Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are a Ghent, Belgium electronic duo, who exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of 2019’s critically applauded, David and Stephen Dewaele-produced Zandoli EP. Their unpredictable and subversive take on electro pop sees the pair poking and prodding at the pop zeitgeist with a provocative and sly sense of humor. Adding to a growing profile, EP singles “Paténipat” and “High Lights” received airplay on UK Radio and were playlisted by BBC Radio 6.
Adigéry and Pupul’s official full-length debut as a duo, Topical Dancer is slated for a March 4, 2022 release through Soulwax‘s own label DEEWEE. Co-written and co-produced by Soulwax and the acclaimed duo, Topical Dancer is deeply rooted in two things: their perspectives as Belgians with immigrant backgrounds with Adigéry proudly claiming Guadeloupean and French-Martinique ancestry and Pupul being of Chinese descent, and the conversations the duo have had touching upon cultural appropriation, misogyny, racism, social media vanity, post-colonialism.
So while being a snapshot of their thoughts and observations of pop culture in the early 2020s, the album also further cements their sound and approach; they manage to craft thoughtful songs that bang hard but are centered around their idiosyncratic and off-kilter take on familiar genres and styles. “We like to fuck things up a bit,” Pupul laughs. “We cringe when we feel like we’re making something that already exists, so we’re always looking for things to combine to make it sound not like a pop song, not like an R&B song, not a techno song. We’re always putting different worlds together. Charlotte and I get bored when things get too predictable.”
And as result, the album’s 13 songs are fueled by a restless desire to not be boxed in — and to escape narrow perceptions of who they are and what they can be. “One thing that always comes up,” Bolis Pupul says, “is that people perceive me as the producer, and Charlotte as just a singer. Or that being a Black artist means you should be making ‘urban’ music. Those kinds of boxes don’t feel good to us.” But they manage to do all of this with a satirical bent; for the duo it’s emancipation through humor. “I don’t want to feel this heaviness on me,” Charlotte Adigéry says. “These aren’t my crosses to bear. Topical Dancer is my way of freeing myself of these issues. And of having fun.”
So far, I’ve written about two of Topical Dancer‘s singles:
- “Thank You,” a sardonic, club banger featuring skittering beats, buzzing synth arpeggios and Adigéry’s deadpan delivery destroying mansplainers and unwanted, unsolicited and straight up dumb opinions and advice from outsiders.
- “Blenda,” a club banger, centered around African-inspired polyrhythm, wobbling bass synths, skittering beats and Adigéry’s deadpan. Informed by Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, “Blenda” focuses on colonialism and post colonialism through Adigéry’s experience as Black immigrant in an extremely white place.
Topical Dancer‘s third and latest single “HAHA” continues a remarkable run of off-kilter yet club friendly bangers. Built around a chopped up sample of Adigéry making herself laugh, paired with twinkling synths, skittering beats and a relentless motorik groove, “HAHA” feels improvised and unfinished yet simultaneously polished.
The recently released video by Hugo Campan is as abstract and odd as the single it accompanies with the visual featuring kaleidoscopic footage of Adigéry and Pupul vamping and dancing among chicken and egg imagery. The duo explain that the chicken and egg imagery is a “a visual shorthand for unhatched potential” and is an ongoing motif throughout the album.