daphne and celeste are back… again
Ooh stick you, your mama too, and your daddy.
Late 90s pop jokers Daphne & Celeste were famous for two things; bratty, chant-a-long anthem U.G.L.Y. (“you ain't got no alibi”) and gleefully performing at Reading festival in 2000 while skipping past bottles of urine and other hurled items including shoes, a bag of meat and a wheelchair. In the equivalent of a pop nanosecond they toured with just about every act going, released one terrible album called We Didn't Say That! and then called it a day. Celeste Cruz returned to Brooklyn, while Daphne (aka Karen DiConcetto) moved to LA. The dream, it seemed, was over. Then in 2015 they returned with the surprisingly amazing one-off, Max Tundra-produced single, You and I Alone, and did a shit load of interviews before going silent.
Well, now they're back, again, and this time with a whole album, Daphne & Celeste Save the World, whose new single, Alarms, you can experience in the alien-heavy music video we’re premiering below. To celebrate all that I Skyped them and, as you'd expect, it was a glorious shambles.
Your new album is your first in 18 years, which is frankly ridiculous. Did you think album two would ever happen?
Karen: It doesn't surprise me, and yet it surprises me.
Celeste: It's definitely that feeling.
K: You nailed it when said it's “ridiculous”. That's one of my favourite things about this -- that our follow-up album is coming eighteen years after the original.
C: And three years after the lead single! It's really fun.
Did you know then that you were going to make an album?
K: We had such a good time working with Max, that we decided to make an album. We went to Joshua Tree last February to record. We'd not actually met him in person until we came out with the single. Then after that we stayed in touch. I feel like we decided to make a new album when we were at your wedding. Is that incorrect?
My wedding, what? Oh...
C: Maybe. I barely remember my wedding at all.
You were just wasted?
C: You know that moment when you realise you might be a little introverted? That was my wedding. I was like 'there are too many people here'.
It's nice that out of all the pop bands who were together in the 90s that you two are the ones that have stayed friends. It's cute.
C: I think that when you go through that experience with another person, you are very connected for life.
K: Also our songs were kind of self-deprecating, so when you're hashing it out every night on stage with a dear friend there's a real bonding that happens there. There's not a lot of room for ego, it's just love and support. My favourite thing to come out of that audition many many years ago is that we met each other.
C: My sister, basically.
Was the 2000 Reading festival a bonding experience?
C: Literally no one else relates to that experience! I can talk to no one else about a similar experience!
K: It also bonded our families together. Celeste's mum and little sister, who was turning seven at the time...
C: She was eleven and I had flown her out because we were touring with S Club 7, so we were playing a lot of different shows.
K: Then my brother was there too.
C: Why did we think that was a good time to invite our family over?
K: Basically they all were in the crowd and they all got hit by something at some point, and Celeste's mum was ready to punch someone.
C: My sister started crying.
K: She was mildly traumatised.
C: You know who made her feel better? Slipknot. They were laughing and making jokes, they were such nice guys.
Did they make her sniff the stench of a rotting crow or whatever it was?
C: They were so sad that a child was sad.
When Max was emailing you and you'd not met, did you ever worry he was just a weirdo?
K: He actually got in touch with Celeste on Twitter, and you talked to him for a bit before you even told me about it. Just to feel it out and see what the situation was. Then we looked up his music and that made him a legitimate guy from the beginning.
C: I'm always suspicious of people on the internet, so you have to do some research.
K: I just follow whatever Celeste does. We could have ended up in a hole in someone's basement.
C: When I listened to his music, at first I couldn't imagine what he was going to do for us. Then when we got You and I Alone we were like, 'ohhh okay'.
The album's called Save the World -- so are you going to end all this awful bullshit?
K: If we could that would be impressive.
C: I see it as like a 'choose your own adventure' situation. And why chose boredom?
So who came up with what on the album? Whose idea was all this?
C: It was more of an experiment.
K: Tundra wanted to see if he could write an album for an act like us. In a lot of ways I feel like we're guesting on a Max Tundra project actually. He's used our voices like instruments, which is really interesting. He got to play around with two voices, which was fun.
Do you see yourselves as singers in the conventional sense? You didn't even sing at your audition, right?
K: I grew up performing in musical theatre, so when we auditioned for the band I had prepared Out Here on My Own from Fame. I was going to a performing arts school. Like, I thought it was a serious singing gig, I really did. On our first album, I always used to call it speaking on the beat, you can't even call it rapping. So that's what we did for the most part. We did sing on that first album, but I don't think that was ever a big part of the Daphne & Celeste thing. It wouldn't have mattered if we were tone deaf.
No one was coming to you for Mariah Carey-style vocal runs.
K: Exactly. Although, fun fact, I took voice lessons with her mom.
K: Her mum was a great voice teacher, she was classically trained. She was an opera singer.
How do you think a song like Ugly would go down now?
C: People didn't like it much back then to be honest.
K: It's an interesting question because back then people were saying we were promoting bullying but in today's climate I feel like that song wouldn't even cross people's minds. Now is not the climate for that song.
Do you think it was promoting bullying?
K: I did not think it was promoting bullying.
Also, some people are a bit ugly.
C: Some people are frenemies and I think there's fun to be had in coming up with a clever way to take the piss out of your friends. We're talking to each other throughout the song.
K: Yeah it's the two of us going back and forth and insulting each other.
C: We all know the way we talk to our friends. If your friends are only saying nice things to you then you need to be wary of that. One of the lines was “up your butt with a coconut”, I mean, really, who can be offended by that.
K: It's just not that deep.
C: That's where Save The World comes from -- you can have fun, you can have a good time. It doesn't all have to equal something.
Some people will enjoy a coconut up their bums.
Who was your favourite 90s pop star that you got to hang out with?
K: I think H from Steps.
C: Billie Piper.
K: H was the nicest.
C: Steps were great to tour with. Billie Piper was fun because she was also in on the joke -- she didn't take herself too seriously, which was awesome because she was pretty successful. Other people were taking it very seriously, like we were all curing diseases or something. Billie was not doing that and then she went on to be in Dr Who, which is awesome.
Who else was there?
K: I think the Honeyz were around. We opened for B*Witched.
Lots of denim.
C: Lots of denim. I remember they scaled a net for their stage show.
C: For C'est La Vie they had a net that dropped from the ceiling and then they all climbed it. Climbing and flying were both very popular at the time.
You know Fergie once wet herself on stage, have you ever wet yourself on stage?
K: No, but my pants split once.
C: They had us in like Japanese paper clothes for some reason.
K: I didn't get what was going on, so I was like, shaking my naked butt into the audience. Finally my manager came out and wrapped a hoodie around me and that's when I realised what had happened.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.