Hersh Dagmarr on Indefinite Leave To Remain – The Songs of The Pet Shop Boys

Photo: Dimitri Artmenko

Hersh Dagmarr, a London-based Queer singer/songwriter and visual artist, brings his show Indefinite Leave To Remain – The Songs of The Pet Shop Boys to Crazy Coqs later this month. His visceral inspiration from the grand Weimar Berlin era, mixed with his own experience as a club kid from the noughties and the 2010s, has evolved into a unique blend of jazz, dance and electronic avant-pop with elements of cabaret mixed in.

Ahead of his performance at Crazy Coqs, we caught up with Dagmarr to find out more about the show.

Q&A with Hersh Dagmarr

What can you tell us about your new show, Indefinite Leave To Remain – The Songs of the Pet Shop Boys?

“Indefinite Leave to Remain” is a cabaret show in the form of a love letter to London based on the words and music of the Pet Shop Boys. In the show I endorse the alter ego character I have been using as a common thread in all my shows. He is a ghost or a vampire or just the memory of one of the nightlife creatures from the 1920s Weimar Berlin demi-Monde and cabaret scene and has travelled through present times to testify and tell his stories. It is not really a tribute act per se as I don’t directly refer to Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. The songs are used to illustrate a storyline.

What inspired you to approach the production in this way?

Well I always wanted to testify of my appreciation for London which has been my home for more than 13 years and no other songbook was a better fit than the PSB one to me. I always thought their material had such potential for theatre and also cabaret with a very distinct British tone to it.
One of the things I am most interested in with my cabaret shows’ creative process in general is taking a material that was not written for that gender whatsoever, twist it and take it to a totally different place.

How does it feel to be performing something inspired by your own experiences?

To be honest, I think as a performer or an artist there’s no other way than tapping into your own experiences anyway. But it is true that in this show particularly I talk more about my own story than in my other shows. However I would love the show to be the expression of an universal experience that everyone can relate to.

It is a show about the big city and the relationship that one has with it. The feeling of belongingness/loneliness. The show is built like a dialogue with a long term love partner. So it is quite layered, sentimental, romantic and (very) fierce.

What’s it like to be playing at Crazy Coqs?

I absolutely love the Crazy Coqs. As a performer or as part of an audience. This is always such a favourite of mine. The space is just so beautiful and lush. I am the ultimate sucker for anything Art-Deco (which is the theme of my new show I Love the Nightlife!)

Also I have to say that the audience at the Crazy Coqs seems to be a perfect mix of musical theatre, cabaret and chanson lovers which happens to be a perfect fit for my act.

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from the show?

Most and foremost whether you are a PSB fan or not, I would like you to feel like you came for a night of cabaret and theatre but most and foremost a night of great music. The brilliant stripped down arrangements that my pianist and arranger extraordinaire Karen Newby has made are doing a great job revealing the beauty and drama of these songs. So much drama actually you will not believe this is not a drag show! (Or is it?…)

Leave To Remain – The Songs of the Pet Shop Boys is at London’s Crazy Coqs on 28 June 2024