In early 2019, three skilled musicians found themselves living on the same road in South London. Dido Hallet from TIGER, Donald Ross Skinner from TIGER and Julian Cope’s band, and Dan Cross from The Perfect Disaster. Now that they live on the same street, it makes perfect sense to come together to form a new band and that’s what they did. We spoke with Dido Hallet (DH) about The Fragile States, their new single ‘I Like You’ and much more!
OSR: Why did you decide to become a musician?
DH: It was never really intended! I was asked to join TIGER in 1996 after a party where I did some really cool dancing, so it was kind of handed to me on a plate. My job was bass keyboard on a Moog instead of a guitar as it was easier. Didn’t have a clue what I was doing there at first, but I quickly got totally hooked!
OSR: Describe your music in a single sentence.
DH: Indie 90’s revival.
OSR: What can you tell us about your new single ‘I Like You’?
DH: It kind of spun off from another song that I was trying to finish. It came easily which is always a good sign! I love the guitar sound and the vocals are kind of unusual. Donald Ross Skinner did a great job on the production.
OSR: Did you face any challenges when composing and recording the track?
DH: It was one of the easiest songs I have recorded, though five minutes before I was recording it I hadn’t written the third verse, so the bit ‘Rowan leaning against the wall’ and ‘Robin crossing the road’ were things going on in photos on the wall of my kids’ rooms. I always thought I would change them, but I kind of like them now.
Recording at Donald’s house on his laptop can be a challenge ’cause the neighbour upstairs thumps on the floor if you start singing, so you are always kind of on tenterhooks. If it gets really bad, Donald sets up the mic in his bedroom with a really long lead to his laptop and we shout at each other down the corridor.
OSR: Can you tell us about the music video for ‘I Like You’?
DH: That was difficult, more difficult than the song. Once you start editing there are just so many options and combinations that it can drive you nuts! Tim, my husband, filmed and edited it – we were nearly falling out by the end. I think, overall, he did a good job and I am grateful.
OSR: If you could change one thing about the video, what would it be and why?
DH: I think I would like to have had the other two members of the band in it – Donald Ross Skinner and Dan Cross. I look a bit lonely on my own, especially as I am saying ‘I like you’ and there is no-one there.
OSR: How have you been dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown?
DH: Stressful having the kids around all the time. Some bits have been illuminating and I think we will be forever changed, like a before and after scenario. Am looking forward to the kids going back to school though! Even though I can’t wait for this to end, I know for the environment it’s been a blessing.
OSR: How do you think this global pandemic will affect musicians and the musical landscape?
DH: I’m worried about it, to be honest. Music and public assembly is tied up with national identity in the UK. When you go aboard and you say you are from the UK the conversation will usually end up about music ’cause there are so many great British bands. Going to the pub and watching a great band is one of the joys, so God knows what will happen if we can’t do that.
OSR: Who inspires you on a professional and personal level to keep creating music?
DH: Professionally, The Fate White Family, Velvet Underground, Parquet Courts, Billie EIllish and my manager Maria. Personally, my husband, my kids, my band and my old band TIGER.
OSR: Who was your celebrity crush as a child (assuming you had one)?
DH: Don’t know really. John Travolta maybe?
OSR: What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your music career?
DH: Be yourself and don’t try to please everyone!
OSR: What is next for The Fragile States?
DH: To record an EP and release it by the end of the summer.
OSR: Do you have a message for all our readers?
DH: Question everything and trust your own instincts.