Artist Spotlight: Fake Fruit

The New York band is sharing introspective post-punk in Vancouver

From left to right: Jess Lebenburg, Hanna Amato, Gabe Ragel, and Tom Waelen, the members of Fake Fruit, with honorary fifth member Dax the Dog. (Alyssa Laube)

Conceived in New York and raised in Vancouver, Fake Fruit has its roots in two artistically vibrant communities. Frontwoman Hanna Amato moved to Canada for a nannying job and brought her music with her, picking up Jess Lebenburg on lead guitar, Tom Waelen on drums, and Gabe Ragel on bass to keep the band going strong.

“Vancouver is a lot smaller, which has its ups and downs, but after coming from New York I’m really appreciating how closed-knit it is,” says Amato. “I felt like I was more of a spectator than a participator in New York. I was dealing with a lot of anxious stuff and I was really into a relationship with a partner and wasn’t putting enough value on what I was making. The move gave me a lot of confidence and lit a fire under my ass.”

Amato left a lot behind in the States, but reflecting on how she moved on from that part of her life has inspired her, and it’s what she mostly writes about today. Many of those songs will be included in Fake Fruit’s first LP, which will be released by this time next year. The album is set to be self-titled and about 10 songs long, encapsulating the band’s fuzzed out, emotional style.

“There’s a lot of different stuff going on [thematically,]” says Amato. “A lot of it is fun. A lot of it is talking about anxiety. A lot of it is about gentrification. It’s a lot of angst. I’ve never been an angsty person, but the move stirred up some of those feelings, and I realized this city is just as fucked up as the other ones.”

Witnessing the heavy toll that gentrification is taking on the lower and middle class in Vancouver struck a chord with Amato and the record, for her, is a “scream into the void” to cope with injustices such as seeing “people getting shoved out when there’s not enough resources.”

“It’s really clear that Trudeau isn’t really doing anything, and back in the States everybody [loves him]. I came here thinking it would be like that,” she says. “There are some things that hint at that lyrically, but they’re more of undertones.”

She also noticed a difference in the way she’s treated as a female musician in this city. She feels that Vancouver is “really accepting” compared to the experience that she had in the U.S.

“I dealt with a lot of sexist bullshit in New York, like the sound guy touching you in weird ways or saying, ‘Where’s your boyfriend?’ when I’m setting up my pedals,” she says. “I feel like most of the bands I see out here are female fronted, but of course there are never enough.”

Although Lebenburg, Waelen, and Ragel weren’t available to be interviewed, Amato says that they are becoming an increasingly important part of Fake Fruit’s writing process. After their debut LP, the band’s next album will be their most collaborative work yet, with all of the songs completed between the four of them in the same room.

Until then, they’ll be playing as many shows as they can. On Oct. 6, Fake Fruit will be performing on a Mint Records bill with Shitlord Fuckerman, Winona Forever, and Jay Arner.

“We just want to play a bunch of shows and have a good time,” says Amato. “I love the people that I’m in a band with.”

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