With a debut EP and a pair of shows coming up, it's a busy time for the cabaret-electro-pop duo Geppetto. Its two members, the lovely Emma Dean and the dashing Jake Diefenbach, were kind enough to sit down and have a chat with us about their current and future plans.
First up, how did you two initially meet?
Emma: Jake saw me play at The Troubador back in 2005 when he was checking out the venue for his debut solo show booked for later that month. He wrote to me the next day asking if he could send his demo CD to me. He did. I thought he’d sent the wrong CD because I was sure the singer was female. After I figured out it was in fact the right CD, I became totally obsessed with his music and his unique, androgynous voice. We kind of developed musical crushes on each other and the magic is still alive!
Why did you two form Geppetto? What was the motivation behind it?
Jake: Emma and I not only have close personal friendship, but we have a seamless (sometimes effortless) creative relationship as well. Our voices blend eerily well and, even though we come to the table with different styles and influences, the combination works. It’s a matter of the sum being more than our individual parts.
We’ve worked together on standalone projects in the past, but have always fantasised about creating something more permanent. Geppetto was borne out of our mutual love for the darkly fantastic and our imaginative and theatrical approach to songwriting. We wanted something that sparkled and mesmerised, and developed the ‘electro-pop fairytale’ concept, where the fairytale component is rooted in the band’s aesthetic rather than its subject matter.
I know that Geppetto recently got invited to the New York Fringe Festival, an amazing chance for any artist. How was the show received over there and what was the experience of being part of something that huge?
Emma: The festival itself wasn’t really that huge. We’re often under a misconception that anything in New York/US must be far bigger and better than what we have here in Australia. Adelaide Fringe Festival is much bigger and far better known than The New York Fringe. However, one of the big differences about New York Fringe is that it’s curated, so we were thrilled to be one of a few international acts invited to perform. Despite having a killer season we definitely got the feeling the New York Fringe audiences weren’t prepared for the style of show we put on. Ha! In general, they were far more conservative than our usual crowd believe it or not! But I think we definitely won over some new fans and we look forward to returning in the future.
Jake, how was New York with Emma as a tour guide?
Jake: I first came to New York in 2010 with my mum. I spent several hours breathing into a paper bag and was mistaken for a homeless person after passing out on a Grayline bus. The Big Apple left me looking a little worse for wear. I did better this time. This is a testament to the strength of my partnership with Em. We hit the ground running and we meant business. We had to. Emma and I try to be gentle with each other, and Em definitely led me by the hand in those first few days (when the jet lag was at its worst).
The previews of the debut EP due out next month feature a far more heavily electronic style than either of your solo careers. It’s a side of the both of you we haven’t really heard before. Any comment on this new sound?
Emma: Jake actually has a long history in creating electronic music! I’m definitely the apprentice here. When we began Geppetto, we decided that we wanted a mix of old world and new world sounds. Our EP features harpsichord, organ and harp as well as some fat beats and bass! It’s like our own modern fairytale told through pop music.
What‘s the favourite part of each other’s musical playing, taste or self?
Jake: Emma knows how to make me laugh. A real, piss-your-pants belly laugh.
Emma: Jake is amazing at song improvisation. Here is an example of some of his early work. It’s called “Little Kukarunga”.
Your last performance, 'An End To Dreaming', was a very story-focused show that told an extremely stripped down narrative. Can we expect to see more of this kind of theatrical story-focused show?
Emma: We are now leaning more towards a “gig” setting for our future performances rather than a theatre show. Though, being quite dramatic people, there will be no shortage of theatrics I assure you.
If you each had to pick another young Australian artist or band to recommend to your listeners, who would it be?
Emma: Pixie and The Halloran, and Fronz Arp.
Jake: Astrid and the Asteroids, and Silver Sircus.
What does the future hold for Geppetto? I know you’ve got some gigs coming up very soon but after that, what then for this partnership?
Jake: Over the last few days, Emma and I have been exchanging creative costuming concepts via email (I won’t be donning the sequined, strawberry-shaped nipple cups Emma sent me last weekend). But expect feathers and flamboyantly-embroidered lederhosen. We’d obviously love to record a full-length LP and continue writing new, imaginative music. Longer term, we’re shooting for more performances abroad.
Thanks for your time!
Brisbane @ The Judith Wright Centre (with Silver Sircus)
Friday, 5 October, Doors 7.30 pm (show starts at 8 pm)
Tickets $32 Full (cabaret seating), $27 Full (theatre), $22 Concession, $22 (bookings of 10 or more)
Tickets from www.geppettomusic.com
Sydney @ Camelot Lounge (with Annaliese Szota)
Thursday, 18 October, Doors Open 7 pm
Tix $20 from www.camelotlounge.com