Cover story: Vengaboys drops a new music video, talks about its love for India
Vengaboys drop a new music video using deepfake tech. We catch up with the iconic band, which is currently on a world tour, about its musical journey and what’s next
DUTCH EURO DANCE COLLECTIVE, Vengaboys, was a party staple the world over in the ’90s with songs such as We Like To Party and We’re going to Ibiza! Last month the band took us back to the era with its new music video, 1999 (I Wanna Go Back), a cover of the popular song by Charli XCX and Troye Sivan. The animated video, made using a deep fake app, is full of references to the good ol’ days, and recreates much-loved album covers by Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Eminem and a whole bunch of artistes. Deepfake technology helps users stitch their own images convincingly into others’ videos using AI and machine learning. Vengaboys was created by two Dutch DJs — Danski and Delmondo. The outfit comprises Kim Sasabone aka Captain Kim who joined the band in 1997 as one of the lead singers, along with Denise Post-Van Rijswijk aka Party Girl D’ Nice. Singers Robin Pors aka Sailorboy Robin and Donny Latupeirissa aka Cowboy Donny are also part of the Venga army. The gang, known for its signature outlandish style, has not slowed down over the year, and is currently on a world tour, beginning in Canada and ending in Australia. We catch up with the quartet to find out more about the fun new music video, their plans of dropping original music and if they will park the Vengabus in India any time soon. Excerpts:
You have done so many covers in the past. But 1999 truly takes us back to the time when Vengaboys hit the peak of its career. Tell us what led you to cover the song.
Captain Kim: We’ve been following singer Charli XCX for quite a while. When she released 1999 we couldn’t help relate to it. That was even before the pandemic. So, when Covid-19 struck, making the world a sad place, we thought it was a good idea to bring back the fun.
What is the idea behind the video?
Sailorboy Robin: While stuck at home during the lockdown, we were just trying to find something new. We stumbled upon this crazy deep fake fun app Wombo and their most popular song on the app was Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! We knew right away that we wanted to try out this technology for our new video.
Which other acts from the ’90s are your favourites?
Captain Kim: There are so many! And a lot of them are our friends these days. As I speak to you, I’m waving at the beautiful Lene from the band Aqua (the artistes behind the famous Barbie Girl song), we’re on tour together in Canada right now. We love dance music group Deee-Lite and of course Backstreet Boys.
While the cover has us all excited, your fans are waiting for some original music. Is there any new album on the cards?
Cowboy Donny: During the lockdown, we finally had the time to be in the studio a bit longer and hang out more with our original producers Danski & Delmundo. It felt really good and we laid down close to 30 tracks! However, we will only release them if we all love them. We have all been pretty fortunate with the magnitude of the hits we released. So there’s no pressure whatsoever. We made our mark already. We will only release new music if it feels really good. In short, we don’t know.
How much do you think the world of pop music has evolved since you started out?
Party Girl D’Nice: It’s not so much the music, it’s the world that’s evolving at dazzling speed. There are a lot of positives, especially regarding music and the way nowadays acts are able to reach an enormous audience. But modern times come with modern stress too apparently. More stress is less partying! Precisely that might still make people love our music. I think we have something like three billion plays on TikTok which is mostly a very young audience. It’s really amazing.
Does India fall in your global tour itinerary?
Sailorboy Robin: You know, the love we get in India is mind-blowing. From the very first time we set foot on Indian soil we fell in love with the people, the country, the culture, and the unprecedented hospitality. India truly takes a special place in our hearts. So even though we don’t have a date yet; if the Vengabus doesn’t fall apart, we’ll be back for sure!
From 1999 to 2021 how has the group and your music evolved, and what is it that keeps you together?
Captain Kim: You know, I guess what we have in common is that we see a positive side to everything. During the pandemic, for the first time, we had time to reflect on everything we experienced. It sounds crazy but our lives have been a thunderstorm ever since with hardly time to stand still. You hear of bands that only spend time together on the stage. But we were hanging out together full time. And this time we really got to know each other in a ‘normal’ way. After almost two years at home, we grew even closer than ever.
Do you have any favourite contemporary artistes?
Party Girl D’Nice: The first name should be Charli XCX. She’s a very adventurous songwriter and artiste. We love the fact that she creates innovative, forward-thinking pop music. Moving beyond, we like Doja Cat and The Weeknd. And have you heard Never Going Home by Kungs? That’s a bop too!
Do you follow any Indian musicians?
Captain Kim: My parents used to play a lot of Ravi Shankar. I can remember the year we came to India, the maestro was still alive and received an important Indian award. On the other side of the spectrum, we are all huge admirers of an Indian artiste who is more of an underground icon— Tropical Marca (Mumbai-based drag artiste), who is culturally fearless. With Tropical Marca you feel it comes from a genuine place. She’s a true artiste.
Chart-toppers by Vengaboys
In the late, ’90s Vengaboys broke into the scene and went global with their Eurodance pop hits. From nightclubs to weddings and even school sports days, their chart-toppers took India by storm. Here are some of their most-loved number.
WE LIKE TO PARTY! (THE VENGABUS)
Who can forget The Vengabus! The high-tempo track was released in 1998, and the video saw the four band members partying all across Europe in a 1933 Chevrolet Bus.
WE’RE GOING TO IBIZA
This much-loved song is based on British band Typically Tropical’s 1975 hit Barbados. The animated video takes us on a trip from Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, to the White House and the party capital of the world - Ibiza!
Part of their 1997 offering Up & Down - The Party Album!, this one was an iconic anthem. It regained popularity again almost a decade later when Brazil hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!!
The catchy track is a total earworm. The 1998 song topped charts in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Although the lyrics may be a little provocative, that didn’t stop us from singing along to it as kids!