THE turn of the 21st century was a magical time for Australian pop, as any Rumba Festival attendee will attest.
Vanessa Amorosi, Bardot, Scandal’Us, Nikki Webster – but among all this manufactured home-grown pop an underground dance act managed to sneak in the back door and become as big as Britney, if only ever so briefly.
Dance duo Madison Avenue (DJ Andy Van and vocalist Cheyne Coates) scored a runaway international hit with Don’t Call Me Baby in late 1999. Three more hits, an album – and an infamous ARIAs performance – followed, before Madison Avenue quietly disbanded just a couple of years later.
Van is set to perform at the Central Station Records 40 Years Party in Sydney next month – spinning a special Madison Avenue DJ set, no less.
The now-veteran DJ revealed that the version of Don’t Call Me Baby you heard on the radio is the original warts-and-all demo.
“It was sung on an $80 microphone with (DJ and producer) John Course on the phone in the background and the door open in the studio,” he says. “In the a cappella, you can actually hear John talking in the background.”
The overnight success put a strain on their relationship. “Burning out is a good term. Cheyne and I previously went out for a little while before Don’t Call Me Baby, and we were mates after that. It was almost like a brother-sister, Seinfeld and Elaine relationship. But then a lot of pressures come on board – we were doing 20 flights a month around the world. It’s a lot of pressure, and you’re exhausted. We once went to Poland for six hours, did 27 interviews, then left. It was too much, too quickly.”