Sugar and Gold
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Sugar and Gold

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| INDIE
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Crème packs smooth backing-vocal coos, breezy sunshine melodies, booty-moving guitar rhythms, and infectious club beats into anthems innocent enough for the roller rink -- but with a playful wink to late evening escapades. Perfect for your Boogie Nights and your mimosa mornings, Crème, ahem, rises to the top of our weekend picks. --JENNIFER MAERZ - SF Weekly


"The ghosts come quickly, and they leave quickly," remarks Philipp Minnig about his effective yet unorthodox approach to songwriting for San Francisco electro-disco group Sugar and Gold.

"I always call songwriting 'ghostbusting,' " he says over tapas at Picaro in the Mission District, in a German accent softened by years spent in Northern California. "There will be an idea floating around, and you zap it, throw out your trap, and there it goes. For us, our traps are chords, or a rhythm. Someone brings in the ghost, and we all work on it."

Sugar and Gold is the brainchild of the rosy-cheeked lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter and his longtime friend and collaborator, vocalist and keyboardist Nicolas Dobbratz. They met in middle school in Pacific Grove and decided after a particularly memorable acid trip to start a band.

The duo - whose previous combos Dura Delinquent and Connexion were rooted in visceral proto-punk - were always set on making dance-oriented music that was inclusive, countering the snobbish in-crowd ethos of Bay Area hipster groups. It is this generosity of spirit and their infectious, undulating rhythms that led to a friendship and working relationship with Oakland's dance-punk foursome Gravy Train, who recently enlisted Minnig and Dobbratz to produce their next album.

The two bands met when Gravy Train sought advice from Sugar and Gold about a hard-to-achieve keyboard effect in one of their songs. Minnig was happy to help them out, explaining that he believes in an altruistic approach to making music: "If everyone keeps their musical techniques to themselves, the scene and the music will never expand to get bigger and better."

A beautiful relationship was born. "Sugar and Gold don't have a too-cool-for-school vibe," Gravy Train's brazen redheaded vocalist Chunx writes via e-mail. "At their live shows, they are all about letting go, getting wild, and just feeling the music. It doesn't matter what kind of person you are, or what you look like, which is the same philosophy as Gravy Train." On Sugar and Gold's debut, Creme (Antenna Farm), the sextet - including Jerome Steegmans on bass, drummer Robin Macmillan, and backing vocalists Susana Cortes and Fatima Fleming - take inspiration from the voluptuous soul of Funkadelic and Sly Stone, the subversive rock 'n' roll of the Cramps, and the cerebral electronic mastery of Kraftwerk, creating the seemingly antithetical hybrid of thoughtful yet sexy dance music.

Ghostbusting aside, this musical intellectualism sets Sugar and Gold apart from dance music makers who view music not as a way of life or an extension of themselves but as part of a hedonistic event experienced by a superficial persona. Minnig believes in the music he makes, and he views the process as a fundamental and spiritual necessity. "When we recorded the album, the music was giving us a feeling that was real, authentic," he says. "Music is the only spirituality we have. It's the only way to believe in something greater than ourselves."

He has a similarly insightful answer to the question of why dance music is important. Between sips of peppermint tea, he says, "Dancing is one of those few things that, when done right, you do without an end in mind. You are free from an objective, which is rare in our society."
---HAYLEY ELISABETH KAUFMAN, SF Bay Guardian 5/2/07 - SF Bay Guardian


You know you’re off to a good start when you’ve inspired a cover band before establishing yourself as a household name. Such is the case with disco-electro outfit Sugar and Gold. Formed by frontman Philipp Minnig (lower right) and keyboardist Nicolas Dobbratz (lower left), who first met in middle school down in Pacific Grove, and rounded out by bassist Jerome Steegmans (center), drummer Robin Macmillan (upper right) and, on back-up vocals, Fatima Fleming (upper left) and Susan Cortes (not pictured), the funk-friendly sextet released their debut full-length album, Creme (Antenna Farm Records), in June.

Creme’s KC and the Sunshine Band–via–Kraftwerk sound nominates the group as the Bay Area’s answer to the Scissor Sisters—the record is stocked with two-years-in-the-making danceable disco beats and saucy, tongue-in-cheek attitude. And as for their dedicated cover band, Molasses and Tin? “They take our songs to children,” Minnig explains. “They changed the lyrics from ‘This kind of lover’ to ‘This kind of monkey’ and give all the children kazoos. And the parents are all, ‘What the hell are these people doing to our kids?’” ----NICOLE BECKLEY 7x7 Magazine - 7x7 Magazine


Welcome to the world of Sugar & Gold, a smart bunch of smoking-hot twentysomethings singing about diamond rings and pink champagne-and working the sexiest boot-shaking funk this side of 1978.

At a recent concert at the Bottom of the Hill, the crowd threw decorum and posturing to the wind and shimmied until the band's set was over.

