"Dimensional is my last name," insists Dougee Dimensional, singer and musician with pillowy popsters the Gentle People. While the boyish Dimensional-who speaks with an indecipherable accent--won't produce a birth certificate or passport to back up this claim, he does halt a moment, bite his lip, and elaborate: "The thing is, you have to think of the Gentle People as a fantasy--for ourselves and everybody else."
That shouldn't be too difficult. The band's Web site offers a whirlwind tour of the quartet's groovy universe of pop, plastic, and placebo. And its music, which capitalizes on melodic lounge chic, is downright dreamy. (England's gay Attitude magazine has called the group an "ambient ABBA on acid.") To wit: Songs on the band's second and current album, Simply Faboo, include an imagined Richard Carpenter ode to departed sister Karen ("Superstar"), a floaty advert for a proposed Gentle People perfume ("Parfum"), and a rollicking disco charmer devoted to love ("Gentle People Are Love").
"It's escapism," the 30-ish Dimensional says of it all. "You put this record on, and hopefully it'll transform your world into a lovely, chichi space environment where we can all drink cocktails and have a really nice time."
The quartet--which includes Dimensional's equally mysterious cohorts Honeymink, Laurie LeMans, and Valentine Carnelian--was signed to electronica guru Aphex Twin's Rephlex label following receipt of one demo and a postcard (adorned with their caricatures and the word love). Since 1995's debut single, "Journey," the group has worked with musical uber-hipsters the Pizzicato Five, Fantastic Plastic Machine, and Deee-lite's Towa Tei. The band mates sing in French and English, and their much ballyhooed live appearances aren't so much concerts as kitschy multimedia cocktail parties replete with dancers, props, and hors d'oeuvres.
"We don't tend to think of this as a musical project," says Dimensional. "It's more an audiovisual experience."
Dimensional says he was born in New Jersey ("I don't know if it's groovy, but it's real") and moved with his parents to Los Angeles at age 10. Harboring a boyhood crush on David Cassidy, he "was a total TV addict and lived in a feel-good television bubble," obsessed with "'60s and '70s feeling-happy shows like The Bugaloos, H.R. Pufnstuf, and really quirky game shows like Let's Make a Deal and The Price Is Right."
By 1990, unhappy with a Southern California existence he regarded as repressive, Dimensional relocated to London, came out of the closet, and formed the Gentle People. "What I always found liberating about London is, thanks to the British reserve, they let people do what they want to do," he explains. "They've always been a bit weird."
The group's members met in a communal house for artists, musicians, and designers who defected from many countries and "difficult situations." Dubbing their tiki-decorated lair Gentle Central, Dimensional and his straight cohorts hosted quirky theme parties with titles such as "Dougee's Harem." By the time the band recorded its debut album, 1997's Soundtracks for Living, the retro way had permeated every nook and cranny of the group's existence--before Austin Powers was so groovy, Dimensional notes.
"It's disappointing that everyone is really into that kind of stuff now," he says with a sigh. "It makes me feel like I want to do something else, like go really drastic and get into natural wood."
Actually, he already has his next career picked: hosting a game show. "It would be called Gran Premio," he says with a grin. "Like those Mexican game shows-cum-variety shows where they meet famous people, do a bit of a game show thing, and have a singer on. I don't know if it would be gay, but it would be camp." Of course.
Find more about the Gentle People as well as links to related Internet sites at www.advocate.com
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|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Dec 21, 1999|
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