electropunky, kitsch & speed, sissilistening, bricolopop, Berliner
juke-box, STEREO TOTAL was born the day Françoise Cactus
met Brezel Göring. How did it happen ? Comment ? Warum
? From Villeneuve l'Archeveque to L'Amour a 3, here is the fantastik
all begins somewhere in France, in a small town called Villeneuve
l'Archeveque. Such a small town, it was actually a village
of 1000 souls. Francoise Van Hove spends her time hanging
around in the glass house behind her parents' home. That's how
Cactus becomes her nickname. Meanwhile, Francoise writes
down some songs ideas, and gets a little bit bored in the country
of Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
moves away to Berlin in the mid 80's, and joins the Genius
Dilektant mouvement. While teaching french lessons to make
some pocket change, she creates her own band : THE LOLITAS,
inspired by US garage rock and the french 60's YeYe. The Lolitas
were Coco and Tutti Frutti on guitars, Olga
on bass, and Françoise, the romantic bad girl
in leather jacket, on drums and vocals (en francais).
release their debut LP at the fall of 1986, then get a record
contract with the french label New Rose. Three albums
will follow : Series Americaines (19988), Fusee d'Amour (produced
by Alex Chilton, 1989) and Rouge Baiser (with Chris
New Rose closes down in 1992. The Lolitas split up and
Coco moves away to Guadeloupe, leaving Francoise broke and lonely
in the new reunited Germany.
Lolitas : Olga, Coco, Françoise and Tutti Frutti
one day, at the local supermarket, she meets this strange german
guy who's living in the same neighborhood : Friedrich Von Finsterwalde,
aka Brezel Göring. Brezel is a DIY conjurer, doing
all kind of strange sounds collages in association with a bunch
of noisy activists : the Sigmund Freud Experience. Britzkrieg
love ! Francoise will be the frenchy singer and Brezel the electronic
crooner. Together, they will be STEREO TOTAL.
are not easy at the beginning. They play small clubs, tiny art
galleries. In 1994, they take part of the berliner Kitsch-A-Gogo
exhibition, with 80 other freaks. Francoise sings and Brezel
plays Bontempi organ. Finally, a 4 tracks EP is released in
1995 : ALLO J'ECOUTE, on Desert Records. It is followed
by their first album, OH AH, on a little underground german
label : Peace 95.
is Sissilistening ! The sticker claims. Several tracks might
remind the Lolitas (A l'amour comme a la guerre, Dans le parc),
but Francoise now sings also auf deutsch and in english, with
a incredible strong accent francais. OH AH is full of brilliant
yeye punky covers (Souvenir Souvenir, Comme un Garcon), weird
disco hits (Push It), and smashing original songs (Dactylo
multi-purpose Brezel plays guitars, keyboards, and sings as
well, notably on Moviestar (Harpo's 70's swedish hit). Some
more stereopeople figure on the album : Lesley Campbell (guitar,
ex Camping Sex), Iznogood (bass, ex Burst Appendix) and
a bunch of guests, among them Coco and Alex Chilton.
the same year, Francoise publishes her own imaginary autobiography
: AUTOBIGOPHONIE (auf deutsch only, sorry).
Berlin, Holger Baier & Marcus Liesenfield, aka Le Hammond
Inferno, offer Stereo Total to be signed on their brand
new label : BUNGALOW. In the same "Trance-Cocktail"
home will live together Peter Thomas, les Pop Tarts, Laila France,
Dauerfisch, Andreas Dorau, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Bertrand
Burgalat... and many other bands or DJs from Europe and Japan.
favorite stereodisc, of course. Francoise poses nude (or almost
nude) on the cover, sitting on a stuffed dog carpet. A real
dog pelt. The picture shocked people around, worrying about
the poor little doggie...
Monokini sounds much more electronic. It opens with a germano-synthetic
version of one of the very first Francoise Hardy's songs (Oh
Oh Cherie). There's some trashy guitars tracks (Lunatique, LA,
CA, USA), spacial balads (Cosmonaute), more 60's covers (Sylvie
Vartan's rainy Dilindam) and several new great Stereosongs.
Schon Von Hinten (beautiful from behind) will become
a Stereo classic. Ushilo Sugata Ga Kilei is the japanese version.
Six more remixes will be recorded on a CD single, with a wonderful
The Other Side Of You, by Momus & Laila France. Furore (from
Adriano Celentano) is Francoise first step in italiano. Lesley
Campbell is gone and Angie Reed plays vibroguitarre instead.
