Fenne Lily, will release her new album BREACH on 18th September. Now, she offers a defining moment on the record, “Berlin,” a careful, beautiful declaration celebrating comfort in being alone.
“Berlin” slowly unfurls with a hushed-yet-powerful energy. With minimal lyrics, Fenne repeats “it’s not hard to be alone anymore,” backed by Lucy Dacus and Ali Chant. It was written during her time alone in Berlin after her third reading of Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and a solo voyage to the nightclub Berghain.
The accompanying video, created by Henry Dunbar, is composed of narrative, black and white animation. Fenne elaborates on the track and video below: “When I was 21 I spent a month alone in Berlin. While I was there, I recorded everything I did as a voice note or in a sketchbook, even if it was boring. On the plane ride home, my phone packed up and I lost all my song ideas from my trip. Initially, it felt as though I’d lost a part of my brain, but gradually pieces started to come back to me. To help the remembering process, I tried to picture all the things that surrounded me during my time alone in Berlin. The more I pictured these mundane objects, the more lost ideas I could remember. This song was one of these ideas. When it came to deciding on a video for it, I’d recently had a dream about an illustrated man eating his own brain for breakfast and, on the same day, was introduced to Henry’s animated short film ‘Pollock’. His work and my dream were impossible to ignore in their similarities and so this video was born. It reflects both the comfort and claustrophobia of the everyday, and how company can be found in everything when you’re left with only yourself and an alien place. The umbrella made me cry – I kind of hope it helps you do the same.”
Watch Fenne Lily’s video for “Berlin” below…
BREACH is an expansive, diaristic, frequently sardonic record that deals with the mess and the catharsis of entering your 20s and finding peace while being alone. It’s the follow-up to 2018’s On Hold, a tender collection of open-hearted songs written during her teenage years.
Fenne wrote BREACH during a period of self-enforced isolation pre-COVID, after a disjointed experience of touring Europe, followed by a month alone in Berlin. The album deals largely with “loneliness, and trying to work out the difference between being alone and being lonely.” Although its subject matter is solitude, it sounds bigger and more intricate than anything Fenne previously released. She recorded with producer Brian Deck at Chicago’s Narwhal Studios, with further work at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini who helped flesh out her sound with vast, rich guitars.
BREACH, occurred to Fenne after deep conversations with her mum about her birth, during which she was breech, or upside down in the womb. The slippery double-sidedness of the word – which, spelled with an “A”, means to “break through” – drew her in. “That feels like what I was doing in this record; I was breaking through a wall that I built for myself, keeping myself safe, and dealing with the downside of feeling lonely and alone. I realized that I am comfortable in myself, and I don’t need to fixate on relationships to make myself feel like I have something to talk about. I felt like I broke through a mental barrier in that respect.” Even though it also carries implications of awkwardness, rebellion, and breakage, it’s a wide-reaching word, representing new beginnings and birth.