Das Fluff’s twitter strap line states they are ‘attention seekers playing sexistential electro post punk twisted disco cyber filth with alarming passion’ and after catching them live recently, I completely agree with this statement!
BM: Hello Dawn, let’s start with the obvious, how did the band get together?
Dawn: It started with myself and our original keyboard player, David Roberts, who I’d approached at a gig because he looked like a Smiths fan and I suspected he was a musician, both of which he was. We started writing together and went on to try working with a few musicians. Steve May has been Das Fluff’s guitarist since our first gig back in 2010. A few band members have come and gone. Christian Ruland, who has always designed and made videos for us, started playing live with us a couple of years ago and Chris Limb. who started out as a fan, has been playing bass with us for the last few gigs, including a gig in Berlin this summer. We have just started working with Tes Stranger who has been playing a minimal drum kit. Chris and Tes have a history of working together for years. It’s getting very exciting.
BM: What is the band’s songwriting process and do all your songs draw from personal experience?
Dawn: I write and do the electronic arrangements of the songs. They are always based on my own experiences or of those close to me. They are like a diary you would keep under lock and key. I am open about my emotions and thoughts and don’t fear voicing them, though it would probably be better for me on a day-to-day basis if I kept more things to myself. I only write lyrics when I feel the need to express something. Musically Some songs will begin with a bass line or a beat or a melody line and I have recently gone back to writing with a guitar.
BM: You live in Berlin, one of my favourite cities, how do you think the city shapes your sound?
Dawn: Not yet. – Christian and I spent three months in Berlin this summer and were exhilerated by the experience. The electronic scene there tends towards the experimental which is not where I am or intend to go right now. It will not be a career move but we plan to move there next year. The place is brimming with people who are there for artistic and ideological reasons – not to make money. I love London but it is becoming too expensive for so many of those kinds of people to survive for much longer doing what they really want to do. Berlin has an amazing combination of the laid-back and ridiculously pleasant with a deeply entrenched artistic edge and sense of daring and of ‘anything is possible’. People will build something out of nothing – making use of literally anything and any space they can get their hands on, to create a shared artistic experience. London is very much about the individual’s own goals.
BM: Having experienced the band live, I’m wondering how did you hone the skill of completely captivating your audience? Have you always been a natural front woman?
Dawn: That’s very flattering! I’m sure I don’t captivate everyone – but I do think it’s important to really engage with your audience as individuals- and since I started performing again in 2006, I’ve very gradually broken out of my natural shyness and initial tendencies to apologise for everything I did on stage, look down and hide behind a guitar. I love looking people in the eye and singing to them, making physical contact and trying to involve them in my songs, which are like stories which I hope might tap into a shared emotion with those interested enough to stand near the front of the stage. Ultimately I must confess to having a desire for attention and to affect people. There must be an element of megalomania within all performers. Isn’t there?!
BM: Your extremely strong, individual visual image seems to be something that you pay a lot of thought to and take a lot of pride in. Is a lot of the stuff custom-made for you and how huge is your wardrobe!?
Dawn: I do own an embarrassingly inordinate amount of strange clothing and have been collecting vintage clothes since I was in my early teens – I still have everything that hasn’t fallen to shreds and still wear some of it. I do obsessively go to flea markets, charity and vintage shops, particularly when I am outside of the UK. I never spend a lot of money on individual items and I customise and make things to wear on stage. Expectations from our fans is now reaching rather daunting heights and now I find myself a little under pressure to come up with something that won’t disappoint!
BM: You have three big UK shows coming up supporting Toyah, how did that come about, are you all big fans?
Dawn: It’s a bit of a dream come true for Chris and Tes who have been serious Toyah fans. Chris has actually written a book called ‘I was a Teenage Toyah Fan’ and actually ran her fan-club and I believe they have both recorded with her. The era of Toyah’s early career very much informed my taste in music. A few years ago I saw Toyah perform at a private birthday party and I was so impressed by her performance and her self-deprecating humour. I find it amazing and inspirational that musicians – particularly female – are increasingly extending or re-launching their careers and are still treated with love and admiration by their fans and by younger people who weren’t even born when they were at the height of their careers. I recently saw Debbie Harry in Berlin and one of the best gigs I’ve seen was Grace Jones at the Roundhouse. And now Kate Bush. And no, I didn’t get a ticket!
As far as getting gigs like these, you have to earn them and start off being first on at mediocre venues, work hard, build audiences and get better. I think the many gigs we’ve done around the world have added some weight to our bio as a band and have certainly played a part in us getting better and being considered for these gigs. I still had to keep hassling the promoter to actually get them though!
BM: I would imagine, given the bill, that it’s going to be an incredibly visual extravaganza?
Dawn: In a modest way. I wouldn’t want Toyah to think I’m trying to upstage her!
BM: Would you like to play ‘Soundtrack Of Our Lives’?
Dawn: Yes ;p
BM: What track influenced you to start making music?
Dawn: Not a particular track but I listened to David Bowie and Velvet Underground obsessively.
BM: Your tour bus favourite is….?
Dawn: Something I can warm my voice up to. Cocteau Twins are always a winner.
BM: What is your Saturday night tune?
Dawn: If I want to be in the mood dance, ‘Groove is in the Heart’ by Deelite will always get me going – BUT the place I am most frequently at on a Saturday night will have me dancing to ‘How Soon is Now’ by The Smiths, which is probably the closest thing to a religious experience I could ever hope for.
BM: What is your favourite track made by your friends?
Dawn: The yet to be released ‘Creation Theory’ by The Cesarians, my favourite London band, who have come to be good friends after we supported them several times. They are incredible live.
If I can choose two tracks, ‘Rumination of Us’ by one of my closest friends, JU Rainforth. It’s unique and beautiful.
BM: Your guilty pleasure?
Dawn: I think we should grab whatever pleasures we can in this life and so long as they’re not destructive or sadistic, let’s not feel guilty about any of them!
BM: What song inspires you?
Dawn: ‘If you knew’ performed live by Nina Simone. The song and her voice and piano playing are exquisite and get right into my heart.
BM: What is the best track ever?
Dawn: That’s too hard! It would have to be something by David Bowie and it’s almost impossible to select the ‘best’ one. Today I’ll go for ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’.
Dawn, it’s been lovely talking with you, thank you.
Das Fluff play:
13 September London Vout-O-Reenee
8 October London
Toyah and Das Fluff play:
24 October – Glasgow Classic Grand
7 November – Brighton Haunt
15 November – Bristol Fleece