The Holy Disco Union of The Polyamorous Affair

Posted on 21. Dec, 2008 by Administrator in Music

words by Devoe Yates

Sometimes you stumble upon some magical new music and you’re absolutely perplexed as to why nobody else knows about it. It becomes your own favorite secret, your own special treasure. Soon, perhaps, people will catch onto what you already know, and at that time, you will know steadfast in your heart that you were way ahead of the game. Such is the case with my own special fancy, The Polyamorous Affair, a duo of lovers who offer up the most infectious disco party jams in some time with a sound that harkens back to the all-night jams of T. Rex, Blondie, and Roxy Music.

The celestial pairing of the Affair is comprised of record producer and vocalist Eddie Chacon, and his lovely wife, Sissy St. Marie. While Sissy is fresh to the music scene, Eddie’s been a musical presence since his early teens when he formed a neighborhood band with Cliff Burton of Metallica and Mike Borden of Faith No More. Over the years, he’s managed to sell 8 million albums and singles as a writer, producer, and singer. Just to give you a couple of his career high points, he worked on 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny”, busted out the number one single “Would I Lie to You” with his neo-soul duo Charles and Eddie, and sharpened his producer chops with the legendary Dust Brothers (The Beastie Boys, Beck, The Rolling Stones). 

I recently had the surreal pleasure of venturing to Eddie and Sissy’s sizable gothic castle in Silver Lake to find out the story behind these star crossed lovers who seem on the verge of taking over the dance floors of the world with their disco revolution. Over some tasty chicken, a couple of Red Stripes, and some oddly decorated cupcakes, we discuss their humble beginnings and the current state of their musical prowess. 

It seems logical to begin with their first meeting, and though it does seem highly doubtful, if not impossible, that you’d ever meet the love of your life at a bar or club in Los Angeles, it apparently does happen. Sissy begins the tale, “We met at the Standard downtown, I had a friend in from out of town, and she wanted to go out because she thought she’d end up meeting George Clooney and marrying him (laughs). Instead she met Huell Howser (“California’s Gold”), he was there that night. But there really wasn’t anywhere to sit, and I happened to see this nice face in the crowd, Eddie’s, and there were some seats next to him. I wasn’t trying to meet anyone, I was just trying to show my friend a good time.” It is here that Eddie imparts, “She told me later when I asked her, ‘Why did you ask me if you could sit next to me?’ that I looked like the kind of guy who wouldn’t ask her out (laughs). Thanks! I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or not.” 

“It was a compliment! I meant that he didn’t look like he was going to hit on me, he didn’t look like one of those Night at the Roxbury kinda guys who wear tight shirts and hit on every girl that walks by.” 

“Well, from a guy’s perspective it sounded like, you were such a dork that you-” 

“Knew you didn’t have a chance? 

“Yeah (laughter).” 

The two had some chit chat and soon found that they had a lot in common - both had origins in a small town in central California, and both shared a strange affinity for Copenhagen, a place where Eddie had spent much time producing records. And a further nail in the coincidence coffin was that Eddie was in the midst of restoring a house in Sissy’s then neighborhood. Further conversation ensued, and when the two parted that evening, both of them seemed to have been tickled by Cupid’s arrow. As Sissy remembers, “On the way home in the car, I told my friend, ‘I think I’m supposed to marry that guy.’” 

What came next was a four month long comedy of courting errors that would make Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan blush. Sissy recants, “There was a weird series of problems, where I lost his number and he lost my number.” And thusly,
the hunt began. 

