Interview: Bonnie Fraser Talks Music and Mental Health

Written by Zoya Raza-Sheikh

14 May 2019

Slanted Press caught up with Stand Atlantic's Bonnie Fraser to discuss the future of the band, her love for Bring Me The Horizon, and much more!

Under a roof of decorative bunting and terrible British weather, I sat across from pop punk pioneer and frontwoman Bonnie Fraser. It's not everyday you conduct an interview in a beer garden, but between the buzz of the bar and the boundground sound checking, this place felt as perfect as any. 

Just some months ago, Bonnie Fraser answered a couple of interview questions for Slanted Press over email. Around that time, Stand Atlantic had just dropped their lead single ‘Lavender Bones’ and Bonnie was impressively secretive about the band’s upcoming endeavours. Now, their debut album, Skinny Dipping, is out and making quite the statement. Reckless and relentless, the album offers a fresh voice for the pop punk genre. Talking of chaos, Stand Atlantic have been completing a run of headlining shows before taking on some festival slots. “The tour's been going really, really well!” she smiles. “The first two shows were very scary 'cus, like, I guess we're just not used to such rowdy crowds or whatever, people were just crowd surfing. Thirty seconds in, I lost my mic stand and it was all going to shit, but it was so fun at the same time.”

Keeping fans at the forefront, Stand Atlantic have always done their best to keep their audience safe, yet events seemed to spiral out of their control during their first few shows. “The first show was Leeds, that was hectic,” Bonnie admits, “we thought it was wild, maybe it was just Leeds, then we did Manchester and it was the same thing but even more, we had to stop the show. We saw a couple people not having a good time. We were like "we want people to have fun so we should do something about this. There's definitely a healthy balance somewhere, but those first two shows were on the extreme side.” It’s good to see bands stepping up and taking precautions to look after fans during shows.

Stand Atlantic (credit: Georgia Moloney via Facebook)

Stand Atlantic have risen from being an unknown name in a saturated industry to quickly making their mark. I ask Bonnie how things have changed since we last spoke. “Just crazy, I don't know how to describe it,” she laughs. “We're on the inside so we don't see a lot of the growth until we do something like this, a headline tour, and show's sell out and we're like "what?!" that's so insane to us. I'm pretty sure most of the UK sold out, the fact that people are responding to the album that well and coming to see us is all we could ever ask for.” Drawing on our past interview again, I point out how cryptic her answers were relating to new music and ask whether she can drop any new info on new material. “I'll be cryptic again and say. It's like...we're always writing when we go home and have downtime. You don't have to worry about us not releasing something later on.” Between their recent cover of ‘Last Graduation’ and latest release of ‘MakeDamnSure’ you can say we’re pretty excited to see what they produce next.

“I think anything new you listen to and like inspires you.”

Our conversation takes a turn towards to new music we both respected and, unsurprisingly, we find common ground in Bring Me the Horizon. “I think anything new you listen to and like inspires you. Everything you listen to inspires what you write,” Bonnie explains, “I really like the new Bring Me the Horizon album. I can't stop listening to it, I feel like such a fangirl, I love it so much, they're doing something really different and I think it's really cool.” It’s no surprise Bonnie is out here supporting artists; after all, she nonchalantly turned up to this interview in an oversized Seaway hoodie. Talking of evolving sounds draws my interest. Building on her last response, I ask if her approach to Stand Atlantic and their music has changed since the release of Skinny Dipping. “Uhh, I think about it in a different way now,” she says pausing, “before all of this happened, I'd just do it, not thinking about "oh, how would someone think of this? Is someone gonna get this tattooed?". I'm more conscious, lyrically. Always trying to improve. We wanna make sure our sound doesn't drop too far.” So, it doesn’t look like Stand Atlantic are going to pull an amo.

With Bring Me the Horizon openly bucking trends and fan expectations, I ask if Stand Atlantic ever feel pressured by the label to fulfil preconceptions. Before I’ve finished my question, Bonnie is nodding. “Sometimes, yeah,” she replies honestly. “It's no fault of anyone else except the pressure we put on ourselves and what we see, but we just kinda have to make sure we listen to the people who have been there since the start and know who we are. Stand our ground and do what we think is best. We've seen so many bands switch so quickly to a pop thing and have it crumble.” If there’s anything to take from her response, it sounds like the band are sticking to their guns and creating a sound that seems organic and authentic to themselves. “At the end of the day, we're gonna try and write good songs whatever we end up being. We could end up being some Jamaican band. We're always gonna make sure we write good songs.” Speaking of bands that successfully made the switch, it felt right to name drop Paramore and Tonight Alive. “Yeah, the transition was seamless!” Bonnie agrees referring to Paramore. “The Other Side still has my heart though. That's the one,” she laughs. Let’s be real, The Other Side has all our hearts.

Now Skinny Dipping is out for fans to immerse themselves in, I ask Bonnie what it’s like to hear fans personally connecting to music the band has written. Taking a brief pause, Bonnie considers the question before answering, “Uh, everything, I guess? That's kind of what it's about, isn't it? You make something and put everything into it and you have it in your head a certain way and then as soon as you put it out to other people, they come back with their experiences like "this is what I got out of it" and it's something so different to what you would ever have thought, but it makes sense.”

"The people we're around are always pushing us to better ourselves and we're always thinking how we can improve."

Moving on from the album, we decide to end the interview with a few grittier questions. I jokingly forewarn Bonnie and she seems ready to answer them. As an established musician, Bonnie has been offered a lot of questions tailored to her gender. Given there seems to be an increased pressure on female musicians to deliver, I ask if this kind of scrutiny bothers her. “I think.... being a woman wouldn't stop you being any more successful or anything like that. People talk a lot about this whole women thing and don't do anything,” she explains carefully. “The best example you can set is just showing younger girls if they're struggling that you can literally just do it, show them to do it. "I'm in a band and I'm doing this". There's nothing really stopping you, if you're good.” It’s sound advice if you ask us.

Last of all, a question focusing on mental health. There’s been an increase in artists talking about mental health and advocating to fight the stigma around it. I ask Bonnie how it feels to be able to use her platform and address these issues. Outlining “it’s good” to be able to talk about it, Bonnie also firmly outlines she would “never say that I suffer from depression or anxiety or mental health things” but acknowledges how music can be a medium for change. However, her answers subtly trail into more serious advice, almost protective, for fans; “I know a lot of younger fans look to the people in the bands to help them with their problems but it's like.... we're not therapists, we don't know how to deal with that, they should definitely go seek proper help.” I nod in agreement and she seems to visibly relax at agreement in her statement. “Music can definitely be there to help you through it and make sure you're not alone,” Bonnie continues, “I think it's very important, I'm glad people are talking about it. It definitely slips under the radar, it's really good for young people who are struggling with it!”

Edited by George Jones |


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