For most of us, the idea that it's possible to communicate with people who are no longer with us is more than a little farfetched.
Enter Fleur. The 27-year-old, who hails from the Netherlands and now lives in Los Angeles, is fast on her way to becoming one of the city's most popular mediums. As in, yeah, her business is communicating with dead people.
Whether you believe in this sort of thing or not is entirely down to you. Fleur, however, is entirely sold, despite coming from a scientific background (she was pre-med at UCLA). According to Fleur, her ability to speak to those who have passed on is something that's been with her since she was a very young child, around 5 years old. Her parents, an engineer and a journalist (she describes them as "fairly normal"), first noticed there was something different about Fleur when she was able to correctly identify her grandparents' nicknames; grandparents she had never met. After that, she says, "the things I was coming out with...were so bizarre and random but also so accurate that my parents weren't able to say 'she's making it up'."
Nowadays, she works with clients to do "readings" and help them communicate with people they have lost. And she's got an army of people backing her. Not only is her waiting list 18 months long, but some of her high-profile clients include Lana Del Rey and Emma Roberts.
So how does Fleur manage to communicate with people from beyond the grave? What does it feel like to actually do it? Does she mind that people don't believe her? And, more importantly, who's the most famous dead person she's ever spoken to? We sat down with her ahead of her first London show to find this out and more.
Hi Fleur, if someone’s not sure what a medium is, what do you tell them?
So a medium translates between the physical world and the spiritual world. It’s a translator between people who are living here in the physical world and those who are deceased.
You say you first realised your powers when you were young – what happened?
My parents first took notice – the information and the people and the names I was describing weren’t anyone I would have known in my living world. But it wasn’t until I was maybe seven when I realised I was different. Once I started comparing my reality to other people's it became very clear that everybody else didn’t see what I saw.
And no one likes to be different, right? Was there ever a time when you wished you didn’t have these abilities?
Oh, very much so. It took over my childhood. I wasn’t very happy and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. It wasn’t until I was 18 when I realised I just had to figure it out. Regardless of if I wanted something to do with it, I just needed to figure out how it worked for me.
So what does this communication feel like?
I’m very present in my body. I feel a lot actually. A lot of the feeling comes in how someone passes, regardless of whether it was a natural passing such as cancer, or unnatural, such as a car accident – I feel it in my body. If it’s cancer, I feel the location of it. One example that is quite funny is that if I’m working with a man who had a beard I feel like I’ve got a beard on my face!
It must be pretty tough to deal with if you’re communicating with someone who has died in a car crash or something...
Yes. It is very important that you work on self-care as well because it can get overwhelming. You have to find a way where the grief doesn’t overburden the good. Often those readings can be quite difficult but the joy and the relief and the closure that it’s brought at the end make it completely worth it. You don’t leave a reading feeling sad because you’re seeing a transformation happen.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about mediums?
It’s a changing world, which is wonderful, so the misconceptions that used to exist don't as much anymore. It’s not all bangles and incense and things; we’re more people like myself who look surprisingly normal. Another one is that when people come to see me they want me to find their spirit people for them when, in reality, they’re bringing them with them in the room. I’m not like, dialling up the phone number like, “Hey we’d like to talk to these three can you send them down please”. It doesn’t work like that. You have them with you all the time, I’m just acting as the translator.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever communicated with?
One of my favourites just in terms of celebrity standing was Mama Cass and Papa John of The Mamas and the Papas. I got them through one of the children, they were such personalities. It was literally SO fun. I had no idea who I was connecting with initially but you could tell that they were people who had lived very interesting lives in the spotlight. They were not shy people. It really filled the room with the sense of “OK we’re talking to some personalities here!” It was a really cool experience.
Can you give me an example of how you’ve really blown someone’s mind?
I did a reading for a lady a few weeks ago who had lost her husband and she could not find his wedding ring and he showed me that it was going to be next to a passport and next to legal documents. So she looked and sadly, she still couldn’t find them – but then she emailed me later because she was cleaning the house and she had found some old passports and paperwork and for some reason the ring was there! She was like, “Oh my god it was exactly like what you said.” And it’s so fascinating to me because it means there’s an intelligence beyond the static survival of energy. An intelligence with the ability to communicate. It’s not just static and we’re not just reading an imprint or a memory. There’s something moving.
Does your ability ever waver due to stress or whatever?
It totally affects me. I feel like one of my biggest struggles in life is just constantly trying to gain equilibrium so I can do productive work. I’ve definitely had to take days off because it’s that time of the month, so it’s totally dependant on many different factors and that’s frustrating. You can never account for the perfect day where it will run perfectly.
So you’ve worked with the children of Mama Cass and Papa John but you also work with other celebrities; how do you stay cool and do your thing when Lana Del Rey’s sat in front of you?
In the beginning it really shook me up. But it’s very interesting work because it really cuts through the outer layers of anything else that’s going on in the world. When I’m with a person, that bond of loving someone and losing them is the worst thing about life. It doesn’t matter how much money you have; at the end of the day, you are a soul. I could be a little nervous before the reading but then I get into it.
Do you get people who tell you they don’t believe you?
I’d say that 85% of the people that I read for are sceptical, but open. They have this idea that “I don’t really believe this but if I’m given proof I could change my mind” or “I would like to change my mind” or “I’ve never seen any evidence for it but I’m intrigued.” Most people I read for have never seen someone like me before and it’s their first time.
How do you marry up that medical, science-based background and what you do now?
In the beginning it was horribly hard for me to try and balance those two perspectives. But I think I’ve got to a place where I don’t see science, faith and spirituality as separate. The two can very much coexist. All I will say is that many scientific advances prior to their discovery were just not believed, because they seemed absurd. When it comes to my work, the limitation is that we have not found or created or been able to create scientific experiments that can measure it. I don’t think that means it doesn’t exist.
There must be exploitation of grieving relatives in your industry, though?
I think like any job, you’re going to have people doing it with good intentions and a good moral base, and then you’re going to have people who will not. I think it’s upsetting but you can only focus on the things that you’re doing and hope that people don’t lump you into one giant category.
Do you think speaking to people a lot older has left you with a certain level of maturity?
Absolutely. Although there really isn’t a specific age group. I work for a lot of people across all ages, in their 20s, kids, people in their 90s. But that being said, working for the last eight years, I’ve got so many snapshots of so many lives and in those lessons learned, mistakes made, I've definitely had the privilege of absorbing that and feeling like I’ve had a glimpse of so many life experiences, has helped me to define my own.