you decide to pull from?

Jules:

For me, I’ve always been a huge fan of Carly’s production and her incredible voice. That retro, old school synth sound along with MGMT’s weirdness as well. A lot of my drums were also influenced by MGMT and M83.

Noni:

I was also very open towards the whole 80s vibe. When we went down this route, I was very excited cause I know a lot of 80s tracks back then had a lot of big vocals. Plus, I loved the soundtracks for movies of that time like The Breakfast Club, big vibes.

Turntable Thoughts:

You guys can happen to ride on the current 80s pop resurgence wave too.

Noni:

Yeah, exactly! How convenient.

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Turntable Thoughts:

Given that it’s your 2nd ever release together, how is it like working with each other?

Jules:

It’s hard, eh. [laughs]

Noni:

It is. We have very different personalities and working styles. I’m a textbook extrovert and Jules is a textbook introvert. When it comes to processing and communicating, we had to learn and adjust to how we each function best. Also being in a relationship, there are other aspects that play into it. 

We recorded the vocals in a cupboard in our spare room, where we padded everything with fitness mats. We’d used to yell at each other through the cupboard cause of our disagreements, and if it really came down to it, I would just slam the door. “Let’s just do it!”, I’d shout

Jules:

It took us a good 4 months to know each other before we even wrote our first song. It’s super fun now cause we kinda got the rhythm of it.

Turntable Thoughts:

How much do you think you’ve evolved from your 1st song “Ultra Passion” to “Sober Spaceman”?

Jules:

We recorded “Ultra Passion” back in April. If you sit on a song for so long, you start to wonder about even releasing it cause you’ve grown so much since then. That was the first track I’ve made so a lot of the production was pretty basic.

Noni:

However, the response to “Ultra Passion” was just bigger and more exciting than we could ever imagine. Just like Jules said – I think when you look at something for so long, you kinda get sick of it. You start to pick apart your own work.

Jules:

“Sober Spaceman” is definitely a step-up since then. We’ve learned a lot.

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Turntable Thoughts:

This next question is more for Jules, I just wanted to ask how it feels like to jump from an indie/hardcore punk background to full-blown 80s pop?

Jules:

If I’m honest, hand to my heart, I’ve always been into pop and electronic but always felt kinda embarrassed. I never truly embraced that side of me until now. While playing in the indie and hardcore punk bands, I was already integrating pop and top 40 elements into my playing style.

I love the energy when doing hardcore punk live or the riffs and guitar stuff we did for the indie. Then, there’s the electronic side of things that’s more over-the-top and just loud. Both of us, we never lived to see the 80s but there’s a romanticism about it – being loud, bright and hopeful. That’s always resounded with me.


Turntable Thoughts:

What are your plans for the future?

Noni:

We are hoping and planning to do a live show, with restrictions easing and whatnot. We would love to do this EP live.

After that we’ll just see what happens. We’re gonna have to be a lot more intentional with pushing for the next project, making this a priority instead of just a side hustle. 

Jules:

Yeah, we’re gonna try to get this thing out of just a bedroom project and getting people we know involved. Bringing in some live drums, guitar and just making a real wicked live show. That’s the next big project after our EP release.

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Posted by

Based in Melbourne and Malaysia. Jensen is a part-time journalist and full-time music fan.

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