Ironic? No, it’s dead serious: Sally Shapiro keeps on dreaming of Barbie and Ken. Sometimes good things come to those who wait, as is the case with Sally Shapiro. One shouldn’t really imagine the bashful Swede from Göteborg, who never performs live, setting a new trend for turning down lucrative offers. And the thought that she is working on something hip, is most likely even a little eerie for her. After all, she’s just into something, which she’s been doing since her childhood in the 1980s — singing songs in the style of her idol Sandra (”Maria Magdalena“). If she hadn’t met her companion Johan Agebjörn, who despite his musical socialization with Techno in the 1990s has been deep into Italo Disco for the past few years and is a collector of Zyx records, Sally’s passion for synthi songs and fairy-like female vocals would have remained private. However, Johan was screwing together some Italo-style songs when he asked Sally (whose voice he’d only heard from a previous Christmas party karaoke) if she would improvise on his soft keyboard tunes, their collaboration was a done deal. Subsequent to their first releases on the labels Diskokaine and Permanent Vacation, Sally Shapiro suddenly found herself in the midst of the ultra-hip Neo/Italo-Disco movement, which is especially big in Scandinavia.
Why of all things on the Northern peninsula, where one traditionally listens to Black Metal and indie rock played with legs spread apart, the peculiar, yet sunny disco music became such an export hit, stays one of the mysteries of the pop business. It’s a fact, though, that next to internationally celebrated Norwegian Neodisco-heroes Lindström, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje, the lovely Sally has become the Scandinavian Disco-Act in the mean time. Her fast rising career is almost as exciting as one of the love adventures Sandra always sang about. Even though references to Sandra are not as obvious on the new album “My Guilty Pleasure” compared to her double 12” “He Keeps Me Alive” (whose cover was a detailed replica of the Sandra cover “Into A Secret Land”), Sally Shapiro’s latest record is still clearly dedicated to 1980s La Boum disco. Once again Johan Agebjörn has crafted his gorgeous soft disco hymns, which escape cheesiness by the skin of one’s teeth, and Sally gilds tracks such as “Swimming through the Blue Lagoon“ or “Moonlight Dance“ with her aerial schoolgirl voice. Pure big feelings! So big, one can’t escape to wonder about ironic traces. But Sally is uncompromising: “Sandra is good and I am very serious about that, if we would produce our music in an ironic manner, we would have long been sick and tired of it.” Johan is slightly more open: “Of course, we’d like a certain playful handling with our references.” So, one may smile about the apparent display of Sally’s big-eyed-pop. “On the other hand, we actually mean it exactly the way it comes across. We’re just very nostalgic. We grew up in the 80s and our taste was shaped back then.
Whether I like it or not: I can only picture the 1980s as a happy and exciting decade. And this is reflected in our music.” On the question: what’s cool and what’s not — is it, for example cool, to like Italodisco by Charlie, but to consider Valerie Dore as uncool — such poptypical queries don’t even come to Johan’s and Sally’s mind. “We’d like people to dance to our music at home,” admits Johan, “Sally isn’t particularly keen on going out and for the clubs there are remixers, who adapt our songs.” Of course, such assertions are more than coquettish: although each song on “My Guilty Pleasure” is a ballad, most of the songs are made for the dancefloor and adaptations of a remixer are not really necessary. Still, in genuine techno clubs, one probably will rarely encounter such tunes — but that is a problem of narrow-minded techno culture, really. Those, who have ears to listen, will be bewitched by Sally’s maiden dreams and will be on the lookout for like-minded fans on the dancefloor — to shake a leg with.
Releases on Permanent Vacation