“I genuinely hung up the phone and was crying,” says Nasty Cherry singer Gabi Bechtel over the phone from LA, speaking about her first Zoom conference with her bandmates. The four members are quarantined between LA and London, experiencing their first long stint apart. For a band that started holed up in a house together for Netflix special I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry, they are releasing their forthcoming second EP under very different circumstances.
“It didn’t really hit me until then how important they are to me,” continued Bechtel.
“Also, how much I think I didn’t savour those moments of tour before this happened.”
As hard as the distance is, it’s a good sign that the girls have truly formed a bond. They were brought together as an experiment led by Charli XCX. She pasted together four strangers, plucking Bechtel as lead-singer alongside Kitten frontwoman Chloe Chaidez, set designer Georgia Somary and session drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson.
It was a pressure cooker situation that made for great, partly-scripted reality TV but it’s also translating to great music. With a slight helping hand from XCX, the girls have gone onto construct their own genre-skipping sound made of party-born rebellion and nostalgic cool. As Bechtel puts it, “Every one of our songs is a different day of the week.”
Debut EP Season 1 fused together slick, cocky rock (Win) with ‘00s teen film soundtracks (Music With Your Dad). Early tastes of a forthcoming EP, due for release in the coming months, suggest they’ve broadened their horizons even further. Should’ve Known Better is an anarchic slice of ‘90s pop/rock while I Am King is a lo-fi declaration of power produced by 100 Gecs’ Dylan Brady.
“We know each other better,” Bechtel says about how the recording process has between the four of them has evolved.
“We still to this day are developing as a band. The cool thing about us is we don’t think we’ve found our ‘sound’ yet. In everyone else’s eyes, our sound is not having a sound.”
It was inevitable that a group of four strangers would result in a wide-ranging sound. XCX has made a name for herself blending together mismatched sounds and it’s likely she was excited by this rough cut puzzle. You only have to look at their curated Spotify playlists to see how diverse it is. Chloe lists Dixie Chicks alongside Annie Lennox, Debbie goes for the alt-rock flavours of HAIM and The 1975, Georgia loves Rosalia and Thom Yorke while Gabi goes for rock‘n’roll with Sonic Youth and Janis Joplin.
Should’ve Known Better was born out of two polar inspirations. “I had this Demi Lovato song stuck in my head and we had also been listening to Garbage,” says Bechtel, adding, “My library has expanded over the last year because of the girls.”
That’s perhaps their biggest strength right now. There are now expectations placed on their sound because it’s naturally ambiguous and they are happy to leave it like that. “We’ve all become really open and not so precious about what it sounds like,” Bechtel notes, proudly.
“We’ll have some really wild mixes in there whenever we talk about music.”
The EP was recorded entirely before the pandemic hit. They were touring together, gathering a new bunch of fans and working with a diverse range of producers in LA including Noise Club (Hailee Steinfeld, Diana Gordon), Justin Raisen (Sky Ferreira, Joji) and Dylan Brady (Charli XCX, Liz). For a young band, touring is an essential source of promo but that’s unlikely to be available for them at the moment.
It’s something that Bechtel hasn’t accepted yet. “To me this is all so temporary still,” she says.
“I won’t allow myself to wrap my head around that concept because I don’t want it to last.”
Despite that, she’s found herself dedicating more time to looking at how her fans are reacting to her music. Bechtel has close to 100,000 followers on Instagram but she says that this is the first time she’s really invested time into looking at how their songs are received.
“I don’t think in any other time I would look at how it’s received by the people listening to my music as much as I am. I’m not doing it in a negative way, it’s just I’m on my phone now.”
As for working on new music, they have become used to working across two continents as the band is split between LA and London. “We’ve figured out a system to write music in this way. Sending voicemails and shitty mumble things at 4 in the morning,” she says.
It also seems Nasty Cherry are adjusting to being an online band for the moment. Yesterday, they launched their new single I Am King via a Zoom conference with a number of their fans, hitting play on the new record before the rest of the world heard it. Their mentor XCX no doubt has some tips too after releasing her new album how i’m feeling now, recorded entirely in quarantine.
Her wild experiments generally pay off. From the tight-deadline quarantine album to pulling a band out of thin air, she’s made a name out of living on a wing and a prayer. In the case of Nasty Cherry, they had immediate chemistry and are now forging their own path without any training wheels.
“I loved the girls straight off the bat,” Bechtel announces proudly. “We knew we were the only ones that would be doing this thing and It’s been pure excitement the whole time.”