Stereolab are an English-French avant-pop band formed in London in 1990. Led by the songwriting team of Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier, the group's music combines influences from krautrock, lounge and 1960s pop music, often incorporating a repetitive motorik beat with heavy use of vintage electronic keyboards and female vocals sung in English and French. On stage, they play in a more feedback-driven and guitar-oriented style. The band also draw from funk, jazz and Brazilian music, and were one of the first artists to be dubbed "post-rock". They are regarded among the most innovative and influential groups of the 1990s.
Stereolab were formed by Gane and Sadier after the break-up of McCarthy. The two were romantically involved for fourteen years and are the group's only consistent members. Drawing from Surrealist and Situationist movements, their songs are politically and philosophically charged, leading some critics to describe the group as Marxists, a characterization that Gane and Sadier deny. Other longtime members included 1992 addition Mary Hansen , who remained in the line-up until her accidental death in 2002, and 1993 addition Andy Ramsay , who was still with the band as of 2009. The High Llamas' leader Sean O'Hagan was also a member from 1993 to 1994 and continued appearing on later records for occasional guest appearances.
Although Stereolab found success in the underground music scene and were influential enough to spark a renewed interest in older analogue instruments, they have never had a significant commercial impact. The band were released from their recording contract with Elektra Records due to poor record sales. Since then, their self-owned label Duophonic had signed a distribution deal with Too Pure. After a ten year hiatus, the band reunited for live performances in 2019.
In 1985, Tim Gane formed McCarthy, a band from Essex, England, known for their left-wing politics. Gane met Lætitia Sadier, born in France, at a 1988 McCarthy concert in Paris and the two quickly fell in love. The musically-inclined Sadier was disillusioned with the rock scene in France and soon moved to London to be with Gane and pursue her career. In 1990, after three albums, McCarthy broke up and Gane immediately formed Stereolab with Sadier , ex-Chills bassist Martin Kean and Gina Morris on backing vocals. Stereolab's name was taken from a division of Vanguard Records demonstrating hi-fi effects.
Gane and Sadier, along with future band manager Martin Pike, created a record label called Duophonic Super 45s which, along with later offshoot Duophonic Ultra High Frequency Disks, would become commonly known as "Duophonic". Gane said that their "original plan" was to distribute multiple 7 and 10 inch records "–to just do one a month and keep doing them in small editions". The 10 inch vinyl EP Super 45, released in May 1991, was the first release for both Stereolab and the label, and was sold through mail order and through the Rough Trade Shop in London. Super 45's band-designed album art and packaging was the first of many customised and limited-edition Duophonic records. In a 1996 interview in The Wire, Gane calls the "do-it-yourself" aesthetic behind Duophonic "empowering", and said that by releasing one's own music "you learn; it creates more music, more ideas".
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