The Female Fiends: Pioneers of the “cuddle-rock” genre

by Bailey Cheney

Despite being separated by nearly 107 miles while guitar player Christian Olson finishes college, the members of indie-rock band The Female Fiends still manage to collaborate and fine-tune their unique “cuddle-rock” sound.

The term “cuddle rock” was given to describe The Female Fiends during their performance at Sound Off! 2013, an all-ages music showcase located at Seattle’s Experience Music Project. Their fans at the showcase started describing their unusual pop-rock and psychedelic sound as something “you could cuddle to.”

“We stuck with that from there,” Olson said, and thus, The Female Fiends became the forerunners of the “cuddle-rock” genre.

Prior to their stint at Sound Off! 2013, The Female Fiends, a nod to the 1958 film of the same name, were a group of friends from high school, “just hanging out,” according to Olson. “We just sort of found each other; we knew each other through mutual friends but none of us had much experience before The Female Fiends.”

The group consists of Olson on guitar, Michael Yin on vocals and guitar, and brothers Ricky and Ryan Davis on bass and drums, respectively. “We’re all best friends. The band made us closer, and after three years together, we’ve grown and gained a lot more experience,” explained Olson.

The quartet’s first show and demo was in 2012, and from there, The Female Fiends continued to put out two more EPs – Youthless and Too Shy to Live.

Leif Anderson, member of alternative-rock band Vendetta Red and Olson’s guitar teacher, helped give direction to the band. “I always call him, like, my ‘third dad’. We still kind of stay in touch,” remarked Olson. Anderson also helped the group release their demo in his recording studio.

Since the demo and last two EPs, however, The Female Fiends are currently focusing on buffing up their writing and “playing as many shows as [they] can.” Olson explained, “We would love to make a career out of this. Regardless, we’re all very dedicated to it.”

When questioned about their plans for a full-length album, Olson added that while “that’s the plan, eventually, we don’t want to put anything out until it’s worth something.”

In the meantime, Olson shares that the band is trying to become more professional. “We’ve been doing it ourselves for too long,” he said. “Since we’re best friends things like emotions can get in the way.” The group, in addition to receiving guidance from Anderson, has also received helped from friends in regards to designing album artwork, recording music, and booking shows.

“We’ve seen a ton of growth with ourselves, though,” stated Olson. Despite Olson being in Bellingham, Wash. at Western Washington University, the group has found a way to progress nonetheless.

Olson details the creative process necessary for being a couple hours apart from one another. “We upload something to SoundCloud, usually Michael, and then the rest of us add to and edit it. Whoever starts tends to have the best idea on the direction of the song; they lead and take direction of it.”

The direction of their work so far has been influenced by indie, Pacific Northwest natives The Lonely Forest and Death Cab for Cutie to jangle-pop star Mac Demarco. Dreamy lyrics and jangly guitars make for a sound comparable to MGMT and Animal Collective that can be heard on their latest release, the Too Shy to Live EP.  The EP, released in March, is currently available online through their Bandcamp page.

Published in the May 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine