Confidence Man marry untouchable cool and pure silliness with their every move. From awkwardly choreographed dance routines to too-short shorts, they carry it all off with the blaring confidence that their name suggests. Watching their ascent is like watching your cool older sister hang out with her friends: you’re intimidated, but you can’t help from joining in when they ask you.
Confidence Man are Janet Planet and Sugar Bones – not their real names, of course, but their hiding in plain sight only makes them all the more magnetic. They first burst onto the scene and into our hearts in 2017 with the single ‘Bubblegum’. Their debut album Confident Music For Confident People was a loud, brash debut, declaring their presence as faux-obnoxiously as their song ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band?’. It’s this self-awareness that makes them so likeable; it sprinkles a touch of satire in with the funk-inflected pop that’s so heavily indebted to disco to make it less pastiche and more music to forget yourself to.
To mark the release of their latest single ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’ and ahead of their upcoming UK shows, we chatted about pseudonyms, supporting New Order and their philosophy of poptimism.
You’ll be supporting New Order on their Australian dates in March; are you excited for that?
Yes we can’t wait! A dream come true. They better be wearing their party pants though.
You’ve been really successful at bridging the gap between dance music and pop; how do those two intersect for you?
Bringing pop and dance music together was really natural for us because these genres have all our favourite bits within them. They also seem to compliment each other perfectly, like peaches and cream or Posh Spice and Dave.
Your songs really come alive at your gigs, and you had your come-up because your shows are so captivating. What is it about performing live that you enjoy so much?
The feedback loop of energy that starts up at a live show is pretty addictive. We’re lucky to have some of the funnest, craziest crowds and they always bring the heat. The process can completely cure a hangover, jet lag or the common cold.
You’ve taken the element of performance to another level by using stage names. How far do Janet Planet and Sugar Bones extend into your lives outside of Confidence Man?
We try to avoid it as much as possible for our own safety and sanity. But I guess they kind of emerged from us so who knows. We definitely smile more in real life.
Your sound is very disco-influenced; why do you think disco as a genre is still relevant in 2020?
Disco combines elements of dance and pop so we’re probably drawn to that. It’s also been a huge influence on lots of modern dance music so I guess, despite what they say, disco will never die. It also just makes you feel really good.
Could you explain the idea of poptimism to me?
Poptimism (or popism) is the belief that pop music is as worthy of professional critique and interest as rock music. – Google
All I can say is try and write a good pop song, it’s really f*cking hard!
How do you see your music (and Confidence Man as a project) as embodying this poptimist philosophy?
We just want everyone to have a good time and experience something special, whatever that may be.
Your name comes from the extended phrase for ‘con man’; who are you conning? And what are the qualities of a con man that you’d like to embody?
Well we’re kind of conning everyone, but they seem to really like it so it’s more of a soft con or bipartisan con. The confidence of course!
What’s next for Confidence Man in 2020 (new decade!) and beyond?
This year we’ll be touring all over the place with our first London show at the O2 Forum on April 17. That’s gonna be craZy! We’ll also be finishing off our second album, remixing, collaborating, dancing, jigging and generally spreading the Con Man mantra.
Confidence Man play O2 Forum on April 17th, tickets here.