I met up with Dee Plumeof Robots in Disguise the day after she had been to see Iggy Pop and Suicide at the Hammersmith Apollo. Our discussion was fuelled with her respect and enthusiasm for the energy from these veteran performers still relevant and rocking today. We exchanged mutual admiration for the exhilarated stage presence of bygone stars and agreed that this passion needs to be ignited in the current industry. These odd ball talents that had all-consuming vigour and overwhelming love for the art inspired Dee's own step into creating music and get up on stage. The wish to connect with an audience continually inspires her to reach out to the fanbase of RID and promote proactive positivity. Robots In Disguise are girls with their own agenda and viewpoint, not fitting into an assigned identity designed with affectations to market to the masses. With the latest single "Wake Up", the girls have written an anthem to shake up the dumbed down charts and animate a wider audience to the progressive power of finding your own voice and vision. Rialled by the new breed of establishment acts posturing pretentious personas has triggered the girls to launch this campaign which aims to prompt the passive listening public to make their own choices.
To fund the varying outlets and spread the word, RID teamed up with Barry M makeup who have a new range of colours and a special lipstick which they have assigned to the girls "Robot Blue". Via the medium of makeup the message is extended to expressing creativity with your look in the the same spirit as the unabashed experimentation of The Cockettes who Dee sites as one of her favourite historical references. For this video RID took inspiration from the most successful artist to gather empowerment by embracing pop culture and throwing it back in its face - Andy Warhol. With tongue-in-cheek reference, its a playful promo employing pop art projections, Lichtenstein polkadot makeup and props. The girls ride a gigantic lipstick by set designer David White and had their hair coloured specially by Marcello at Billie Currie and Charlie Le Mindu (who they became friends with from spending time in Berlin........where Sue Denim was at time of this interview)
Blue lipstick has had a renaissance in the catwalk shows of recent times with the likes of Gareth Pugh (see above) and Hanna Marshall and set to become a big trend for S/S 2010. I remembered blue lipstick having its own mini-goth moment when I was at school and asked Dee what was her adolescent de-rigeur war paint...........apparently the school girl Dee would get together with her pals in a cubby hole in the morning to apply their pastel pink lips and electric blue eyeshadow. The band have a substantial teenage following so partnering with Barry M on this fun project is a perfect combination to bring music and lifestyle together for their loyal fanbase. The collaboration even extends to their friends Tatty Devine who have implemented the lippy into a cute necklace which you can see here on Dee.
If you have ever been curious about the brilliant robot props and costumes embroiled in the RID world, here is a debrief. I tracked down Neil Bowen fromZip Design whose extra curricular activities revolve around mastering making new and improved models ........... as you can see here with Dee tangled up in their robo blue date.
1) How long have you been the Robot inventor for RID?
I took up the roll of chief robo-inventor as my old buddy Dave the Chimp moved to Berlin (he made the 1st set of robots based on his creations for 'the Sex has made me stupid' video). I've been cobbling together wonky robot parts ever since.. about the last 3years.
2) What different Robot costumes / props have you made for the girls?
So the first job was making robo-dancers MK2.0 as Dave and I pretty much destroyed the original parts with a combination of sweat and a robot version of riverdance.
3) Do you wear the costume yourself for their performances...........and if so what character to you assume for this role? What personality has the robot got?
Yep I'm one of the hyper charged robo-dancers, I basically become a robot version of Dee n Sue with a little bit of MC hammer thrown in for good measure.
4) Are the costumes based on a totally fictional robot that you design or do you reference actual robots?
The original robots were all based on Dave the Chimps designs for the RID videos. The latest versions MK3.0 are a combination of robot meets giant electric blue lipstick, and retain the special wonkyness of the original versions.
5) Do you stick to one particular fabrication or have your materials and finishing become more sophisticated with time?
They all have a kind of recycled precise imperfection, then I've added random LEDs and sparkle from gig to gig.
6) The latest outfit for the "Wake Up" campaign is a blue lipstick robot. If there was a trump card for this character, what are his special features?
Massive thanks to Neil for his time to get dressed up and answer my questions!
(Images top to bottom: Model in Alex Box makeup backstage A/W 2008, Dee in her bow-tie tshirt and lipstick necklace, Dee and Lipstick Robot shot by Dan Wilton in the blue room of Shula's Wigwam prism party)
To find out about becoming part of supporting financing thier 4th album by pledging a share, click here.