Sissy begins her side, “I tried to Google him, but I didn’t know his last name, I knew his brother was a principal at a school, so I was going through all the schools in L.A. looking for a principal with a brother named Eddie. I was leaving messages for principals, ‘Do you have a brother who met a blonde teacher on a such and such a night?’ But he’d also told me that he lived with a guy who worked at this denim company. So I called the company, ‘Can you tell this guy that I met his roommate and we really hit it off but I lost his number and could he please give him my number,’ and the receptionist, who was this really sassy gay guy, said, ‘I’ll give him the message, honey, but oh my God, you’re going to have to come up with a better story than that!’ (laughs).” Meanwhile, Eddie was busy sending e-mails to an address Sissy had given him at the Standard. “It used to be that you’re not supposed to have your name in your e-mail address because it could make you susceptible to identity theft, so I was doing the right thing, my e-mail address didn’t say Eddie Chacon at such and such, and she thought if you don’t have your name in your e-mail address, you’re spam. So she kept erasing my e-mails as Spam. And I just thought, ‘Oh man, it’s just one of those flaky L.A. situations, a girl gives you her number so that she can feel good having a lot of guys calling her that she has no intentions of going out with.’ Finally I got so discouraged, and I wrote one last e-mail. In the subject line, I put, ‘Remember Eddie Chacon?’” 

Sissy remembers that day glowingly, “It was a Sunday morning, I woke up and told myself just to give up, ‘You’re never going to hear from that guy ever again. Just give up hope.’ And I went and checked my e-mail and that was the day he sent that e-mail and we finally found each other again. And it turns out, once we did go on our first date, he took me by the house that he was restoring, and it was just down my street, ten houses down.” 

Eddie laughs, “The whole time all of this was going on, I was at that house every day for ten hours a day. What a crazy story.” The two were married mere months after their reunion and at long last, the fairy tale ended happily every after, or perhaps, it finally began. 

As in the ancient story of the Fisher King, a man’s soul and inspiration were re-invigorated, and his love for music brought back from a harrowing abyss. Eddie confesses: “I went through a period where I wasn’t much of a music listener at all. It’s kind of ironic that I was a record producer type person, but I was really no longer a fan of music. It’s really bad when you get into this mode of, ‘Oh, I’ve heard that.’ Anything new that comes out, you categorize it and write it off as a rehash of this or that. It really is an incredible injustice to music, and I was guilty of doing it. But she totally re-awakened the fan in me, it was like being a kid again. And she started turning me on to all of this amazing music that was brand new from all over the world.” 

Sissy agrees. “I always want to feel like a teenager when I listen to new music. I just want to feel like I’m 15 again, and music is the center of my world. That’s the best way to fall in love with music.” 

But this was only the beginning of Eddie and Sissy’s musical discoveries. “She was a 3rd grade school teacher in South L.A., and I would pick her up from school and she would have these amazing rhymes that she’d do in the car and they were just super cute. I was like, ‘Man, her voice is so fucking sexy…’, it had this Nico-esque quality to it. I’ve been producing records for over 20 years, so I can tell when the microphone would like somebody. For at least ten years, I’d been wanting to find my discovery as a record producer. I’d kept experimenting with all of these singers, people who croon and have these amazing voices like Christina Aguilera or something, but I was just having no luck doing that and I found it to be really un-unique. People have heard that a million times. I wanted to feel like I was doing something fresh and new in offering people something that they weren’t already getting. And so, when I started hearing Sissy in the car, I thought to myself, I guess this is whatI’ve been doing wrong for the past ten years in trying to find my superstar. The very thing that made me fall for her as a person is the very thing that makes her a super special artist, her interior is unique and special. That was a lesson that I had to learn as a record producer, that you really want to work with people that have an amazing and interesting interior. I’d been approaching it from the opposite point of view, I’d been thinking ‘this person has a spectacular voice, and it should make great music.’ And it made professional music, but it didn’t make fresh or unique music.”

Eddie’s newly inspired brain soon went to work. “I did some tracks with her in mind and I brought her into the studio in the house and I said, ‘Get up to the microphone.’ She really wasn’t having it, but when she finally did it, oh man, it was ridiculous. She totally took to it like a duck to water.”

Sissy nods shyly. “I was pretty shy and reserved and had never done music before, I’d never been up to a microphone. I wasn’t even comfortable speaking, really. I didn’t know what to think, but I really wanted to do it. So, I just faced my fear, and went for it. And now it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, it’s totally changed my life.” Eddie chimes in, “What’s really weird is that she does everything in almost one take because she has an amazing sense of rhythm. And then from there, it was all about carving out our own sound. We made probably 20 songs, feeling our way through different vibes before we really settled on what we thought would be the record we would want to buy. Ultimately, that’s the way we make records, we make the music that we want to hear.”

