What ever happened to Madison Avenue?

Publish Date
Monday, 17 July 2017, 5:43PM

By Nick Bond

Dance duo Madison Avenue (DJ Andy Van and vocalist Cheyne Coates) scored a runaway international hit with Don't Call Me Baby in late 1999.

Three more hits, an album - and an infamous ARIAs performance - followed, before Madison Avenue quietly disbanded just a couple of years later.

So what happened?

More singles and an album followed as the duo toured the world to capitalise on their success. It put a strain on their relationship.

"Burning out is a good term. Cheyne and I previously went out for a little while before Don't Call Me Baby, and we were mates after that. It was almost like a brother-sister, Seinfeld and Elaine relationship. But then a lot of pressures come on board - we were doing 20 flights a month around the world. It's a lot of pressure, and you're exhausted. We once went to Poland for six hours, did 27 interviews, then left. It was too much, too quickly."

The heat was on for a follow-up - but creative differences were emerging

"People were asking, 'When's your next album?' One thing about Cheyne that a lot of people know: She's got a super-strong head on her. She was a great voice for girls, saying 'I can be a music producer, singer and songwriter, I don't need a man to do it' - that was her approach. But then as we got bigger, that attitude came on to me: 'I can do it myself.' She became quite headstrong. We made about 15 tracks for the second album which no-one ever heard. She had what she felt were really strong tracks, but I thought they weren't quite right. We were disagreeing on how to move forward."

The division between the pair - dance vs. pop - deepened.

"I work in clubland, and DJs are my allies - they play what works on the dance floor. That's what it's always been about for me. But for her, it was about pop music - she was doing gigs with Spice Girls, super-super pop things. I didn't want to go down that path and become a pop act. She wasn't doing anything wrong; she was just following a different path to what I wanted. We walked in different directions until we were miles away from each other, and it just fizzled out.

"Quite a few friends said, 'You had a successful formula, why change? I was trying not to change. If she'd have written a stronger song for her solo career, she might've ended up being super-successful. It didn't work out - the song was OK (Cheyne's 2004 debut solo single, I've Got Your Number, hit number 26 in the charts). It was pretty good, but it wasn't a monster hit. But she was like 'This is the song, I'm going to go for it' - and that was the end of our relationship."

Cheyne released a solo album in 2004, guested on a single by the Soundbluntz in 2006, then - nothing. Van, still a successful DJ, says fame had taken its toll.

"It was very hard on her, very judgmental. We put ourselves out there and we really wanted to be seen as this cool dance act, but parts of it got quite ugly. I remember she did one interview and she was tired, gazing out the window, and the interviewer said she was 'staring at her next Porsche.' She had a lot of those sort of things happen to her. People especially judge women so harshly. I found it quite harsh the way people treated her."

Coates may have retreated from the public eye (she declined to participate in this interview when contacted via Van) but she and her former musical partner are still in contact.

"I'll text her and maybe a week later she'll get back to me. She's not really that connected to the entertainment world anymore. I think she looked at the entertainment world and thought: You guys kinda bagged me, I don't want to be part of this."