No act epitomises the playful euphoria of ’90s dance-pop like the Dutch troupe Vengaboys – their signature hit ‘We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)’. In fact, two members are Vengagirls.
The Vengaboys project was conceived as a production vehicle by Wessel van Diepen (DJ Delmundo) and Dennis van den Driesschen (Danski) in 1997 (they also developed Alice Deejay). The pair recruited vocalists and dancers who quickly established their own identities, starting with frontwoman Kim Sasabone, aka Captain Kim. The Vengaboys busted out with ‘Up & Down’ – the first of many Euro-dance hits, the most notable the indelible ‘We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)’, bouncy ‘Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!’ and ecstatic reggae bop ‘We’re Going To Ibiza!’. Though the Vengaboys enjoyed much of their success in the UK, continental Europe and Australia, 1999’s international debut, The Party Album!, went gold in the US.
The Vengaboys took a hiatus in the early 2000s, reuniting mid-decade. In 2010, they unleashed the hi-NRG comeback ‘Rocket To Uranus’, collaborating with American gossip blogger Perez Hilton. The late Pete Burns, Dead Or Alive vocalist and flamboyant ’80s icon, cameo-ed in the video. Since then, the Vengaboys have issued a holiday collection, Xmas Party Album!. But, nowadays, they’re about performing live. And, while the Vengaboys have endured personnel reshuffles, they’re as popular as ever.
This month the Rotterdam quartet of Sasabone, Denise Post-van Rijswijk, Robin Pors and Donny Latupeirissa – who sold-out Australian dates in 2016 – will return for So Pop, branded as “the ultimate throwback pop experience”. The Vengaboys will join ’90s and noughties faves such as Denmark’s Aqua (of ‘Barbie Girl’ notoriety), UK boy band Blue, Irish girl group B*Witched, the Italo-dance Eiffel 65, US hip-housers The Outhere Brothers, and Dutch tech-pop duo 2 Unlimited. Plus, they’ve announced side-shows. Music Feeds hops aboard The Vengabus to chat with a vivacious, and witty, Captain Kim.
Music Feeds: It must be very early for you. Are you in Rotterdam at the moment?
Captain Kim: Exactly, exactly… I am.
MF: Are you an early morning person? Or did you just have to get up for these interviews?
CK: Oh, well, it’s not really that early for me. It’s 10 minutes to 10 at the moment. I have a toddler who gets up at, like, 6.30 or 6.45. So, for me, this is kinda like late morning. I had to take him to school, of course, and then I started these interviews. So I’m all ready. I had my coffee and I’m already wide awake. I’m a morning person, yes.
MF: It’s awesome that the Vengaboys are coming back to Australia. You were here in 2016. What do you remember of that tour?
CK: Wow, well, every time we come to Australia, it’s just a blast. We have just a really special connection with Australia – as well as New Zealand, of course. When we come, when we set foot on the land, we always feel so welcomed by everybody. So we’re really excited to go there. Actually, I remember everything… The last tour, we did 10 gigs, I think? It was a big success. We were supposed to do, I think, five or six [gigs] and then it was sold-out, sold-out, sold-out, so we got a few more. Yeah, it’s just an overall great feeling to come back now after almost like, I think there was three-and-a-half years in between? Something like that? Or nearly three years, yeah.
MF: You’re playing on a bill with so many great acts – Aqua, Blue, B*Witched, Eiffel 65 and 2 Unlimited, the list goes on…
CK: Great – I’m gonna write this down because I don’t even know. I didn’t even get the confirmed lineup. So I know it’s Aqua… I’m gonna write it down. It’s Blue. It’s B*Witched… Yeah, of course, 2 Unlimited are friends from Holland… Blue is the only one with R&B, actually – it’s funny. It’s more pop/R&B!
MF: I was going to ask if you had any friends in there. It seems incredible that you guys are still performing around the world. Why do you think there is this nostalgia for ’90s music and for that era particularly? At the time, people thought, “Oh, well, these will be one hit wonders.” But you’re getting the last laugh. All these years later you’re still so big and pulling these huge audiences.
CK: Yeah, it’s funny, it’s funny. It seems like, when I talk to journalists, it’s the only thing they talk about, really (laughs). And I don’t wanna come across bored about it, because I think it’s really interesting how the subjects throughout the years change. It’s funny to talk about it because I like to see that whole development – like why it would be so interesting for a lot of people. Well, I think any nostalgic music is a success.
Years ago, when the first ’60s and ’70s parties came alive – you know, like the Motown parties – and everybody went… I remember my mum and dad, in the late ’80s, they went to a ’70s party, with the afro hair and stuff like that… And a little bit later on, it was the ’80s parties. Now it’s the ’90s parties.
I think nostalgia is just for everybody one big party of recognition and going back to periods of times in their lives when they had their first boyfriend or girlfriend or events at school or whatever. And I think, just going back, and in particular with pop music, because that was such a strong era where so many great pop artists came out, and the simplicity of the music – it’s mainly happy music, especially if you talk about our music and Aqua… We make people smile, we make people dance, and I think that’s the main ingredient of success.
