After a long wait, Australian faux French band Baby et Lulu are releasing Album Trois – and it’s worth the wait! We had a chat with Lara Goodridge aka Lulu of Baby et Lulu about the band, Album Trois, writing in a foreign language, tour plans, French music and more. You can read our past interview with Abby Dobson, aka Baby here
I’ve never asked before but why the names baby and Lulu?
That’s a good question! Well, without digressing too much. When we first did our very first show, which was at a warehouse party that I was putting out with my partner -you know that story?
It just kind of came to me when I was ringing Abby. And I say “let’s do that thing. Let’s just put on pretty frocks and sing one song at a party in French. But why don’t we make it a little thing?” And just my idea was coming up with just some kind of alterego, nickname thing. So for me, lots of my friends just call me Lulu or Lala or Rara.
Okay, so if it flowed from there.
Yes it flowed. So, I was Lulu and I suggested that to Abby. And I said, what what do you think you could be? She said, “well, I’ve always been Baby because she’s the baby of the family and it’s an anagram of Abby.” She’s baby Dobson. Yeah. So it just happened as baby et lulu.
Okay, so you were already known by those names anyway.
Yes, exactly, just not together.
So Album Trois comes out this week. How much of it had you recorded pre COVID?
It was ready to go at the beginning of COVID. We had probably received our boxes of CDs maybe a month into the very first lockdown [March/April] and we were about to go on tour. We had a big tour planned.
I know Adelaide Cabaret Festival was going to be the launch!
[Faux sobbing] Don’t mention it. It’s so sad.
Alright, we won’t talk about all of 2020…. or this year for you in Sydney.
No… so it was ready to go. And it was a big decision to choose whether to put the album out anyway or to wait. I felt ready to put the album out because people had pledged for it and I didn’t want people to have to wait for the album that they’d already given money to Abby was quite clear that “let’s just wait. It’s gonna be okay. Everyone will wait“. I’m really glad that she said that. And I’m glad that we did even though it’s now looking like the same situation.
Nooo…don’t say that! When are you meant to kick off on the Album Trois tour? 4th September?
4th September at the Camelot is the next show. There’s no way that’s happening. Not officially announced that but it’s obvious to every single person year in Sydney [because of the lockdown being extended]. And 1st October is the rest of the tour. I can’t officially say that it’s off yet, but it’s not looking good.
It must be so heartbreaking. You’ve had this baby ready to show for 18 months almost now.
Oh, I’m really devastated. We always knew it was a risk to book this tour. But you know, there have been these little pockets where they have been okay, so we just took a punt. If this one has to be put off again, we will probably look at March or April next year. I think the whole world is in exactly the same situation.
How would you say Album Trois differs to your two other albums?
We’ve got a different recording team, this time. The engineer/producer/mixer that we used for the last two albums was actually overseas when we went into record for this one. And we but we did find an absolutely beautiful team.
The young engineer who recorded it is a guy called Lewis Mitchell. And he’s just a young up and coming star in the major studio scene. And we just happened to get him as the engineer in the in the studio at Sony studios. He was just meticulous, really beautiful. And we recorded all the beds at Sony studios, like we did for the last two albums. It’s exactly the same, and then went to his little booth in Surry Hills and did all the overdubs and the vocals there. He did an absolutely glorious job of recording it.
Then we used an Emmy Award winning mixer producer, Daniel Denholm, and again, he just did it just such a glorious job. We are really, really thrilled with the sound of this album. We’re really pleased with it.
Album Trois sounds beautiful, as always.
Yay! Yes, we love our last two as well. But we’re thrilled that we also found a great team. You know, because it’s a punt always pulling your team together. But we were really, really pleased. And again, Abby’s come up with two absolutely glorious songs and I penned two songs.
One quite serious and one a lot more upbeat.
Yes and we chose that song by Stromae, which is a bit of a salsa kind of vibe.
Something a bit more from the more modern era.
Exactly, we actually really threw that in just before recording. We haven’t even really performed that song, but it just needed something upbeat. “Let’s just look for something fun and new.” And threw it together and I’m so pleased we did, because I think that’s a really fun flavour that that’s in the album.
Apart from your own compositions, Album Trois features songs from the 40s 50s and 60s and then the Stromae one that we spoke about. What appeals to you about songs from those periods or French songs from those periods?
For me, I feel like it evokes a really romantic era. And growing up in Sydney in the 70s. In the 80s. We had weekend television and that’s all we had, there was no Netflix and all of that. We’re very lucky when SBS came in as the fifth channel. But until then, we had four channels. And on the weekends there would be these fantastic black and white movies, and early colour movies, like, Gigi and all those, and lots of French movies, they did play some French movies, in both English and in French, and I just remember being absolutely just spell bound by a French language and French music.
And even in English speaking, movies, we all knew the sound of Piaf and Yves Montand, etc. To me, it just really evoked this very exotic, elegant, sophisticated, and also almost sort of politically and culturally vibrant and exciting centre of the world, so I was just very drawn to it. So I think that all those songs that we choose, there’s something classic about it. And I think for our audiences, we like to give a range and something that some people will connect with.
And the previous two albums featured songs from the same periods too I think? Kind of from 40s 50s 60s?
Yes and 70s. We’ve tried not to choose songs specific to one era and to kind of pick a bit, we had Brigitte Bardot during that sort of 60s 70s Une histoire de plage and then a bit of Camille; so we’ve tried to mix it up all the way.
How do you choose the songs that you’re going to record? Is there a huge list you have to cull?
