By Gabby Redding | December 27, 2022
In early December, before making moves to the west coast, Fake Dad hosted a farewell to New York show at the Sultan Room in Brooklyn. The space filled with a mixture of friends of Andrea and Josh, as well as supporters of the three strong, but distinct, opening acts (Mal Sounds, URL, and Richard Orofino)
Josh Ford and Andrea de Varona of Fake Dad have been together for five years, making music for four years. Their story began when they were both undergraduates at NYU, and a mutual friend invited Josh to one of Andrea’s parties. The two musicians instantly connected that night, with Josh not knowing he was at Andrea’s apartment until later. Eventually, they moved in together to that same apartment, along with the mutual friend that had introduced them. They had already been making music independently, with Josh focusing on what he describes as ’2010-indie-sadboi music,’ and Andrea making jazz with an R&B influence (Think Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Amy Winehouse). The two found a connection in their mutual love of 70s and 80s rock music.
From the beginning, sharing music with one another was a love language, and they discovered further crossover in musicians such as Alabama Shakes and Porches. This combination of indie, jazz, R&B, old-school rock, and synth pop, has made its way into Fake Dad’s unique sound and intelligent, but subtle and nuanced, lyrics.
They moved from just sharing songs with each other, to making music. Andrea planned to enter a song writing competition and sent Josh the song (which someone else had produced). He responded with “Honestly, I could do this a lot better.” And he did. They played that song together and won the competition.
At the Sultan Room, Fake Dad played a mix of original music with a few covers mixed in. Their setlist had an eclectic sound reminiscent of bands as musically diverse as Nine Inch Nails, Grouplove, and Glass Animals, and at times you could have mistaken Andrea’s voice for Sharon Van Etten’s. The band showcased their self awareness when they later covered ‘Every Time the Sun Comes Up,’ one of Van Etten’s hits. Despite pulling from a range of influences, Fake Dad maintains a cohesive catalog, using synth to tie everything together.
When they closed the show with some of their more upbeat, and newer tracks, the front of the Sultan Room turned into a dance floor. Josh encouraged their friends to come closer, while Andrea led call and responses.
Ultimately, Fake Dad capped their time in New York with an energetic, yet emotionally vulnerable performance that made attendees feel like we were witnessing their love story play out on stage.
Josh Ford and Andrea de Varona sat down with us outside of the Sultan Room before their show and shared how the story of their relationship is so deeply intertwined with the story of Fake Dad, how they landed on the name for the band, how they have embraced making unapologetically fun music, and they also answered some more questions for the groovement.
How did you end up with the name ‘Fake Dad’
A: The two of us had begun a list of phrases that felt like ‘good band names,’ but the name Fake Dad came from a nickname a classmate called my improv professor. I texted Josh and said “Hey. Fake Dad? Band name?” He agreed, and on the list of names we had, Fake Dad was the most memorable to our group of friends.
J: We wanted the mental equivalent of search engine optimization, something that could be googleable, but on a mental emotional level. There are just so many bands, and people are so bombarded with words, that just hearing a combination of words that you haven’t has value.
Tonight is acting as your ‘farewell show’ to NYC before the two of you move to LA. How do you envision your sound changing as you start making music on the West Coast?
A: Throughout this in the past year, we’ve kind of moved into more of a pop direction, which is the quintessential LA sound.
J: What we were making before was very low-fi indie, because that’s what we knew how to make. But I think that we have developed a bit of ‘poptimism.’ Making stuff that is not too smart for everyone in the room is not a weakness. Something that communicates something nuanced with people in a way that is simple and accessible and still unique, that’s tough!
If we look at the singles you’ve put out in the last year and a half or so, (New Machines, Painkiller, How Do I Cry) they feel a lot lighter. Do you see that as a response to the difficulties of the pandemic? Is it the audio equivalent of dopamine dressing?
A: It might be! We were definitely looking to make music that felt lighter and more dancy. Things you can listen to at the start of your day and lift you up, rather than just night vibes which is like a lot of our early stuff.
J: We make what we like to listen to, and what we think is missing. We started valuing the kind of music that made us happy, above all else. That did coincide with the increased valuation of pop-pseudo-simplistic stuff, it was just natural that we started regurgitating that and making that ourselves.
So say you move to LA, it goes amazing, and you decide to put down roots and stay forever; what are your fondest memories of New York, as musicians?
A: I’m going to miss the music scene of New York. Every night you can find a good show in New York, and there just aren’t as many venues out there in LA.
And what venues here in New York will you miss?
A: Oh I’ll miss Baby’s [All Right]. It holds a special place in my heart, it’s where I saw my first indie show when I moved to NYC.
J: My favorite venue to perform at might be this one [Sultan Room.] We kicked around a couple options for places to host this goodbye show, but this was it. I love this venue, we were here when it opened, I remember the first shows we saw here. It’s a modern classic, and one of our favorites.
Ours too. So what can we expect next from Fake Dad?
A: We’re always working on new music! We have something coming out in the next couple months, and that–combined with the last few singles–are all a part of a larger project. In the meantime, we’ll be dropping some unreleased work.
📸: shot by Kyle Manning