Not everyone gets the half-Argentine, half-English pop duo Heartbreak. A gig in Brighton, England, saw an audience member, who the band describes as a “Scottish brute,” trying to beat them up during the show. Some critics assume that they’re a complete joke. But just because they write songs with titles like “The Deadly Pong of Love” and “Robot’s Got the Feeling,” and 28-year-old front man Sebastian Muravchik has a performance style so outrageous it would make Freddie Mercury look shy, doesn’t mean that these two Hackney, London, residents are not sincere. “It’s important to point out that we’re not just silly and fun,” says Muravchik. “We’d never go through the hardship of being musicians just to make a joke.” “We’re fucking poor,” confirms his 28-year-old musical partner, keyboardist Ali Renault.
The pair met in 2001 in Buenos Aires. Renault had been traveling but, having run out of money, got a job doing sound production at a local TV studio where Muravchik was also working. The two bonded over a love of Italo disco, the electronic dance sound that boomed in Europe during the ’80s. Today the friends, who went on to form Heartbreak in 2005, have successfully rebooted the Italo sound for a whole new generation, starting with their recently released debut album, Lies (Lex Records). Strangely enough, they both also claim metal is an inspiration: “We’re basically a metal band on synths,” says Renault.
The buzz around Heartbreak has intensified due to the fact that Britain is itself in the grip of a minor Italo disco revival, with club nights like Cocadisco in London and Road to Rimini in Newcastle attracting fashion kids and music trainspotters alike. The pair is wary about being caught up in a fad. But currently the only Italo live band on the U.K. scene—complete with rolling octave bass lines and dramatic, accented vocals, not to mention Muravchik’s natty moustache—they’re proud to be its standard bearers. “The intention is to bring this Italo culture hidden in the underground to lots of people who have the right sensitivity for it,” Muravchik explains. It’s a sensitivity the Scottish brute clearly didn’t possess, but others seem to have caught on.
SEBASTIAN MURAVICH (LEFT) AND ALI RENAULT IN LONDON, NOVEMBER 2008. ALL CLOTHING: HUGO BY HUGO BOSS. FRAGRANCE: BOSS PURE. STYLING: ANDREW DAVIS/LISA GORMAN AGENCY. HAIR: LISA EASTWOOD/PREMIER. MAKEUP: SILVER BRAMHAM/PREMIER. SPECIAL THANKS: SNAP STUDIOS.