Self-proclaimed Grand Prix Eurovision 1997, Monokini is released
in Japan (on L'appareil Photo) and in the USA (on Bobsled records).
picture sleeve, bloody tittle and sixties references : JUKE-BOX
ALARM is in some way a come-back to garage rock. "More
Hard-listening", as Francoise said once. The awesome Holiday
Innn will be released in 8 different mixes, on a double
clear 7" EP. Other highlights are Nouvelle Vague, with
Brezel singing like an over-excited Richard Anthony, and Supercool,
hysterical cover version of a Plastic Bertrand B-side. Angie
plays bass now and the new boy San Reimo is hired on
keyboards. Juke-Box was mixed by Kurt Dahlke, from the 80's
german band Der Plan, in the Düsseldorf Atatak studio.
This time, a nice booklet includes all the lyrics and cute little
drawings made in Stereoland.
Alarm photo session (Simgil)
hesitated a while before buying this one. That was because of
the ugly cover. But I was wrong, of course. More electropop
than Juke-Box, it features the soapy-sexy Sous la Douche,
Discjokey (their techno manifesto) and Die Krise, a bizarre
synthetic reggae, co-written by Wolfgang Müller, originally
from the Tödliche Döris (another weird german 80's
band). Joe le Taxi was originally a terrible Vanessa
Paradis' hit in France. Brezel is playing all kind of strange
electronic tricks here. A great album, with 2 more Serge Gainsbourg
songs and a couple of japanese covers, borrowed from Pizzicato
5 and the Plastics. The title, My Melody, comes from a tiny
little rabbit puppet Françoise found in Japan once.
& Brezel keep on touring all over the world : Europe, japan,
Russia, USA... The Stockholm Fritz'Corner concert (6/3/99) is
broadcasted on the club website. "Meinedamenundherrenladies
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". 26 tracks, including 4 unreleased
cover songs. Angie Reed is still here, but she will soon leave,
and Stereo Total will naturlich continue as a duo.
Brezel & Angie Reed
shopping (Photo Momus)
4 albums and countless tours through 19 countries, Francoise
& Brezel decide to move forward and ask Cem Oral (from the
Köln band Air Liquide) to produce the next album. Before
that, they give one of their very first concerts in Paris, at
the Les Femmes s'en Melent festival (23/3/2001). It sounds strange,
but at this point, Stereo Total was still almost unknown here.
No gigs, no promotion, no records around... They seem kind of
uptight that very first night, but give a fantastic performance
the next day at the Pointe Lafayette cafe.
AUTOMATIQUE is released in october 2001, in german, french,
english and japanese versions. Well, I hate to say that, but
I was a little bit disappointed with this album. In my opinion,
the sound was much too cleaned and polished. And their 80's
references seemed much too obvious this time : Lio (je suis
une poupée), Kraftwerk (Ypsilon) and Les Tueurs de la
Lune de Miel (Nationale 7)... French magazines discovered Stereo
Total, pretending it was a New Wave revival band ! Even the
picture sleeve has a cold glazed style that doesn't fit with
them. (Sorry !...)
MUSIQUE AUTOMATIQUE also contains some true masterpieces : the
supraglamour L'Amour A 3 and the technoprussian Tanzen
im 4-eck. The CD ends with a turkish version of Für
Immer 16, before closing down on a small extract of These Boots
Are made For Walking (Nancy Sinatra) and Cindarella (Lionel
Ritchie), live in a camping, during a karaoke party!
then, they have been touring : America (from Philadelphia to
Tijuana), Europe... In september 2002, the Fondation Cartier
invites them at the Printemps de Septembre festival, in Toulouse
(France), where they play a new live soundtracks on the Jean-Luc
Godard's movie Week-end.
clubbing (photo Steven Halin)
week later, they take part of the Tödliche Döris exhibition
in Leipzig, before Françoise goes to the Frankfurt Book
Fair for a reading (Burgundische Hochzeit) . It was about this
time that the officiel site opens at last with a free MP3 CD
as welcome gift : Trésors Cachés. The same
month, Brezel releases his first solo LP, a split with the japanese
band Barom One. On Oct 28th, Stereo Total fly away to New York
for a full north American tour, where Musique Automatique has
just been reissued by Killrockstars records...
Special Thanks to Françoise, Julian (Bungalow), Mathias
(Powerline), MPB (pour la doc) and Dominique Forma for the translation.