It is life imitating art imitating alien life.
A tongue-in-cheek Brooklyn folk duo has found fame thanks to an indie feature film that cast the band members as their on-stage alien personas.
Guitarist and actor Jay Klaitz and banjo player Nils d’Aulaire have been playing together under the name Future Folk for the past decade. The band’s schtick is that the pair are really extraterrestrials from a distant planet, who came here with the aim of taking over Earth — but when they discovered the joys of musical creation, they changed their tune and decided to stay.
“We’re really from Hondo,” said Klaitz, who plays the part of the Mighty Kevin. “When we got here, we were really surprised to learn that humans speak Hondian.”
Future Folk might have continued on in relative obscurity, if not for one of its first fans, filmmaker Jeremy Kipp Walker, who had attended many of the duo’s early performances at small venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Walker had worked with Klaitz on a short film, and when he was searching for a subject for his next movie, he realized the alien act would be a good fit.
“It was always just a ton of fun,” said Walker. “It’s a great juxtaposition between ridiculousness and beautiful music.”
“The History of Future Folk” was filmed in and around Brooklyn, with most of the interior shots taking place in Walker’s building near the Lorimer L stop, and concert scenes taking place at Trash Bar in Williamsburg.
The low-budget film went on to make unexpected waves on the festival circuit in 2012, and Future Folk’s fan base has been growing in number and devotion ever since. Audience members often come dressed in their own home-made versions of the band’s signature red bucket-like helmets, said the band members.
“One of the things that has been just jaw–dropping is how many people show up to our shows wearing costumes,” said d’Aulaire, also known as General Trius. “When you look out into the room and see two–dozen helmets it makes you think you’re doing something right.”
Capitalizing on their new-found fame, the pair is now touring the United States, with a show that includes a screening of the film, a live musical set, and an in-character question and answer session with the audience. They will come home to Brooklyn for a free performance at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg on July 23.
Walker likes the tour concept because the stops are mostly music venues, which he said is the proper atmosphere for the show. He also really enjoys the experience of seeing the movie and then watching the characters perform live right after. It helps show that the band is no mere gimmick, he explained.
“It’s a really weird mash-up of bluegrass and sci-fi, but it’s also earnest and sincere,” said Walker.
And toeing the line between parody and musicianship is exactly what these guys are trying to do.
“We’re trying to find that sweet spot between exposition and entertainment,” d’Aulaire said.
Future Folk film screening and performance at the Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg, (347) 529–6696, www.futurefolk.com]. July 23 at 7 pm. Free with RSVP.