Junior Senior, A U.K. Hit, Moves 'Beat' Across Pond
Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.Danish duo Junior Senior is still reeling from the fact that its first single, the smile-cracking "Move Your Feet," recently spent nine weeks in the top-10 of the U.K. singles chart -- including a rare six weeks in the top-5. In the process, it has sold more than 200,000 copies, according to Atlantic Records.
Because of such good fortune, the dynamic duo -- which intertwines rock, dance, punk, surf and hip-hop -- inked a deal with the label for the U.S.
Now, numerous U.S. radio stations are playing the bubbly, Jackson 5-hued "Move Your Feet." Ditto for video outlets like MTV and MTV2, which have added the track's clip, directed by Shynola (Radiohead, UNKLE, Morcheeba).
The single has certainly taken on a life of its own. "It's one of those things you dream about but don't ever count on actually happening," Jeppe "Senior" Laursen says. "The American dream is happening for Junior Senior."
According to Laursen, he and musical partner Jesper "Junior" Mortensen wrote the song in 1999. "We never got beyond the demo version," he says. And thus, "the demo version is the final version."
This paved the way for a deal with red-hot Danish independent label Crunchy Frog (home to such bands as the Raveonettes), which licensed the act's album, the ber-festive "D-D-Don't Don't Stop the Beat," to Atlantic. It is due Aug. 5.
"Junior Senior is so unlike any band out there," Atlantic co-president Craig Kallman says. "Their music is blindingly original, exciting and exhilarating. It's a breath of fresh air.
"And live, they are one of the great contemporary rock bands," he adds. "They're fun and entertaining-and follow in the footsteps of the B-52's, the Cramps and Talking Heads."
Indeed, such album tracks as "Boy Meets Girl," "Dynamite," "Shake Your Coconuts" and "Go Junior, Go Senior" come to flamboyant life onstage. Mortensen, who is straight, plays bass and guitar, while the out, loud and proud Laursen rocks the microphone.
"For us, it's always about achieving a fun atmosphere," Laursen says. "Just like one big party."
Much has been made of the pair's yin-yang sexuality. But the men of Junior Senior admit that they had a hand in this.
Laursen says that the "I'm-gay-he's-straight" info was originally included in all of the group's biographical materials to show their distinct personalities. Furthermore, Junior Senior wanted to show that it had no effect on their musical partnership or compatibility.
"It was not so much about our sexuality," he explains. "We were just describing our universe. It wasn't like we developed this big marketing plan. We took what we had to work with, and that was it."
That said, Laursen acknowledges that "our sexuality is very much a part of who we are. We are more real than Ja Rule."
Industry observers note that it is refreshing to have an artist out of the closet from the get-go -- instead of being dragged from it after becoming famous.
The group is on a non-stop international tour, which will take Junior Senior through the Christmas holiday. Manager Ian Zaider of IZ Management says the act will perform at several key European summer festivals and make three separate treks through North America, including an Aug. 3 stop at Central Park SummerStage in New York.
Zaider adds that Fred Schneider of the B-52's has asked Junior Senior to tour with his band in the future.
Excerpted from the July 26, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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