Dreamericana and Contemplating What the Living Do, an Interview with Fauvely
Fauvely hail from the the windy city. Their brand of dreamy music rides the line between Americana and the more melancholy side of dreampop. Their follow-up to 2018’s Tides, the What the Living Do EP is an emotive set of tracks that stretches from the more philosophically contemplative title track to the emotively eruptive “Fall Asleep to TV”. A brilliant release, the new EP should extend Fauvely‘s presence beyond the Chicago scene and make them far more present in the musical consciousness of the nation and beyond. The band was kind enough to answer my questions on their formation, their recent tour, how they approach their music, and so much more.
Hello all in Fauvely. Can you introduce yourselves and let the readers know what you do in the band?
Sophie Brochu: Hi. I started Fauvely late 2016 in my apartment with no intention of it ever being heard. I write, sing, and play guitar.
Dale Price: I like to add arpeggios, swells, lead lines and prettiness on guitar. On recordings, I also add keys.
Dave Piscotti: I drum and make different percussion-y noises.
Scott Cortez: I play machete guitar, bass vi, bowed guitar, and other homemade devices. I also helped produce the EP, basically, I just say ‘more reverb and delay please’, and ‘no’. I have a knack for the dreamy, atmospheric melancholia, after making that kind of music and honing that sound down for over three and a half decades. I bring that skill set to this project.
Chace Wall: I play bass and add backing vocals/harmonies wherever they’re needed. I also recorded and co-produced This is What the Living Do.
Let’s start off with a bit of history. How did the band start, what releases have you put out so far, and have there been any member changes so far?
Scott: Sophie was playing in one of my bands and one day at practice she showed me a song she was working on. I liked it and told her it was good. We even tried to make it into an Astrobrite song but it was too tricky. I told her to make some more songs, which she did. She was looking for a band name and I suggested fauve, cause Sophie has a wild animal spirit, but there was already a fauve band, so that wouldn’t fly. She then morphed it by adding her middle name to it and voila!
Sophie: Yeah, I got a lot of encouragement from Scott in the beginning. I released Watch Me Overcomplicate This in 2017 and Tides in 2018. Our new EP, This is What the Living Do, is way more of a group effort. The sound has evolved, I learned a lot about what not to do, and I’m grateful to have these guys on my side.
Chace: I’m new! I went on tour as a sub and came to love all these humans so much that I couldn’t walk away.
Dave: This will be my first release with Fauvely, which I’m immensely excited about! I think this lineup captures something very unique.
Your music is on the, well, melancholy side. Can you talk about how you see yourselves in terms of the genre (or non-genre) you seem to write in?
Sophie: I don’t try to make anything fit into a genre–just doing what comes naturally. I care most about being genuine and vulnerable.
Dale: Melancholy is my wheelhouse. I gravitate towards quieter, introspective, personal songwriting. It’s like a feedback loop at this point.
Scott: I like calling it dreamericana to actually nail it down, cause it has dream-pop sensibilities and folky, Americana traditions in there too.
Given the robust scene in Chicago, do you see it and the city in which you find yourselves affecting your music, how you write, or how you approach your art?
Chace: I find a lot of inspiration from my peers. I never feel particularly competitive, but when a group I know puts out a really strong release or plays a great show, it makes me want to up myself to be on the same level and has nurtured a lot of my musical growth. Plus, when you see your peers succeeding and breaking out into the national scene, it gives you the sense that you can do it too.
Scott: Seeing so many good local bands only makes me want to be better, and not settle for mediocre in the music I make or am a part of.
You just went out on your first tour. Where did you go and do you have any good tour stories from the trip?
Chace: We went down south to Savannah, stopping in Lexington, Athens, Nashville, and Louisville. One of my favorite parts was having a contest to make the most beautiful orange peel in the van and then having fans vote on social media to decide the winner. I may or may not have won, and that may or may not be why I remember it fondly, but it was a really silly fun thing to kill the time between shows.
Sophie: We keep a group text going and I woke up in the middle of the night in Nashville to text everyone even though they were asleep nearby. This isn’t really a story, but an indication of my affinity for these people.
Dave: It was arguably one of the best experiences I’ve had, and the fact that we liked each other even more by the time we got back, is a testament to everyone in this band.
Dale: Playing multiple shows in a row makes you laser focus on what you’re doing right or wrong; you have immediate turnaround to change things if needed. My absolute favorite was Louisville because it was the culmination of all of that. Everyone was in sync – different limbs of the same tree.
I really love This is What the Living Do. Can you talk a bit about the writing and recording of the EP and perhaps how it may have differed from Watch Me Overcomplicate This and Tides?
Sophie: Thank you. This was a very different approach with a little more patience and a lot more focus.
Scott: Chace did an amazing job recording and tracking the new EP, it was a painless, laid back process. Sometimes folks have specific parts and lines that they want you to play, ie, my other band, but Sophie trusts us to fill those gaps. She writes the core, the heart of the songs chord structure, but lets us find our parts for her songs. So I wrote all the bass parts very specific and deliberate, they aren’t ancillary; they are very minimal and understated on purpose to let Sophie’s voice come through and have most of the space.
