There are far worse things in life than being compared to the Pet Shop Boys – just ask Sydney synth-pop duo Divine Knights who wear the comparison with pride. “There are obvious similarities. We are a male duo influenced by visual arts and we’re queer,” says electro-pop maestro, Beef. “However they are just one of many artists who have influenced who we are today,” adds his co-conspirator Gerard Anthony.
Further influences such as Depeche Mode and Erasure become apparent when these melodic-architects strut their stuff on stage. Working as a vocal tag-team to deliver their original music as choral monologues enriched by euphoric peaks and melancholy troughs, the Divine Knights create a sound that bellows from stage in an electro-pop-opera pastiche.
Having performed in Sydney for just 12 months, Divine Knights originally formed three years ago in London when long-time friends Beef and Gerard combined their talents as composer and lyricist to create what is now one of the most original synth-pop bands in queer circles. “We certainly don’t write exclusively for gay audiences and are conscious of being inclusive,” says Gerard, “while we don’t necessarily want to be defined exclusively as gay pop artists, we’d be thrilled if we could have a positive influence over people who might be struggling with who they are.”
Divine Knights’ stage presence is somewhat confronting, and could easily border on intimidating if it weren’t for the frivolity of their remarkable costumes, which while playful, serve as works of art influenced by Samurai, Apache and Gautier chic. “We’ve allowed Divine Knights to be guided by our combined aesthetic and have worked with incredible talent to achieve that.”
By talent, the boys refer to their self-appointed stylist Mathew Robert Parsons. Known in Sydney’s queer underground as a progressive performing artist and brainchild of Sydney’s new queer live music night Electric Zoo, Parsons has helped shape the duo’s style and guided the art direction for their latest music video Storm.
Like so many artists who are flipping the bird to the raw deals and endless compromises involved with signing to major labels, Divine Knights are going solo with the release of their debut album Midnight, due out this month. “We strike a perfect balance between being outrageous, poetic, serious and playful and we’d never want a label to try and shape that,” says Gerard. “Going it alone sends a signal to our audiences and our fans that we are our own entity and what they are hearing is uncompromised and entirely us.”
Divine Knights perform at the Gaelic club for their album launch on 27 August.