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Interview: Chantoozies

"We refuse to give up": why Ally Fowler and Eve von Bibra still wanna be up onstage

Interview from January 2021

What started as a fun gig to mark original member Tottie Goldsmith's birthday has turned into a lifelong career for remaining Chantoozies Eve von Bibra and Ally Fowler, who released a retrospective CD in 2020 and still regularly perform live (including at the Bannockburn Railway Hotel on February 20). Chart Beats talked to the duo about the group's evolution, first hit single and enduring appeal (and so much more in the extended version!).

Did you ever think Chantoozies would be more than a one-off?

Ally: We hoped. But we didn’t quite know what it was.

Eve: I had no idea.

Ally: We were a bit vague about it. I don’t think we necessarily thought we’d be a recording band. The band evolved every time we did a gig. We might have set off to just do Tottie’s birthday, but after that Brian Goldsmith [Tottie’s father] said, “Would you like to do gigs here on a Thursday night?” at the Underground night club that he owned. After we did the first of those, Bob Starkie from Skyhooks, who had a club called The Club, said, “Do you want do Friday nights?”, then we did the next gig and Brad Robinson from Australian Crawl said, “I’d like to manage you.", so we kept resetting the boundaries. It snuck up on us in a way. We worked hard but we didn’t have to try particularly hard.


Eve: It was indicative of the era. We were growing up and looking to have a good time, and it was the '80s and that’s what everyone was looking to do. We were at the right place at the right time.

What did you sing at those first gigs?

Eve: Oh my God, they were so funny, those songs.

Ally: Mainly '60s and '70s songs.

Eve: “Keep On Running”, “My Guy”, “Gimme Some Lovin’”, some Diana Ross songs.

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Chantoozies on Chart Beats

Where did the idea to cover "Witch Queen" come from? Had it been in your show?

Ally: No.

Eve: That came from David Courtney, an English producer who’d worked with Leo Sayer. He same to one of our shows and said, “I’ve got the perfect song for you girls to cover.”

Ally: He’d come into town with that in his back pocket – that kind of Stock Aitken Waterman thing of taking those '60s and early '70s songs and doing a bit of a number on them. He went to the record company and said, “I’ve got an idea but I don’t have an act,” and they sent him down to see us.

Was it modelled on Bananarama’s remake of “Venus”?

Eve: I don’t know…

Ally: I would say yes.

Eve: Oh, maybe. I thought it just kind of happened. That’s just what was happening in music at the time, but maybe it was intentional.

Ally: People were having success with that kind of thing, so he came into town and said, “Well, this is the sort of act…” You’re not going to give it to The Choirboys, for example.

Or Rose Tattoo.

Ally: The Angels. You’re not going to say, “Hey guys, what about ‘Witch Queen’?” It was poppy so it needed a pop act. And we were a brand-new pop act.

What has kept you two interested in Chantoozies all these years?

Ally: We refuse to give up. You’re going to have to carry me out of there.

Eve: I still love it.

Ally: We still really enjoy singing and being onstage. You could go, "Maybe it’s time to say quits," but if we can still get up and people still want to see us do it, why wouldn’t you? And it someone says, “It’s not like back then,” I say, “How could it be? I’m not trying to be like that time. I’m 110 years older, I can’t be like a 25-year-old me.”

Eve: And as long as I can keep adding in a few new songs here and there. For me, it’s about music and being able to express that. I love working with musicians, and Ally and I have a good thing on stage. It’s a good partnership.

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