Françoise Cactus, voice and drummer of Stereo Total passed away this Wednesday morning, suffering from breast cancer. The official account of the band issued a message confirming the news and details that she died peacefully at her home. The multi-instrumentalist, of French origin, was 57 years old.
Total made a mixtape last year.
The group was one of the most significant of electropop and DIT during the turn of the century, although in their case they used to joke with an amalgam of influences that included punk, French chanson, and new-wave, among other styles. In fact, to consider them simply part of that trend of electroclash groups was to remain very, very short since it was surely the only band capable of covering you during a concert the same to Gainsbourg as to Nina Hagen or to Velvet. Their shows are not that they were an adventure in which you did not know what song was going to sound, but that you could not even guess the language in which it was going to do it, since they interchangeably alternated French with German, English, Spanish or Spanish. Turkish, even for the same compositions.
After a few beginnings as a large band, the group was reduced little by little to a duo, being in the hands of Françoise Cactus and her partner Brezel Göring, who was crazier of the two. Attached to their lo-fi instruments or playing the tracks as a playback, their concerts became small performances in which anything could happen. In Madrid, when they opened for The Strokes in the ‘Is This It’ era, Stereo Total showed up with some hilarious plastic shopping bags, devoid of all glamor, and a bag with the hammer and sickle. They also came on their own on many occasions, to play at the Nasti or with their friends from L-kan at the Ochoymedio, who gave them so much devotion that they included them in the refrain of one of their most timeless lyrics, ‘Todo lo que no’.
Stereo Total published at the end of the 90s such outstanding albums as ‘Juke-Box Alarm’ and ‘My Melody’, but their best album came in 2001, a ‘Musique Automatique’ of varied styles and songs like ‘L’amour à Trois, ‘Wir Tanzen in 4-eck’, ‘Für Immer 16’, ‘Nationale 7’ and a host of songs as short as they are fun. In Spain it was published with the theme ‘Ich Weiss nicht mehr genau’ translated into Spanish, beginning, in a chanante way, with the phrase “my memory has holes” (instead of gaps), as a result of some bad pre-Google translation.
They continued their idyll with Spanish with the album ‘No controls’, in which they covered songs like the classic by Olé Olé or ‘I’m going to be a mother’. It was completely hilarious that after the chorus “Don’t control the way I dress because it’s total”, they would yell “Stereo Total!” For this reason, in 2010 Brezel left us as the headline that these two songs had been written to be covered by them. As part of their love affair with Elefant, they came to sing “The Sexual Revolution” by La Casa Azul in German. In recent years they continued to release records, some of which appeared ramshackle on Bandcamp., without any promotion, faithful to the punk spirit of the group, also palpable in their videos, in which hustlers and street people appeared, halfway between Andy Warhol and the style of Bruce LaBruce.
It was common for Stereo Total to sell their own merchandising after the concerts, so I’m sure many of our readers will have such a nice anecdote to remember about Françoise like us when she sold us a T-shirt two sizes smaller ensuring that we were going to go “very handsome.” Those of the many Spaniards who have lived in Berlin will also remember the spontaneous concerts that the group could surprise at clubbing hours, like the one they gave at an anniversary party at the Berlin Hilton night, which celebrated underground pop every Wednesday. At least around 2008, it was common to see Françoise Cactus having a drink at the bar of the historic Möbel Olfe, in Kreuzberg, as one more. Today they say on Twitter that a great anti-diva has left,