Any devout New York music lover might feel alienated, cast adrift in the dark, expansive void left by bred-and-raised New York music groups like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Drums, Cults, and LCD Soundsystem. The independent electronic outfit Neonfaith actively fill this void, anchoring lost souls from an exceptionally awkward limbo. Rooted within the cultural hub of Jamaica, Queens, the girl-guy-girl trio meld a disparate conglomeration of ideas, influences, sounds and forms of expression to create an artistic signature which boldly echoes that of its musical predecessors. What started off as a hobby for one aspiring house producer in his basement evolved into a shockingly innovative, much-needed addition to the independent New York music scene. Their unconventional fusion of minimalistic, Euro-centric electro workouts and soulfully melodic pop constructions instantly distinguishes Neonfaith as a force to be reckoned with. They’re worth remembering because they’re impossible to forget. Check out the exclusive feature interview with Megan Faye, where the Neonfaith vocalist sheds light upon the band’s origins and artistic directions, and (if you like the idea of watching girls chugging 40s under colorful strobe lights) watch their newest music video for “Escape”.
Indie Current: How old are the three of you? How did you meet and has music always been a fundamental part of your relationship?
Megan: Lay and Fef grew up in Jamaica, Queens together but never really crossed paths until music brought them together. Lay has had his hand in various genres of music throughout high school, and a few years ago sought out keys for a collaborative project. Fef and Lay met through his sister and have worked on a few different musical endeavors since, coming together with a group of other musically gifted and driven individuals under the collective known as Audio Never Dies. With A.N.D. Lay and Fef primarily produced hip hop oriented tracks for rappers but they both have a strong love for indie rock and heard how they could use their various skills and musical temperaments to shape a new sound under the indie heading. I responded to an ad they posted on Craigslist, bringing my own love of alternative rock but penchant for writing soul and blues and together we’ve really weaved together our own sound under the banner of indie electronic. Music has obviously been a fundamental part of our relationship because it’s what brought us together, but we’ve really fostered a family environment both within Neonfaith and A.N.D. and it’s important to everyone involved that we are invested in each other both on a personal and professional level.
IC: How long have you been making music under the name Neonfaith, and what were your expectations of the band before you started?
M: Lay came up with the name Neonfaith when he was in high school and worked under that heading when he first began experimenting with house music in his basement, but he never produced anything for public consumption and held onto the moniker in the back of his mind as he moved on to other projects, always waiting for the moment when he could use it for something special. Lay, Fef, and I have been working together as Neonfaith since January 2012, kicking off the new year with the intent of creating something different and infectious. The underlying expectation of the band has simply been to create a new take on indie electronic music by mixing our various musical tastes and backgrounds and really using them to feed off of one another and produce some strange, new organism of indie that is simultaneously distinct and familiar. Our expectations have been to take this as far as we can, to ultimately live off of the music and get to do what we love every day while still sustaining ourselves.
IC: How much material have you made as Neonfaith?
M: As we’ve worked together our music has really evolved, and along the way we’ve produced a wealth of music, both original and through remixing the music of other artists. We’ve currently posted six tracks to our Soundcloud, three original songs and three remixes. This is only scratching the surface of the music that we’ve actually produced together, but as we’ve shaped our identity we’ve really fine-tuned the music that we feel is representative of who we are as a band and we only put out what we all feel confident is “ready” to be released. We’ll often work and rework songs tirelessly until we crack through that threshold of what we were trying to get at, which can be quite an exhausting process but we also know what we’re capable of and want to push ourselves until we get there. We’ve been working on a six song EP in this fashion for some time now, and we’re really excited about what we’ve been creating together. We’re hoping to put the finishing touches on that soon, as well as a few other extra tracks outside of the EP.
IC: Describe what it means to be independent artists in New York City.
M: New York City is definitely the epicenter of American indie music. There’s a wealth of opportunity here if you’re hungry enough to hunt it down. We’re living in a hyper-digital age where being successful in music is no longer dependent upon a record company and it is possible to get your music out to a massive audience just on your own merit (and tireless promotional skills). Independence allows us to maintain control over all aspects of our music, which is something we value creatively. We are open to working with a label, there are certainly some amazing indie labels that we would love to align ourselves with, but we are not actively seeking one out.
IC: Outside of music, what sort things are you all active in (jobs, school, etc)?
M: The ultimate goal for everyone involved with Neonfaith and A.N.D. is to be able to live off of the music. Lay has recently put his work in real estate aside to focus exclusively on music and making it happen on a professional level. Fef is working in retail but she too has been spending a lot of hours in the basement in Jamaica producing and finessing with Lay. I lead sort a double life (I’m a superhero of sorts). Unusually enough I work as a therapist in an eating disorder clinic when I’m not trekking up to Queens from the city. Neonfaith is a quirky group, and that’s what plays into the unusual texture of what we produce. We’re an indie electronic band from Jamaica, Queens helmed by a signer who works as an eating disorder therapist. These are not qualities you find in your run-of-the-mill indie band, but we pride ourselves on our idiosyncrasies.
IC: Where do you look for inspiration when making music?
M: We look to our diverse musical tastes, from hip hop to punk to house music to 1970s funk, and we infuse that with our own personal experiences for song inspiration. We also look to other forms of media. If we watch Mad Men together we’re going to generate something very specific in mood and tone. We’ve even at times turned to specific movies for inspiration and said, “Okay, write from this character’s perspective.” But as a whole we really inspire each other, often bouncing melodies and lyrics back and forth until what we ultimately end with is something so divergent from the original product that it has to be repackaged as something else entirely. There’s a lot of feedback, a lot of push and pull, but it helps us generate something dynamic and alive.