Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: alan pedder, interview, queen bee, the langley sisters
voice on the verge #45: the langley sisters
With The Ditty Bops, The Puppini Sisters, The Good Lovelies and now The Langley Sisters, there’s no shortage of ladies breathing new life into the nostalgia-driven league of close-harmony vocal groups with a hip-swaying surety. What’s more, behind the bright costumes and hairpinned coiffures, these women are all accomplished musicians and songwriters. London trio The Langley Sisters may not have the striking androgynous visuals or eco-warrior aspect of The Ditty Bops, or the unbridled wink-wink cheek of The Puppini Sisters, but they have a modish appeal of their own. Unlike the Puppinis, they are actually related, and their music is characterised by a mingling of classic-era Hollywood romance and fantasy with rootsy Americana production (applied so expertly by Ed Harcourt) and a very British vocal sensibility.
Gita, Rose and Edie recently released their first physical release through Velvet Blue Music, a limited edition white-vinyl 7″ fronted by the brilliant, feisty ‘Queen Bee’ and backed with the sensitive ‘Someday In The Past’. To mark the occasion, we sent them our trusty questionnaire. In return, we found out the recipe for ‘Trampagne’, which Langley thinks R Kelly is “a modern-day Mozart”, and for whom their songs might be musical Viagra.
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What are your middle names?
Edie: I’ve got two middle names, Florence and Ruby. They’re both great grandma names and because of that I love them. I used to hate my first name so I’d beg people to call me Ruby but it never caught on…Grrr.
What’s your earliest memory?
Gita: My earliest memory is of hanging out under my mum’s long hippy skirt, holding onto her legs for support. Such a cosy, warm place to be.
What were you like at school?
Rosie: I was a total geek at school. I was a real goody-goody and nobody could stand me until I eventually quit the debate team and got contact lenses. Then I made some friends.
What was the first band you saw in concert?
Edie: The first gig I ever saw was an ABBA tribute band called Björn Again. I was forced to dress up in silver stilettos that were too big for me and dance in the aisles because our eldest sister was a massive fan. I was only 8! I was converted after that though, and held ABBA parties at the house. Good times…good times.
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
Gita: Growing up we listened to quite a lot of The Beatles and The Mamas & The Papas – that’s about as cool as it got though. Our older sister was a real ’80s girl and so there was always Wham or Five Star on the record player.
What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your music collection?
Gita: A guilty pleasure in my album collection is ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco but, well, it’s not a guilty pleasure really is it? It ROCKS!!!
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
Edie: I used to want to be a checkout gal at a supermarket. When I used to go to the shops when I was little, the beeps would get me all excited. Now though, I think I’d like to be a judge. I’d get to put bad guys away and get to wear a sexy wig. I definitely wouldn’t complain!
Which female artists have most inspired you?
Rosie: It was good in the days when it was all about the voice. Ella Fitzgerald’s pipes were so beautiful. And more recently The Spice Girls inspired me to wear short skirts. GIRL POWER. Boys are stupid.
Which artist would you most like to worth with – your ideal collaboration?
Gita: It would have to be R Kelly, he’s like a modern-day Mozart; ‘Trapped In The Closet’ is a masterpiece!
Tell us about your favourite instrument.
Edie: I must say I play a mean glockenspiel. I have a child’s baby blue one and the other girls are extremely jealous of my talent.
Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn? What’s stopping you?
Rosie: One day I will be a kickass drummer! They always look like they have the most fun on stage, and I think it would be good anger management therapy too. Not allowed a drum kit, however, as I have a crazy lady living on the floor below and she would kill me.
What type of person would have sex to your music?
Edie: I’d like to think that the type of people to have sex to our music are really, really old couples that haven’t had it in a while. Maybe they’re too old to know what to do anymore, or maybe they hate each other’s guts, but when they hear the three-part harmonies it brings them back to the ’40s when they first met each other and they get…well…a bit excited.
What’s your favourite poem, and can you recite it from memory?
Rosie: My favourite poet is Pablo Neruda, ‘A nadie te pareces desde que yo te amo’. I remember it because I wrote it on a T-shirt. But my Spanish accent sucks so don’t ask me to say it out loud.
What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?
Gita: The last good book I read was The Hungry Caterpillar. It tells the tale of a little caterpillar that is born by the light of the moon. He begins searching for food, coming across cheese and pickle and cake (all my favourite foods) etc. – getting fatter and fatter until he finally turns into a beautiful butterfly! What kind of a message are we sending our youth?!
If you could star in any TV show, past or present, which would it be, and what kind of character would you play?
Rosie: If I could be in a TV show I’d be in ‘House’. You get to be a doctor, the really cool detective kind, and my character would be the one House falls in love with. Swoon. So sexy in that older, grumpy kind of way.
What’s the biggest problem facing the world today and do you have any ideas on how it could be addressed?
Rosie: People should be more kind. A lot of terrible things wouldn’t need to happen if people were more reasonable and kind. I was brought up by hippies.
What’s your top household tip?
Gita: To vacuum pack your non-seasonal clothes. It’s really anal of me but I’m kind of addicted to it, sucking out all that air and watching the bag crumple up like a crisp packet. Ohh yeh!
What’s your tipple?
Gala: My favourite tipple is Trampagne. My husband and I came up with this drink. Basically at the end of the night you go round and pour all the dregs of everyone’s drinks into your glass and voila! Trampagne!
What’s your favourite quote?
Edie: “Don’t party when there’s no goddamn party.” Basically…don’t be a silly billy and get wasted for the sake of it. Save it for…a special occasion.
Would you rather see a ghost or have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
Rosie: I would prefer a piece of toast slathered in butter and Marmite, yummy!
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