When Greg and Brendan of Fab the Duo made their EP, Our Love is Resistance, they already had it in their minds that with the release of this project, they wanted to be true to their artistry and find ways to be groundbreaking. That meant that in five songs, they wanted to not only make a name for themselves but prove that no one could decide for them the music they should be making.
Based in New York, the two met on Tinder first falling for each other while working on their own individual artistry. While Greg pursued musical theater, Brendan was performing in bars as a singer/song-writer. “We both obviously knew that the other was talented and performed, but we never saw us performing together and in fact, we didn’t perform together until a year into our relationship,” Greg explains when the three of us talk on the phone.
Since developing both a romantic and creative relationship, the two agree that they’ve learned so much about each other while finding a rhythm for how to manage both. Brendan exclaims that one of the key things that make them work is how different they are from each other. “[We’re] very opposite people in a lot of ways,” he says, “In terms of, not just performing, but in being in a band and having to do business. We’ve each kind of got roles. Like Greg does a lot of the branding and a lot of the image and styling and the big picture stuff and I do a lot of the making sure finances are in order and reaching out to publicity and radio and all that stuff.”
He credits Greg as being better at business deals while he’s better at sending emails. But when it comes to performing he also shares that while Greg has a huge personality on stage, he’s more inward. This also shows on the business side where he admits that he’ll try to be too nice while Greg, he jokes, is more of a “hardass.”
This results in Greg countering by saying, “It’s not even that I’m a hardass, I’m just straightforward.”
Filled with Freddie Mercury energy, it makes perfect sense, then, why in fourth or fifth grade, Greg immediately fell in love with the music of Queen after doing a Queen concert in his school choir. “I can’t say for sure they’re the reason why I did it because I’ve always kind of been musical,” he begins when he recalls the experience. “I just remember loving the music so much and falling down the Queen rabbit hole and yeah, that really started and spiked my love of singing and performing.”
“For me, actually I think Green Day,” Brendan says. “Green Day’s American Idiot was the first album I bought myself in like the fourth grade and just kind of their rebelliousness and how they weren’t afraid to call out stuff that was going on and really talk about what’s happening in the country. It was 2004 at the time, but I still feel like a lot of their messages were relevant, and that kind of inspired me and made me want to go out and do music myself.”
Growing up near Austin, Texas (Greg) and Bennington, Vermont (Brendan), making their way to a big city was on both of their lists in terms of pursuing their interests. “For me, I knew, I wanted to live in New York for as long as I could remember. And I was lucky enough to move there right as I was 19. It was an immediate fit. I had such an immediate transition for someone who came from so far away,” Greg says.
For Brendan, it was between New York and LA but he ended up settling on New York after having more experience there between friends, internships, and New York being closer to his hometown. “I didn’t want to deal with traffic and driving a car all the time and yeah, I think I just really loved the vibe of the city.”
While they’ve had discussions about bringing Fab to LA too to expand their career, the two are well aware that New York is absolutely their home.
“I think I came into it personally knowing how hard it would be even though I’d only been [in New York] once before and I was only here like a couple of days,” Greg starts when I ask the two about coming to New York from small towns. “I came here knowing that it was going to be the start of my own journey and I wanted to separate myself from Texas and everything that was and write my own story. So, I always knew it wasn’t always gonna be a sprint, it was gonna be quite a journey and so for me, I think I just went in with a level enough head to deal with everything that came. But I know that there are some people in this world who came here and then immediately left.”
“New York is definitely really hard,” Brendan follows up. “It’s not for everyone, especially the first year when you move, it can be super overwhelming and tough and kind of hard to breakthrough. I got kind of lucky, Greg was living in New York for a little bit over a year longer than me and about a month after I moved, we started talking and then like a couple of months later, we started dating.”
