We chat with Trevor Dering of Fiji Blue on their origin story, creative process and more
Listening to Fiji Blue will inevitably have you bobbing your head and dancing. Valentin Fritz's easygoing instrumentals and beats pair perfectly with Trevor Dering's easy voice, providing the best soundtrack for all your trips and pick-me-ups. Fiji Blue's instrumentals will have you moving with the tunes carrying you at a surface level. But after a close listen, their lyrics let on more than you think. Wrapped in buttery beats and smooth synths are raw, honest and relatable lyrics.
While many modern artists incorporate different genres to create a unique sound, Fiji Blue's just comes to them naturally. An amalgamation of their influences comes together if you will. Their unique sonic style garners fans from all over the world. It even earned the duo a shoutout from BTS' Jungkook, who shared their song It Takes Two on his Instagram stories. Dering quips, “It was super surreal, and if anything, I was more encouraged to get back at it and write another one for him to share.” He adds, “But super grateful that [Jungkook] did that and it really brought so much love to us, [we're] extremely grateful for that.”
But before all of this, Fiji Blue got together when Trevor Dering met producer Valentin Fritz at the Berklee College of Music. The duo then went on to write so much music. But the songs fit neither of their projects, so they created Fiji Blue. What was once a side project became their primary focus, with Dering and Fritz taking care of the music, songwriting, editing of videos and everything else. “It's a DIY project,” Dering describes in an exclusive interview with Wonder.
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To get to know Fiji Blue better, we catch up with the duo's designated songwriter, Trevor Dering.
Wonder: Fiji Blue's sound is described as “genre-bending,” suggesting that your music transcends rigid labels and takes cues from different styles. Who or what are your main musical influences that helped shape it?
Trevor Dering: It's funny whenever people say “genre-bending,” I'm grateful that that's the case. I feel like it's hard to pinpoint one specific [genre]. It's a lot of influences from both sides. Me, myself, being the songwriter, I grew up listening to classic rock. Huge influences from John Mayer. I love the songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo and Holly Humberstone. And Val, on the production side of things, has heavy inspiration from early Flume, Calvin Harris, kind of the dancier side of things. So the combination is a fun thing to discover. Indie, pop, dance—all into one, whatever it ends up being.
W: Let's talk about your creative process, specifically for Feel Something. What came first, the melody or your lyrics? Did a personal experience inspire it?
TD: For this one, the melody came first but very quickly. It's a combination of both where you're both singing sounds that you're trying to fit [with] the chords. Then, you might mistakenly say a few words, and [they] end up being in the song just because. I feel like the best lyrics and ideas come from when you're almost not thinking too much. I think the second you're already thinking about it, it's already too late.
W: Speaking of your lyrics, Fiji Blue songs sound upbeat and funky, but the lyrics are described as “sad yet hopeful.” Is this something you guys consciously do, or does this contrast come naturally as you write?
TD: This sounds terrible, but for me, I love sad things. In my life, I'm trying to take the sadness and turn it into something positive. But I really like taking that side of emotionality in the lyrics and then again combining it with Val, who probably loves writing more upbeat stuff. So, it's purposeful, and it's also not. I feel like it's kind of just the combo that we get, which is fun, though. The sad over the happy, funky stuff makes you listen differently every time.
W: Since Space Makes Me Sad up until the present, what's the biggest challenge you encountered as a musician and artist?
TD: I would have to say the biggest challenge has been not to overthink things. But at the same time, making sure you're certain [and] confident with your decisions is super important. So I'm probably the worst-case because I overthink everything for all good reasons. But at the end of the day, it's still something I'm trying to work on. Just making a song, at the moment, believing in what you're doing is the toughest and most rewarding thing. I feel like the best songs come from just being genuine and in the moment.
W: You guys have another EP coming up, with Dance When You Cry as the second single. Can you give us a little teaser on what we can expect from this single and the EP?
TD: Dance When You Cry, I'm super, super excited for this one. The lyrics are a little more uplifting over this 80s dance beat. It's a sad boi, uplifting song. To me, [Dance When You Cry] emphasizes mores on personal empowerment, not caring what others think and dancing in your most vulnerable moments—which include crying. But yeah, it's a fun one. It's one of those nights when you dance when you cry. It's okay that they're watching, and there's no point in stopping. So it's a fun song. I'm excited.
W: What makes Fiji Blue stand out?
TD: To me, and I'm biased for saying this. Everyday I'm so grateful to wake up and know that all of the music I'm making reaches as many people as it has. And to me, the thing that I want to believe in is one, is music. But two, just the sincerity of things. We're not trying to be anything else aside from real and express real emotions that everyday people go through. The sad lyrics tell a different story every time, and the beats carry you along. The music is a source of that feeling that you want to get in your lowest and happiest moments. So we're just trying to do our best to make music that people love and music that we love.
If there’s anything we can learn from Fiji Blue, sometimes the best work happens when we refuse to let our minds overthink and overcomplicate the process. When you do what you love and enjoy the process, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver