While some pop blogs are going on about the brilliance of lackluster acts like Same Difference and Miley Cyrus, I am quite intrigued by the more "glam" side of pop – like Boogaloo Stu for instance. In this little chat with the glam popster, we talk about his new single "Magnetic Heart", his so unusual yet very cool look and his infamous club night in London called Shinky Shonky. Drag out the hairspray and platforms EQs, Boogaloo Stu is in the house.
So tell us about your new single "Magnetic Heart". It’s a little egocentric isn’t it? It’s all about you, not about me…
It’s rampant egomania, I suppose. "Magnetic Heart" is basically about people who are selfish in love, or ultimately in love with themselves only. I should add that my lyrics aren’t deep at all, but if you want to analyze them, that’s what you’ll find. The lyric "enough about you…let’s talk about me" is something a friend of mine would say to me every so often to stop me talking about myself. So I thought I should get that into a song somehow!
Did you have a good time filming the video?
Yes it was great fun. It’s quite a gaudy spectacle, isn’t it? Actually I didn’t set out to make a video that was just a showcase for posing in wild outfits, but up until now most of my pop videos haven’t even featured me in the flesh – they’ve been cartoons. This is the first time my face, and indeed my bare ass (side view) have been so heavily featured. I appreciate it may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but ultimately viewers do have the choice to switch it off. Having Sparklemotion dancing in it was great, and I made some little puppet versions of them to feature in it too. Our director Collina was brilliant – she was a creative whirlwind from the storyboard right through to the editing process. And she still found time to make us all some ham and cheese sandwiches too. I’m really pleased with the result!
Now Stu – you’re a glam rock lover. Why is it that there aren’t enough glam rockers on the scene? We need more big hair, wouldn’t you agree?
I totally agree! For years now I’ve felt that there’s an overwhelming lack of outlandish pop stars. In the past we’ve had so many maverick spirits – Roxy Music, Bowie, Boy George, Pete Burns (pre-surgery). Obviously the music should always come first, but I think image should be more important nowadays too. There’s not enough fantasy. Most acts are styled by someone else, usually dressed in High Street fashions. Occasionally there’s a bolt of lighting from the skies and interesting performers like Bjork or Roisin Murphy suddenly appear – but it seems to me that truly dazzling, original pop stars are few and far between.
I hear you hosted a red button Eurovision party – how was that? Who did you secretly want to win? I can’t imagine you were rooting for Russia. Dima Bilan lacked a bit of glamour didn’t he?
It was great fun. I was too busy drinking pink champagne to really care too much about who was going to win actually. I can see why Russia was a popular choice, but personally I really enjoyed Sebastian Tellier’s performance. His gaggle of Demis Roussos lookie-likey backing singers was a stroke of genius. Although the voting public clearly didn’t agree – as I recall he ended up with just a few more points than poor old Andy Abraham…
You’ve played in Russia a few times haven’t you? Do the Russians love glam pop music as much as you do?
Yes I have, in Moscow quite a few times. I seem to have a growing fanbase there! It’s an incredible place to perform. They love Western pop full-stop. They don’t seem to judge you on whether you are "cool" – I don’t know about glam, but they certainly love anything poppy with a melancholy edge to it. Dark European pop.
It’s been years since I was at your club night Shinky Shonky in London – it’s still going strong I hear. You still making badges and playing fantastically weird and wonderful pop music then?
Yes indeed Shinky Shonky is back in the West End, after a brief hiatus…I’m still doing the badges of course – although I’m finding it harder to come up with new rude slogans for them – I think I’ve exhausted the smut-bank. If you have any suggestions for naughty slogans you’d like to see on a badge, do let me know! The playlist, while never too indulgent, is typically eclectic and covers all genres of pop music from any era. We just celebrated Shinky Shonky’s 11th Birthday last week too!
You also do a little bit of PR on the side for some really cool artists. Labour of love or does it pay the bills?
I had employed press agents in the past, who I paid a lot of money – and the result was usually little or no press. I basically realised I could do a better job myself so I started doing the PR when I was promoting my own music. The trouble is when you’re doing it yourself it’s not easy to talk yourself up and boast without sounding like a crazed egomaniac! But recently a lot of other bands and artists have got in touch with me and it’s developing into a new career strand, which I have to say I really enjoy.
Where do you go shopping at for your one-of-a-kind style and looks?
Well those outfits are not ready-to-wear. I make everything myself – but my starting point is usually finding a big 70’s gown in a charity shop or at a boot sale. I’ll wash it and pick it apart – then assess how much fabric I have, and see what I can make from it. I’ll re-use everything if possible – the zips, buttons etc. At the moment I’m really enjoying the shirt-and-tie combination with matching pants and knee-socks – but I’m also currently developing some new looks, incorporating a lot of frilled sleeves and high-waisted matador trousers in fluorescent sequined fabrics. I’ll be premiering these looks at the Barbican Christmas show I’m doing with my gorgeous, charismatic dance-partner Miss High Leg Kick.
So what artists are really making you smile these days?
There’s a lot of brilliant Australian pop – most of which seems to be on the Modular label – The Presets, Midnight Juggernauts, Cut Copy. Also I LOVE the new Helicopter Girl album "Metropolitan". She is amazing. Beyond that – Alphabeat, Pacific!, Santogold. There’s a lot of good music around.
Tell us about your gals Sparklemotion. How did you meet them and how did you come to love them so much to put them in your act?
I have known Marianne, the choreographer, for many years. She heard my single "Dynamite" from my first album and approached me to work on a routine for the video. So we then went on to do a few little shows together – there were only two dancers in those days, but it worked brilliantly and people loved the routines and the multitude of costume changes. It was all very Summertime Special! We soon ended up with four dancers and indeed it’s been a brilliant platform for Marianne’s talent – she had choreographed quite a few pop videos now (including my current single "Magnetic Heart") and as well as dancing with me, the girls have subsequently been invited to appear at quite a few festivals and special events.
Do you have a new album coming out soon?
There’s going to be a third single from the current album (a duet entitled "Hammer To Fall") and then there’s talk of a limited "deluxe edition" of the album – possibly at Christmas – with bonus tracks, a couple of remixes and all the videos on there. I have also started work on my third album but I don’t think it will see the light of day for another couple of years.
And what’s next in the world of Boogaloo Stu?
In between all my DJ-ing and club work, I’m curating a tent at the Beachdown Festival just outside Brighton at the end of this month – I’ve lined up all my favourite acts to perform, including Helicopter Girl and also Sarah Nixey. Very excited about that! I’ll be making a video for "Hammer To Fall" and planning a few live shows to coincide with the release of that – and then I’ll be rehearsing for the Barbican Christmas show. So the Autumn is shaping up to be very busy indeed.
Thanks Stu – make sure to check out Boogaloo Stu on MySpace where you can take a look at the "Magnetic Heart" vid-e-o. Tre fun!