The new Ep differs from Tides and Watch Me, sonically; I think the new ep sounds more like Fauvely to me.
Dale: The arrangements on everything really felt like a group effort, and the EP is the product of a band. Sophie and I had worked with Chace before on a one-off live session, and he got the sound immediately.
Chace: We tracked the full band live playing all together in the same room, and then spent a couple of days experimenting with different guitar and keyboard/piano ideas to flesh everything out. I’m pretty sure it was the first time the band had tracked songs live together, and to me, it gives the songs a lot more vitality and urgency.
Sophie: Yep, one hundred percent. I loved tracking together and totally agree with Scott that this is the sound that I intended.
I like to ask bands about specific songs on their most recent releases. Can you talk more in-depth about the writing and recording of “Theta” and “Fall Asleep to TV”?
Dale: ’Theta’ was originally an instrumental demo I recorded in my bedroom in 2002. I kept coming back to the main figure – usually looping it while I dialed in my amp tone – and that’s how it caught Sophie’s ear; we arranged it into a song as a group.
Chace: Theta turned out to be more of a product of sculptural subtraction than anything else. Once we had a good live take with the band, Dale and Scott both added a ton of guitar tracks to the second half of the song. We spent a lot of time going through and taking away from the mass of sound we’d built until we found the sound we were looking for and kept only the most essential elements. Sophie also recorded either three or four separate vocal takes, and we ended up keeping all of them with one being higher in the mix than the others. I don’t think she monitored the previous takes while she was recording additional ones, so we ended up with a lot of great improvisation moments and variously crunchy and sweet incidental vocal harmonies.
Sophie: No, I didn’t monitor the previous takes! What I really like about Theta is that it’s kind of fluid. Every time we play it, it’s different. Fall Asleep To TV is weird, isn’t it? I’m not even really sure how to explain what it’s about. But isn’t that the great thing about music? You can capture a certain emotion that you can’t quite put into words.
Dave: I had no idea what to do with either song on drums when I first heard them, so I literally tried every stick in my case and percussion instruments on the kit until something sounded correct for my parts and expanded from there based on feedback from everyone else and what felt the most natural. Recording everything was a blast because we could layer in different sounds that you can’t do live or in rehearsal.
For the gearheads that read the blog, what gear do you use both in the studio and live?
Sophie: My husband, Andrew, surprised me with a Carstens Blue Sky amp. It has such a lovely, rich tone. Brian Carstens hand-makes them here in Chicago. I also love my Hall of Fame reverb pedal and my Fender Jaguar.
Dale: 99% of my live sound is three guitar pedals – the Strymon Big Sky, EHX Cathedral, and Earthquaker Devices Hoof – and the Fender EOB Stratocaster. I play through a Fender Mustang GT 100, which is a modeling amp that does a very passable impression of classic Fender amps. In the studio, I add Fender Telecasters to the mix for variety.
Scott: Squier bass VI, Squier Jaguar, and I will be using Custom bowed guitar, modded autoharp, custom slide guitar. Verbzilla, Mr. black gold pedal, boss octave pedal. Metal bar for scraping against guitar strings.
Chace: 2004 American Fender P-Bass into a 500w Fender Rumble amplifier
Dave: I play a Gretsch Renown Maple kit, with C&C maple/gum snare. I make good use of maracas combined with sticks, tambourine, mallets, sometimes all in the same song.
Do you have any influences on your art? If so, what are they and this could be bands/musicians, authors/books, or visual art, etc?
Sophie: John Frusciante, the news, the ‘90s, Mitski, the news app on my phone, Savannah, work, rejection, the service industry, my husband–he challenges me in really interesting ways–and the EP is named after a poetry collection by Marie Howe.
Scott: John Cage. Reverb and delay pedals. Anyone can learn how to play an instrument, the secret is knowing what not to do.
Dale: I’m not shy about my love for Kate Bush, Radiohead, Beach House, Sufjan Stevens, Smashing Pumpkins, REM and anything on Bella Union or 4AD. Outside of music, I watch a _lot_ of movies – particularly horror – and I’m sure that seeps in.
Chace: Oddly enough, I think most about George Harrison when I’m playing bass in Fauvely. He had an incredible knack for finding the most essential elements of a melodic idea and playing really thoughtful lines that can’t be subtracted from without dismantling the idea entirely. My goal in this band is the same – to do what’s absolutely necessary for the song without over-embellishing the line and making everything I do in service of the song rather than my own ego.
Dave: I get inspired by the art our friends make around in the music scene. A lot of them are also visual artists and do really interesting work. Currently, music-wise – Beach House, Mitski, The Sundays, Glenn Kotche, Ellis, and about a million others.
What’s next for Fauvely?
Sophie: I’m torn on re-recording Tides. I want to do these songs justice that I didn’t do the first time around. Also, new material, a music video or two, and more mini-tours.
Scott: Yes, remaking, redoing the entire Tides album.
Dale: Once this EP’s out in the world and had time to breathe, I’m itching to write more. The EP was a case of figuring out our sound, and while I love every song, we can push it further – dreamier, prettier, fuller.
Get a copy of Fauvely: What the Living Do at Diversion Records: https://diversion-records.com/album-fauvely-tiwtld.html
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