Bluejuice

Avani Dias chats with vocalist Stav Yiannoukas about the unexpected path of music, groupies and his Greek mum.

Bluejuice

Sweat, dancing, amplified images of grandmas making out, dancing and even more sweat. These are the things you can expect from a Bluejuice gig.

It is eleven years since this “punk-hop/ downtempo hip hop/ska-tinged pop/pounding disco” Sydney five-piece decided to call themselves a band. As much as they’d like it to have been a rosy ride, it has been a wave of success, tears and sweat (there’s always sweat involved with these guys). But now, three studio albums later, Bluejuice have set a unique and admirable mark on the Australian music scene. Not because of their unique lyricism or their revolutionary musical genius, but their ridiculousness that transcends their iconic live shows and their comical video clips.

HS: The live shows are my favourite thing about Bluejuice. How do you get people straight into the crowd at your shows and feel the need to start dancing? There aren’t many bands that have that effect on you.

SY: That’s definitely one of the aims of Bluejuice. To get people dancing. To get people singing. To get people clapping.  Just get people feeling as though they’re actually in the show. That’s really the aim of Bluejuice, to blur the line between us as performers and the audience so people can have a great night out and be able to forget about their lives for a little while. And bringing energy ourselves is the first thing, and then having decent songs. So, good song writing helps!

HS: The songs are definitely important. So how do you go about choosing sets?  

SY: We’ve got three albums behind us so there’s definitely a lot to choose from. We do like to mix it up though: we’ll sometimes just randomly play a track from one of our old LPs or something and it’s really cool when you can see people dancing along and knowing the tracks. But there’s obviously the regulars that we love to play – ‘Vitriol’, ‘Broken Leg’, you know what it’s like.

HS: You have so many gigs in a short period of time, do you ever think to yourself “oh no I really can’t be bothered doing another one tonight”?

SY: Not ‘can’t be bothered’. But you certainly start to feel exhausted or tired or whatever, but it’s obviously not always easy to get up and do a show. But by the same token you know what you’re there to do and you definitely try and go out there and own that moment and make sure people leave happy and wanting to come back.

HS: There’s always the support band.  Who has been a really fun band to tour with?

SY: Oh man, so many good bands. The Jezabels were so much fun. Yves Klein Blue were a blast back in the day.

HS: Okay, any bands who are sluts for groupies? Name names.

SY: [Laughs] Just between you and me the boys from British India don’t do too badly with the ladies!

HS: SCANDALS. Has being in a band ever helped you get laid?!

SY: [Laughs] Okay well let’s just say that the stereotypes that people have of guys in a band are totally correct. So yes, it has definitely helped me get laid.

HS: Oh I’m totally impressed. Is this what you thought being in a band would be like? Do your inital expectations meet up to what it’s actually like?

SY: Obviously you change and grow as a person overall so I guess everything kinda changes. Especially when you’ve been doing it for eleven years it’s a lot of hard work – especially in terms of staying relevant and in the public consciousness and writing good stuff is a continual process…I sort of fell into Bluejuice. I never ever envisaged being in music.  Even as a kid, I did like performing generally so comedy seemed to be a more logical leap because I like to laugh, and it seems that I can make other people laugh as well. Music was never really on
the target list, it just sort of happened.

HS: Well now that you are in it, do you see yourself doing anything else in the future? Do you see Bluejuice as an indefinite project?

SY: I don’t think anything is particularly indefinite. So in short, no. Very few people are in a band or are performers for ever. So there’s definitely a life beyond Bluejuice but when that will be I don’t know.

HS: How have your family been reacting to Bluejuice as a whole?

SY: Well they’ve had a long time, eleven years, to deal with the idea … but at the same time my mother is shocked. Because, as I said, I never really chose music so it was definitely weird for her. But at the same time she’s obviously proud otherwise she wouldn’t call her friends and literally read out websites to them because she’s too slow to type it on the computer and she’s only recently learnt to use the internet. So she’ll literally read out the URL of the website for them to vote in the Hottest 100 or something.  She’s like [puts on Greek accent]: “www dot” and it’s so slow it’s painful to actually write down these websites. She’ll call and do it to me for other things.

HS: Do they come along to your shows and stuff?

SY: Yeah they’ve come along to shows and stuff before. It’s obviously weird for them, it’s not exactly a typical thing for a 60-year-old Greek woman to be going to see gigs and stuff. But it’s what I do, so she’s supportive in her own strange way.

HS: Let’s end with a token end-of-interview question.  What’s next for Bluejuice?

SY: After the company tour, we’re doing Groovin the Moo and then there’s talk of terrain both locally and internationally from there.

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