To live as a maximalist is to seek more from life.
Take a look around – there’s a whole wild world out there waiting to be uncovered. And while we all have our own unique viewpoint, we can only see so much if we stay standing still. New cultures, new conversations, new places, people and opinions - when we are able to enjoy life from a different perspective, that’s when the real magic happens.
As part of The Joy Lab, we are inviting collaborators from all corners of the globe and a plethora of creative industries to share their hot take on a chosen topic or an alternative interpretation of a seasonal campaign. Chosen for their originality, curiosity, humour and a shared desire to eek as much joy out of the everyday as possible, we are celebrating curious characters who are able to look at life through an inquisitive lens. And, in turn, expand the way we look at our own.
Kickstarting our series is Elliott Arndt, one half of LA musical duo Faux Real. From a musical perspective, the brother creative duo dish up a jangly, energetic sound that’s equal parts punk, glam rock and contemporary R&B. It’s an unexpectedly magical mash-up that just makes sense; a vibe that translates into their distinctly chaotic visual universe. Fotonovels boasting witty subtitles mingled with surrealist storylines have become their digital calling card - and its this sometimes baffling yet always hilarious take on pop culture that regularly has Hayley in stitches while scrolling.
As we look to spread our The Extinction Tour message far and wide, we called on Elliot to apply his unique visual language to our latest campaign and use his humour to raise awareness for a critical issue. Hayley caught up with Elliott to hear more about his creative process, the campaign and the inspiration behind it.

Elliott, as Faux Real, it’s mostly your brother Virgile who acts as your creative partner. How was the experience working on his particular campaign with Laurel?

Laurel and I are lucky to collaborate on a lot of projects, whether it’s her album visuals, music videos, illustrations for her novels, or other modelling jobs we do as a couple. We’re so grateful to be able to do stuff like this together. It flows so naturally. 

You were raised in Europe and lived in the UK before moving to L.A. How do they differ in terms of their creative scene?

My friend was telling me how LA is a good place to do long form projects, while Paris is the other extreme… I thought that was interesting.  LA is both more communal and more lonely at the same time. I don’t know if that’s anything to do with the creative scene per se but it certainly affects it. A lot of big Western cities have a similar feel once you’re in the thick of it though. Everyone knows each other pretty quickly… LA is definitely the outlier though, the setting sun, so far out west… It does something to the rhythm of life here I think, you wake up early and catch up with the rest of the world, and then by midday everyone is asleep or done for the day so you can just do your thing.


You recently supported a favourite band of mine, Duran Duran, at their BST Hyde Park show in London. Who are your biggest musical influences?

I’m terrified of making these kinds of lists, but I think Sun Ra, Delia Derbyshire, David Bowie and Björk would be some of the contenders, in terms of Lifetime Achievement kinda thing.

How do you describe your own sound to someone who has never heard your music? 

You could say it’s a mix of indie, punk, new wave and europop… But that changes everyday. 

As musicians, where did the idea for the Foto Novels come about?

It actually started out as a way of promoting our shows with Faux Real. We used to post them as stories on instagram and make weird lil narratives that would have the show details as their punchline. And then we went on to use photos that were 'leftover' from older shoots, to max out the content. And then we just started shooting them with the thing in mind from the get go. But the history of Foto Novels is rich and quirky and international like you wouldn’t believe. So many countries have had their own versions through the eras. It’s just so well adapted to instagram, it felt perfect.

 I’m obsessed with the surrealism of your digital storylines. How do you come up with the narratives?

We’ve always done a lot of very ‘expressive' poses in our photoshoots haha so the photos lent themselves well to that sort of thing. And then we extract ideas from locations, outfits, props, or promotional efforts, and build stories out of that.


We’re thrilled to be one of the first fashion brands you’ve collaborated with. How did you feel about addressing a critical issue in this way? 

We’ve always tried to use this format to address some more serious issues, whether calling out misogynistic behaviour in the music industry or to helping people to remember to vote… It’s always a fine line trying to do good on social media without falling into virtue signalling, but I think making something original and memorable is something that can help reach people differently.

You have a very strong style identity. What is important to you when getting dressed for the day? 

I gotta feel good and inspired in what I’m wearing, always. I like the challenge of dressing to a brief but always keeping it me as fuck, whether it’s for an event, a certain climate, a commute, a zoom call...

Who do you feel has combined style and music in a way that cannot be beaten?

Too many to name, but today I’m thinking about Louis Hardin aka Moondog aka The Viking of Sixth Avenue, an avant-garde composer, poet, street musician and inventor who was blind and dressed like a viking in 50’s and 60’s Manhattan. The final boss of true artistic vision.

If you could insert yourself as a character into storybook, comic, or film, which would it be?

I think I'd feel right at home in ‘Le Roi Des Mouches’ by Pirus and Mezzo. One of my fav graphics novels ever.