There’s so much joy in just being open and proud about who you are and loving who you want to love and getting to do music with the person you love. – Brendan
Greg helped Brendan manage with living in New York and becoming more assertive after growing up more sheltered and mild-mannered. “There’s just a certain way in New York that people go about. People are really blunt, people don’t have time for bullshit so I definitely grew a lot having to live and survive in New York.” While he notes that the vibe of New York isn’t the same right now, the two still have love for the life, community, and personality of New York.
Greg comments on this too with praise for the way that even though New Yorkers will mind their business or drown out the world, they still will come together when they see an injustice happening.
“Yeah, New Yorkers I think get a rep for being rude which we might be,” the two laugh as Brendan continues, “But we also keep it very real. Especially within the last month with all the protests.” The two attended a few of the Black Lives Matter protests that’s been held these past few weeks and Brendan notes that what’s stood out to him was seeing so many different people marching together and protesting all while adhering to corona protocols and looking out for one another.
“Even like the grocery stores we were passing by, they were giving out free water and free snacks and that’s just what they were doing,” Greg adds. “It was like, ‘Oh wow.’ Like I don’t think that happened in any of the protests in Texas, so.”
In terms of how they’re holding up right now while remaining vocal and putting their energy towards not just striving to make a difference with their art but doing what they can to spread awareness and action surrounding protecting Black lives, queer lives, and trans lives, Greg says that the quarantine has made them creative in some ways and less creative in others. “We’re kind of just riding the waves. We’ve gotten a lot of things done towards the beginning and then we took like two months off and then we started releasing this EP again and it kind of reignited our fire,” he reflects.
“Yeah, we kind of did a lot of digital stuff. We did digital Pride and trying to ride the wave of the EP, but we definitely miss performing and actually interacting with people face to face cause no matter what, it’s not the same in front of the phone than it is live. So we’re just waiting for things to get a little better but we’re trying to do as much as we can right now.”
I ask them if they consider themselves pessimistic or optimistic. Brendan exclaims, “Well me, personally, I’m neither, I’m just very anxious,” he laughs. “I just worry about everything. I just go back and forth between like, ‘No, things are going to get better’ and ‘Oh my God, everything is terrible!’ Just completely going on a rollercoaster every five minutes.”
“Yeah, and I think for me personally, I’m more of a realist,” Greg states. “I’m not one to be like, ‘Wow, it’s gonna get so much better one day.’ It’s like, ‘No, it’s gonna be terrible right now, but we’ll get there.’ So I guess in some ways, I’m both pessimistic and optimistic.”
When a lot of Pride events went digital this year, many considered Pride to be canceled. However, with the daily protests led by Black and Brown activists–many of them youth, trans, and queer–and callings for the defunding of police, the past few months have found the spirit and meaning of Pride month to be more visible than it’s been in a while: advocating for justice and humanity against unjust systems that take away marginalized groups humanity. “This may sound weird, but I kind of hope that it’s not a big deal one day. I kinda hope that within my lifetime, being gay is like an ‘Okay and?’ situation,” Greg starts when I ask them about how they hope Pride returning to its roots this year continues on.
“I want people to be respected for it and I want the Pride parade to continue, but I hope that it’s not such a shocking thing for the world and I hope that people realize that Pride goes on 365 days a year and we get a parade once a year,” he gives a small laugh.
“I think people finally realized this year that Pride is more than just about marching in a parade and partying and companies putting up rainbows for a month. That Pride is really about advocating for people who have not been treated as well by society and fighting against injustice,” Brendan adds. “Pride literally started in Stonewall as a riot against police. Trans women of color were some of the leaders of the Pride movement and finally this year, I feel like people are finally talking about trans people and people of color in the community that may have been overlooked for a long time. Pride is all about being not afraid to be who you are and fighting for what’s right.”
The Sunday before we talked on the phone, the two attended the Pride march in New York and Brendan notes that even without the floats and partying, it still felt like Pride. “It actually felt even more powerful. Obviously, I hope next year they’ll be more Pride shows that we can perform at but I definitely wouldn’t say Pride was canceled, I think it was brought back to what it started out as.”
