Interview by dadair
Aren't We All Really Just; Robots In Disguise?
The sauntering enchantresses of Sue Denim and Dee Plume, via their recent RID album, have managed to combine dark humour and punchy provocation shrouded in cosmopolitan delivery. Appearances on The Mighty Boosh and the honour of controlling the after-show festivities for the show's recent tour of homely venues, has helped Robots In Disguise spread their lofty electro-based sound to a wide ranging audience. The strong minded and talented pair of expansive musicians, kindly take time out to reveal what programmes Robots In Disguise to do the things they do and, be the way are.
1. Your debut album 'RID' throws artists like Gainsbourg, Ladytron, Client and Blondie into a shot glass and sets fire to them to create a vacuum of salacious power and dark broodiness, with a cosmopolitan edge. Was this the intention? And do you feel that you have achieved the sound you intended to or are you still an outfit in transition?
SUE: There was never an intention to sound like any other band, although I guess everyone is influenced intentionally or not by other sounds and facets of life, unless living as a recluse! We did have certain ideas about how we wanted it to sound, basically, as a progression from our first album, greatly inspired by a lot of touring. On the latest album we wanted the sound very cohesive, as the first album seemed more jumbled together and experimental. But basically we just wrote the songs that came bubbling up from within us and recorded them to sound as exciting and danceable as we could!
Originally we wanted every song to be a possible single. Our producer Chris Corner also influences the way the songs sound, kicks us into shape in the studio, he is really talented, and such a brilliant producer. It's all very democratic in terms of the production though - we spend hours together in the studio making sure everyone's happy with the final sound. The three of us worked together on both albums so there's a lot of trust been built up. Chris is an honorary robot. He is even going to be a girl drummer for us for our next gig in Belgium in a coupla weeks, Ann Droid, hopefully no one will notice!
DEE: Yeah, yeah that was definitely the intention ha ha. Tho proud of the album for me we're still on the way to getting the sound I want. It's very hard trying to get a live sound when it isn't. But the energy of our act is coming through on this album much more than in the previous one
2. Standout number on the above album is the murky, but dominant 'Girl'. What is the story behind this number and were you surprised by the anger that is seemingly concealed within it?
DEE: I'm never surprised by anger, especially when it's my own ;) - it's always there like a demon. Language innately discriminates against women coz so much of it is male invention. Girls growing up need to feel that it's ace to be a girl coz I think a lot of women hate themselves.
SUE: The oppressed have to keep speaking up! :) Feminists prior to now worked so hard and achieved so much and yet there is still not equality, although we
have it good in this part of the world in comparison to women in other places. But even over here I think sexism is still accepted by many, and ignored by many
others. Maybe it's too frightening to imagine real change. In this song the anger is concealed by the playful approach to the lyrics, but yes, it is there.
3. How has The Mighty Boosh Factor helped you on the road to success?
SUE: Being in the Mighty Boosh has hugely helped our profile in the UK. Loads more people know about us now. I know if I was a Mighty Boosh fan (which I am by
the way! I mean, if I wasn't in the show as well!) and I found out that the 2 girls in Kraftwerk Orange and in Nanageddon were actually in a REAL LIVE BAND I'd be
well excited! We've been friends for ages, they used to come to see
us play in tiny venues, we saw them in tiny venues, now they still come to see us in tiny venues and we see them in Brixton Academy and on the telly! He he
he. It's been a fantastic opportunity - it was an honour,
and great fun, to be part of such an original and brilliant show.
DEE: The fact that they've become successful has helped me believe that there is an audience who want something original and special and that it always takes miles longer to get attention if you're unusual.
4. Your live shows often turn into an inhibition releasing exhibition from both yourselves and the crowd. Do you think that live shows on the whole, need life breathing into them? What do you want people to take out of a live Robots In Disguise show?
DEE: Live shows r about us all having a good time - it's our duty as performers to try n get the audience to forget everything n live in the moment. The best live shows r about escaping reality and feeling immortal.
SUE: Live needs life. Otherwise u might as well just listen to the music at home. I want the audience to forget themselves and get lost in the experience, to dance like crazy, sing along and just have a good time, like we do on stage. To not know it's really happening until it's over.
5. Describe the song writing process for Robots In Disguise? How do your songs start out?
SUE: One of us will write a verse and chorus and then we complete the song together. Or we come up with an idea together and jam it out. Or one of us will write a verse and chorus and then we throw it all away and start from scratch with the same melody but different lyrics. Or... etc. Often dictionaries and thesauruses will come out. There will be laughter and arguing. Then we will get distracted and talk about anything BUT the song for ages. Then we will go and shoot tequilas for inspiration. Then we do it all again until finally the song is ready. We are usually still finishing lyrics under pressure while recording the song.
DEE: I sit at home n avoid writing by doing chores n then something horrible happens to me and I react by writing.
6. Which of your songs sum up your current mood and why?
DEE: Hot Gossip. People just can't stop talking bout us ha ha
SUE: 'Get RID!' (The title track for our album which wasn't finished in time! It'll probably be on the next album).
7. Who or what makes you angry??
SUE: Violence. Demands. Abuse. Threats. Money. Power. The unfairness of life. I'm less angry about that than I used to be as I've realised it will always be unfair. Guess it's something to do with where it all leads, for all of us, and how confusing it is to know that and deal with it. Add to that the chaos of nature, human and otherwise. It's all far too confusing if you think about it too much. Thinking in moderation is best for me cos I far too often find myself back to the question of the meaning of life. It's unanswerable
but tantalising. Life is it's own meaning.
DEE: People who can't back down and apologise.
8. If you could choose any artist or band to cover one of your songs, who would it be and what song would it be?
SUE: How about Snoop Dogg covering GIRL?! Or Kate Bush covering Voodoo?
DEE: Peaches or Madonna with Boys, Serge Gainsbourg (even from the grave) La Nuit.
9. Finally, if you could change one thing about the modern music industry, what would it be and why?
DEE: That there was sum positive discrimination for girl bands.
SUE: The industry should be more patient. There would be far more interesting and artistic music that way. Instead of the whole 'newest, best, newest, best in
the world, newest in the universe' etc etc mentality. The building up a new band to then bash them down. The UK especially is guilty of this. We were quite lucky
to have a chance to sneak off and do our own thing and develop away from Englands' judging eyes, in France mainly, with better riders, better fees and more
exotic locations! I think it's quite hilarious that we're being called a 'hot, new band' now in the UK (by the same publication that called us the 'worst band in Britain'
not long ago!) when we're already on our 3rd album. Hilarious but good! Better than 'shit, old band'. There is a move away from the industry entirely. It could end up as only the music producers and the music buyers, no industry. This would be ok
except that you'd probably get one album every 10 years cos the bands would be so tied up with all the business. I know from experience.
Thanks for the interview! SUE X