Charlie Faye & The Fanimals bring retro sounds
to modern themes for kids and their families.
The career musician and single mom was inspired by her and her daughter’s
shared love of soul and pop music from the 60s.
Lauded as hearkening back “to Motown, Spector, or the Brill Building” by Huffington Post, Charlie Faye’s most recent musical endeavor, Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, was called a “modern-day ‘60s girl group” reminiscent of The Ronettes or The Supremes. Now, Faye’s new project for kids and families, Charlie Faye & The Fanimals, brings those same ‘60s-tinged soul/pop sounds to their self-titled debut album, Charlie Faye & The Fanimals.
“The thing that’s cool about this project is that it has a throwback sound, but the themes of the songs are very modern,” says Charlie Faye. “You wouldn’t have a Motown song in the ’60s about a little boy who wears a tutu. But now you do.”
Charlie Faye began her music career as a sideperson, singing and playing guitar and mandolin in Dan Zanes & Friends. Following that, Faye's career has been fueled by interesting ideas: In 2010, she did a solo tour around the country where she lived in a different city each month, put together a local band, and wrote and recorded a new song with local musicians in each place. Her best-known project to date, and most recent, was Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, which garnered high praise from media, earned Faye a publishing deal with Rough Trade, and got her songs placed in shows like Riverdale and Girlboss.
In 2019, Charlie Faye became a mother, and soon after, the world became a different place with the onset of the pandemic. Faye wasn't performing on stages like Austin’s Continental Club anymore – she was home with a baby. Fast forward through what was a slow year for all of us, and Faye had become a single mother of a toddler. It was around that time that she was inspired to start writing music again.
“As the parent of a toddler, I got to see firsthand what kind of music was out there for kids, and what kind of music my kid was drawn to,” says Faye. “There’s a lot of great stuff available, but so much of the music my daughter loves isn’t kids’ music at all – it’s music I’ve loved my whole life: old Motown hits, ‘60s soul and pop music … just songs with great grooves and great hooks.”
So Faye began writing songs in that style with her daughter in mind.
“7 Days of Fun” bounces through the days of the week with a classic ‘60s Motown groove. “Me & My Family” feels more like something from the early ‘70s but showcases a modern exploration of how different kinds of families might look from a kid's perspective. “Snack Time” sounds like a classic Stax number – if Stax were to put out a song about snacks. “Milo Wears a Tutu” tells the story of one kid bucking convention and wearing what he wants to, set to a playful backbeat reminiscent of a Temptations record.
Charlie Faye is a veteran of the national music scene, and it shows. Her songs are well-crafted, and she brings all her previous influences and experiences to the table as a writer and producer. Faye is a collaborator by nature, so she brought in many of her musical friends to take part in Charlie Faye & The Fanimals. She co-wrote songs with Sara Hickman, Joe McDermott, Suzanna Choffel, Bill Demain, and others. Pete Thomas (of Elvis Costello fame) not only played drums on the whole record, but also co-wrote “Cookie Tree,” the one song on the album with a distinct reggae influence.
Other musicians on the record include Adrian Quesada (Black Pumas), Scott Davis, Trevor Nealon, and Jim Brunberg (Wonderly), who took a co-production role on “7 Days of Fun” and a few other tracks. Faye also brought in her former girl group bandmates BettySoo and Akina Adderley to add some classic ‘60s background vocals to the mix.
American Songwriter wrote of Charlie Faye’s work with The Fayettes, “It’s impossible not to be enchanted by one of this year’s freshest, most delightful and all-around grooviest releases.” Huffington Post declared, "Charlie is emerging as a budding Carole King, and the songs are good enough to rate comparison to Goffin & King or Mann & Weil.” Faye has continued to carry the torch for those traditions in her songwriting and production, and now she wants to shine a light on them for a new audience: kids.
“What’s exciting me now is the thought of bringing these sounds to the next generation,” says Charlie Faye, “with songs that the whole family can enjoy, from toddlers to grandparents.”