Sneaky Sound System: A Little Bit Different

sneaky sound system

State-of-the-art synth pop with the distinctive sounds of the 80s immaculately recreated for the now. It’s all part of a tricky theory; a most devious arrangement. With flawless production. Such is Sneaky Sound System.

Featuring Angus ‘Black Angus’ Macdonald and Connie Mitchell on a bill is a winning formula for a winning party. So the Big Gay Day Summer Street Party  will certainly be the place to be on Sunday when Sneaky Sound System jump onstage. Expect a lot of fun, a pretty good costume and for it to be hot and sweaty, with deep house and perhaps a bit of sleaze.

Certainly Sneaky Sound System has a massive appeal. Since they blasted onto the scene with I Love It in 2008, the electro-pop outfit has forged quite the path in music. Three highly successful albums with headline tours and ARIA awards to match. Support band for Robbie William’s 2006 Australian Tour. The Australian Festival circuit. International stages. Collaborations with Tiesto, Jay Z, Kanye West and Beyoncé. Just like their music, their career resembles a weird and wonderful array of mixed visual, aural and spiritual mediums that communicate colourful quirks of artistic consciousness. What emerges is a distinguished music duo with an atypical sound, propelled by great albums and dynamic music clips.

Black Angus’ extraordinary musical prowess covers the gamut of electronic instruments from turntables and samples to guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. These are bettered only by his dexterity in songwriting and production – particularly as he fulfilled producer duties for all Sneaky albums. And while Angus is atomic in his musical might, it is the flamboyant vocal powerhouse Miss Connie who draws attention; she of the bright plumage and chocolate voice.

The beginnings of Miss Connie joining the group is well known and much loved. A chance encounter in 2005 for Angus while walking through Sydney Park: a striking exotic girl strumming at the guitar and singing The Moody Blues’ Nights In White Satin. An invite to the studio to sing the freshly written I Love It – and the rest is Sneaky history. But who is Miss Connie? What is the story behind the bombastic singer-songwriter? And does the fascinating creature on stage differentiate from the same person in real life? We may never know. But for one thing, she’s a girl who likes music.

She’s also a girl who moved from South Africa to Australia in the late 1980s, bought up by her grandparents while her musical mother toured the world in a dance troupe. She was a tomboy, growing up in Sydney during the 1990s, a time when Australia especially liked challenging and testing people who were not the norm. “As in all things,” Connie reflects, “when you’re a little bit different, it gives you a bit of resilience. And then the friends you do make because of that are friends you make for life – which gives you more powerful friendships. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Connie reassures. “There’s gotta be something you can work on that makes you feel better about you rather than concentrating on what everyone else thinks. For a long time, I worried about what other people thought,” she reveals, “but it really isn’t worth thinking about. It takes a long time to work that out and the sooner you work that out, the better things will get. Better is right around the corner.”

From a character-building childhood, an iconic personality has emerged, with all the expected passionate and pleasure-seeking qualities of an artist. Since mimicking Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and being dragged to choir by a school teacher, she has cultivated a distinctive voice that is simultaneously compelling and commanding. With Connie, it’s all dynamic flair in charisma, sound and look. “It’s part of the personality,” Connie states. “When I want to go and perform, I want to see a bit of theatre with it. By working on your craft, it’s giving yourself something that would set yourself apart.”

Named after underground dance music parties Sneaky Sundays in Sydney, flatmates Angus and Daimon ‘MC D’ Downey first formed because they too, were a bit different and not completely fitting into the Sydney scene of the time. Always, Sneaky Sound System has been distinct and at variance to the world. But at all times, their music comes from the good times from which they were born “It’s a party,” Connie reflects. “Good times. Friday, Saturday, the weekend. Go out. Have fun.” But Sneaky has morphed across the years, from seeing members depart to adjusting with the changes in time – and music genres. “It’s still party,” Connie confirms “But it’s also a bit of hope.” And with each new song Sneaky are always trying to create something that people can relate to. “Something that people can take away for three and a half minutes,” Connie explains. “A little journey, where you’re taken away. We’ll always have our sound, because I’m singing and it will always be danceable.”

It’s easy to forget, with Sneaky being such icons, that they are international stars in their own right. Our expectations in Australia differ greatly to what’s overseas, and Sneaky have accomplished a great deal because they’ve worked for it. “Overseas, you have to stand up and be heard,” Connie clarifies. “But here in Australia, if you do that, you’re perceived as being difficult. If you were like that overseas, you wouldn’t get anywhere by anybody.” Connie has certainly come a long way, having also laid down tracks with Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, and working as a mentor with Seal on The Voice. But what allows her to be so fluid, and meander seamlessly through rap, house, electro and pop, is a talent and voice that bypasses genres and styles. “It’s an excitement for what’s around the corner,” Connie explains. “For what’s new. The unknown. To try something else out and do the best you can. It’s in terms of what’s interesting to me. You don’t want to have meat and two veg every night for dinner. Don’t rest on your laurels,” she instructs. “There’s nothing more dangerous than resting.”

From the archives: This is from our original site, MyCityLife, posted back on 12 March 2015


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