Music & clubs

When Peaches met Françoise Cactus

One of Berlin’s biggest expat icons on meeting another.

Françoise Cactus. Photo: Stefanos Notopoulos

The Frenchie and the Canadian, the electro pop and the electro-punk artists with fruity stage names… Born two years apart, they both grew to become Berlin’s biggest expat icons in their own unique ways. When Peaches came here from Canada in 2000, Françoise was a fixture of the Berlin scene.

How did you both meet?

We actually met in Toronto. I didn’t know her then, but a promoter asked me to open for Stereo Total. I had already known some people in Berlin, although I didn’t live there in 1999. I was so exciting opening for them, and I remember Françoise looking at me, pointing at me and saying “Peaches, you are great!” It was very Françoise just to tell you, very concisely, what she thinks.

And what did you think about her?

She was so tall and playing only the snares on a tiny drumkit and sing- ing in French and German with this 60s electronic vibe. It was just so unique and really cool. Stereo Total just had completely unique music.

Did you ever work together once you’d moved here?

We met again and we became friends. We actually once started a band together, in 2004! The two of us with Nicole Morier, of the band Electrocute. Nicole was very close with 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 back- up singer on some of Stereo Total’s last albums. I was in LA at the same time as her and with friends with just randomly went over and did some vocals.

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

Her perspective was so unique, what she loved and where she came from, this French-German perspective. The 1960s French music flair but also the electronic German style – and she mixed it up, creating something so authentic. Same with the quirky and smart lyrics – it was just so unique. Françoise was also a writer, writing amazing books especially for teenage girls.

You’re both feminist icons in your own right. She wasn’t overtly political though, she even distanced herself from politics, with that French I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude. Meanwhile sex doll Wollita and her free love lyrics were speaking volumes. How do you see her on the gender politics spectrum?

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

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

What’s something you’ll miss, now she’s gone?

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

What do Peach and Cactus have in common?

We’re 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. It was the last time I saw her. I knew she was sick, but not how sick.

Peaches. Photo by Lydia Goolia.