Daphne And Celeste Talk Reading Festival, Rivalry And New Single 'You And I Alone'

“Hi! This is my friend Daphne and I’m Celeste.”

Back in 2000, that was the spoken-word intro to Daphne and Celeste’s debut single, ‘Ooh Stick You’.

It could either strike fear into the listener, or have them running to crank up their radio. Fast-forward over a decade, and the girls are back together with a brand new single - their first in 15 years - called ‘You and I Alone’.

The new track, which received a surprise release on Sunday evening, is a surprisingly sophisticated and experimental-sounding effort, particularly given that it comes from two women best known for lyrics like “up your butt with a coconut”.

It's Daphne and Celeste... but not as you know them

During their first brief, but eventful, time in the spotlight, the pop duo released three UK top 20 singles, toured all over Britain and made a name for themselves as polarising figures on the pop scene. However, it wasn’t to last and, after a year, things fizzled out.

Speaking to HuffPost UK just days before the surprise release of their new track, Celeste Cruz - who makes up one half of the duo - explains: “We knew there was gonna be an expiration date on it, we knew what our label deal was and stuff. We were aware of the situation.

“I don’t even know if there was a meeting! I don’t even think there was one. The whole thing is just so ridiculous. After the whole Reading situation… I think some stuff just went down.”

The ‘Reading situation’ she’s referring to is Daphne and Celeste’s now-infamous performance at the 2000 Reading festival, which saw them bombarded with bottles from the furious crowd, who had turned out in their droves to watch them perform their unapologetic pop songs at what is traditionally a rock festival.

Thankfully, Celeste has a sense of humour about the incident, which could have been a scarring experience for somebody with less thick skin (Celeste was just 16 years old at the time, while Daphne - real name Karen DiConcetto - was only two years older).

She recalls: “We don’t have any bad memories of Reading.

“We weren’t wilting little flowers, I knew what I was getting myself into. We all did I asked Karen to go along with it… I was like “please… I have to meet Eminem”. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with Eminem that I risked Karen’s safety to meet him!

“And I didn’t even meet him! He had to stay in America on domestic violence charges or something. So I couldn’t meet him!”

Reading Festival 2000 (Celeste's t-shirt says 'Who the F**k is Eminem?')

The girls’ resilience in the face of what was essentially a baying mob - video footage taken from the time sees them standing their ground throughout ‘U.G.L.Y.’ and ‘Ooh Stick You’ while the crowd throws pretty much whatever they can lay their hands on - earned them some respect from unexpected places.

Celeste reveals: “Rage Against the Machine were on a couple of people after us at Reading. They were waiting in the wings and they were like, ‘We would have left the stage. We don’t know how you guys stood out there’. They were shocked that we stayed on stage.

“Slipknot too! Slipknot were like ‘we would have left!’

“But honestly, what we were most afraid of was that no one would come. That would have been way more embarrassing, if no one had showed up in protest. Because isn’t that like the biggest insult, to pretend that someone isn’t there?

“I feel like maybe we’d feel differently if we’d been hit, but since we didn’t get hit - two times in a row - at Reading or Leeds, it really worked out for us.”

Celeste also discusses her relationship with her bandmate, who she describes at different points during the interview as being like a “big sister” and her “best friend” - although it sounds like things between them weren’t always so rosy.

“There’s rivalry in anything, I think,” she happily admits. “We were brats - we were 16 and 18, and I feel like when you’re working together like that and there’s only two of you you’re going to be competitive.

“We signed the contracts and suddenly we were thrown into this very intense situation together... and we didn’t know each other! We’d met briefly, and then recorded a song, and suddenly we’re living together and touring together, and all this stuff.”

However, after the band fell through and they had what she described as some “breathing time” away from one another, they ended up becoming “best friends”, meaning that the recording process second time around has been a more harmonious one.

“Who gets a second chance to do something like this,” Celeste says, “And we get to do it as best friends. I feel like it’s just going to be a different experience.

“We weren’t exactly co-workers first time around, but we were thrown together. Now we’ve made the choice to do this project together, and so in that way it feels like there’s a little more power behind it on our part."

The pair made the decision to get back in the studio, after being contacted on Twitter by music producer Max Tundra, who said he’d like to work with the girls on a comeback single, over a decade since their first and only album, ‘We Didn’t Say That’, first hit the charts.

“That was four years ago now!” Celeste explains, speaking about the beginning of their collaborative work. “It took a while to gestate - it’s so exciting when you have a project like this, you really take care of it and now it’s going to be born. It’s crazy - the fact that it’s happening is hilarious and I can’t wait.

“This kind of feels like an experiment. I feel like Max’s fanbase and our fanbase are so different, so I’m excited to see what they think about us all doing this together.

“It’s been really interesting to work with him… the way he creates music and the way he puts things together is really fascinating. This whole project has been so different from the first time around. Back then the songs were already written for us, and we had the record contract and that kind of stuff, but this time has been a collaborative creative process… very DIY.

“I would say ‘You And I Alone’ is more representative of us as a group than the first album.”

That said, she also seems pleased with the group’s - admittedly, fairly small - contribution to the pop music scene of that time.

“That’s the funniest thing about pop music,” she claims, “I think that pop music really stays with people, and there are memories that really stick with people no matter what. You may not have been big to everyone, but to some people you really are. And that’s a really good feeling.

“I think pop is seriously underrated in that way.”

Throughout our interview, Celeste is every bit as chatty and energetic as you’d expect, but she suddenly turns unexpectedly quiet when I ask about what the future entails for Daphne and Celeste once the single goes on sale - although she does give a hesitant “yes” when I ask if there are any plans for some live performances.

“We have a lot of stuff in the works,” she offers, cryptically, “And we definitely hope to be in the UK saying 'hi' soon.

“We are known for a festival performance… so hopefully we’ll see you guys out there.”

‘You And I Alone’ is out now.