Being the brainchild of British studio boffin Nick Bracegirdle, many would assume the live Chicane experience isn’t much more than one bloke behind a desk pushing buttons, perhaps pausing intermittently to scratch himself.

Tash Andrews, long-time live vocalist with the trance-pop act, is quick to dispel that notion.

“Most people do get a surprise when they see us live, because it’s a very live full-on show, with guitar, keys, drums and me on vocals. I don’t take any prisoners — I encourage the audience to get involved,” Andrews told Sydney Star Observer from her West London home.

“It’s not your traditional dance show where there’s a barrier between the act and the audience — we really try to connect. It sounds cheesy, but we like to recruit people to the Chicane family when we tour.”

Since their formation in 1996, Chicane have had a litany of trance hits, from the 2000 Bryan Adams-guesting number one Don’t Give Up, to 2006’s Stoned In Love (an unlikely pairing with Tom Jones), through to their most recent top 10 hit, this year’s Sigur Ros cover Popiholla.

While celebrity guest vocalists feature on most of their biggest singles, in some ways Andrews, as the band’s full-time live vocalist, has the sweeter deal — she gets the rush of performing the songs to massive crowds, rather than labouring over them in a studio.

“Absolutely. Chicane have got a very hardcore, faithful fan base, so it’s nice to get to perform to them every night. And of course I’m singing the latest single — at last,” she laughed.

That single, the trance-electro hybrid Hiding All The Stars, comes with an ethereal performance from Andrews — and a stonking great Gary Numan sample.

“I keep teasing Nick about the fact it’s taken five years for him to put me on a single. He says, ‘Yeah yeah, maybe I ignored something that was right under my nose’. ”

Stars comes complete with an unusual video, in which Andrews plays a decidedly glamorous female boxer.

Bracegirdle had the idea for the video after seeing Germaine Greer debating on television about the controversial decision to allow women’s boxing as an official sport in the 2012 London Olympics.

“That’s one of the things I admire about Nick, he doesn’t shy away from controversy. He’s had a video banned in the past because it had a car crash in it,” Andrews said.

“Watching two women boxing can be confronting, but in my opinion it’s something people are going to have to get used to. In doing the training, I realised it is a sport, not just some bloodthirsty pursuit.”

That said, Andrews didn’t emerge from the experience unscathed.

“I was aching in places I didn’t know I had at the end of that day. We filmed two versions, and there’s one where I actually get hit at the end. The girl I was fighting — who was a real-life boxing champion — did actually have to punch me in the face five or six times. But she was very apologetic, so I didn’t hate her too much.”

info: Chicane play the Stereosonic Festival, November 28, Moore Park. Visit www.stereosonic.com.au

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