Australian band Confidence Man is bringing their own style to the dance floor. With their unapologetic “dorky dance pop” making waves, we recently sat down with two band members – Janet Planet and Sugar Bones – to talk about what makes Confidence Man so confident.
So, you just finished your first American performance! How’d that feel?
Sugar: It felt awesome to get it done and see if the crowd would get what’s going on!
Janet: We were kind of interested to see how American crowds would compare to ones at the European and Australian shows that we have been doing. They were very energetic and they were copying our dance moves straight away. They had no idea who we were! They were just like [does dance moves].”
Sugar: They do what they’re told, so that’s good!
So, you’re “speaking out” dancing. How’d you come up with that? It’s so creative and different!
Janet: The two of us do it really badly at home and come up with dance moves. You know Sugar is not the most professional.
Sugar: I’m not a professional!
Janet: He has never taken any dance classes, and I’ve maybe done three. We just do dance moves that the both of us can do while singing.
Sugar: And dance moves everyone can do as well. Because we are not professionals, it’s the best thing.
Is some of it also improvisation? I noticed you took your shirt off during your set.
Sugar: Yeah, we just have planned moves and then we freestyle in between.
Starting out, you were in an indie-rock musical style and then you became more electro dance pop. How did that happen?
Sugar: I don’t know. I guess we were playing a bunch of different bands that were all sort of more rocky or indie-y sounding. However, everyone really loves dance music. It just grew and grew and then eventually we decided to make some dance songs.
Janet: As far as the music goes, they are not really “proper” dance songs because none of us knew how to write proper dance music. We just decided that this is what we want to write as dance musicians. It has been kind of a big mess but it has kind of worked out well.
Sugar: We like to do it differently.
What would you say your creative process for writing music is?
Janet: We are a bit different because we start with the name. The four of us will go away and come up with song name ideas. When we start writing songs, we’ll sit down and go through all the different song names. Say with “Try Your Luck” – we actually just had that as a song name, and we decided to write a song based around that lyrical idea. So, we are a bit weird like that because the four of us are writing! It’s different from just one or two people writing. It is a weird strange process.
Sugar: We sit in the room and the four of us just yell at each other.
Janet: Yeah, essentially. You can’t be precious with the four of us. You have to be a little bit brutal and be able to take people being mean to you.
I noticed the other two members of your band wear veils on stage. What was the idea behind that?
Sugar: Well, originally that was to hide their identities because they’re both in other bands in Australia that do quite well. We didn’t want Confidence Man to be looked as just like a side project or not taken seriously. So we, just as a weird idea, chuck veils on them.
Janet: They were beekeeper hats!
Sugar: It just made this weird contrast of these two weirdos with masks on at the back and then Janet and Sugar showing off as much as they can in the front. It has kind of worked!
Janet: We ended up keeping it, even though no one knows who the bands in Australia are, and they will keep them forever.
Sugar: And they’re really ugly!
Janet: You need to hide their faces, you know.
Sugar: It’s best if covered.
You have these personas on stage. Do you find these personas impact the way you write your music?
Sugar: Yeah, absolutely.
Janet: Definitely! I think that’s something we found with the first album. Would Janet Planet sing about something like that? I suppose that’s something that we’ll look at the second record. Do we want to extend these characters or do we want to change them? In a sense, you want to be able to write about more than just these characters, but in a way, it’s been really good.
Sugar: Anything could happen.
Janet: Always something new! We could dance with horses on stage, just something stupid.
Sugar: Yeah, horses!
So, what’s coming up in the future for you?
Sugar: Well, we are just in New York for three or four more days — we’ve got a show elsewhere. We’ll check the place out and meet a few people that we’ve just started working with over here.
Janet: We’re going to go to some rooftop bars and drink some Manhattans and all that stuff.
Sugar: We’re just going to do New York Stuff, like Central Park.
Janet: We’re here for a few days, and then we’re heading back to Europe. We’re pretty much in Europe for the next four months on and off. It’s three to four shows a week and lots of festivals and stuff.
Sugar: Then back to Australia – it keeps us cycling around!
Janet: We’re looking to come back here before the end of the year and play more shows.
How did the Governors Ball compare to the other festivals you played at in Australia and Europe?
Janet: There’s a Honda stage with cars.
Sugar: Yeah, they sell cars at American festivals.
Janet: I was very impressed.
Sugar: I’ve never seen that before.
Janet: I have to say that so far, Americans have the best drinks. They have the most delicious punch backstage. But it’s really awesome and that stage is the biggest stage that I’ve ever seen in my whole life! Just before, we played in a theatre and holy s**t I have never seen anything like that before! And then seeing the Governors Ball stage, I was like Oh My God! I was so tired trying to perform on that stage…
Sugar: We were running around!
Janet: From one side to the other. The two of us walked off stage and we were like [heavy breathing]. So in a way, those stages make us more tired!
Sugar: The bigger, the more painful!
Janet: It was really awesome and the crowd was heaps of fun. I could tell no one knew who we were, but by the end, they were getting into it. We’re pretty excited to come back for more.
What advice would give to artists trying to find their sound or looking to make it in the music industry?
Janet – Don’t be afraid to do something different. Different is cool! Moreover, some people may not get it initially, but you should just keep doing something you know is awesome. Eventually, people will come around.
Sugar: Keep it enjoyable for yourself so you don’t end up hating it and get stuck dancing around in hot pants for your whole life!
[Editor’s Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity]
Check out more from Confidence Man here.
Featured Image Via Nic Leb