The Group's new debut album, Creme, includes snapshots of the Lower Haight and musical depictions of late night living, making it clear that Sugar & Gold love them some San Francisco.

In the song "Neighborhood," with its chunky keyboard riffs, they sing the praises of their home city - to a tune that would be a smash at any roller disco: "Givin' up all your love for your city/ Givin' it up for just one town...if you should leave her/ She won't put up a fight." Be that as it may, if Sugar & Gold ever leave us, we sure as hell will. --SF Mag Best of 2007 - SF Magazine


Each weekday, My Morning Download introduces you to some of the coolest new music on the web. We clear through the noise so you don't have to. Meet Sugar & Gold.

If you dig Hot Chip, Phoenix, Scissor Sisters, Midnight Love-era Marvin Gaye, mid-70's Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, the Mary Jane Girls, the Tom Tom Club, and the night fever jamz of the Brothers Gibb (enough comparisons?) then all bets are on for San Fran's Sugar & Gold, a six piece electro-soul outfit whose core members Nicolas Dobbratz and Philipp Minnig have been songwriting partners since childhood. Cheesy in the grandest way, S&G have made a mighty-tight 70's influenced funk/disco/electro/whatever record. It's the perfect compliment to the blue sky promise that Summer, long drives with the windows down and late nights on the dancefloor brings.
---WXPN All About The Music 5/22/07 - WXPN All About The Music


Discography

Creme LP (Antenna Farm Records 2007)
Workout EP (Antenna Farm Records 2006)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Sugar and Gold take classic harmony based songwriting and kick it into the 21st century with a healthy dose of Rick James and Young Americans-era David Bowie. With staccato guitar licks, a heavy bottom groove, and sultry female backup vocals, S&G put on a dynamic live show which never fails to get even the most uptight teasers out on the dance floor.

At the group’s core are Nicolas Dobbratz and Philipp Minnig, songwriting partners since childhood. Dobbratz, who grew up in Maryland, had a musical childhood at home, while Minnig, who was born and raised in Germany, spent his formative years kneeling in front of a record player trying to translate for himself and his brother the English lyrics of their favorite bands. Once Nic and Philipp moved to California in 1990 and met in middle school, they became inseparable friends and formed a musical brotherhood that has endured the better part of two decades.

Prior to forming Sugar & Gold, their previous stints in such infamous outfits as Dura-Delinquent and Connexion included several US tours serving as support act for BJM, BRMC, the Make-up and the White Stripes, and the boys have even served as an impromptu back-up band for Neil Haggerty.

As Phil and Nic’s songwriting has developed, they have found themselves refining their garage blues into a much more unique and soulful sound. And while the band never abandoned its’ DIY approach, by the time Dura Delinquent gave way to the Connexion, the band had a funk that set it apart from its’ garage rock contemporaries. Recruiting neighbors Fatima Fleming and Susana Cortez into the mix made things more refined and added a feminine element that helped ground the male energy. Song writing became smoother and lyrics more thoughtful; love and the city became mirror images of a troubled self in an isolated society.

Today, Sugar and Gold reap the benefits of the last three decades in electronic and soul music, blending sampled beats, live drums, and an array of classic funk and electro instrumentation. All of which is melded together by a fine thread of harmony making for a funky kind of Caribbean Kraftwerk. And despite their indie rock background, the band’s take on the funk is not an ironic one, nor is it a sloppy approximation substituting gimmicks and in-jokes for serious chops. Sugar and Gold are the real deal.

The band spent most of 2005 and 2006 recording in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Quite at home in most environments, Sugar & Gold performed everywhere; in front of sweaty punks in Brooklyn basements and groovy flower children at outdoor festivals in California. Everywhere they went, it was the same high spirited dance party and at the end of the night the band had new friends in every neighborhood they played.

The result of the hard work, the thousands of miles travelled, and even more kids moved to the dancefloor is Creme, Sugar and Gold’s 11 song debut album. Creme is a soulful reflection of the moods and character of these many neighborhoods across the country...scene after scene where the band discovered countless likeminded kids eager to lose their troubles and dance until dawn.

From the monstrous syncopated synth opener Do it Well through first single WorkOut, Sugar and Gold’s intention is clear: to get people moving. But the band’s dedication to local scene pride is captured on the Tom Tom Club influenced Neighborhood. “Just as long as you believe in/the neighborhood you live in...down every street/you’ll see people walking to the beat.” And by dub inflected closer Technical Difficulties the band has shown they can stretch out and play infectious pop that skillfully crosses genres and boundaries.

Following the completion of Creme, Sugar and Gold has continued with a series of blistering live shows up and down the West Coast while Phil and Nic have been lending their production skills to a variety of other projects. Most recently, they have been recording and mixing a set of songs (featuring Jeppes of Junior Senior and Jonny Makeup of V.I.P.) for the upcoming Gravy Train!!! album (All the Sweet Stuff out on Cochon Records summer 2007). The bands will be touring together this July with dates to be announced.