Enigmatic electro duo Antony and Cleopatra (real names Alexander Burnett and Anita Blay) have dropped a new single ‘Why Don’t You Just Call Me’, a total jam that is reminiscent of classic ’90s dancefloor hits. The track is an ode to the lost art of phone calls, with the duo pleading ‘why don’t you just call me?’ over hypnotic melodies.
Antony and Cleopatra released an EP last year, Hurt Like Hell, and are prolific songwriters and collaborators; they feature on Motez‘s hit ‘The Future’ and ‘Slippin’, a track from Jaded and Black Caviar which has been supported by Don Diablo and Diplo.
To celebrate the release of ‘Why Don’t You Just Call Me’, Speaker TV interviewed Antony and Cleopatra:
What inspired ‘Why Don’t You Just Call Me’?
Cleopatra: Mainly frustration. You can hear it in the build and release. The lyrics kind of happened quite naturally.
Antony: I’m into calling people. Text threads and reading into ‘read’ and ‘seen’ can be dangerous.
What was the process like for creating ‘Why Don’t You Call Me’?
Cleopatra: A bit of a mad one. A few accidents, chopping things up, losing our minds and then starting again.
We knew we’d stumbled across something quite special but couldn’t put our fingers on it.
We’ve had a lot of polarising reactions to this. which is actually quite exciting because we’ve never had a song get that visceral response. So, good or bad , we’re ready to see what it does out in the world.
You’ve just announced your first Australian headline tour – Congratulations! – what can we expect from your performances?
Antony: Controlled chaos. We have a live drummer and I will be playing keys, bass, synth and triggering sounds and grooves. Cleo and I both sing and we also have some trippy visuals that compliment the show. We are a dance band, so the primary purpose is to make people lose their heads. There’s also a couple of sing along moments like ‘The Future’, a track we did with Motez, to act as the ying to the yang.
As a duo, how do you both balance each other out?
Cleopatra: Antony is definitely the more organised of the two of us! And I sometimes tend to have a short attention span or get in a mood if I’m not into something. He’s good at being logical about things. Equally, there’s times when everyone is digging an idea but I’m not and I’ll make us start again until everyone’s happy. I used to think I was being a pain, but I think it pays to keep going until everyone in the room clicks.
Antony: She’s definitely the tough one and that keeps me on my toes.
I think that we make far better music together than on our own.
For me, that’s what makes this project so interesting and fun. We’ve had loads of adventures that I don’t believe we would have had if we were just working on our own singular projects.
You’ve collaborated with some pretty cool artists – what is the secret to a successful collaboration?
Antony: It’s important to be open to any possibilities. The other artist might be tired and musically spent, or they might be vibing an idea that is really powerful. You never know, so it’s quite a gamble. Trying to be present and realise the scope of what you and the collaborator is trying to achieve is important too, as we’ve been guilty of potentially being too ‘pop’ for someone who’s very niche and underground, and vice versa of working with some huge pop artists that love that we’re ‘indie’.
What are the biggest things you have learnt from each other?
Antony: I haven’t worked with another artist as much as Cleo, and throughout this whole time I’m still learning. She comes from such a different background musically and culturally, yet we have so much common ground. She adds so much to the writing process regarding the female perspective and it’s danceabilty. I’m sure that I annoy the hell out of her, but as a musical marriage we’re doing fantastically well!
What are your goals for your music in the future? Can we expect an album or another EP soon?
Cleopatra: We think we’re at a point where we can be a bit more forward thinking and straddle a few more lines. The next few releases will hopefully surprise people.
What does your creative process look like?
Cleopatra: Oli (our producer) will pull up a few weird sounds, add a beat and we’ll usually know within the first few minutes if we’re heading anywhere. We’re getting better at knowing when we’re onto something and when we’re not.
If we’re all excited, the melodies happen almost immediately and then the lyrics. Sometimes they come quick but mostly it’s a bit more of a laboured part of the process. Then we try to get it recorded and will tweak intermittently until it feels ‘finished’. Which it never is.
Which artists (past or present) have inspired your sound? How have they inspired you?
Cleopatra: ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ by Candi Staton really inspires me. It’s a cautionary song about love and how wonderful and painful it is. The producer wrote it for Candi Staton in a bid to try and get her out of an abusive relationship. This song still resonates with me periodically in life. And fun fact: Candi has been married 6 times!
As artists we’ve devoured all the best bits from the last 40 years, but we are suckers for a song that is sophisticated yet simple.
Some of the best dance tracks make you dance far better than others…some of the most popular ballads make you weep. We love to skip to the best bits.
How do you see yourselves evolving as artists?
It’s an exciting time to be making music and being an artist. Literally anything is possible. We are coming to Australia to play our first proper live show, however we have DJ sets booked over European summer. We’d love to keep collaborating with more adventurous artists, as well as proper pop artists that we both love for different reasons.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Stream Antony and Cleopatra’s ‘Why Don’t You Just Call Me’ here.
Catch Antony and Cleopatra on their Australian tour here.
Check out the playlist Antony and Cleopatra created for Speaker TV in 2017 here.