Being 16 is a lot of things. Being 16 is pouring vodka into a plastic Coke bottle while dancing to “Apple Bottom Jeans” by T-Pain. Being 16 is writing the word “symbolism” in the corner of a GCSE poetry anthology. Being 16 is being made to wear a uniform so box-shaped and weird-looking that you feel furious every day. Being 16 is not—as pop culture often dictates—one long pastel-colored Sofia Coppola movie, where everything seems romantic and already perfectly formed.
This is what Fauness and I are speaking about over the phone. When I first peeped the title of the north London-based musician’s new track “Sixteen,” which you can listen to below, I'd assumed it was an ode to being a teenager. In actuality, it’s more like an ode to not being a teenager.
“That age is so fetishized, long before you enter into it,” she explains, “Culturally, there’s this myth that we’re fed about being ‘sweet 16’ and how it’s going to be the best years of your life. No one tells you that you have a lot of life to live. I think moving away from that fetishization would make people a lot happier—and it would make 16-year-olds a lot happier as well.”
Ironically, the song itself sounds a bit like a coming-of-age movie soundtrack. Or maybe that makes sense—after all, we’re all coming of age, all the time, not just when we’re teenagers, and that’s the point of the song. “I don’t wanna be 16 / When I was 16 I was so fragile and so lonely / Insecure,” Fauness sings, her voice syrupy sweet and lilting, cushioned between jangly, grunge-pop guitar riffs, sounding like something Letters to Cleo or Hoku might have released in the late 90s or early 2000s.
“Sixteen” sounds accomplished, but it's only the second release from Fauness (which is her real name, btw, and she prefers not to chat about her age). Her first was a weirdo pop banger called “Street Song” (below) which sounds a lot more celestial and minimal, all electronic clicks and icy synth lines. She tells me that both songs will appear on an upcoming EP called Toxic Femininity, out this Friday on Jam City’s new(ish) label Earthly Records.
“We’ve been friends for a while, and have a really similar eclectic music taste, so have formed a bond from that,” she tells me, speaking about the producer/DJ. “He knew I’d made stuff, but I’ve always been very precious about working with other people because I wanted to cultivate things on my own terms. But eventually I was happy for him to hear what I’d been making and that was two years ago.” When he started the label, Fauness tells me, he immediately got in touch, and the rest is history.
Soon enough, our conversation starts winding down and Fauness tells me she's going to spend the rest of the day reading in the house (specifically Blood, Bread and Poetry by Adrienne Rich) and going to the gym. Before she goes, though, we briefly return to the subject of being 16. I ask her what she'd say to herself, if she could go back in time.
She doesn't hesitate: “I would want to comfort and reassure her, and tell her everything is going to be alright. That sounds kind of trite…” she pauses for a moment, as if thinking, “… but I used to feel really distant and almost disgusted with my teenage self. I want to have compassion for her and tell her that, really, the best is yet to come.”
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.