Photo: Press (Stereogamous)
Between dance culture’s North American roots and Europe’s strong tradition of all things House and Techno, most other continents’ club scenes are often criminally overlooked. That seems to be even more so the case for Australia. However, there is both fresh talent emerging from down under – Mall Grab being just one example – as well as there is those who have been a staple in the local club scene for years. Stereogamous have been active for about two decades now and in this time have enjoyed mainstream success with gigs at England’s Glastonbury or remixes for Kylie Minogue and George Michael while also staying true to the roots of the queer culture that has informed their Pop-influenced House sound. They are, after all, the (self-proclaimed) “gayest band since the Village People”. The duo’s contribution to our Groove podcast hence serves as a – somewhat drug-fueled – soundtrack for the bath house scene of their hometown Sydney.
The term “stereogamous” – as opposed to monogamous – refers to the state of having two spouses or sexual partners at one time. Why did you choose that name?
We would define stereogamous as the mental, emotional or sexual state of being open to more than one point of view, a non-binary, poly musical, multi gender perspective. Being monogamous is fixed but stereogamous is in flux, fluid and open to all possibilities.
Whereas DJ duos have become more ubiquitous in recent times, that wasn’t the case when you started out. How did you come together and what characterises your working relationship?
We met through a mutual friend, a drag queen named Lady Bump in the early 90s. Isn’t it true that an experience is only heightened when it is shared? We both realised it was way more fun playing music together. One tends to go up and main room, the other goes down andbackroom, together we go sideways and… bathroom.
Your aesthetics draw heavily on the gay New York bath house scene of the late 60s and 70s. What is your connection with that aesthetics and sound and why do you aim to preserve it?
Gay bath houses are sacred spaces where there is the duality of anonymous sex and at the same time fraternity or brotherhood. We had a residency for several years in the late 90s at Ken’s Karate Club in Sydney, a gay bath house that had operated since the early 70s. There we developed an understanding of what music is appropriate to soundtrack an orgasm. It was where the idea of horizontal dance music took root and reignited sexual and musical possibilities and ideas of intimacy and community that could be re-explored and strengthened in the post-AIDS era.
While you have played all over the world from Glastonbury to Panorama Bar, most of the time you’re to be found behind the decks in your hometown Sydney. In an interview from 2006, Seymour has said that in the early 90s “there were 3 styles of music – Hi-NRG, Higher NRG and Highest NRG” – how has the scene changed since then?
We’ve outlived tribal house, cheesy circuit house and Glee. D.M. Fortunately, we have a lot of allies locally like DJ Gemma from Kooky, Bad Dog, Loose Ends and Mince, who believe in future music and queering it forward. It’s never been about money. It’s always been an opportunity to foster a safe place for a queer and sexually open community. Bad music comes and goes, it sucks and blows but we share an avuncular love of seeing a new generation of club kids embrace a queer history and project it into the future.
You are prolific remixers and over the years have reworked tracks by artists like LCD Soundsystem, George Michael and even Kylie Minogue. How do you approach those remixes, especially keeping in mind the respective audiences?
We’ve been fortunate enough to have established friendships with all of those artists before we began, so they knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. All were keen to explore this gay bathhouse sound, and we’ve always respected the integrity of the original song and kept it intact, now just made it more tactile. We were honoured to have George Michael spend time in our studio so losing him was quite devastating. We have paid our respects by commissioning a mural that depicts him as a Greek orthodox icon, St. George, on the side of our house. Now it’s become a gay shrine for people to come pay their respects, lay flowers, cards and solar candles. Queer people don’t have churches or temples outside of the club, so we make our own.
As producers however, you have only debuted in 2012 on a joint release by San Francisco’s HNYTRX and Berlin’s Cocktail d’Amore. What took you so long?
We had made many underground releases for our artist friends, independent labels, remixes for queer artists, radio station compilations, “sauna sessions” mixes on cassettes, vinyl and CDs but it was all pre-digital. They are now sitting in peoples cupboards, 2nd hand shops and we don’t even have copies of some of them anymore. We were lucky enough to have our collaboration connect with these wonderful gay collectives in San Francisco and Berlin and resonated enough for them to release it and in turn make us a relevant “thing”.
From your first release to your most recent one, the single “Homewrecker”, Hercules & Love Affair’s Shaun J. Wright has been a frequent collaborator. How did the collaboration with him come about and how exactly do you make music together? Shaun lives in Chicago, after all.
We saw Shaun perform in Barcelona, we were completely floored, and thanks to Kim Ann Foxman we got to meet him backstage and we connected. “Face Love Anew” came together via the internet, which lead to a gig at Folsom Street Fair, then Mardi Gras in Sydney, which was the first of many summer stays in our home and studio which is now his second home. It’s an ongoing musical and now family-like relationship. We love him very much.
A reoccurring theme throughout your mix for our Groove podcast is obviously drugs. What was your idea behind it?
The drug references are merely analogies for musical mindscapes, emotional reference points of liminal and subliminal entry… Or are they? We have ridiculous laws here in Sydney so it’s also a drag of these archaic & conservative laws.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the forthcoming months – and what are your plans for the future?
Paul is working on his Doctorate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has an upcoming solo show at the Vivid festival in Sydney in June. Seymour is bringing his Trough party to London, May 27. Locally in Sydney we play at “queerbourhood” every Wednesday at LGBTIQA clubhouse, The Bearded Tit. We’re continuing to work on new material and upcoming releases and hope to come back to Berlin by the end of the year.
Stream: Stereogamous – Groove Podcast 107
01. Massimiliano Pagliara – A Passing Day
02. Ólafur Arnalds – Öldurót (Tontario Remix)
03. Alien Alien – Bella L’Estate (Naduva Remix)
04. Dwayne Jensen – Mona Mi (Lost in My Groove)
05. Munk. – The Bolero Bunuel (Red Axes Remix)
06. Baba Stiltz – Snowwhite
07. Joel Alter – Rules Of Love feat. Eric D Clarke (DJ Qu Remix)
08. Heretic + Buran – Revile” (Jason Kendig Remix)
09. Stereogamous & Shaun J Wright – Homewrecker (Dub Mix)
10. Barker & Baumecker – Nocturnal
11. Roman Flügel – Too Hot to Sleep
12. Kim Ann Foxman – Magnetic
13. Octo Octa – Preparation Rituals
14. Dark Network – Solar Outage
15. The Nights – Double Slit
16. Stereogamous – Einstein