Coincidentally, these themes are also seen in their Our Love is Resistance EP. Right from the start of the EP with the song “Our Love is Resistance” which includes a music video where the two, start a march to Stonewall, all the way to the final song/first single “American Icon” which grounds rock music back to its queer beginnings, the two knew that they had to do a big entrance and finish.
“Honestly, it was because we wanted to tell the story of love in different ways so every song has a different type of love that it’s about,” Greg explains the EP. Their upbeat fairytale-flipped-on-its-head track “No Prince Charming” which features rapper Mariahlynn focuses on self-love while “American Icon” focuses on world love and self-love. “‘Our Love is Resistance’ is about world love and how we gotta love each other and how that can be our resistance.”
With “American Icon” closing out the EP, it ends with listeners hearing “We are American icons, you can’t stop us.” Something the two say felt like a perfect way to end their first body of work and enter the music industry.
With such a focus on love and the duo’s motto “Be you, be proud”, joy is at the center of Fab the Duo just as much as resisting hate and bigotry. “I think it’s a work in progress, but I think that Fab has really helped me personally just love who I am and live it loud and proud. Honestly, whenever we first came up with Fab, it was just a personal project that we were doing and it turned into so much more and the belief we had was just kind of a way to remind ourselves that even though we’re wearing heels, we’re gonna be fierce, we’re gonna do what we want because no one can stop us and if we like it, we should be able to do it. And yeah, I think through all that, we found our joy,” Greg says.
“There’s so much joy in just being open and proud about who you are and loving who you want to love and getting to do music with the person you love,” Brendan agrees. “I mean, we have so much fun working together, we have such a connection with each other and I feel like a lot of people saw that when we first started performing. I think we were both good performers ourselves but performing together we just had this even more special connection and just something about Fab that’s so beautiful especially live is that it brought all these different people together.” The fact that they’ve been able to see different people build community at their shows has been one of their most rewarding parts of their musical journey.
But along with that, their musical journey also touches on their determination to not be pinned down by any expectations for what music artists should be making especially when people find out that said artists are openly queer and place even more limits on what they’re capable of. “As an artist, you’re constantly struggling with the two sides of ‘I wanna sell my music but I also wanna make my own music’ and ‘I wanna do what I want as an artist.’ And for us, we truly hate putting ourselves into boxes and our music follows an idea. We write all of our songs but they’re not gonna sound the same because we try not to force our songs to sound a certain way because it needs to fit into a certain genre,” Greg says before quickly adding, “Also, genre’s are disappearing slowly but surely and Billie Eilish is dismantling that as we speak.”
“A lot of artists,” Brendan agrees to Greg’s uplifting.
“I mean we have Lil Nas X as well. Like all these trailblazing artists and we’re starting to break down that box and yeah, you know, we truly just want to make our music the way we want because I think that music speaks on its own just as much as any language ever,” Greg continues. “It’s so important to hear it the way it’s supposed to be heard, not the way other people think it should be.”
It’s so important to hear [music] the way it’s supposed to be heard, not the way other people think it should be. – Greg
With genres disappearing and being less of a selling point for listeners, it does offer music artists the opportunity to define their music on their own and take on “subgenres.” For a lot of queer artists, that’s become known as “queer pop” which spans back even further than disco in the 70s, synth-pop in the 80s, and the bridge of glam rock.
“There are now actually quite a few queer artists who are actually making music which is amazing but already, I feel like they’ve kind of been put into a box,” Brendan says. “There’s almost even a subgenre of queer pop that I feel like when people hear that we’re a queer pop duo people expect this dance-y, club-y sound which isn’t us. Especially going into rock, there’s not that much, even now, queer representation in the rock, alternative world.” Falling in love with music through loving rock, the two explain that while they won’t rule out pop, they also want their music to surprise people.
Brendan adds that as a biracial duo with different musical backgrounds, it feels like they’ve had the freedom and opportunity to explore more with their music which they can only hope will affect positive change in the industry.
