Brooklyn Alt-Pop Duo Fake Dad Talks New Single ‘I Like The Beach’, Harassing John Cusack, & More

Brooklyn based indie-alternative duo Fake Dad zen-out in their new single “I Like The Beach.”

Released back in late October, “I Like The Beach ” is a vulnerable, danceable ode to the love and deep connection shared between the band’s two members, Andrea de Varona and Josh Ford.

Ever since the duo met back in 2018, music has remained a central pillar of their relationship, and they’ve been making music together since. 

Varona’s jazzy, soulful vocals float like clouds through the mix, and are further elevated by smooth and sublime vocal harmonies. Rich, booming basslines, arpeggiated keys, and thumping drum samples give the song an irresistible, trance-inducing pulse. All the while, lush synth pads give the tune a dense soundscape, which according to the group was largely inspired by film scores composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. With the jazzy vocal stylings and sequenced synths, the tune feels reminiscent of indie bands like Little Dragon and Mr. Twin Sister. 

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The track was written by Andrea in the pair’s cramped studio apartment in Brooklyn, where the duo self-produced the song under the mentorship of Swagg R’Celious, a Grammy-winning producer who has worked with artists such as H.E.R., Kehlani, and Alicia Keys, to name a few. Drawing from influences such as Brittany Howard, Nirvana, and FINNEAS, the pair have created a unique sound that is distinctly their own.

We had the opportunity to chat with Fake Dad about their new single, their songwriting process, playing shows, and more.

So what’s the backstory on how you two met and decided to start making music together? 

Sharing and talking about music was a love language for us even before we started working together. We met in college through a mutual friend, and started dating pretty quickly after that. Our first dates were concerts or hanging out in each other’s apartments showing each other music we liked. We had both been making music individually before that, and never really had much success collaborating with others, but, for some reason, collaborating with each other felt so natural that we just fell into it. We were making really different stuff separately, but combining our sounds and tastes just made something so much cooler, and we already had the beginnings of this musical and interpersonal shorthand together.

And where did the name Fake Dad come from? 

No meaning. Just vibes. We’re both the kind of people who would hear a neat or interesting phrase and say, “that should be a band name, that would be a really funny name for a metal band, etc.” Once we started making music together, we started to put all of those ideas in this long list every time one popped up in conversation. They were just these meaningless phrases that had a unique mouth-feel and a thought-provoking imagery. We whittled the list down further and further, and Fake Dad was the only one we could really agree on seriously using.

How does being in a relationship affect the band’s dynamics?

Fake Dad is just the two of us, so there’s really not much difference between the dynamic of the band and the dynamic of the relationship. The best musical collaborations come from a place of mutual respect and deep understanding anyway. That being said, we always say that we would rather have the relationship than the band. Having a loving relationship as the backdrop for our work really drives us to be better collaborators, to listen and give each other space to explore an idea. We both try to be the kind of collaborator we think our partner deserves.

I was hoping you could talk a little about your new single, “I Like The Beach.” What was the inspiration and influence behind it?

“I Like the Beach” is an earnest love song about not liking nice things. It’s simultaneously jaded and sentimental. Andrea wrote this song about Josh, and we both went on to record and produce it together in our home studio. After watching lots of films scored by Trent Reznor, we were inspired by his really textured, minimalist synth lines. There are also these undercurrents of Brittany Howard in the melodic and vocal performance, and something almost a little grungy driving it too. 

Do you actually like the beach? And if so, do you have a favorite?

Andrea: If it wasn’t obvious, I kind of have a complicated relationship with the beach. I grew up in Miami, so the beach was always a part of my life, ever since I can remember being alive. I love the ocean, it feels like it represents peace and serenity, but “The Beach” feels like this place I was always sort of forced to go and couldn’t escape. The meaning of the line “I like the beach only when I go with you” represents this relationship turning something I don’t really enjoy into something I can rediscover the beauty of, because it’s with this person.

What does the creative process look like for you guys?

We make everything ourselves: writing, recording, and production all happen in our home recording studio. If you ever hear either of us singing, know that the other was recording. If you hear a guitar or a bass or a piano, know that it was recorded 5 feet from where we sleep. Because of that, we think of everything as a 100% collaboration. Our place is kind of small, so there’s not really such a thing as working on an idea without the other person hearing it and chiming in if they’re inspired. We like to think of each song as a story the listener is being told through not just the lyrics, but also the music itself—we’ll build something up and break it and build it again as many times as we need to until it feels like the story has no dull moments.

Will the single be featured on an EP or album, or is it a standalone single for now?

Just a single for now! We really like releasing one-off songs that just explore a sonic idea we’re intrigued by, and then moving on. Our EP, Old Baby, was incredibly rewarding to make, but singles are so conceptually free and untethered. Each outing is an opportunity to reexamine or retool our sonic identity. That being said, we’d still love to release another EP and/or debut album in the near future.

How did you guys link up with producer Swagg R’Celious?

Andrea: I’m currently in grad school for music comp at NYU Steinhardt. Swagg is an adjunct professor there, and I actually got to study privately with him all of last semester (Spring 2021). It was a really neat experience, he’s a super kind, awesome dude. We really delved into production as a composition tool, and I learned a lot of great techniques that he uses in his work with really inspiring artists like H.E.R., Kehlani, and Leo The Kind. His input on “I Like the Beach” was very helpful, and gave me a lot of courage to do something super weird and cinematic with the arrangement. He encouraged me to highlight more of the idiosyncrasies of my voice and writing through my production–to let the parts of our sound that make it so uniquely compelling come through.

How does living in Brooklyn or NYC as a whole influence the style of your music?

We’re really lucky to exist in this circle of NYC-based artists and producers—pretty much everyone we know either makes music or their lives revolve around it, so it’s kind of easy for us to forget sometimes that that’s not what the whole world is like. Even beyond the music-making community, most people we are around are creatives in one way or another, which is also really cool and inspiring. This kind of creatively-enriching community gives us constant access to extremely helpful and honest feedback, and we’re often inspired by the creative visions and drive of the people around us.

What might the rest of 2021 have in store for Fake Dad? Winter of 2022? 

We will be playing our last show of the year on December 10th at The Sultan Room—it will actually be a release show for our upcoming single, “John Cusack,” which will be coming out that same day. We’re really excited about getting this song out to everyone. Our not so secret mission is to bombard John Cusack and his team with tweets and emails to try to get him to film a music video with us for the song. The plan (if we can convince Cusack) is to record the video in the new year.

Other than harassing John Cusack, we are constantly working on new material that we will be putting out in 2022. There will definitely be another single or two during the Winter of 2022 as well. We also hope to play some shows in LA and in the west coast area as early as we can in 2022. The ultimate plan is to get a sick opener slot for an artist/band we love for as many cities (other than NYC) as possible. Mainly because we’ve only really played in NY and are really excited about getting to play for some of our fans outside of the city.

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