OCC caught up with sloganeering punk trio Venus Tropicaux as they spread some tropical love in their bizarre new video.
Venus Tropicaux capture a rollicking punk spirit very much akin to The Pop Group, The Slits and Swell Maps. The Rotterdam-based three-piece is an elusive bunch to say the least. And it’s not just because of the bizarre cardboard Mad Magazine-like caricatures of themselves in their colorful – but strangely unsettling – video for Draw Me (which you can view above). Whether there’s a method to Venus Tropicaux’s mayhem is, uhm… well, thou be the judge.
We briefly e-mailed with Shelley Emily (voice/guitar) and Shalita Dietrich (voice/bass) and Zach Danson (skins) about the video, which features a lip-synching clown fish (don’t ask) and some wonderfully wacky illustrations by Danson (who may or may not be a huge celebrity in Paris).
Venus Tropicaux recently played some dates with Shopping. Are both bands like friends for life now?
‘Yes, actually it’s a lot more than that. The moment we crossed paths, we had this instant connection, like lightning struck us and two bands became one. After spending two days with them, there were lots of tears shattered when we had to say goodbye, but we did invite them to Zach’s wedding in London on July 16th. So we’ll meet again.’
Rotterdam is often seen as this monochrome city of bricks. Is all that tropical imagery a way to debunk that?
‘Nah, we wouldn’t put it that way. There are more exciting things going on behind that monochrome city of bricks. Our tropical imagery is more like an extension of that: a tribute to the multi-cultural diversity of Rotterdam. We’d love to have a little more of the tropical climate in Rotterdam though, but we’re working on that. We are also busy spreading more tropical love in bars and public places, that’s why we’re playing our tropical DJ sets all over Rotterdam. DO hire us.’
So whose idea was it to make this rather bizarre video?
‘We had a cup of tea at Shalita’s nanny’s place one afternoon. She told us about this frightening dream she had. She was traveling from Peru to Uruguay by train, and the train was an underwater world filled with masked people dancing around. So Zach drew a storyboard about her dream. We then teamed up with some pretty cute gals (a small production company, L.G.C.M. & Marrit van Nattem) and we made one of the best videos ever made. Cause that’s how we roll.’
It seems Draw Me is directly inspired by this iconic scene from Titanic. Or is it a weighty metaphor for something more profound?
‘You know that everything in life is a metaphor. Like Kabouter Buttplug (or, as LA Weekly dubbed it, ‘The Buttplug Gnome’). He’s holding a buttplug, but in the same time, it’s a Christmas tree? But yeah, it was inspired by that scene. Our whole life is inspired by that scene.’
You directly quote Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Big fans?
Shalita: ‘Oh yeah! Shelley wishes she’d be reincarnated as Celine’s dog. That bitch is rich as hell, so to be the bitch of that bitch would be totally awesome. All she did was bleat like a sheep. Chapeau, that’s magic man… Real magic. Definitely one of our inspirations.’
Another song on upcoming LP Lycra Pants is about Serena Williams, so I read. Any more celebrity tributes pending?
‘Our entire EP is a Serena Williams-tribute. We’re actually a Serena Williams tribute band. That’s why we’re named after her sister, Venus. Zach is very much in love with Serena and just proposed to her, they will get married on July 16th.’
Speaking of celebrities, what’s your take on the new Kanye West video?
‘He called us last month, asking if we were interested in modeling for his new video. Because he needed some hot celebs to lay in his bed. Which we are pretty good at. But why the fuck would we travel all the way to the States for something like that, when we could also lay in Shelley’s bed and be hot? Yes, Kanye’s video is very good. Almost better than Draw Me… but not really.’
Those Foreign Kids from Amsterdam managed to woo Ryan Gosling for their video. If you could pick any celebrity for your next one, who would be in it? And why?
‘When Shalita was sent from New Guinea to The Netherlands in 1988, she went to a foster home in Spijkenisse and attended the same school as AfroJack,. So we asked him to play in our new video. So we got it all figured out, thanks!’
Rumors are flying around that you’re recruiting new band members. Does this turtle have a shot?
‘Only if Chris Martin is Creepy Chris Crabs.’