Dance music is known for its inherent lack of humour. In these days of po-faced minimal techno posers, a hamster burp and a beat can be hailed as the latest manifestation of genius, with the prankster antics of The KLF seeming like a distant memory. But all is not lost: enter stage-left court jesters The Young Punx – also known as Hal Ritson and Cameron Saunders - whose way with a groove is only matched by their gleeful sense of the absurd. Their debut album, ‘Your Music Is Killing Me’, out now on Mofo HiFi, thinks nothing of fusing firing electro house with rhythmic samples of the shipping forecast, or recasting Karen Carpenter as a sampled space-age house minx. The Young Punx are all about upsetting the applecart in any way possible.
“DJs and underground producers are obsessed with looking cool and following the next trend - the whole thing is comically self-obsessed. We don’t play that game,” Ritson explained. “Probably the biggest difference between us and virtually the entire dance music industry is our unwillingness to take ourselves seriously. After all, the whole point of clubbing is meant to be to have fun,” he added.
We are just making whatever music we like, and not feeling constrained about what that should be
‘Your Music Is Killing Me’ sees them jubilantly shredding genre boundaries, swooping like crack-crazed magpies to grab their favourite shiny bits with maniacal gusto. One minute it’s all campy lounge-core strings and tearing drum ‘n’ bass beats (‘Drum And Bacharach’), the next we’re in the kind of cut-up electro-funk territory that acts like MSTRKRFT can only dream of (‘Fire’). Cutting between breaks, ’80s pop, and rock guitar histrionics like a channel-surfing child with attention deficit disorder, The Young Punx are vehemently anti-categorisation.
“We scavenge whatever musical styles we come across, along with elements of adverts, TV programmes, films, magazines, graffiti: anything that comes our way. It’s all fair game,” grinned Ritson. “We are just making whatever music we like, and not feeling constrained about what that should be.” The fact that they work in the studio that was formally Pete Waterman’s Hit Factory, with some junglist neighbours in the studio opposite, gives some idea of The Young Punx’ curiously potent combination of styles. Mixing pop accessibility with raw dancefloor nous, theirs is an addictive and refreshing tonic.
Featuring an array of guest talents, including soul chanteuse Yolanda, who’s worked with Bugz in the Attic and Deekline, and guitarist Guthrie Govan, the album has a musicality rare in a time that dance music is supposedly stripping itself bare. And with lyrical concerns mocking the plastic surgery craze, (‘Young And Beautiful’), and the maddening effects of musical obsession (the title track), The Young Punx certainly aren’t playing by the rules. The last piece of the subversive jigsaw is to rip up the knob-twiddling stereotype of the live dance act.
DJs and underground producers are obsessed with looking cool and following the next trend
“We’ve come up with a show that combines dance sounds with the energy rush of a real rock gig, and a bit of cabaret freakshow for entertainment!” On this evidence, Punx very much alive and kicking.