Guest Mix: Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul celebrate ‘Topical Dancer’ with sitar disco, deep-cut Prince, and more

Written by Travis Holcombe

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul. Photo by Camille Vivier.

Last week, FREAKS ONLY invited you to revisit the experience of a sweaty, after-hours warehouse party courtesy of Austrian duo HVOB’s sexy, cerebral take on electronica. This week’s journey takes you to a wild DJ night, the kind you just stumble upon in a random unnamed bar with no sign (or dance floor). The selectors are incredible — mixing gentle rhythms with jazzy riffs into Afrobeat into a Prince deep cut about make-up and camisoles. And at some point you wonder, “Am I fully grooving to some sitar-infused disco right now?” Yes, yes you are.

Belgian electro-pop duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul have distilled that experience into an exclusive guest DJ mix for FREAKS ONLY celebrating the eagerly-anticipated March 4 release of their debut album “Topical Dancer” (Deewee). It’s a gloriously eclectic groove for the ages that will inspire you to make your own dance floor, no matter where you happen to be when you hear it.

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The pair’s creative partnership began seven years ago with a bout of writer's block. Adigéry was struggling with a song in the works for the Soulwax-curated “Belgica” album. At the behest of the brothers Soulwax, David and Stephen Dewaele, she paired off with musician-producer Pupul to work in another room to see if they could punch through the wall together. It worked.

The guiding hand of Soulwax would continue to play a role in both artists' careers, with Adigéry and Pupul putting out a respective pair of EPs overseen by the Dewaele brothers and released on Soulwax's Deewee imprint.

"They're like musical chiropractors," Adigéry says of Soulwax. "When you're stuck, they can pinpoint where the problem is, and then just manipulate you by saying the right things. And [then] you're completely unblocked, and you're inspired, and you're good to go again." 

“Topical Dancer” is ripe with thick bass and glitchy beats carried by Adigéry’s airy multilingual vocals, spiritually girded by the innovation and reinvention of artists ranging from Otis Redding to The Residents, and David Byrne to David Bowie. 

Photo by Camille Vivier. 

But the record offers far more than deep grooves and stylistic fluidity. Its 13 tracks draw from Adigéry and Pupul’s experiences as Belgians with immigrant backgrounds, tackling themes like racism, misogyny, and unsolicited opinions in a distinct blend for the dance floor, most often served up with a wry wink. 

"We feel humor can add a sense of lightness and give oxygen to subjects, and maybe invite people to have [serious] conversations in a different way," Adigéry says of the duo's approach.

The record also explores motherhood, both literally — the album art features a very pregnant Adigéry, who discovered she was expecting the day she signed their record deal —  and conceptually, as on the song “Ich Mwen.” The track, recorded before the singer knew she was with child, features Adigéry’s mother Christiane and asks, in their native French, what it means to be someone’s child, wife, and mother.

Album cover image courtesy of the artist.

"Now, when I look back at that song, and me being curious, asking my mom in the song, 'What's it like to be a mother?' I think I wanted to have a child, but not yet consciously,” Adigéry says. “And then it happens. And it adds so much meaning to that song, now that I became a mother myself."

Now giving birth for a second time in six months — this time to a healthy 13 track album — Adigéry's debut full length with Pupul pulls off the rarely seen trick of taking on complex, sensitive topics in a pleasurable way that leaves sweat on the dancefloor.  

Welcome “Topical Dancer” to the world with the duo’s exclusive and wildly eclectic FREAKS ONLY DJ mix that you can stream right here on demand.

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