VIVE LA FETE with WILL MUNRO , BARBI at the State Theatre (69 Bathurst), tonight (Thursday, September 8). $10 advance, more at the door. www.addevents.com.
Sometimes a big star's endorsement can do more harm than good. Take Vive La Fete, the glamorous Belgian electro-pop couple who started out by grafting new wave and synth disco grooves onto the tradition of French pop (although neither Els Pynoo nor Danny Mommens speaks French as a first language).
They began recording together after falling in love in 1997, and stood out at the time for their stylized image and gleeful appreciation of 80s kitsch.
Their profile got a goose when Karl Lagerfeld declared himself their biggest fan, and Pynoo found herself doing photo shoots for all the biggest fashion magazines. (Listen closely - you can hear scores of music snobs turning the page right now).
"In the beginning, the music magazines said we were just a fashion band, just for the catwalks, and it hurt," acknowledges Pynoo on the phone from a Montreal hotel room. "Humour is very important to us, but people thought it was just a joke. We're very serious about what we do, but we're laughing while we're doing it."
Lucky for them, the whole electro revival thing happened as well, so now the music nerds along with the fashionistas are paying attention.
Since the beginning, they've played live with a full band, leaving the machine-generated beats to an actual drummer and sometimes even handing a guitar to audience members for the simpler songs.
They've just released Grand Prix, their fourth album, which brings some of their punk influences closer to the surface while still retaining the icy techno-pop attitude.
Funnily enough, it wasn't recorded anywhere near glamorous parties or hip nightclubs.
"We've lived in the country for the past year, which is working really well for us. It's a nice balance with the rest of our life, and we can make as much noise as we like because there are no neighbours nearby.
"We've always recorded at home. I have no stress that way. I can work when I want to because we're not paying by the hour, which can get quite expensive. I cook, then I sing, then I cook some more, take care of the animals, sing some more."