Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul discuss the influences behind their debut album ‘Topical Dancer’
Belgium-based duo Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul finally released their long-in-the-works debut album, Topical Dancer, today (3/4). As with their previous EPs, they worked with Soulwax's Stephen & David Dewaele at their DEEWEE studios, and have created a full body workout that stimulates from your feet to your head. Topics include racism, cultural appropriation, social media obsession, wokeness, vanity, and misogyny, done with wit and serious club beats. "No matter how painful the subject, we use a certain lightness and humor to address things," they say. "It doesn’t minimize the problem, it only makes it easier to process, accept and overcome." Read our review of the album in Indie Basement and stream it below.
We asked Charlotte and Bolis to tell us a little more about the inspirations behind Topical Dancer, and they each came back with five examples, ranging from club tracks, to books and essays, to television shows and sandwiches. Read their commentary below.
You can catch Charlotte and Bolis on tour this spring, including a NYC show at Bowery Ballroom on May 10.
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul - Inspirations Behind 'Topical Dancer'
Five from Charlotte:
1. How to with John Wilson
A brilliant docuseries that’s so unique in its style. I love John Wilson’s way of looking at things. The way he documents random (and at first sight banal) stuff he sees in the streets of NYC and turns it into a beautiful story. We also use field recordings in our music.
2. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race written by Reni Eddo-Lodge.
Really helped me open my eyes around postcolonialism in Europe. And inspired me to write a song about how it still affects me as a black woman living in Belgium. The song we wrote is called "Blenda."
3. ‘The Problem with Cancel Culture’: an essay by Ayishat Akanbi
Our album Topical Dancer is the result of hours spent in the studio (of course), but apart from making music there, we also talked. A lot. Bolis and I are great friends, so we talked about our lives, our pains, our frustrations and joys. But we also talked about broader topics such as our shared view on political correctness, racism, sexism, cancel culture and the impact of social media on these topics. We tried to add nuance to these conversations on the album, something that we feel gets lost sometimes. Ayishat Akanbi describes our shared concern so well in this essay.
We both find a lot of peace of mind, focus and inspiration through meditation.
We even meditated together during a long studio session.
It helps us to feel grounded and present.
As a birthday present for my 30th birthday, Bolis, Stephen and David gave me the transcendental meditation course. Best gift ever. In this video, David Lynch explains how T.M. works!
Five from Bolis:
Armando - "Don’t Take It"
There has been so much music we have been listening to when we were writing this album. If there was a specific track to highlight I would say "Don’t Take It" by Armando. It’s a song that David and Stephen from Soulwax brought up when we were working on "Thank You." We wanted to try our take on acid house and David kindly suggested we listen to this song, in particular how Armando treats the Roland 303 synthesizer. It’s with this song we found a way to incorporate acid house into this track and it’s a song I will play for the rest of my life because it’s such a banger!
Kassav - "Rété" / Tabou Combo - "Gadé nou pa mouyé "
When we started making "Hey," our initial aim was to make a zouk song with a twist. So we listened to a lot of Zouk and tried to incorporate some key Zouk elements but tried to make our own version. Maybe our approach was similar to the one we used to make "Paténipat."
3. Talking Heads - "Listening Wind"
When Topical Dancer was almost finished, we had one more instrumental we were super happy about. But as for the subject and the lyrics, Charlotte felt stuck. She said she was tired of writing down opinions and reviewing heavy topics. So we had a long conversation about writing lyrics and the different approaches to it. We ended up agreeing that sometimes not making any sense is very valuable. I took out the Talking Heads record Remain in Light and we read the lyrics. Which was very inspiring. And that’s when we decided to write a song about not making any sense at all. Speaking from the gut. An homage to David Byrne. We named the song "Making Sense Stop."
Which also bring us to the next source of inspiration...
4. The cut-up technique by William Burroughs
We used this technique to also break free from that writers block for "Making Sense Stop."
Freely translated as ‘pistol,’ this is a kind of Belgian sandwich eaten for lunch mostly. Bread is a very important component of the Belgian diet. (Belgians would often say ‘But I’ve already eaten something hot today, so tonight we’re going to eat bread’- when presented a second hot dish in the same day) It’s something Charlotte and I are familiar with but don’t really eat ourselves often. Because our mothers aren’t Belgian.
During the making of the album, after spending way too much money on Deliveroo, we decided to give this Belgian tradition a try. It saved us a lot of money and it wasn’t that bad after all with some mayonnaise, shrimp and a green apple for example!