“I hope that we are doing it in a way that inspires others and doing it in a way they get to make the music they want and not listening to other people and how they see them,” Greg notes. “We’ve always said–and it’s very true–don’t put yourself in a box. That’s other people’s jobs to do,” he laughs.
“A lot of it comes from us being gay, but a lot of people–I don’t know if it’s a critique–but a lot of people say our music is theatrical,” Brendan says. Greg admits that he doesn’t disagree with the statement and the two clarify that they don’t take issue in their music being seen as theatrical but they do take issue in theatrical music being written off.
“Every single legend of all time is theatrical,” Greg states. “What is so bad about being theatrical?”
The two find their music being compared to RENT which Greg responds, “RENT’s still making money, so…”
“So many people in the industry, like music blogs and playlists and radio stations, they’re so fit on, ‘Well this doesn’t quite fit our idea of what pop is and what rock is.’ They have a very limited idea of what can fit in that box and we hope we’re one of the artists to change that,” Brendan reiterates.
“Yeah, I think honestly now, the younger generation just wants authenticity,” Greg says as we continue talking. “That’s what I’ve noticed the most is all they want is someone that’s real. Even if they’re a little scandalous, people just want them to be real.”
For their next body of work, the two are interested in moving onto more personal concepts. When Brendan reflects, he describes their first EP as focusing on broader statements on society and while he acknowledges his privileges and the ways in which he’s been lucky, he’s also interested in him and Greg looking into personal experiences for their work through, “finding ways to take hardship and pain into music, especially how the two of us can do that both coming from very different places.”
“For me personally, I would like to talk about growing up,” Greg adds. “I think we’re both still growing up and we got a long way to go but, like, if you can capture like a moment of all the moments that in life have shaped us and put it into a song, that’s what I would want to do.”
On the horizon, the two have hopes for dropping an album by next year but currently, there’s nothing confirmed. So instead, the two have been focusing more on the business side of things. “It’s an interesting and exciting time for Fab because we finished our first EP, we signed on with management, we’re trying to go in a different direction so everything’s open at the moment,” Brendan explains also adding that they’re currently managing their life as musicians when live music is not an option currently.
“I’ve been saying for a while now is what we’re gonna call our springboard year. So what we’re tryna do is pretty much gather everything we possibly can this year, write a shit ton of songs, collab or talk about collabing with people and then in 2021 whenever the world is actually open and we can actually go out and talk to people and go do shows and everything, we’re gonna really, really take over,” Greg says for what 2020 is looking like for them artistically. “Like that’s kind of our goal. We’re gonna take this year, this moment, and kind of use it to our advantage and get all of our ducks in a row.”
The two bounce so strongly off each other which you can sense not only in their music but also talking to them together. Despite their differences in personalities (also in case anyone is wondering, Greg is a Gemini and Brendan is a Taurus surrounded by Gemini’s) they know each others strengths and weaknesses enough to trust each other.
“Greg is not afraid to think outside the box,” Brendan starts when I ask the two what inspires them the most about one another. He recounts when the two did a pop diva cover show and Greg pitched the idea of them doing “So What?” by P!NK as a ballad. “At first, I thought he was crazy, I thought that was a ridiculous idea and then our pianist actually tried doing a ballad version and it was super cool. Still to this day, I think it’s my favorite cover that we’ve ever done and it’s so different.” Brendan credits Greg for the ways in which he thinks about their music. “All the time we’ll be doing a song that I thought would be this style or I have the chords for it and I’ll be imagining it like this and he’s like, ‘What if we made this ballad into an uptempo?’ He’s just not afraid to, you know, completely think outside the box and take risks.”
“For Brendan, I think the thing that always inspires me the most about him is the amount of sincerity he puts into the music,” Greg says after thanking Brendan. “He’s not afraid to be intimate and be real and he knows how to put it into the words that are there and I’ve always admired that. But also, he’s so willing to just jump into the deep end and see if he can swim and it’s beautiful.”
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(photo cred: Tyler O’Leary)
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