The title of Tauren Wells’ new single might be “Fake It,” but the Christian star is an authentic dynamo on the track. With the help of featured performer Aaron Cole, who co-wrote the song with Wells, Chris
Stevens and Emily Weisband (Stevens co-produced with Ted T.), Wells glides through an effortlessly
funky track like someone having the time of his life. Amidst the danceable grooves, the track delivers a
profound message about the perils of faking one’s faith.
Wells called American Songwriter from a Winter Jam tour stop in Columbia, South Carolina on the day that “Fake It” broke to talk about how the song came to be, why true faith matters more than image, and how he tries to push the boundaries of his genre.
American Songwriter: Tell me how this song came to life in terms of the writing.
Tauren Wells: This one was a song where we were just chilling in the studio talking about life. This was one of the first writes back from the pandemic, so we were just kind of processing all of that. Chris Stevens, who is an amazing producer said, “I’ve got a fun track.” He played it. There was just so much joy in the room immediately, just from the vibe of it, the excitement of it. So it turned into a really fun day when we really needed it. That’s my hope with the song, that when people hear it, they feel that sense of celebration. It was a fun one to write.
AS: Were there any specific influences you had in mind when recording the music?
TW: We weren’t targeting anything specific. Obviously, it’s got an MJ lean to it, which I always love, one of the big influences in my musical journey, for sure. But it was just more about putting something
together that felt really fun and light, but still had a meaningful lyric to it.
AS: How did you get Aaron Cole involved?
TW: I knew that I wanted some kind of dope bridge on it, so I hit Aaron. He’s such a talented writer/singer/rapper/performer. I hit him up and said, “Hey, can you just jump on this bridge?” And he sent it back within the hour and it was fire. Pretty easy.
AS: There are so many great one-liners sprinkled throughout the lyrics. Is that easier to do when you have a great track as a foundation?
TW: Absolutely. The song was so fun. Sometimes you can get so heady and into trying to make
something more than what it naturally wants to be, for whatever reason. If you’re trying to prove you’ve got writing chops, or if you’re trying to check these invisible boxes. This was just fun. We weren’t even necessarily thinking about the outlet for it if it was going to be pop radio, Christian radio, what kind of thing it was supposed to be. In writing, a lot of times you’re thinking what is this supposed to be, who’s supposed to hear it. Because of the mindset we were in, it was just let’s have fun today and let’s write something that we love. And the lyrics just came out very easily, even the concept of it’s real, don’t have to fake it. It was easy. The verses were easy. I remember saying in the session, “It shouldn’t be this easy.” (laughs.) But it was because we weren’t trying to hit a target. We were just having fun. And those are some of the most special writes.
AS: What appealed to you about the message of people not thinking of their faith in terms of putting up appearances of it?
TW: You don’t have to. When we put on appearances for people, what you come to realize is they’re not really even paying attention. We’ll live our whole life trying to please people who aren’t paying attention to us really. On the faith side of it, there is so much that goes into wrapping up our beliefs and traditions and religion, and that doesn’t impress God either. There were people who were very impressive in the Bible. They were called Pharisees. And you come to find out they were furthest from Jesus. They didn’t even recognize Jesus when he was looking at them in the face. For me, it’s a fun song, but it’s also a challenge to remind myself that I am more than the image that I project. That I am more than what society says I am, what a chart says I am, whatever awards say that I am. I’m something so much more than that, something deeper than that. And that’s the thing that really matters. That’s what matters in relationships with people. The real ones aren’t engaging with us based on what we’ve done. They’re engaging with us based on who we really are. And the same is to be said
about Jesus. He didn’t die for the image that we project. He died for who we really are. So there’s no impressing him. We’re already loved.
AS: Have you had the chance to try “Fake It” live yet?
TW: We’re doing it tonight. I gave it a test run back on my headlining tour in the fall. We did it for about 10 shows, and I liked it. But we were working on it simultaneously in the studio. As the son kept getting better and better, I was getting more and more discontent with how it was live. So we pulled it, because I was like, “I’m not even playing the song at its full potential anymore.” Tonight, we’re going to try to hit it full power and see what people think.
AS: Is it important to you, with songs like these, to constantly push the boundaries of what Christian music can be?
TW: I hope that people give us permission to do that. That’s really the obstacle to all this. It’s true in any genre. Once you establish yourself in a particular genre, it’s hard for people to see you any differently. I don’t necessarily want people to see me differently, but I want people to see more of me. That’s the interesting thing about Christian music. It’s in a genre because of the message. But within Christian music, there’s country hip-hop rap, R&B gospel, Southern gospel. There are so many subgenres within this overall thing called Christian music. I just really feel like I’m making music that is true to who I am, who God has called me to be. And I just happen to believe that there are people out there who may not consider themselves Christian music fans that would love my music. The hope is just to build awareness and let people know that there’s stuff out here that’s both good for your soul and also is absolute fire.
Photo by Steven Taylor Photography