Democracy Dies in Darkness


Stronger Sex is embarking on a fantastical voyage

August 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Stronger Sex : “The music has to evoke some kind of a fantasy.” (Mark Williams Hoelscher/)

There was a book — Italo Calvino’s fantastical, metaphorical “Invisible Cities” — and Johnny Fantastic had a plan: to construct a “sound creation” of the images of the first chapter. If you want to know what the work of an Italian fabulist reconstructed as experimental electronic pop sounds like, then Stronger Sex — the D.C. duo of Fantastic and Leah Gage — is for you.

Stronger Sex evolved into its current form a few years ago. Fantastic and Gage were longtime friends in D.C.’s cozy music scene, and when one of Fantastic’s band mates couldn’t go on tour, Gage stepped up and hit the road. Eventually, the band became a collaboration between just the two of them.

The pair also was inspired by crooners and cabaret singers of the 1960s and ’70s, but instead of strings and horns, they “achieve that transportation to another, beautiful world by using bizarre electronic devices,” Fantastic says. Learning to play the Korg Electribe groovebox was a revelation for Gage, who also plays drums and keyboards. “All of a sudden, all those different things I hear in my head, I can actually realize,” Gage says.

Stronger Sex seems to have one governing principle: “The music has to evoke some kind of a fantasy,” Fantastic says. That phantasmagorical approach also drives their shows.

“We really strive to not just make people feel rhythms and dance . . . but also use imagination, and give them a sense of exotica.” Italo Calvino would be proud.

Show: Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin St. NE. Free.

Chris Kelly is the co-author of "The Donald: How Trump Turned Presidential Politics into Pro Wrestling."

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