Monday, 23 December 2013

Interviewing the Puppini Sisters...

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to interview The Puppini Sisters for my job with The Vintage News.  They were mid-way through their winter tour and were stopping off in Brighton at St George's church in Kemp Town.  The start of the evening didn't go quite to plan - their car broke down on the way to Brighton which meant that instead of interviewing them at 6, we eventually had our chat at half past ten.  The ladies were so lovely - you wouldn't even know they'd just spent four hours in a Little Chef!  It did mean that we were able to enjoy the whole concert - with the entire first floor gallery of the gorgeous 17th century church to ourselves.

After the concert, with the furniture being packed away around us, I managed to grab a few words with Marcella Puppini, Kate Mullins and Emma Smith.  I must apologise for the wording of some of the questions.  I was quite tired (it was 10.30 and I hadn't had any dinner!) and I basically forgot how to put words in their proper order!

So, the interview...

Sadie Doherty (Me) - Hello, I'm here with The Puppini Sisters. How do you think the gig went?
Marcella Puppini -  It was great fun for us, so if it was great fun for us, there is a good chance that everybody else had fun as well.
Emma Smith - It's definitely a good sign if we're having fun!

SD - How has your sound changed since the last album?
MP - Well... we actually evolve constantly.  Obviously, we have a new member in the band; Emma, so that is bound to bring changes and they are all wonderful changes.  And we evolve with whatever we listen to, with whatever we love.  At the moment, we are very interested in four-to-the-floor...
Kate Mullins - Yeah, giving it a disco beat definitely helps [us when performing] live, to give it that energy and people actually then stand up and start dancing to it.
SD - I did notice that quite a few [of the] songs sound different to how are on the album...
KM - We must've done Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy I don't know how many thousands of times... Mr Sandman, you know, all of those kind of songs so many times.  For us, we just need to keep it interesting... and fun so we enjoy singing them.
ES - It's important to keep it varied for our regular audience.  They want to hear a bit of variety, they want to witness our sound changing with the years as well. That's the whole part, the whole point of being a fan of a band - you get to witness their development.
KM - We always write a set list assuming that somebody's come last year and the year before and you want to try and keep it fresh.
SD - It's the tenth anniversary of the Puppini Sisters soon, are there plans for a big celebration?
MP - Ooh, we hadn't thought about it, so thank you for that!
ES - Marcella always cooks lamb of leg at any...
KM & MP - Lamb of leg?!
[all laughing]
ES - Lamb of leg?! No, leg of lamb! any kind of celebration, she's whipping out the legs.
MP - Yep, all legs!

KM - Yeah, we'll have to think about it.  We should commemorate it, you're right.
SD - So you have done quite a bit in America (apologies for such poor wording), do you get a different reaction over there?
KM - Yeah
MP - Well for them, it's more... it's part of their heritage, so they know it really well.  Everybody knows who all the sisters groups are.  They say [in an American accent] 'oh, that arrangement, that was The Andrews Sisters, wasn't that The Boswells?' ... 'no, actually that was us'. They really want to get involved.
ES - yeah, they're really in to it, it's a really big deal out there
SD - One of the reasons you've spent a fair bit of time in America is Michael Bublé. How did that all come about?
KM - He asked us!  He said he'd been listening to our Christmas album whilst exercising for the last couple of years and decided to do... well, I think he decided to do one of his own a long time ago. But you know, ended up taking three or four of the same songs as from our album.  And we took that as a nice compliment and then he also very kindly asked us to come and collaborate on Jingle Bells. So we had a fab time, a fab time.
ES - And we're on his new album as well; To Be Loved and that's a track that we did called Nevertheless which is a Dean Martin tribute.
KM - Yeah, he's very talented, [a] very, very nice guy, we've thoroughly enjoyed working with him
ES - Yeah we do love him

