Music

The True Story Behind Truefaith's Surprise Collaboration With MGMT

Meds Marfil talks about how all that meta came about.
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Okay, so this (didn't really) happen. The American band MGMT just posted a video in anticipation of their hotly anticipated new album, Little Dark Age, for their single "Me and Michael". The surreal video, directed by Joey Frank and Randy Maitland, shows MGMT frontmen Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden conspiring to plagiarize Truefaith's "Ako at si Michael".

A listener finds out about the intellectual property theft, calls them out, and the band launch a presscon to face the charges, saying, "We didn't know taking things from the Internet was wrong."

They also apologize to Truefaith—via a handwritten message in a plastic bottle: "Ikinalulungkot namin ang pagkuha kay Michael. Mangyaring patawarin mo kami."

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It's all just the video storyline, of course; no one really stole from anyone. What it is is a well-planned-out prankish collaboration (or a collaborative prank) between the two bands.

"A good friend of ours, Royce Roy, is friends with DJ Jester. DJ Jester—Mikey Pendon; he's Filipino-American—happens to be a close friend of MGMT. MGMT sent word through both Royce and Mikey that they wanted to get us for the promo of their new single, 'Me and Michael' from the new album, Little Dark Age," says Meds Marfil, lead vocalist of Truefaith, who also appears in the video.

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"My initial reaction was, Are they sure?" Marfil laughs. "The term 'alternative' can hardly be ascribed to Truefaith. But then I surmised that that was the point: They probably wanted a band that sounds different from what they usually do."

Marfil says that their collaboration began over email—first between their band managers, and then between himself and Van Wyngarden. Told of the concept, "Me and my bandmates loved it, and we said 'yes' immediately," Marfil continues. "I personally throught it was almost Monty Python-absurd or even [reminiscent] of Andy Kaufmann's humor. Galing talaga!"

Throughout November and all the way to January this year, the two bands sent emails back and forth. MGMT sent their version ("We loved it. Ang impression namin was, Wow! Tunog 80s!'") to Truefaith, who in turn, recorded a Taglish version of the song.

To really commit to the fiction, Truefaith performed a complete version of "Ako at si Michael" and uploaded the video to YouTube to complete the narrative circle. And you know what—it's a pretty good song, with a pleasingly cheesy video to go with it. "We agreed to rock it up a bit. But, if we had our way, 'Ako at si Michael' would have sounded much like their version."

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Music video director Joey Frank flew in last January, overseeing production with a local team. The shoot took place over one weekend in January, at the same time Truefaith recorded their version. Fans of the band might recognize scenes shot at venues like 19 East, Solutions Bar ("Wholly Joey's idea!"), and Roxas Boulevard. Additional scenes were shot in Marikina by director Quark Henares.

As for the final scene, "Our friend Kate Platford is the girl that hands me the bottle plucked out of Manila Bay. Joey included her on account of Kate resembling Amber Rose," Marfil laughs. "This is just astounding! We are completely overwhelmed. Manood ka lang ng concert ng mga favorite artist mo eh panalo na, so this is completely bonkers!"

Marfil further notes that his band celebrates their 25th anniversary this year, "so this experience is just absolutely wild!" Best outcome: a new generation of listeners will be introduced to Truefaith, one of the country's mildest rock bands (and therefore your tito's favorite), while us oldies find a way to enjoy the synthpop stylings of MGMT. In all, a win-win. 

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MGMT's Little Dark Age is out today, February 9, 2018. Truefaith's next album, Senti-mental, is also due out soon.

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