Photos by Allen Ying.
“The way Faux Real looks and sounds is almost entirely accidental,” tells Franco-American brothers Elliott and Virgile Arndt. For them, Faux Real is not just a band per se, it is: a music group, a family band, an art project, a train of thought, and “an inside joke.” Truly and in itself, Faux Real is an honest transfer of pure creation and performance, inscribed and inspired by a million things at once. From energetic, vividly-choreographed-in-your-face-shirts-off shows, smeared with a rock and roll attitude and songs adorned with glam, allocating the duo in a single box seems not only impossible but wasteful. “The most deliberate aspect of it is us making puns in Frenglish. At the start, the dancing was mainly a way to cope with the nerve-wracking idea of standing on stage with nothing but a microphone. We still aren’t totally certain whether Faux Real is an actual group or a vast misunderstanding,” Faux Real explains. Now with the release of their self-titled EP, the group not only gives those who have yet to experience them a presentation sound-card but welcomes anyone to their world, which is not faux but real. And you see this, for example, in “Kindred Spirit” where they sing “Kindred Spirit / I don’t get it / I got another one of me somewhere inside / Someone who doesn’t wanna hide” — and in fact, the duo does not show being inhibited or shy and rather seems as explorers of their bond and connection and how this union can serve as part of their narrative. When you listen to the gorgeous “Boss Sweet” the duo immerse themselves in a dreamy baroque-pop, kind of a cool cinematic experience mixed with melancholia and a gloomy but hopeful reality. “Boss Sweet” sort of breaks into the utopian world that is Faux Real, which is the main attraction of the project: it’s disruptive but elegant. “Come Thru” effortlessly transports us with its airy pop melody and psych-rock fusion to a world filled with sensations where synths are expressive and ultimately the chassis to a sound that will probably become particularly defining for the duo.
Seems like music runs in the family! How was growing up and learning about music?
We are a blank canvas and the inexperienced hand that paints it all at once. Growing up and learning about music are, still, taking up most of our time. And the two things are almost always linked. Discovery leading to re-discovery.
Is Faux Real the first musical collaboration between the two?
Faux Real is the first time we make music publicly, but we have been collaborating and making things since childhood. Most of our production has been focused on jokes, inventing characters, acting out surrealist scenarios and making up new sports, so it is all pretty intangible, sadly. We have not been keeping thorough records, either.
There are elements of complicit synchronicity and thoughtfulness around the way the two present yourselves as a group and individuals. What inspires the looks and direction of FR?
The only direction we can say we follow with certainty is forwards. As time continues its inexorable march, and we strive to produce new entertainment, we only present ourselves as we are. Faux Real is made-up of two characters who are also the truest reflection of our deepest selves, which is why we think of ourselves as Method Musicians™.
With not a lot of accessibility to the sound of FR in streaming services or physical outlets, what does it mean to present yourselves as a live band versus a recording outfit? Was this intentional to be more impactful maybe that way?
We don’t really see ourselves as a live band. More like figure skaters who just happen to compose the music they dance to. Like gymnasts with weaker bodies but better costumes. The fact so little music has been released is only a testimony to how much time we spend creating obscure memes and thinking about world domination. We have been working on a new routine though, which needs new music.
Is it true that when you traveled to SXSW in 2019 you had no shows booked? Was it a “crashing the gig” situation? Would love to hear more about making those live shows happen!
Without a single confirmed show on the horizon, and our music yet to be released, we embarked on a month-long US “tour” in March 2019, of which SXSW was the first destination. We were armed with nothing but high hopes, low expectations, and Ferguson Videostar, our briefcase. A flurry of poorly-planned but extremely infectious iterations of Faux Realism ensued. Due to this Texan incubation period, Austin has become the world capital of Faux Realism. We were aided by a large number of people to pursue and achieve unreasonable goals, at the expense of everyone’s health and safety. And we did steal a slot or two.
What does family mean to you two?
We’re very lucky because we’ve already known each other 28 years, which gives us an advantage over most other music groups, undoubtedly. We believe we’re soon entering the “Greatest Hits” phase of our career, which will save a lot of time.
Covid-19 hit and a lot of titles are being pushed back. How do you two feel about releasing music now? What will this EP represent for people who are, for example, self-isolating and separated from their loved ones?
Releasing music now feels appropriate, because everyone needs to be entertained. We aim to provide emotional assistance to all who might need it, through music, dance, and poetry. We hope the EP will serve as a gateway to Faux Realism. And in these testing times, we must remember that real things can be faked, and fake things can feel real.
Is there any music or any art form that is currently serving as inspiration or nurturing ideas for the future of your live shows?
We have been practicing new forms of physical exercise in order to make our Augmented Karaoke™ more athletic and aggressive still. We have considered washing our outfits, as well as perhaps adding a second instrument. We are constantly scrapbooking and collecting data, information and inspiration from multiple sources. There is no limit to our curiosity and our hunger for total domination over the world’s cultural and artistic landscape.
Faux Real EP is out now. Follow Faux Real on Instagram.