She Bangs the Drums

WYLDE MEETS FLORRIE

Shoot by Oskar Gyllenswärd  

Fashion Direction by Thea Lewis-Yates

Interview by Phil Goodfellow

  Blouse: Perseverance / Rings: Daisy London and Davina Combe

Blouse: Perseverance / Rings: Daisy London and Davina Combe

  Blouse, velvet jacket and jeans: Frame Denim / Rings: Stone Paris & Shaun Leane / Belt: stylist's own

Blouse, velvet jacket and jeans: Frame Denim / Rings: Stone Paris & Shaun Leane / Belt: stylist's own

  Polo, coat, jeans and boots: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel / Spotty shirt: Bella Freud / Rings: Amprali & Shaun Leane

Polo, coat, jeans and boots: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel / Spotty shirt: Bella Freud / Rings: Amprali & Shaun Leane

  Crop cords and waistcoat: Frame Denim / Shirt: MiH / Shoes: Repetto / Necklace: Davina Combe / Rings: Stone Paris and Shaun Leane / Belt: stylist's own

Crop cords and waistcoat: Frame Denim / Shirt: MiH / Shoes: Repetto / Necklace: Davina Combe / Rings: Stone Paris and Shaun Leane / Belt: stylist's own

  Dress: Red Valentino / Jacket: APC / Ring: Amprali

Dress: Red Valentino / Jacket: APC / Ring: Amprali

 

Hair: Roxy Attard @ CLM Hair & Make-Up using Bumble and bumble

Make-up: Carolyn Gallyer @ CLM Hair & Make-Up using MAC

Photographer's assistants: Tehran Pakgohar and Adam Kanowski

Fashion assistant: Kate Sinclair 

 

It’s not often that a toy drum kit proves to be the first stepping stone towards an exciting music career, but that’s precisely what happened in the case of Florence Arnold, now better known to many simply as Florrie. “I started drumming when I was six,” she explains. “I was on holiday with my parents and we would go to the same restaurant every night and I’d sit on a little brick and watch the house band play. That’s the first time I’d seen somebody play drums live and I was obsessed. I nagged my parents for a drum kit for the next year and got a little toy one for my birthday. I still love playing more than anything else; it’s a big part of what I do and how I got into music in the first place.”

Indeed, Florrie established herself as a respected musician long before thoughts of going it alone even occurred to her. Having moved to London in her late teens from Bristol, Florrie dived straight into a career in music, playing in bands and doing the odd bit of session work. At one stage she had a development deal in place with pop impresario Guy Chambers, but it was a successful audition as a drummer for the production and songwriting outfit Xenomania that gave Florrie her first serious break into the music industry. Xenomania have written and produced numerous tracks for some of pop music’s finest, from Pet Shop Boys to Girls Aloud, and it was as drummer on the latter’s 2008 hit single The Promise that Florrie began what would flourish into a fruitful relationship. “I’ve worked with Xenomania for the past seven years. I started there as the in-house drummer, then got more into the writing/production side of things and started writing and producing my own records. It was writing songs for other artists that really inspired me,” she explains. “I realised it was something I loved doing, and I began to think maybe I could do it myself.”

Despite her idiosyncratic talent, Florrie has had the good fortune to work with a diverse range of musicians, writers and producers during the process of establishing her own sound, something that she has found enriching. “I have a brilliant team of people around me; it’s a creative, happy place full of talented people. Everyone is unique. That’s the great thing, everybody has a signature style when it comes to writing songs, so you leave a session brimming with new ideas. Up until last year I’d only worked with Xenomania, so I went out to LA for a couple of months in April and did a new session every two or three days, which was really eye-opening. Some people you gel with and others you don’t; I guess that’s the nature of creativity. I like working with people who are enthusiastic about what they do and aren’t just trying to ‘write a hit’.”

Fame’s obvious allure has tripped up many of her contemporaries, but Florrie’s feet are firmly on the ground. “I think as an artist it’s important to have some kind of validation that people like what you’re doing, but as to what scale that’s on, it doesn’t matter to me. When you write a song and you get that burst of excitement and happiness (because you know you’re going to love it), you just want to share it and hope that it makes other people feel the same way. There are people I admire in the industry for different reasons, but I’ve never looked at another artist and thought, ‘I want to be like them’. I’m just doing my own thing.”

As well as honing her craft as a musician and collaborating with like-minded artists, Florrie has taken time to foster a relationship with her growing number of fans. “It’s important to have a connection with your fans and give them a little insight into your world,” she explains, “though at the end of the day, for me, it’s always about the music. If people like my music then that’s the most important thing. I’m not that great with the social side of things sometimes; if I’m locked away in the studio my head is elsewhere. Or sometimes I don’t feel like sharing what I’m up to. I’m a private person really. Having said that, I love being able to communicate with my fans and see what inspires them.”

All of which has led towards Florrie’s upcoming album, about which she is being somewhat tight-lipped (“It’s a surprise!”) though she clearly has high hopes for what is the culmination of years of graft and creativity. “I can’t wait to get it out there. Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait; it’s been a long time in the making!” Florrie also hopes to tour in support of the release. “I love playing live and it’s been a while since I’ve toured. I miss my band when we’re not gigging. I feel most comfortable on stage with a guitar in my hands, or drumming; I will always think of myself as a musician first and foremost.”

Sounds like that toy drum kit is paying off…

DAVID NEWTON