ASBO MEETS: Fenda, the Swiss Songstress

Currently in London, the Swiss born artist Fenda is back and gearing up for the release of new music for the first time in over a year. Ahead of the release she sat down to tell us how a girl from Switzerland who didn’t speak any English is now slowly on her way to taking over the London music scene.

How was life growing up?

I was born and raised in Switzerland and I lived there until I was 19. I always had a passion for music, I think when I was around 4 that is when I decided that I was going to be a singer. I also did ballet till I was about 12, piano lessons and then I went to theatre school, so I was always in a creative field.

Did anyone in your family influence your decision to pursue the arts?

When I was really young, I was a huge Britney Spears fan and also the entire early 2000s music scene. My brother and I always had MTV on, we didn’t even speak english so we had no idea what we were singing but we loved it!

Would you say it is mainly English music that inspires and influences you?

Well I listened to a lot of German rap too growing up, but in Switzerland there isn’t much of a music scene, so I mainly listened to German and English music. When it came time for me to write my own music, I decided to do it in English because music just sounds so beautiful in English.

So how would you describe your sound?

I would say that my music is very timeless. My music doesn’t necessarily fit into any particular era and that is what I wanted. I wanted to create timeless music that you can listen to now or in 20 years time!

As you were venturing down the music path did you still pursue dance?

Music just took over. I loved ballet but it was a little too regimental. I am far too much of a free spirit for that. I did move from Ballet to Street dance for a little bit and when I was filming my recent music video I would certainly say that the dance experience certainly helped me perform and feel the music for the video.

You have explored so many creative avenues, is anyone else in your family creative?

No, none of them are in creative fields. My mum is a nurse and my step dad works in Health and Safety.

What were their reactions when you told them you would be pursuing music?

I think my mum always knew I would, but at first she just made sure to ask if I had thought this all through. I had organised it pretty badly. I moved to London when I was 19, I had hardly any money saved and my parents tried to warn me, but I felt like moving to London would be like in the movies.

So what was life like when you first moved to London?

The first place I moved into was a house of 16 people and only one bathroom. There was also mould everywhere, but I paid upfront so I couldn’t get my money back.

I also didn’t have a job so I remember walking around Oxford street with my CV handing it out to everyone I could. It was a rollercoaster for the first two years.

There were so many basic things that needed sorting out, even just opening a bank account, which all took me the first two or three years to settle in, meet people, learn english, but it is the best decision I ever made!

Were you able to stay creative during that initial period?

The first few years, I couldn’t really focus on music. I had to make connections, I didn’t know anyone in the music industry. I got lucky though, because I started working in a members’ club, which was mainly for people from creative industries, it was such a great place for me to network. I didn’t even know that places like that existed, we don’t have places like that in Switzerland.

It must have been tough to not be able to express your creativity…

Yeah, It was very hard because I knew I had the talent but I just lacked confidence. I luckily met a producer who saw something special in me and we worked with each other for a long time but never actually made a record together.

I remember thinking that it was a waste of time but he told me that it wasn’t a waste at all because I was able to improve my craft so much, which was so true!

So what was it like coming through that period and being able to create music again?

My first release ‘Loves gone’ was probably when I was feeling back to my best. I met a guy called John who just opened a small independent label and really believed in me. He set me up with a producer and then I wrote most of the chorus in like two minutes. That was the first time that had ever happened to me, I didn’t even have to think about it, so that really boosted my confidence. Now the song has millions of streams, so that was when I thought to myself that I must be doing something right.

How does it feel to have had such success?

I used to be really harsh on myself, nothing I did was ever good enough. Only now I am starting to be kinder to myself and looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty.

I think a lot of creatives struggle with that, but it is a blessing and a curse. Because it pushes you but sometimes you have to remember to stop and congratulate yourself on your achievements and stop comparing yourself to others.

So after your first track you released a few more, tell me a little about those tracks…

So I left the label for a little while and decided I was going to release independently. Unfortunately, I had a number of issues with the distribution company. They actually released my track under the name of a different artist who was also called Fenda by mistake. But even through all of that it still had its benefits, because it gave me an insight into the process.

I then went back and forth with the previous label but ended up leaving as I just felt that they weren’t pushing my work. I also wanted more creative freedom and to own the rights to my own songs!

I now have a distribution deal with a small company and they are great! I am now releasing new music after a long time which is a great feeling.

Was there a reason for the long gap since you last released?

I had a bit of writer’s block and I had just left the label, so I was lacking in confidence for a little while. I went through a period where I questioned whether I should carry on. I think I needed to regroup, because now I have so much planned and I am very excited to share it all.

So speaking of new music, your new track ‘Another Life’ is out this Friday, tell me about that song?

It is very sensual, very Fenda. It is about love and hope. Hoping for that perfect love story that you have created in your head. Visually it is very intimate and raw, no choreography but you will see me move.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?

I think the biggest achievement for me would be to have a loyal fan base. Of course I would also love to perform at Glastonbury or sell out Brixton Academy, but for me I would love a loyal fanbase.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to pursue their passion?

I would say just be kind to yourself and work on your mental health always!

Stream the latest track ‘Another Life’ by Fenda now and follow the swiss songstress @fendamusic to keep up to date with all her latest releases.