Rogue Traders talk reuniting and return to Big Gay Day


Rogue Traders will join a stellar lineup for The Wickham’s Big Gay Day on October 1st, including Peter Andre, Mitch Tambo and Isis Avis Loren.

Natalie and James from the group chatted with QNews about reuniting the band and their return to Big Gay Day after more than a decade.

Natalie Bassingthwaite and James Ash have a palpable energy together that feels like you’ve stumbled into a family catch-up, but they just happen to be pop stars.

This connection helped Rogue Traders become one of the country’s biggest acts throughout the 2000s. There were ARIA, APRA, and MTV Award wins, six top ten hits in Australia, and a number three single in the UK.

However, it wasn’t all Wembley Arena gigs and Video Hits appearances; their success brought a level of stress and pressure to the pair.

“There was a time when if we didn’t have a song in the top five, we’d be like, ‘Oh, shit,’” founder of the band, James Ash, tells us.

After a decade of success, the pair took an extended break, which included a solo career for Natalie. In addition to her own music, she returned to TV as a judge on X Factor Australia and reprised the role of the infamous Izzy on Neighbours.

The Reunion

After going their separate ways in 2008, their connection ultimately brought them and the Rogue Traders back together.

“It was kind of inevitable, really,” Natalie says. “The connection that we’ve always had, that we didn’t have for a big chunk there, I think it was missing. We did one show together, and we were like, ‘Oh my god, we’re actually really good, right? Let’s do this!’”

 

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The approach of the Rogue Traders has changed since their reunion, with two versions of the group.

“We’ve got the band that still tours around, and that really suits the festival scene. But the duo [of James and I] is such a different take on Rogue. They’re the same songs, but James is such an amazing DJ, mashing these current hits with our old hits and our new hits. It’s just one big party from the moment he’s on the decks,” Natalie explains.

Since the reunion, fans have been desperate for new music, and this year, they delivered.

They released To The Disco, a dark electro-pop club hit that was a mash-up of an earlier Rogue Traders track from the 2000s, On The Way To The Disco.

“It was just a nice way to reconnect with what we’ve done, but also deliver something that felt current at the same time,” James says, before adding that a new “deep disco energy” song is on its way.

The new track, which Natalie describes as “dirty” and “sexy,” will be part of the duo’s upcoming set at Big Gay Day.

Big Gay Day Return

This year’s edition of Big Gay Day won’t be their first, as they headlined the 2006 event in a performance that the pair remember fondly.

“We talk about it all the time as being one of the highlights of our career, to be honest. I’m not even joking. It was one of the most fabulously fun and energetic shows,” Natalie recalls.

This made the decision to return this year a no-brainer.

“It’s one of those things that when you’re invited, there’s not really a decision involved. It’s like, of course, we want to do it. It’ll be a flashback, and it’s going to feel wonderful to be connected with the community again,” James says.

Queer connections

The group has always had a following and a connection with the queer community, including Natalie’s 2010 song Love Like This in support of the Wear it With Pride equality campaign.

“I think we’ve always been involved in the queer community for a very long time, so to continue that legacy feels fitting and beautiful,” Natalie says.

James adds that the origins of his music comes from the history of queer music.

“The music that is the foundation of not just Rogue Traders, but modern pop music, is queer music, and the debt that music owes to the queer community is immeasurable. People forget that all the myriad forms of dance that exist today, we can trace back to disco and of course, further beyond that. But it was underground queer music that eventually went mainstream,” he says.

This warmth and connection to the queer community also resonates with the LGBTQIA+ crowds they’ve played to.

“When you’re performing in front of an [LGBTQIA+] crowd, it is like nothing else. There’s this immense gratitude for being able to celebrate together, and that energy radiates throughout. It’s wild,” Natalie excitedly explains.

James adds that “Nat and I are known for exploding with energy on stage; that’s kind of our thing, and we jump around like 18-year-olds because that’s how we feel when we’re on stage. And that energy is multiplied back to us. It’s amazing.”

Voodoo Child’s Legacy

There is one song that every Rogue Traders fan wants to hear: their biggest hit, Voodoo Child.

For some bands, when one track becomes such an identifiable hit, playing it can become tiresome. However, not for Natalie and James.

“Oh, it’s like an old friend. It’s like it exists entirely without you, because other people have made it part of their lives, and it’s gone out into the world and done its own thing. So I’ve never been sick of the track ever,” James explains with genuine affection.

“It’s weird, you would think that you would [be tired of it], after all this time of playing it, but when you get that reaction from the audience, and everyone sings it back to you, and everyone’s jumping from the beginning to the end, it doesn’t get better than that,” Natalie says before launching into a vocal mastery of the song’s opening instrumental.

The duo will perform alongside Peter Andre at Big Gay Day. Surprisingly, it’ll be the first time that Natalie meets the UK-based star, but she says “she’s ready” for it.

James, on the other hand, can trace some of his early career back to the Gimme Little Sign singer.

“In 1996, I got an apprenticeship at a recording studio in Melbourne, and one of the first things I ever worked on was Mysterious Girl. I remember going around to Molly’s [Molly Meldrum] house and presenting it back to him,” James recalls.

The pair will join Peter at The Wickham’s Big Gay Day and Natalie has one final message for readers:

“Come along, be yourself, let loose and get wild. We dare you to come along and have as much fun as we will!”

Tickets for The Wickham’s Big Gay Day are available at biggayday.com.au

Dale Roberts

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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