BioSheffield’s newest freaky dancers know what to expect when someone looks at them quizzically. "People inevitably ask us the same two questions, says 25-year-old producer Dave Johnson, "It's always 'who is Grandadbob?'‚ followed by 'so, are you two shagging?'"
It's the kind of boy-girl dynamite that has powered many duos, but Grandadbob - memorably described as 'The White Stripes of Electronic Music' - aren‚t playing on it too hard. So are they shagging? Dave looks at his vocalist and flatmate Vanessa Robinson, and they shake their heads politely. The first question they insist, is the really interesting one.
"Grandadbob is my Grandad and he's called Bob" says Vanessa, who once spent a summer singing with a swing band. "Do you remember Ted Bovis from (1980's comedy show, based in a fictional holiday camp) Hi-De-Hi? He's just like that except older. You pull his finger and he'll trump. Wonderful man." "I just smoke imported cigars with him" says Dave. "He's brilliant, and he gave us a name when we really couldn't think of one."
Bob HQ is an unassuming terraced house in Sheffield. Dave's room is upstairs, and Vanessa's is downstairs and between the two, both literally and metaphorically, is the studio. "I'll be in the studio, writing, or playing the guitar, and she'll come running and and go "I've got something for that!" Or I'll walk into her room and she'll be on the floor with her headphones on. There's always music on, always loops on the go, always music everywhere." It sounds lovely. "It is!" says Vanessa. "You get up on the morning and think - there's the studio, there's the kettle. What a lovely day."
The album title was also born of their hearth-warm living arrangements. "I was teaching Dave to waltz in the kitchen because he can't waltz and everyone should be able to waltz. He was like you're a wierdo, waltzing in the kitchen, and then went waltzes for wierdos! And went off to scribble it in his notebook." "Even if we weren't doing music we'd be housemates" says Dave. "We get on really well."
The album, recorded, of course, at their home, is a rainbow-splattered fusion of bouncy house music, ultra late-night squelches and squalls, balearic acoustic guitar, distorted pop melodies and Vanessa's cinematic, melted-at-the-edges vocals. "It's bright and giddy and funky," says Vanessa of the record. "It's either mellow or moody and it slides around a lot." It's loud, then it's soulfully lush. It's covering all shades. "Waltzes For Weirdoes" then, is perfect for these confused and confusing times.
"There's loads of bands out there" says Vanessa. "But we're not trying to be anything apart for just being us. We just want to make brilliant, daft music." It's a very Grandadbob sentiment. And if you listen to Waltzes For Wierdos, or caught them playing one of their draw-you-in live shows, you'll probably find that as far as brilliant and daft go, they've already got it wrapped up.