Interview with Baby et Lulu
They are sexy and talented.
Last Wednesday, Emma and Sandrine made you discover Baby et Lulu, an Australian female duo singing in French on their first eponymous album.
Number 1 on the Top 10 on the iTunes Jazz Charts, acclaimed by the critics and the public – and Eastside Radio listeners too -, Baby et Lulu were interviewed later by Emma.
How did this French album project start?
Abby was the frontperson of the platinum selling band Leonardo’s Bride. They broke up, and Abby (‘Baby’) was preparing to release a solo album. Lara (‘Lulu’) had just started a record label called Craving Records. She was also one quarter of the electric string quartet FourPlay, and violinist in several projects.
Lara: When I saw Abby perform and was so impressed and moved by her voice and music, I ended up releasing Abby’s solo album called ‘Rise Up’. We became great friends and happened to be in Paris at the same time once, only to realise that we both had a great love of all things French! We decided to sing a song together in French at a party, just for fun… And well, we had so MUCH fun, that we decided to keep it going! We both LOVE singing in harmony, and we found that our voices blended nicely together, and the very first show we did, sold out at The Vanguard. The response was just so positive, and continues to be.
Could you describe briefly the concept of this album?
We really wanted to capture the joy that we feel onstage when we perform these songs. We wanted to create a classic album with a classic sound, something for people to take home after our show. We found that the reaction to our live shows was so encouraging, people seemed to love it so much and have such a good time, regardless of whether they understood the lyrics, and so we really wanted to pursue this and make a beautiful album.
You’ve got on the album a very special sound like on old records. Is what you play on stage exactly the same as on the album?
The recording is really exactly the sound that we are onstage. It is the same lineup exactly, except we got drums in on 2 tracks on the album. Apart from that, what you hear is what you get! Only with some witty banter in between songs, and spontaneous dance moves, the band’s wonderful vibe and live playing, and a lot of fun going on on stage!
Our engineer, Tony Buchen, used some vintage microphones and vintage equipment. He knows how to capture ‘old school’, and that includes the placement of the microphones, the use of old valve pre-amps, and the fact that we recorded the album live in one room, like an album would be recorded in the 1920s, 30s, 40s etc. Abby and I recorded our vocals in a separate room, to give us a bit more control, but essentially it is a live album.
How did you choose the songs? Was it difficult to sing in French?
We had a lot of fun choosing the songs. In the beginning, we decided to book a show and then create the repertoire for that first show. All the songs we did for that first show are still in the set. We started sending youtube clips to each other and exploring all our favorite singers, Piaf, Gainsbourg, Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour, Camille, so many! And for the album we chose what we thought would translate as concisely as we could what the live show offers, as well as make a beautiful album. We love songs that lend themselves to harmony, both upbeat songs and ballads, dating from early 20th century to now.
It was definitely much harder to learn the lyrics in French as opposed to learning lyrics in English. However, as we both speak a little French (albeit rustily!), it’s certainly not as if we are learning the songs phonetically, we know what we are singing about! But it really is getting much easier now, and I guess it is helping our French along too, so each song becomes easier to learn.
If you have to choose a more modern French artist, whose songs would you like to sing?
I love Keren Ann, Camille and Charlotte Gainsbourg. I also love Tété, Babylon Circus and also Mademoiselle K.
Before they launch another successful album in French, you may be part of the lucky ones to see their sold-out concert at Camelot Lounge (Marrickville) on 08/09/2012. Otherwise, you will listen to them at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2013 and at the Woodford Festival this year.
More information on their facebook page “babyetlulu”.
Long life to Baby et Lulu!