Aqua surface again

SARAH DUNSTAN

After a 14-hour flight and a gig in Plymouth, England, the night before, Rene Dif is walking around in his boxer shorts and needs to take a shower. But that's all in a day's work for the member of Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua.

Dif is perhaps best known for his incarnation as Ken in the video for 1997 hit Barbie Girl with the catchphrase: "Come on Barbie, let's go party."

With a chilled-out tone that can only come from somebody who sees the funny side of being sued by Mattel over the single, the 47-year-old is looking forward to returning to Australia later this month only two years after their successful reunion tour.

Detractors may have thought Aqua were overly optimistic to announce six shows in March 2012 but demand for the cheesy Scandinavian popmeisters meant three more gigs were added, including an extra Perth performance.

"We felt so blessed after the last tour," Dif says. "We told our agent in Australia - if ever the opportunity comes up, we are ready to go and rock Down Under again.

"We play a lot of places around the world but we all agree that Australia is so warm-hearted and positive."

Dif may be famous for driving around in a hot pink convertible but it is unclear if the jungle kitsch of the Doctor Jones clip will be recreated on stage this time around.

The singer will be joined by the three other founding members of Aqua: Lene Nystrom, Soren Rasted and Claus Norreen.

"It is more or less a good solid pop concert," he says. "There are no back-up dancers and we aim to deliver something more personal."

Aqua's 2011 comeback album Megalomania was coolly received, the main criticisms being the loss of their 90s Eurodance sound and the idiosyncratic vocal interchanges between Dif and Nystrom.

However, Dif maintains that "magic happens" when the four work together.

"We wrote the song Playmate to Jesus (which opens Megalomania) on the first night we were in Thailand, sitting around eating Thai food," he says. "Lene and I write the lyrics and melodies but we each have our own place in Aqua."

Dif, who started out as a club DJ, notes that the group always straddle the fine line between electronic dance music and pop, with positive energy being the most important aspect of their work.

"Barbie Girl is a happy pop song with a twist. Our songs have a deeper meaning but we like to package things up in a positive, energetic and colourful way," he says.

"One of the craziest things that happened to Aqua was in Australia many years ago. We were performing on a floating stage under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There was a girl in the distance making a love heart sign with her hands and pointing at us. The next minute she has taken her top off and flashes us. We all look at each other like 'Are you seeing what I am seeing?'"

Dif summarises his feelings about the upcoming tour in typical Barbie Girl style: "We look forward to the beach, the heat and the happy people. We are like small children in a candy store."

Aqua play Metropolis Fremantle on November 5.