Indie Mixtape 20: Fenne Lily Doesn’t Hide Her Talents On Her Gripping Album, ‘Big Picture’

When times are tough, it can be difficult to see the big picture. That’s exactly how Fenne Lily was feeling while writing her latest album. She was grappling with isolation and existential crisis that, let’s face it, so many people were experiencing in 2020. But the only way to move past tough emotions is through them, and Fenne Lily’s third album Big Picture exemplifies that. “Writing this album was my attempt at bringing some kind of order to the disaster that was 2020,” she said in a statement. “By documenting the most vulnerable parts of that time, I felt like I reclaimed some kind of autonomy.”

And document vulnerability she did. Pastoral ballads like “Lights Light Up” and “Red Deer Day” offer tender and thoughtful reflections, while the swelling “Half Finished” is a cinematic album closer that asks big questions like, “If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be and why?” Her voice is hushed yet self-assured as she sings of combating self-doubt, finding redemption, and finally letting go. “2020 was the year of letting go,” she adds, “but we’d all already let go of so much and nothing felt like mine anymore. Writing always did, though, so that’s what I chose to do.”

Ahead of the release of Big Picture, Fenne Lily sits down with Uproxx to talk Nick Cave, sleeping next to Metallica’s tour guitars, and getting a tattoo with a stranger in our latest Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Based on true events.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

As something still worth listening to.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Whichever one I’m living in, Berlin in close second.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

I wanted to write music because of my piano teacher Rob, I kept going because nothing else calmed me down.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

I don’t usually remember food but I remember Forever Thai on Flushing in Brooklyn. Unparalleled spring rolls.

What album do you know every word to?

Genuinely none.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Nick Cave at Primavera.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Something that suits standing in any way and hides my knees but not my butt.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Perfume Genius on Twitter, Bridger Winegar on Instagram.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

We’ve had tours where “Jack In Titanic” by Bodega has had to be rationed.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Bieber blowing a kiss, all spelled wrong.

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Something you don’t love so much that it’ll change your relationship if the other person doesn’t love it, too.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

We slept in Metallica’s guitar tech’s living room surrounded by Metallicas guitars.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I have one under my elbow that I drew while I was staying in Berlin. I went to get it done with a woman I met at a show — it was her boyfriend’s show and they had a little kid and we all hung out together for a few days and then got tattoos and I haven’t seen her since. I like those kinds of friends.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

So my favorite bands right now are Friendship, MJ Lenderman and Anna Tivel.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

That’s big. My mum every time she doesn’t tell me I’m being a dick when I’m being a dick, my dad every time he picks me up from the airport when I could be taking a bus.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Ask for help before you’re crying.

What’s the last show you went to?

Work Wife and Why Bonnie in Brooklyn. Both bands are supporting Christian Lee Hutson and I on the spring tour we’re doing around North America. Very good bands and very good people.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

National Treasure.

What’s one of your hidden talents?

I don’t hide my talents they are all known.

Big Picture is out 4/14 via Dead Oceans. Find more information here.