SD - Apart from Michael Bublé, you've done a few other collaborations - not necessarily musically, but Vivienne Westwood for the Jilted video and Janie Bryant [who designed] your costumes for the Hollywood tour.  How was it working with them?
KM - She's [Janie Bryant] amazing, she's a lovely, lovely lady as well, we're still in contact.
MP - Yeah, Janie [is] really talented, she's got such an eye and she can capture the look with nothing.  She doesn't need to even get proper vintage, she'll find things that look vintage and she has [the look] completely.
SD - She seems to have really honed her craft working on Mad Men.
KM - God yeah, she knows what she's doing.
MP - And she's really good fun as well.
ES - Which you have to be if you want to hang out with us!
SD - It's really nice watching you live because a lot of bands will just say 'this is this song, here it is', but you really interact with the audience...
KM - Well, today we were slightly hysterical because we broke down on our way here, so there was a lot of pent up 'arrggggh'...
SD - We should say that the car broke down rather than you broke down!
KM - No, no, not us! The vehicle broke down, but inadvertently, we may also have broken down.
MP - We did.
ES - We spent four hours in a Little Chef is Warwick
MP - [a little despondent] I broke down there...
KM - So there was a little bit of hysteria to the banter today, but nonetheless we do always try and keep it as fresh as possible and really try and listen to the audience and interact with how they're feeling.

SD - What is next for The Puppini Sisters?
KM - We've got a lot of plans, we're working with lots of different producers and working on lots of different sounds.
ES - there may be a new album in the pipeline, so watch this space
SD - When you are writing new material, how does the process go? Do you all sit down together or do you go off separately?
MP - It used to be that everybody would write separately and that worked really well.  But then we decided to try writing together a little bit more and that is working brilliantly.  We've been collaborating with other people as well, [it] is always great to bring in fresh ideas.  We tended to be a little one stop shop, each of us - we can write, arrange and produce pretty much - [even] sew the costumes!
MP - We're going to Germany...
KM - We're going to raid the Christmas markets for presents.
MP - And then that's it! Then it's turkeys for about two weeks...
KM - ... Goose! We're a goose band not a turkey band!
MP - Oh yeah, you're doing goose.  I've never had a turkey in my life, I'm Italian - we have pork.  Just as an aside - do with it what you will!
Thank you to Marcella, Kate and Emma (and to Tom and Jenny for setting up the interview).

Just in case you were wondering, I was wearing a wool, Betty Levay dress with a lovely grapes/leaves brooch I was given.  I'm also pretty pleased with my hair, I didn't have time to re-set it after the Chap Ball so I just had to brush it out.


Monday, 16 December 2013

When my 45s and I took a spin up to London

I have been incredibly rubbish at posting anything recently, and for that I can only apologise.  The reason for my lack of writing is that I've just been so busy - mostly fun things so hopefully I'll get round to writing about them all at some point!

Anyway, I thought I'd write about something I did last Monday (I've still got to write about the Chap Ball and interviewing the Puppini Sisters as well, but I'll get to them).   As I mentioned in my last post, I occasionally DJ and as a result, I was lucky enough to be asked by Diddy Wah to guest on his monthly radio show that goes out on NTS.  Diddy Wah's shows always have a theme and because of my sideline of painting fans for my etsy shop, The Vanity Case, the theme was temperature - keeping cool, getting hot - that sort of thing.  The show itself is recorded in a little booth just off of Kingsland High Street in Dalston and I was asked to take a handful of 45s to play during the show.

Me and Adam (aka Diddy Wah) during the show.

In between the records, we had a little chat about some of the stuff I get up to, mainly DJing with The Gin Slingers, filming with The Vintage News and hand-painting fans for The Vanity Case.  Rather than write much more, I'll leave you with my selection of temperature-tinged tracks.  If you like what you hear, you can listen to the whole show on NTS's mixcloudI've also just posted my latest mixcloud show which you can listen to here, and as it's the festive season... it's all about booze!

Got the Water Boilin' - Tommy Bruce and the Bruisers (1960).  The b-side to their gravelly rendition of Ain't Misbehavin', Got the Water Boilin' was originally a doo-wop record from 1955 by The Regals, a version that is well worth searching out.


Jungle Fever - The Tornados (1962).  Jungle Fever is the flipside to The Tornados #1 hit, Telstar, famously a Joe Meek production, recorded at his home studio on Holloway Road in North London.

Chills and Fever - Jet Harris (1962).  There are many great versions of Chills and Fever (including Tom Jones' debut single) and this one was released by Jet Harris just one month after he left The Shadows and is the 'chills' to Tom Jones' 'fever'.


Turkish Coffee - Tony Osborne (1962).  I just love this instrumental track from Tony Osborne (who worked as the musical director of The Six-Five Special on the BBC) as it has a great middle-eastern sound.  Fun fact, this is the record I'm holding in the picture above. Oh, and it's also featured in my latest mixcloud.

Fever - The McCoys (1965).  Released on Immediate, this much covered song is given the garage treatment as you can see in this clip from US show Hulabaloo.