Infectious flair and bubbling energy make Sugar Fed Leopards a must-see live act

“I’m not a natural performer. I play with different kinds of music to find a character to front the band in the right way.”

Like bubble-gum lost within a pinball machine, Melbourne pop outfit Sugar Fed Leopard have been bouncing all over the place lately, taking their disco infection of hot costumes, cranking rhythms and cute harmonies to the masses.

“We went to Benalla recently,” says ringleader and lead singer Steph Brett AKA Sugar Breath. “My friend has a gallery space there as part of North East Artisans and we did a little gig for the community there. Before that, we were at the Kyneton Music Festival. We’ve been going away having little day trips.”

As we move further into the summer months, it’s only natural that Sugar Fed Leopard’s bee-bop happiness should be out there more. Thanks their flamboyant ways, it is the reactions that Sugar Fed Leopards receive at places they’ve not performed before that are certainly a point of excitement for Sugar Breath. “We’ve played at the South Melbourne Market and the Queen Victoria Night Market and both times we’ve got a bit of a crowd,” says Sugar Breath, “The kids love it. People gather around and because we’ve got all the dance moves, it’s pretty easy to get a dancefloor going.”

Right now, excitement is hard to source in Sugar Breath. She must be coaxed into conversation, her alter ego not fully present without the rest of her band. “I wish the other Leopards were here because I’m not that articulate, or quick with these questions,” she sighs, “But if they were here, when we’re together that’s when that flamboyance, the over the top, ridiculous energy comes out a bit more.”

For Sugar Breath, it’s easier for her to speak of the band, to become the band, the ringleader, when she’s with the band. And it’s cool that she has that support, almost like having another persona that seeps through when it’s fed off the energy of other like-minded people. “I think it’s the whole thing about being stronger than the sum of your parts,” she giggles, unsure.

Developing a rapport with the audience isn’t something that comes naturally to Sugar Breath, not without a little help from her friends. But, she is confident they’re getting better at that essential development of relationship, so that everybody has a good time. “We’re getting better at that, knowing those boundaries and what people are expecting and what we can offer them and make it a smooth transition,” she says. 

“You can dance, or watch, whatever, we’re getting better at it. I had a tendency in the earlier days to get a bit more into a character that was doing a bit of stand up, or I was doing weird art monologues to break the barrier between the audience, but now it’s a lot smoother and we just start the show.”

Sugar Fed Leopards are a tight-knit machine of flair and energy, their sound bright and infectious, so to see them in a live setting, the madness truly shines. “I’ve still got a long way to go as a performer,” says Sugar Breath, “Especially with my dancing – it’s taken time to figure out subtle things about how to perform. I’m not a natural performer. I play with different kinds of music to find a character to front the band in the right way.”

Off stage, it’s difficult for Sugar Breath to say what she as a performer wants to gain. “It’s all the giving of energy and trying to get an exchange, get the audience’s confidence and let them reciprocate the feeling. The aspects of the music, the romantic songs, the joyous songs, more natural wonderment, giving those sentiments and letting people celebrate them in a really loose way.”

With new material in the works and the promise of more tour dates in the new year, there’s a slight hint of Sugar Breath overpowering Steph with a cheeky excitement. “I always spend so long plotting these things because there’s six of us, sometimes seven, but hopefully we’ll tour in February then I really wanna go deeper into Australia mid-year. We haven’t been to NT, the centre, I think it would be really cool.” For Sugar Fed Leopard, as a collective, there are still more adventures to be had. “We’re only just beginning,” says Sugar Breath.

Sugar Fed Leopards will perform at Coburg Night Market on Friday December 1 with Ras Jahknow, Noriko Tadano, Brooke Taylor and BindaasBollywood DanceCompany.