MF: I was just watching the video for ‘Rocket To Uranus’ with Pete Burns in it. I wondered what you remember about working with him?
CK: Wow, well, actually it was for us really remarkable when we found out he was in our video. We couldn’t believe it because he’s just a legend! And he was, actually – I have to say, of course. Of course, we met him; we had a little chat with him. But he’s just how he looks. [He’s] a quirky, weird kind of guy (laughs).
MF: You have so many classic songs, but are you keen to record new material? You did a record not long ago called ‘The Sign’ with the German outfit RIO. Are there plans to get back in the studio?
CK: Well, we go to the studio sometimes. Sometimes we don’t; sometimes we do. We fool around and do some new stuff, but it never really gets to something that’s perfect. So that’s why we keep on focussing on those old hits because we noticed, after performing for all these years – like, since we’ve come back in 2006, we released a couple of songs, but people wanna hear mainly our old songs. So the last couple of years, we are more focussing on that. Sometimes we release something, but it’s more actually for us; for fun, to do something new, to have a little bit of a mix-up in the show. Or we do a cover of an old song, just to spice up the show a little bit so it won’t be the same repetitive thing all over again.
MF: What music do you yourself like?
CK: Wow, many different things, many different things, from Beyonce to a lot of old stuff. Actually, when I go back to the ’90s, listening to stuff, I like to listen to TLC or maybe Whitney Houston’s old stuff – which makes me sound like a senior. Because old people just listen to old music! (laughs) But it’s true – it’s true. But, anyway, there’s also a lot of new stuff I like; new stuff that’s coming out, like Bruno Mars…
MF: Well, Beyonce’s eternal.
CK: Yeah, she’s a legend… She’s a queen!
MF: People imagine that the Vengaboys are total party animals. But, if you’re an early morning person, you probably have a whole life away from the group. Are people surprised by how different you may be behind the scenes? Do you feel you have to live up to a persona?
CK: Not really because I am a kind of high-energy type of person, so that’s what I’ve always been – as a kid, when we just started out, in my early 20s… And I’m still like that. Of course, I’m a little bit older now, so I might quiet down a little bit. But I’m still a high-energy type of person. I’m like that on stage, so I don’t have to pretend I’m somebody else – so that’s fine. As well as with these interviews, I’m just being myself. If people really think that we are like that, for the half-an-hour or hour we are on stage, seven days a week, they’re morons! (laughs) Because everybody knows you put on a show, right? But, luckily, my character in person is not that far away from the person I really am.
MF: You have a huge following, and love, in the LGBTQI community. I wondered if you feel that connection very strongly, and if you feel you represent something for that wider community, especially at a time when there’s a lot of conservatism coming up in Europe and particularly America? Are you a political act just by existing?
CK: Wow, I couldn’t have said it better! I’m gonna use that. “We are a political act just by existing.” I’m really gonna write that down. That’s really good. Yeah, we are! We never, ever talk politics because we are not that band to be talking about politics. But, yeah, we do, of course [recognise that connection]. The LGBT community is a large part of our community.
We are very blessed to be performing on [the bill of] many different gay events. Actually, we just came back from a Mediterranean gay cruise, which was absolutely amazing, with RuPaul and [the Ukrainian boy band] Kazaky, and that girl who won the Eurovision, the Cyprus girl [Eleni Foureira], and the other singer who won like a couple of years ago [Austria’s Conchita Wurst]. So that was amazing. Yeah, we’re very blessed to attend all kinds of different gay events – of course all the [Gay] Prides around the world. We get asked for a lot.
I think just being there, attending those parties, performing – the thing we do is we always do a little shout-out just to acknowledge [our LGBT fans] and to say, “We’re here and we’re proud, be proud, and just be who you are.” And I think that’s all that we need to say about it.
MF: It’s interesting you mentioning Eurovision because that is so popular down here. If you entered in that, Holland would win for sure!
CK: I know – that’s what everybody says! Yeah, that would be a lot of fun. Australia’s competing as well. I never understood that. I mean, I think you’re very welcome entering the Eurovision, but why is that? (laughs)
MF: Probably because it is so big here and I think they get really good broadcasting figures. So we snuck our way in…
CK: Ah, that’s the reason!
MF: What can we look forward to from your show when you hit here? It’s summer, of course.
CK: Yeah, it’ll be summer. You know what I just did? (laughs) I just looked up the averages [temperatures] of the cities we’re coming to, to get ready for the heat – the Australian heat. And it’s gonna be really hot. I love, I love it, I love it. Since [here] it’s like mid-winter the end of January, the beginning of February, it’s the coldest period in Holland – we’re very happy. Actually, just in general, we’re just really excited to come back. We’ve missed Australia a lot. We’re gonna have so much fun. About our show, it’s just gonna be anything you expect of the Vengaboys and more.
The ultimate throwback pop music event So Pop is underway in Australia right now. Head here for remaining dates. You can also catch Aqua and Vengaboys on a series of co-headline shows this February. Dates and details here.