Entertainment outside the taste of the majority – from the anti-diva Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring, the master of subtile exageration.
How did it all start? Surprisingly it began with a set of strict rules (of which each and every one has been overthrown at least once in the following years).
1) No instrument should cost more than 50,- Deutschmark (which is 25,- Euro by now)
2) Virtuosity should be avoided
3) Lyrics in all kinds of languages – besides english
4) Stylistical influences from the vinylsection of the fleamarket
5) steer clear of the contemporary taste
6) studio recordings should undergo the technical standard
7) no big record labels, just releases on small ones that are run by music enthusiasts
And whose brain gave birth to this eccentric list? 1993 in front of a bakery in Berlin, Kreuzberg, Françoise Cactus (plainly audible singer and drummer of the french garage band “Lolitas”) met multi-non-instrumentalist Brezel Göring (who had already made a bad impression with the bruitistic “Sigmund Freud Experience”).
Four-track-cassette-recorder, analogue synthesizer, type writer, home organ, chanson, Yéyé-beat of the sixties, Neue Deutsche Welle, Rock’a’billy, Punk rock, Wendy Carlos and a tantalising french accent were the ingredients of the first two records “Oh Ah” (1995) and “Monokini” (1997). Songs like “Schön von hinten” or “Dactylo rock” combined Françoise Cactus humorous word games with anti-technoid primitve electronics. The following album “Jukebox Alarm” (1998) and “My Melody” (1999) blended murky 8bit sampling with tinny beat music. (All albums were released by Bungalow in Europe, Bobsled in the US and by L’appareille photo in Japan). Stereo Total toured – sometimes with additional musicians through Europe, Japan and the USA.
The big change came with “Musique Automatique” (2001), a top seller for Stereo Total. This record included the song “L’amour à trois” and “Wir tanzen im 4eck”. For ten years without a break Stereo Total toured around the world – recording along the way “Do the bambi” (2005), “Paris/Berlin” (2007) and “Baby Ouh” (2010). All theses albums were released by various independent labels, for example Kill Rock Stars (USA), Bizarre (Brazil), Silicon Carne (Mexico)…
In 2011 Stereo Total went into the Stonehenge Studio, Los Angeles, to record “Cactus vs. Brezel”. In this studio time stands still: nothing is newer than from 1968 – except the sound engineer. Being in a world of absolute perfection but working in the technological palaeolithicum forced Stereo Total to accept mistakes as interesting variations.
Stereo Total wrote several radio plays (“Autobigophonie” 2005, “Patty Hearst” 2008) and composed soundtracks for asian underground movies (“Underwater Love” 2011, “Ruined heart” 2014).
2015 was another important year for Stereo Total: Françoise Cactus – so far only songwriter, drummer and singer of the band – took over production duties and mixed the new album “Les Hormones”.
In 2015 the london based label Blow Up released a Best-of-compilation. I am going to quote some revealing passages from the linernotes:
The record you are holding in your hands is our new Stereo Total-Best of. When we listened to it ourselves, we could not believe that this should be the best we did in the last 20 years.
Our goal was always not to let things be too perfect, too professional or too polished. When I hear the record, I think we succeeded – it is not perfect – but also, there were recordings where we reached imperfection on a much higher level.
Our music is “Underground Pop Music” – music that is seductive like pop, but does not go conform with the taste of the majority.
But let’s start with the beginning: 1992 – in the former eastern part of Berlin there were huge containers for trash everywhere: people were throwing away everything that reminded them of their former life in the GDR: records, books, clothes, furniture … and they were craving for western products.
That gave us the idea to be musically inspired by the “throw-away-society”, the “Weg-werf-Gesellschaft”. We used intruments that nobody wanted and were influenced by old music nobody cared about.
This compilation consists of songs from 16 different records that are hard to find and mainly out of print. We are glad that BLOW-UP-records make the music available again.
Usually people say concerning our music: “I can’t get it.” Now they can switch to saying:”Idon’t get it.”