She learnt to drum by listening to the Spice Girls! She likes watching invasive surgery on telly! She is Florrie, and she hopes to be the next pop sensation to “sweep the nation”. Working from Xenomania’s base in Kent, there’s no doubt that she’s operating in an environment that produces the so-called “goods” when it comes to genre-mashing pop.
As Florrie modestly puts it “Being at Xenomania is great. I’ve been there for two and a half years working with like-minded people.” In her modest way, she’s referring to “people” like the sadly now-defunct Mini Viva (with whom she toured), studio wiz Fred Falke and unsung lyrical genius Miranda Cooper. There are more collaborations in the pipeline, the woman is a positive Florrie – sorry, flurry – of activity: “I’ve got about 15 tracks on the go. I’ve also recorded a track with Annie which I’m quite excited about. That will be out before the next EP – which will hopefully be out at the beginning of May.”
This is perhaps unsurprising, since the recent (and highly meritorious) Introduction EP bears quite a similarity to fellow Xenomaniac Annie’s brash Nordic synthpop sound. ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Left Too Late’ are sweet-sad disco music and ‘Call Of The Wild’ is a rollicking techno-rock track in the vein of Girls Aloud’s ‘No Good Advice’. It’s not a style which has found a home in the upper reaches of the charts of late, and Florrie is well aware that she is slightly out of step with the playlisters on daytime radio. “I listen to the charts and I love the British R’n’B sound that’s around at the moment, although that’s definitely not what I do. My music is pop with an electronic influence. I would like to hear more guitars on the radio though. I suppose radio programmers are just reacting to what people want to hear.”
Florrie – who, like all the best pop stars doesn’t need a surname thankyewverymuch (although it’s Arnold, if you MUST know) – grew up in Bristol and took to drumming at a tender age. “I became interested in drumming when I was six and on holiday in Greece”, she remembers, “There was a taverna down the road from us, and it had a band playing in it. I was mesmerised by the drummer and he let me tap the hi-hat in time with the music. After that I begged my parents to get me a drum kit and they got me one for my seventh birthday.” Fast forward 15 years and Florrie finds herself drumming on hits by Girls Aloud and Alesha Dixon.
“I’ve never been a geeky drummer; buying drumming magazines and checking out the latest kit. But I listened to a lot of music from the ’50s when I was growing up and that influenced me. I liked the Spice Girls – when I went for drumming lessons I brought their records along so I could learn to play them.” As she prepares to “step out from behind the drum kit” Karen Carpenter style, one wonders if the pressure is on to rack up hits? “I’ve been lucky to be able to make the music I want to make and develop on my own terms. I really enjoy the feedback I get from posting songs online, getting attention from blogs…”
It helps having pals close at hand when you’re embarking on a pop career of course, so Florrie shares a house in Kent with her friend Annie who also plays keyboards in her band, opposite Xenomania’s studio. “I had been living in London, but it was too much of a commute”, Florrie points out. But more commuting is on the way, with tour dates scheduled on Teeside, Belfast, Dublin and Brighton on her current jaunt around these isles, “and I’m going to be performing in Russia soon!” she adds, excitedly.
All this foreign travel must leave little time for anything else in the burgeoning popster’s schedule. “A lot of my time is taken up with music but I love swimming. I’m quite a sporty person.” But things could have turned out very differently. “I always wanted to be a musician”, she notes, “although there was a while when I was about ten when I wanted to be a surgeon! I don’t know why, I think I just liked watching operations on TV. Even now I can happily sit eating my dinner while watching open-heart surgery or something.” Having a strong stomach is presumably something of an advantage in the rough and tumble world of pop for various reasons, among them; 1. It helps fend off those pesky stage-jitters. “Last night I played in my hometown. It’s very nerve-wracking to play in front of people you know. But you know they love you and want to see you do well.” 2. It also helps prevent travel-sickness… “I like being on the tour bus”, she informs me, helpfully. And 3, To put it delicately, doesn’t being “on-the-road” get a bit smelly? “Yes, and there are five studenty boys on our tourbus and then there’s me and Annie, so us girls are outnumbered.”
A welcome and engaging presence online, where her music flourishes with the approval of Popjustice, NME and of course State, one would hope that with forthcoming releases and an ongoing tour, Florrie can find a broad fanbase for her undeniably terrific tunes. And while this journey will take a considerable amount of work, there’s no doubt it will be fun – for Florrie as much as us, her expectant pop public. “I won’t know when I’ve ‘made it’”, Florrie muses, “although I wouldn’t mind playing Wembley Stadium! It’s not a bad thing to aim for is it?” Indeed not. Good luck, Florrie!