wears the trousers magazine

introducing lulu & the lampshades


voice on the verge #39: lulu & the lampshades

visit Lulu & The Lampshades on Myspace

Meet Lulu & The Lampshades, a London-bred folk-pop quartet who have a penchant for found objects that miraculously double as instruments and foot-stomping, sweetly ramshackle songs about everyday things like pedal bikes and cherry cola. It all began when longtime best friends Heloise and Luisa first put ukulele, violins and vocals together. With no previous musical experiences, the duo were firing on pure imagination and ardour, but with the addition of percussionist Dan and bassist Jemma, who was already earning her spurs in another outfit, the band became a more cohesive affair.

Lulu & The Lampshades combine effective, quirky arrangements with joyful, imaginative narrations, singing sweetly melancholy harmonies that often have them compared to folk trio Peggy Sue whom they’ll be supporting at the ICA on November 6th. While their debut LP is but a speck on the horizon for now, the band are busy gearing up to release their first single, ‘Feet To The Sky’ / ‘Rose Tint’, on new imprint Voga Parochia later this month (7″ on October 26th; digital on October 18th). Anyone who can use retro kitchen crockery and sheer, non-amplified vocal power to make music this good is worth having a chat with, so, while Dan was busy scouting for luggage to turn into drums, the Lampshade girls took a moment to talk with us about Patti Smith comparisons, the sex life of gnomes and plans for bicycle travel books…

* * *

What’s your earliest memory?

Luisa: Does anyone really know the answer to that question? People always say ridiculously early things but I think they’re lying.

Who was your childhood idol?

Jemma: Maid Marion from the CBBC series. I didn’t understand at the time, I just really liked her.

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

Heloise: A fuck load of classical. The only ‘modern music’ I could find was James Brown and Eurhythmics.

Luisa: Heloise was really impressed that her dad knew who Michael Jackson was!

Jemma: I obsessively listened to T-Rex when I was eight on a Sony walkman. I used to go round the playground trying to convert people, which was tough because at the time MC Hammer was everyone’s favourite. Periodically I go through phases when I am convinced I must be a reincarnation. I really struggle to engage with any music (that I am not involved in personally) that was created after about 1985.

What would you tell your 18 year old self if you could go back in time?

Jemma: YOU ARE OK.

Who was the first person/band you saw in concert?

Heloise: Sheryl Crow

Jemma: Michael Jackson at Wembley when I was twelve. It was great, even though we were right at the back and there were all these impersonators, just really dedicated fans who had gone to the trouble of not only dressing like him but learning all the dances. It was like having our own personal show at the end of the row.

Luisa: Both really good concerts… Mine was Slipknot at Brixton Academy. I was trying to impress some skater boys I was I hanging out with but really I didn’t know who they were and it was horrible. All I remember is the smell of poppers and gross sweaty men.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?

Heloise: Telesales – because I made negative money over a week, due to travelling on the tube and making NO sales.

What would you be if you weren’t a musician?

Luisa: Wow, are we allowed to call ourselves musicians? What I really want to do, what I’m trying to do, is write bicycle travel books. The pedalling part is done, it’s just the other bit that is taking a long time… But also I went into a book shop yesterday and I saw that David Byrne has written a book about cycling! Bloody hell, the man stole my idea. Pah.

Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn? What’s stopping you?

Luisa: Trumpet trumpet trumpet trumpet trumpet. And I am, sort of. I got one from this a guy who repairs them in a tiny garage near London Bridge; he had a really long white beard. He gave me a quick lesson but progress is slow. It sounds horrible and I keep getting fuzzy lips.

If you had to pick one song from your repertoire to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?

Luisa: A new one, ‘Cold Water’. We haven’t recorded it yet but everyone sings, yesssss!

What kind of person would have sex to your music?

Heloise: Gnomes.

What’s your favourite song to cover and why?

Luisa: ‘Poison Ivy’. Really I just want to be in a barbershop trio.

What’s been the best moment of your career so far?

Jemma: Someone came up to me after our show tonight and said that I reminded her of Patti Smith, which I think is just about the biggest compliment I’ve ever got. I’d like to be compared to David Bowie but I guess, technically, that is just not going to happen.

Which female musicians have most inspired you?

Luisa: Most recently I’m really excited by St Vincent. Partially because she has a song about a bicycle but mostly because she is just so, so good. Rhythmically it’s so satisfying, you notice new things every time you listen and there are all these little phrases that are really, well, satisfying is the best word I can think of.

What are your views on feminism?

Jemma: Celebrate our differences and never try to compete. Also I think women should be given one extra day off a month so that we can sort of nest and be reclusive during our periods. I always feel like I’m on some sort of drug…which is fine as long as you don’t have some sort of contractual agreement with reality.

Luisa: Periods, gross. Actually me and my womb are pretty good pals. I’ve discovered that she has special synching powers, it’s pretty great. But yep, feminism, good, I think my biggest blessing is that I don’t feel I have to fight for it, and for that I’m very grateful.

What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?

Heloise: Woollen jumpers – because of their smell.

Luisa: Heloise, it’s not types of clothing, one item. My favourite item of clothing is Heloise’s woolly jumper that she doesn’t know I have, sorry.

If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?

Luisa: ‘The Bold & The Beautiful’. It’s like ‘Dynasty’ but worse. I would play someone’s evil twin, returned from the dead.

How are you most likely to die and what would you want written on your headstone?

Luisa: I think I’m going to live for a very long time. My great-grandma died recently at 107. When she reached her 100th year they threw her a big party in her village in Colombia, and for fun someone counted all the great-grandchildren. There were a hundred; that’s not a family, it’s an army! So I’ll have one of those, the big family and big party bit, and die when they’re all gathered to celebrate my century, probably of consumption or a stray firework.

What’s your tipple?

Luisa: We didn’t have any mixer for some gin at this year’s Secret Garden Party festival so we used wine, grapes, fruit, and made ‘gine’; it was great! I had a really nice time.

What are your pet hates?

Heloise: When my cat Zebedee puts his bum in my face.

What’s your biggest fear?

Heloise: People I love dying.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Luisa: Early morning swim in freezing cold water. I got up in the dark and went to the ponds in Hampstead Heath, and I think we might have been accepted by the regulars as more than just whimsical summer birds…which is just about the greatest club you could ever want to be part of. But it’s only October and I think I agreed to do the whole winter, yikes!

Tick tock, tick tock. What you waiting, what you waiting for?

Both: You.

* * *

Charlotte Richardson Andrews


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