FLETCHER Admits Embracing Herself 'Took a Long Time' – but Now It's a 'Celebration in My Own Skin'

·5 min read

Carlos de la Reina FLETCHER

Fans know FLETCHER for her utterly relatable heartbreak anthems and singalongs. Now, they're going to see FLETCHER's journey to self-love and acceptance too.

FLETCHER (née Cari Elise Fletcher) released a new song called "Her Body Is Bible" and simultaneously announced her debut album Girl of My Dreams Friday. In honor of the exciting news, the "Undrunk" singer opened up to PEOPLE about the shift this album demonstrates in her songwriting, finding her purpose and making her mark as a queer musician — something she never imagined she could do growing up.

"I grew up in a really conservative small town. I was raised going to a Catholic church. There's just a narrative that I've had from a young age that all the ways that I wanted to love I was wrong for," FLETCHER, 28, says of her hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. "When I hooked up with a girl for the first time and it was so amazing, I was like, 'Hmm. If I'm going to hell for this, it's kind of lit. I like this.'"

Her new single is a "representation" of that "freedom and celebration" — something she describes as her "heaven on earth moment."

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"That's something that's important all of the time, but releasing it during pride month is something that felt really special to me because embracing myself took a really long time," she says.

The "Girls Girls Girls" singer continued, "To finally be at a point where it feels like a celebration in my own skin is something that I am currently feeling [and] that other people have the capacity to feel too. Not only the capacity but the way that they also deserve."

Fletcher - Girl Of My Dreams album
Fletcher - Girl Of My Dreams album

Capitol Music Group Girl of My Dreams Cover Art

That feeling of embrace began when FLETCHER left her hometown for college in New York City.

"That's where I fell in love with a girl for the first time. And she ended up breaking my heart into a million pieces. And then I wrote an EP about it called You Ruined New York City for Me," she says. "But that was the moment that I was like, 'Oh, I definitely have the freedom,' because I'm living in a space that allows me to go explore myself. And I just felt like I was in an environment where that was supported, which isn't the case for everybody."

She continued, "I also realized that it's not only where you are physically, but that it's such an internal journey too. You don't have to be somewhere that outwardly accepts you to begin accepting yourself internally and loving yourself unconditionally. We live in a world and a society that capitalizes off of our self-hatred and the most rebellious thing that you can do in the face of that is to unapologetically love yourself. Nobody gets to dictate that narrative other than you."

And dictating her narrative is precisely what she's doing when it comes to her debut album Girl of My Dreams, set for release on Sept. 16.

"All of You Ruined New York City for Me and The S(ex) Tapes ... my previous bodies of work have all been other relationships and very much focused on other people," she says. "And while this album ties up the loose ends of those situations, it's really the first time that I get to focus on the relationship that I have with myself. And I think that's been the biggest growth that I've had in my big girl life. So it's definitely not an overnight journey, but it's one that's worth the view at the top, for sure."

Reflecting on the album, she pictures her listeners driving with the top down on a big open road, singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs and that "feeling of freedom."

In honor of the album announcement, FLETCHER also revealed she'll be going on tour this fall. The Girl of My Dreams tour will kick off in October in Orlando, and will wrap up in November in Los Angeles.

Even though her performance anxiety sometimes gets the best of her, FLETCHER admits she's excited for that feeling of "connectedness" with her fans.

"My fans truly drive my existence in my artistry. They are the reason why so much has happened and they are such a huge puzzle piece to this experience. And I write this music for myself. It's like my therapy, but I f---ing write it for them. And I know these are all things that I like would've needed to hear and have needed to hear."

And this is what's led her to find her purpose. "So much of our life is about figuring out what our service is and how to help each other and love each other. And I feel like I finally understand more of a purpose in my life, where I'm like, 'Oh no, this is what like fills my cup up.' And it's just a really f---ing beautiful thing that I get to do and be connected to these really cool humans. Life is crazy."

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She also caught a glimpse of that feeling this month with her Meet Her at the Bar: Pride Month Experience where she appeared at four women-owned queer bars across the country, with her last stop on Friday. The shows were aimed to raise money for the bars and for GLAAD's Rapid Response Initiative and Communities of Color Program.

"It's just really filled my heart in a way that is to have all this interconnectedness of these safe spaces at my shows," the "Cherry" singer says. "We need more of those conversations and people feeling like they're at home is the most beautiful feeling that you could ever provide for somebody."

"That was really the motivation," she continued, joking, "And the takeaway [is] that lesbians really know how to drink tequila!"