September 19, 2019

Charlie Faye on ‘The Whole Shebang’ Album With The Fayettes, Playing SXSW

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As heard on the “Riverdale,” “Seal Team” and “Girlboss” television shows, Charlie Faye & The Fayettes make music that is both classic and forward-thinking. While heavily influenced by the “girl groups” of the 1960s, Faye and the Fayettes’ lyrics are definitely modern. In other words, expect classic harmonies and “Wall Of Sound”-style production and arrangements alongside shout-along hooks that are reflective of the ‘00s and 2010s.

“The Whole Shebang” is the latest album from Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, as released in February through Burnside Distribution. “You Gotta Give It Up (Party Song)” was notably premiered by Parade Magazine. Meanwhile, Bill Kopp of Musoscribe recently said: “If ‘That Thing You Do!’ ever gets a distaff reboot, Faye and her group should handle the music. And that’s some of the highest praise I can think of.”

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with group-leader Charlie Faye and highlights from that interview are below.

Jewish Journal: “The Whole Shebang” is your latest album. How long did you spend making it? 

Charlie Faye: We laid down the basic tracks for the record in four days, and then over the next few months we worked on vocals, string and horn arrangements, and other overdubs. We’re lucky enough to have our own home studio so we were able to take the time we needed to put all the finishing touches on the record.  

JJ: Do you have a favorite song on “The Whole Shebang?”  

CF: Oh that’s always so hard. And it changes over time! Right now I think my favorite is “Night People.”

JJ: I believe you were down at SXSW promoting “The Whole Shebang” this year. How do you feel SXSW has changed over the years?

CF: SXSW has definitely grown in the decade that I’ve been attending it. There were a few years where it started to feel too big and too corporate, but a lot of people felt like it got smaller and a little more personal this past year, so maybe things are swinging back in the other direction. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed SXSW and felt like it provided great opportunities for me and the band. 

JJ: In support of your 2011 album, you interestingly spent a month apiece in 10 different cities. I’ve never heard of another artist doing a full residency tour before. Is that something you look back on fondly?

CF: Actually, I did that residency tour in 2010, and it was during the tour that I made my 2011 release, “Travels With Charlie.” I do look back on that tour fondly, it was an incredible life experience. I got to really get to know ten different cities and immerse myself in their local music communities. I made a lot of great friends. 

JJ: Charlie Faye & The Fayettes have had music placed on some popular television shows. How do those sorts of usages happen for the band? Is someone pitching your music to shows?

CF: Soon after I finished making the first Charlie Faye & The Fayettes album, I made it my goal to get us a licensing deal so that we could get these kinds of placements. I secured a deal with a great licensing company called Bank Robber Music, and the placements came through them. 

JJ: You recently signed a deal with Rough Trade Publishing. Does that mean that you have been doing writing for other artists? 

CF: Sometimes writing for other artists is a big part of having a publishing deal, but in my case it’s more about making more music for Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, and writing for film and TV placements! 

JJ: Songwriting aside, what’s coming up for you career-wise?

CF: Well songwriting IS what’s happening for me career-wise right now! I’m just starting to write for our next record. This week I’m flying to Nashville to do some co-writing with one of my favorites writers, Bill Demain.

JJ: I feel compelled to ask: Were you bat mitzvahed? Any memories to share from that era of your life?

CF: I was bat mitzvahed! It wasn’t forced on me, either, it was totally my choice.

My family really only went to temple on the High Holidays, and there was no expectation that I be bat mitzvahed, but when I expressed interest in Hebrew school, my parents sent me. And of course then I wanted to be bat mitzvahed like the rest of my class.

Memories from that time? I think that’s a tough age for many of us, and I was no exception! I was an awkward pre-teen. and I remember how nervous I was to get up in front of all those people to sing in Hebrew!

JJ: Finally, Charlie, any last words for the kids?

CF: Sure. I actually read some of my childhood diaries recently, as my mom was packing up my childhood home, and I had written at 8 or 9 years old that I wanted to be a singer when I grew up, like my idol Carole King. Somewhere in my teens I lost confidence that that was something I could actually do, but I found it again when I hit my 20s, and I’ve been pursuing a career in music ever since.

I guess I want to say, if you have passion for your childhood dream, you really can pursue it. If it’s a career in music  or the arts in general  it probably won’t be easy, and there will be a lot of risk involved… But if you keep at it, it might just work out!

More on Charlie Faye & The Fayettes can be found online at www.charliefayeandthefayettes.com.