The FADER’s transgender charity covers compilation FADER & Friends Volume 1 is out now, available exclusively on Bandcamp until December 1, 2023. 100% of the proceeds go towards the Transgender Law Center, Mermaids, and Rainbow Railroad. Throughout the month of November, we’re speaking to the artists who contributed to the 44-song collection about the songs they covered.
Few songs have been as influential on the last 12 years of synth-pop as “A Real Hero” by College and Electric Youth. First appearing on the soundtrack to Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 cult hit, “A Real Hero” is a stone-cold modern classic, even if you take into account all the Ryan Gosling scorpion jackets it no doubt helped sell. 8485’s cover is the opening track of our compilation, and I can’t think of a better way to kick things off than with a song celebrating humanity’s best impulses.
Listen to the song below and buy the full album on Bandcamp. Scroll down to read Robin Dann on the original song and their cover.
What’s your first memory of this song?
I was in my basement using the home computer, and my dad was watching Drive one room over. These were probably the years when I first started listening to electronica and dream pop and I was intrigued to hear him listening to something like that. It’s still one of his favourite songs too.
Why did you decide to record it as your cover?
My song “hangar” with blackwinterwells is very indebted to the Drive soundtrack and to that song in particular, so it felt right to pay tribute to it directly.
What does this song/band mean to you personally?
I had known this song for a while before I learned that it has a really specific meaning. It’s about Chesley Sullenberger, a pilot who safely landed a passenger plane in the middle of open waters.
Now that I know that, I think about it when I hear the song, mostly about how powerfully a song can tell a real story, because I really value that in writing. Before I learned the story behind the song, and even now that I know it, my personal connection to it hinges on that line “a real human being and a real hero”, which is a direct quote from the pilot’s grandfather. I have a suspicion that hearing those words were a big reason why that particular story became a song; they echo in this really universal sense. It’s a very unique perspective.
We like to see people who do great things as fundamentally different from other people and I like seeing that broken down. It’s funny, I used to have this tagline “Eighty is a pop star” and I started to struggle with it a lot for some reason, so I made a bunch of art that said, “Eighty is a real human being.”
What’s another song you’d love to cover and why?
Right now I would really like to cover “real love” by Katie Dey. She writes a lot of songs that I listen to over and over and then really want to sing because the words are so affecting and I think she writes perfect melodies.