Not only did the vibe of Eddie’s music change, but so did his vocal stylings on the album. “I come very much from having spent my life in the neo-soul genre; I spent my whole life obsessed with Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. So after making five records doing that, I wanted to attack from a different direction.” For those of you yet to find solace in the arms of their first album, Eddie’s voice could be described as being more likened to Marc Bolan (T. Rex) than Marvin Gaye. “This group has been like a rebirth for me, being able to just let my old approach fall by the wayside. It’s incredibly liberating.”

Their joint writing process began a bit rocky, but soon found its pointy-toed footing, much like the beginning of their romance. Eddie describes the evolution of the process: “I write songs in my head first, and then I don’t really go to work in the studio until I feel I have the general concept pretty sussed out in my mind. So I’ll tell her, ‘I have this idea for a song and I’m thinking along the lines of this kind of vibe,’ and nine out of ten times she’ll tell me that it’s ridiculous. She’s so hard on me, it’s incredible. And then I’ll go in the studio and put it down and then I’ll tell her, ‘Get in here, I want you to do this or do that and she’ll be like, ‘I am not doing that, that is so not cool.’ She always fights me on everything. And I’ll come back at her, ‘Just fucking do it, man. Trust me, it’s gonna be cool.’”

Sissy laughs and agrees. “When we did ‘I Love the Nightlife’, I was very resistant to that song, and now it’s my favorite song. I do trust him a lot more now (laughs).” Eddie adds, “And sometimes, like with ‘Babayaga’, we’ll be working simultaneously on the same song in different parts of the house. It’s like osmosis through the walls. I’ll have this thing going and she’ll get inspired and write all the lyrics, this whole painting of words, and then she’ll come in and rattle the whole thing off and it will be this instantly amazing marriage. It blows me away.” 

After much of this and some tinkering and refining, Eddie and Sissy self-released their first album, simply entitled The Polyamorous Affair, this past summer and have since secured a mass of sincere fans. Sissy now only teaches part-time to focus on their music, and The Polyamorous Affair has gone on to sell out shows at the Echoplex and win rave reviews from a myriad of bloggers, Perez Hilton among them. I have to say, they are a bit wary of being linked to Perez, as anyone would be, but they appreciate his attention nonetheless. The pair’s live show is, in itself, quite a thing to behold, and could be considered its own bit of performance art, if you will. There are the visual candies, heavily inspired by their love of movies, The Holy Mountain and Andy Warhol’s Dracula among them, as well as Russian themed costumes, strange interactions, and a great deal of sweaty primal dancing from the crowd. 

Eddie and Sissy are wrapping up their second album, to be released this March, entitled Bolshevik Disco. Over some of Sissy’s signature Harvey Wallbanger flavored cupcakes, fancifully decorated with tiny zoo animals atop them, they give me a taste of their new album, and just as the cupcakes hit my sweet spot, so does their music give my ear-buds a happy feeling deep inside. Eddie gives me a bit of background on the new album. “We made a decision that we were absolutely crazy about the whole performance side of doing this. So that influenced our new record a lot. We wanted to make a record that would just really kick people’s asses live, it’s much more aggressive.” Sissy adds, “And there is a thread through it, almost like Ziggy Stardust, where it tells a story. A story in which people MUST DISCO (laughs).” Eddie nods, “Yes, they must follow our orders. They must have fun.” 

And so it is that I leave them to make the music of the night. While this telling of a band’s birth might prove too lovey-dovey for some, I must tell you that true love is a wonderful thing to witness. Some are blinded by love, and crippled by the blindness therein, but in this case,
as with the wonder of such pairings as Carter and Cash and Lou Reed and Nico, sometimes two hearts are better than one when
it comes to the creation of some damn
good tunes.

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One Response to “The Holy Disco Union of The Polyamorous Affair”

  1. Noble

    01. Apr, 2009

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