It’s hard to keep ahead of the curve in this musical world of mixtapes dropping daily from the sky (or Soundcloud, at least) and Thom Yorke recording whole albums while you sleep. Thus it was a bit of an annoyance (if we’re going to be selfish here) to see Friends listed in the BBC Sound poll on Monday when we’ve had these bad boys (and girls) up our sleeves for months.
Oh, we’re only kidding. Friends are a band of such sultry proportions that it’s no shock that everyone seems to be falling for them right now. If anything, it has reinstated our belief in human being since the X-Factor viewers went and voted off poor Misha B last weekend.
With three of the most seductive alternative-R&B hits of 2011 (‘I’m His Girl’, ‘Friend Crush’, ‘My Boo’) already under their belt, it’ll be interesting to see (or should that be “hear”) what their next move will be in the new year.
We talked to the band’s singer Samantha Urbani earlier this week about being tipped for big things, the band’s actual plans for 2012 and, err, being 50 Cent and having babies with Azealia Banks…
As well as being listed in our picks, you’ve also been long-listed by the BBC in their Sound of 2012 poll. How does it feel to be tipped for big things over the next year? Is it nerve-wracking at all or just a pat on the back for all the promise you’ve shown so far?
Oh, it’s a total compliment. It’s so surreal though, for everything to be picking up so fast. We feel like we’ve put out so little for people to see or hear and the fact that people are responding so strongly is really great.
Were you aware of the BBC poll before hand?
Fairly, but it wasn’t until the article came out that I realised how the list was actually produced. I think it’s really cool that the picks came from a wide variety of people – industry-types and grassroots – submitting their favourites and it being calculated from there. That makes it seem a more genuine, across-the-board thing about what people are actually excited about.
You’re in good company too, shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Niki & the Dove and Azealia Banks. The first winner back in 2003 was actually 50 Cent, those are literally huge shoes to fill.
That’s so funny. We could so be a huge guy with lots of muscles and precious metals in our mouths, why not!
But I do think Azealia Banks is really cool, she definitely deserves all the hype she’s getting. All my life, since I was kid, I’ve been into female MCs – women who are empowered and confident in what they’re doing. So I hope she becomes really inspirational to young girls.
Are you actually the type of band that pays much attention to your own press, whether it be jovial things like the Hipster Runoff posts or end-of-year tips such as this?
I have to admit: I do get Google alerts. But that’s just for fun rather than any egotistical motives.
‘Friends’ must bring back some off-topic results of a certain popular 90’s sitcom, no?
The name on it’s own, we’re pretty un-Googleable. But I get things like ‘Friends band’ or ‘Friends – I’m His Girl’, even my own name. That last one has been a lot more popular since those Hipster Runoff articles you mentioned – which we thought were really funny by the way.
I guess you know you’ve made it when Carles writes about you, that’s the best kind of publicity right there. Who needs these polls after that?
Totally. I can’t wait to see what he posts next, I wonder what kind of internal drama will be speculated or who we’ll be spotted “canoodling” with.
You’ve only been together since September last year and were never in bands before this, and – as you mentioned yourself – only have a few tracks out. How has it been getting so big so quickly?
Well, what is “big” really? I don’t think we’ve had that realisation yet because it’s all been very surreal. I think the internet can blow things out of proportion a bit at times.
I think it’s better actually talking to individual people who have their own personal opinion – insightful things from people who actually “get it” and hear the same things we do – rather than just a professional opinion, because some websites or magazines just post stuff without necessarily having any feelings on the actual music.
You recently came over to London on tour with Caged Animals, that must have been a good feeling though, right?
Oh yeah. Actually, I think this upcoming show in London during February will be a moment of realisation for us, because it’s sold-out and people in another country and city actually paid solely to see us play.
So we’ve labelled you as one of our ‘Ones to Watch’ – what exactly should we watch out for from Friends in 2012?
There’s going to be a debut album, which we’ve almost finished tracking and are going to master once we get off tour. It should be out in March. And then we’re going to be touring extensively. We’re going to go all over the planet, which is scary because after all that we would have seen the entire world and will be bored with everything.
Maybe one of us will have a baby too. Who knows. Actually, I stayed at the same hotel as Azealia Banks in Amsterdam once. I should have tried to have her babies!
-Luke Morgan Britton