Photography: Hélène Feuillebois
Radiant Children have been doing things at their own pace. Their second release was the single ‘Poké Bowl’ which came out in July, two years after the band’s formation. Their first live performance is pending. The Finsbury Park based trio, composed of Fabienne, Marco and American producer Tyler A.KA. Lophiile (previously collaborations include GoldLink, H.E.R. and Ray Blk) find this laid-back approach a necessity in their writing process. Taking their time and giving the project space is integral in allowing life to happen in-between their songwriting. It enables heartfelt authenticity, allowing Radiant Children to remain an escape – for the band members and their fans.
Fabienne’s honest lyrics, Marco’s skilled musicianship and Tyler’s sensitive production complement each other well. Combined, their sound is comparable to greats like Erykah Badu or Andre 3000, while holding contemporary relevance, grounding them in today’s musical climate. In person, they gush about one another as if recalling childhood heroes. The circumstances of the band coming about by chance on a day off with free studio time were slim – but Radiant Children’s future is brighter than ever.
Grace Allen of Grandma Promotions speaks to the band about creative confinement, mutual trust, bad habits and letting things happen naturally.
Radiant Children with their latest single, Poké Bowl
A lot of your lyrics are encouraging. Do you write for yourself or your fans?
Fabienne: The Life’s a Bitch lyrics are a combination of little encouraging things I’d write in my own journal when I felt really shit. I don’t want people to think that I’m saying, ‘Hey, I’m so woke and so together – be like me,’ because I’m falling apart too a lot of the time. I think that’s a big part of the happy/sad dichotomy of that song. Like a lot of the songs on the EP, the lyrics are encouraging – we try to put tension or emotion in the music so that you know we aren’t writing from a place of ‘I’m saved.’ I’m still going through it.
How did the band come together?
Tyler: Marco and I were working on some other projects and slowly started working with Fabs. It was all so free and awesome – I was tapping into these places that I didn’t know existed in me with these two people that I met not that long ago. They were bringing this crazy stuff out of me. But our other projects would always sober us up. Something that we thought was really great, we were told wasn’t right. Just us being ourselves wasn’t the one, so when Radiant Children happened, we realised, ‘Oh! This is it.’
Fabienne: We were in the studio working on that particular project with an artist for a couple weeks and we had a day off, so we were just like, “Fuck it – shall we go to the studio and write something ourselves?” We wrote this one tune – and halfway through the second verse, I had to lock myself in the toilet. I cried for ages! I was just like, ‘I remember how it feels to tap into something that’s really real again.’ It had been ages.
Marco: We were proper buzzing! We got there at midday and left at 3am the next morning.
Do you think that working for other people as session musicians influenced what you brought to Radiant Children?
Fabienne: The funniest thing is that before Radiant Children started, because I’d been in a major label situation since I was, like, fourteen and Ty was in a group too, we didn’t want to be in a band. I almost didn’t want to do music anymore. I was starting to really hate writing as well, so our songs and lyrics weren’t meant to be anything when we first started. But you know when you just can’t deny something? At first, we were fighting against it – like, ‘Oh, shit, I don’t want to put myself back here again,’ but I realised how much it was actually helping me mentally.
Marco: When we wrote that first song, we just felt so satisfied and fulfilled. Radiant Children was something that we just need to keep doing.
Having been creatively confined with previous projects, what do you love the most about Radiant Children?
Tyler: I think the thing that makes Radiant Children, for me, is the mutual trust. It’s freeing if Marco is sitting there and working out a guitar part for an hour. I’ll just chill, because Marco’s doing Marco and whatever happens it’s going to be right. The way that I like to describe Marco and what he brings to the table is ‘mileage.’ His sound is so much more refined and mature [than most] – and it’s something that I always felt that my music had lacked.
How does the long-distance element work, what with Tyler often living in the U.S?
Fabienne: Often, we’ll start ideas and Tyler will finish them, but usually we’ll take that time apart to just have a break… Do what you need to do, see your family – don’t even do music if you don’t want to. It’s a nice breather for Radiant Children to always feel like an escape.
Do you think it makes the music better?
[All simultaneously]: Definitely!
Fabienne: It’s made the music honest, because, hand on heart, we’ve never written a song that was for the sake of it. We don’t put music out to be relevant. There has to be some kind of healing quality about it for us, like we’re getting shit off our chest.
Fabienne, did starting out in the industry at the age of fourteen negatively affect your perception of the industry?
Fabienne: Yes and no. The negative part caught up with me, because I got into the music industry so young that I hadn’t figured out any self-care or self-preservation tools yet. It just made me look at myself in a really negative way. It made me overthink certain things that should be natural, so it’s more just that I had to unlearn some bad habits and keep that away for a little while. I didn’t intend to get into music either – it just sort of happened! I found so many good mentors along the way though, which has been so insanely valuable.
There’s a zine called ‘Bleached’ which challenges the idea of female fronted bands being a genre. Would you rather just get on with the music, or do you think it’s a valuable conversation?
Fabienne: It gets boring in the sense that this isn’t a gimmick and women aren’t a genre. There does need to be a light shone on the issue of women in music in general. I want to be able to speak out about it when I feel like it’s right. At the end of the day, we are going to represent certain things. We’re going to represent women in music and we want to talk about race related issues. There’s a woman here, there are people of colour here and it’s our truth. That’s going to come out in our music and we’re never going to be apologetic about that… You don’t want it to feel like you’re being patronised… You want to feel respected and not like it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to people being like, ‘Fine, let’s get girls on the bill because they’re girls.’
Where did the name ‘Radiant Children’ come from?
Fabienne: I got it from this documentary about Basquiat called The Radiant Child. But we were recently in New York and we met with this guy called Kurt Metz who is a private librarian. He was friends with Keith Haring, Basquiat and Fab 5 Freddy – and he actually told me Radiant Child is a Keith Haring piece. I just loved the name!
What’s the songwriting process like for your guys usually?
Marco: Predominantly, Fabienne takes control of the lyrical content. It’s quite a special process when we do it – it’s not, ‘Right everyone on their stations, we need to write a song.’ It’s more that we see what happens naturally.
What’s the story of Poké Bowl?
Marco: We wrote it in half an hour!
Fabienne: It was the last day in the studio and our manager wanted us to go to this event. I was suddenly like, ‘I don’t want to meet new people! We need to start a song NOW!’
Tyler: When you’re recording, you want to save the track right away in case the software crashes. We had ordered poké bowls to the studio just before, so we just put it down and said, “We’ll change it later.” We never did. The working title that made it!
Stay tuned for the band's debut EP, TRYIN', out August 24th.
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