Electronic song

When Peaches met Françoise Cactus

Francoise Cactus. Photo: Stefanos Notopoulos

The Frenchie and the Canadian, electro pop and electro-punk with fruity stage names… Born two years apart, they both became Berlin’s biggest expatriate icons in their own way. When Peaches came here from Canada in 2000, Françoise was a fixture on the Berlin scene.

How did you two meet?

In fact, we met in Toronto. I didn’t know her then, but a promoter asked me to open for Stereo Total. I had known people in Berlin before, even though I didn’t live there in 1999. I was so excited to open for them, and I remember Françoise looking at me, pointing at me and saying “Peaches , you’re great ! It was very Françoise just to tell you, very succinctly, what she thinks.

And what you think of her?

She was so tall and only played snare drums on small drums and sang in French and German with that 60s electronic vibe. It was so unique and really cool. Stereo Total just had completely unique music.

Did you ever work together once you moved here?

We met again and became friends. We actually started a band together in 2004! We two with Nicole Morier, from the group Electrocute. Nicole was very close to Françoise. We jammed twice, she was the drummer, but we all wanted to sing together. After that, we never really worked together. Although I was a backing vocalist on some of the later Stereo Total albums. I was in Los Angeles at the same time as her and with friends who randomly went and sang.

Do you see her as a typically Berlin artist? A French artist? How would you define it?

Her point of view was so unique, what she liked and where she came from, this Franco-German point of view. The flair of 1960s French music but also the German electronic style – and she mixed them together, creating something so authentic. Same with the original, clever lyrics – it was so unique. Françoise was also a writer, writing amazing books especially for teenage girls.

You are both feminist icons in your own right. She wasn’t overtly political though, she even walked away from politics, with that French je-m’en-foutiste attitude. Meanwhile, the Wollita sex doll and her gratuitous love lyrics spoke volumes. How do you see her on the spectrum of gender politics?

Even though she said she wasn’t political, she had a very intentional point of view and there was a very strong intersectional femininity to her. Whether you say things or not, you can’t help being political. There is no doubt in my mind that she was on the right side of every powerful feminist debate. If she could write a song tomorrow, I bet it would be about genre fluid.

What’s your favorite song? I have always loved “Wir tanzen im Viereck”. I thought it was so cool, I loved the whole album.

What will you miss now that she’s gone?

That kind of crossover of being a musician and a literary genius is gone. I miss this mix of books, art and music.

What do Peach and Cactus have in common?

We are very different people, with unique and strong perspectives, that’s where we meet – in our attitude.

When was the last time you met her?

When we recorded in LA in 2016. That was the last time I saw her. I knew she was sick, but not how sick.

Peaches. Photo by Lydia Goolia.