As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Summer 2020 Issue
By Emmaria Cumiskey
Austin trio Charlie Faye & the Fayettes made up of Charlie Faye and backup vocalists BettySoo and Akina Adderley, have been referred to as a “modern-day ‘60s girl group.” They released their second album, The Whole Shebang, earlier this year via Burnside Distribution. The twelve tracks evoke ‘60s girl groups melodies and harmonies with messages of falling in love, independence, and empowerment.
For the release of the album, Faye explained, “I’m still influenced by ‘60s girl groups, but this time around, other elements came into play too. I wanted us to start venturing a little more into the early ‘70s, as so many of the great girl groups did.”
Faye has also inked a deal with Rough Trade Publishing, to which Faye, in a press release statement, says, “I’m so excited to be working with [them]. They’re a badass company and a great group of people and I couldn’t be happier to have them on our team. I know they’ll be working to get us more opportunities in sync, and that’s something that’s really exciting to me.”
Songs from their self-titled debut album have appeared on y already had some success in licensing their music for television. Their self-titled debut album had songs placed on television shows, including Riverdale, Girlboss, and Seal Team.
Faye fills us in on influences, the trio, and motherhood.
Both you and the Fayettes started as solo artists. You’ve mentioned that the switch felt like a logical next step for you, but was it difficult to transition from making decisions independently to making them as part of a group?
It’s definitely a different thing, but the three of us work really well together. As the leader of the group, I make most of the decisions, but I almost always ask BettySoo and Akina for their input, and I trust their opinions like nobody else’s. I love having two smart, talented friends in the band who I can bounce ideas off of. They also arrange most of the background vocals and even sometimes produce my vocals, cause they’re both amazing at that.
You have an adorable baby named Edie Faye. She has obviously affected your ability to be active in the music world in the short term, but do you think having a young child will have any long-term effects on your perspective toward music?
Actually, I planned to be working again in March, starting with SXSW. We had an official showcase and a couple of cool parties booked. I took a few months off after giving birth, but it was the pandemic that really affected my ability to be out there playing music, not becoming a mother.
Do you think you’ll get back to working as soon as you can, or will you take more time to spend with your family?
I am definitely re-evaluating how to do music right now. It’s a difficult time for everyone in the music industry, and for everyone really, and I think we’re all just trying to figure out how to make things work in this new world. I love performing and playing live, and I have no idea how long it’ll be before I can do that again. So I’m focusing more on writing and licensing music for TV and film right now. I have a publishing deal with a great company called Rough Trade, and I’m very glad to have that avenue for my music.
You’re currently at the forefront of “retro-revival,” as your band draws a lot of inspiration from the Sixties. What drew you to focus your sound around that era?
I’ve always loved music from that era since I was a little kid. I was introduced to Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, and The Ronettes when I was nine years old, thanks to a little movie called Dirty Dancing (and thanks to my mom letting me watch it). It was my favorite movie, and I was obsessed with the soundtrack. Then again later in my life, I came back around to ‘60s pop and soul. In my twenties, I dug deep into the Stax catalog and couldn’t get enough.
Did you have any musical influences growing up that you feel affected your current sound or taste in music?
In addition to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, I was obsessed with Carole King. I used to write her letters and send her presents. I had every word of Tapestry memorized and would annoy my siblings by singing it on family car trips. She’s definitely been a big influence on me. I love that she was a staff writer and wrote so many hits for pop groups in the ‘60s, and then became a successful solo artist in the “singer-songwriter” genre in the ‘70s. There’s not as big a difference between those two genres as you might think. It’s all about good songwriting.
Could you see yourself making music in a different genre in the future, or is this what really feels good to you?
I love the straight-up girl group stuff, but I’m also very influenced by artists like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and Rockpile, and if you listen, you’ll hear that on the Fayettes records too. A song like “Stone Cold Fox” has more in common with Rockpile than the Ronettes. And our song “Heart” was directly influenced by Nick Lowe’s “Heart.” So that’s another genre I feel very comfortable in.
Your first album was produced by Dave Way, who also worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Fiona Apple. What was that like?
Dave is fantastic. He’s got a great vibe and a great studio, and he’s a joy to work with. Not to mention, he makes everything sound like a million bucks!
Are there any other producers that you would like to work with in the future?
Sure there are. I’ve actually reached out to a few in recent months to talk about working on some new songs. I have a good stash of material written, and I’m excited to figure out the right producer to team with to develop the sound of the next album.