Even before joining as Fake Tears, Larissa Loyva and Elisha May Rembold were already established singers and songwriters in their own right. The former has released two spectral albums under the name Kellarissa, has toured the world as a live member of Destroyer and How to Dress Well, and has played in past Mint Records acts P:ano and the Choir Practice; the latter leads the folk-rock band the Lost Lovers Brigade and is a member of Shimmering Stars. The pair first collaborated when Larissa joined the lineup of Lost Lovers, and they continued to hone their chemistry during a stint as backup vocalists in the funky local ensemble COOL TV.
Their current project dates back to 2012, when Larissa and Elisha got together as part of a larger ensemble. “I thought I’d make an all-woman supergroup,” Larissa remembers. “We started with five, and then, after a couple of months and a couple of practices, we were down to two. And then it just stuck.”
With this stripped-down duo lineup, Fake Tears began to carve out a new sound focused around haunting, buzzy synths and angelically soaring harmonies. The friends developed their talents as beat-makers, providing a pulsing backdrop for their shadowy synth-pop songs, and they perfected their material during frequent live shows.
Upon signing with Mint, the ladies looked to label-mate Jay Arner to produce their debut album. In just a handful of sessions, they built on top of their existing demo tracks, fleshing out their dual microKORG playing using Jay’s collection of analog synths. The result is Nightshifting, a radiant collection of sparkling electro-pop that is simultaneously spooky and infectious, nocturnal and pop-friendly.
“Second Wind” captures the band’s combination of dark and light, as a tambourine-ratting dance groove is layered with glittering synth hooks and ghostly, impassioned pleas of “Do you want me? / Do you care?” Elsewhere, “Night Box” and “Uncanny Valley” are urgently sinister, while “Rite of the First Night” anchors its classic teen movie keyboards with a slinky R&B swagger, and “Small Fires” is a serene, heavy-lidded lullaby.
When making Nightshifting, Elisha and Larissa drew on their wealth of songwriting experience, penning material separately and then tying it all together with tight harmonies that act together like a single voice. “She writes, I write, then we bring them together and work them out,” Larissa explains. “There’s the songs Elisha’s written, there’s the songs I’ve written, but we make them our own.”
Elisha chimes in, “We ended up being totally on the same page.” Tellingly, all of the songs are credited jointly to Fake Tears, and it’s impossible for listeners to tell who composed which song.
This is the key to Fake Tears’ success: separately, they have distinct and beautiful voices, but together, they seamlessly combine to make something that’s even greater than the sum of its parts.