There is an ongoing list and we send songs to each other and some take and some don’t. Sometimes we try things out and then they just don’t translate to us as a duo and a band as well as we think it might.
Two of the artists that I just love, and we both love, are Barbara and Brel. We haven’t actually done any Jacques Brel. And they are both very wordy very fast. They have that sort of rebut or they speed up and it’s very romantic and, fervent. And every time we go to do one, we think “Can we pull it off?” Both of those artists have been just a little bit too challenging, thus far.
It was completely by accident that you were both in Paris at the same time and discovered you both spoke French quite well. So did you study French in year 12?
I did. And I did an undergrad and post grad as well. Actually, I did a Master of Arts in French studies. And Abby has much more street French, we always we always joke that she can pick up in French and I can find us the toilets! No, I can conjugate verbs! That’s right. She can pick up in French better, and I can conjugate verbs!
You could write the poetry and the literature though! Well both of you write songs in French.
That’s right. Abby does a beautiful job of that as well.
What are the challenges in writing in a language that’s not your first language?
We certainly check it with some French speakers. We have run things by French speakers, and sometimes they just say, “I’m sorry, that that just doesn’t work at all.”
Like that’s not a French turn of phrase.
Exactly. For me, there’s actually something really liberating about writing in a different language. I guess it just feels like you could be saying “I’m going to the bathroom” and it sounds amazing in French to us, you know? Compared to the English language to write lyrics, it just feels more poetic. So in that respect, I feel a little bit liberated. And I feel like I’m entering a different headspace and I do I feel probably possibly less self-critical in French, which might be a false sense of confidence.
Is it because you step into the persona when you’re writing?
Yes, I think I do probably step into that persona. I think this is probably a good time to use this quiet time to try to start writing the next album. I really loved that challenge of writing in French and actually, a couple of years ago, I got in touch with my old professor at Sydney Uni – she was my teacher at Sydney Uni and at New South Uni for undergrad and postgrad. I worshipped her. I invited her along to one of our shows. It was just so touching, so lovely because she wrote a really beautiful email afterwards saying how wonderful but you’ve written such beautiful poetry in French. So that was nice.
How do you decide who sings the main parts of which songs?
Look, I LIVE in harmony land that I love singing harmonies. Abby’s a great harmony singer, but she’s an incredible lead. So I feel like we quite naturally just slot in to our positions. And then we do try though, in the sort of more duet songs to do a verse each and yeah, put around. And, then it’s a matter of, like one of us saying, “Oh, I learned the first verse. Can I sing that one?” Or Yeah, or, or “hang on? Did you start the last three songs? I better start this song.” So it’s really just a matter of that. And also where the register of the melody is. I usually sing a little bit lower than Abby.
How have you been passing your time through COVID, dare I ask?
Actually, I do a lot of the back end stuff. We both have out very distinct roles, behind the scenes of Baby and Lulu. But my major role is all the web stuff and the design stuff. I do the website and I do the posters. And I do the flyers. And I just edited the last Baby et Lulu video that we did. I created the shop on our website. So I do all of the digital stuff. And I love learning all that stuff. And it’s often on a need to know basis. It was like, well, we don’t really have $1000s to spend on an editor. Now go and learn it.
For me it is really easy. I like nutting out the problems so that actually kept me really really busy. I spent a lot of work getting it over the line for last year, so this year there was a whole second round. Oh and we’ve made some merchandise coming so I did the design for them but Abby and I then finalised the designs together.
It’s been really fun doing all the creative stuff and we really love doing that stuff. It’s really fun getting the album artwork, just how we like it. That’s been actually keeping me very busy.
I don’t know that people know just how many hours go into every mix and every note and the details in every email …
I’m also doing a Masters in Music at the Conservatorium. So I am just doing one subject a semester at the moment. So that’s going to keep me going now – if I’m not on the road, but we won’t say that – and also homeschooling with my son.
Do you think that recording an album that was crowdfunded like Album Trois gives you more freedom compared to an album that you’d produce under a label?
They’re all independent. What we’ve done is just kind of borrowed the money in the past and just paid it back through sales and this time, we chose to do the crowdfunding and it really was very, very helpful particularly because since our last album, there’s no more iTunes. There wasn’t any streaming in the last album. Amazingly enough, that was pre-streaming.
So there’s no more iTunes?
It still exists today. But any month now, it’ll be gone. And it’s only going to be Apple Music. So there will be no buying of MP3s through those platforms. I mean, you can certainly do it through other platforms. It’s all gone to streaming and the income from streaming is a tiny fraction.
We used to make a reasonable income from iTunes purchases and we don’t make an income from Spotify. So, it was a good way to encourage people to pre buy an album, or at least a digital album. For us, it was a really good move.
Album Deux was nominated for an ARIA award. Do you know how many foreign language albums have ever been nominated? I imagine it’d be very, very few. It’s an honour to be nominated at all, but even more special for a language album.
It’s fantastic. We did it as part of the world music genre. It’s hard to know which genre to put yourself in and only put yourself into one genre. So we chose world over jazz because the jazz scene is quite strict. And it’s jazz, you know, and I think world was correct. A good choice for us but you’re right, there have not been many releases that haven’t been either in indigenous language or just Gypsy music.
Monsieur Camembert got the world music Aria a few times. So they have done songs in different languages.
Who would you say your main audience is?
That’s a good question! We’re pleased to say that we do have some Frenchies who come along to our show and we are always extremely pleasantly surprised that they love the show.
It must be nerve racking.
Nerve racking and it’s a fine line, because we certainly don’t want them to think that we’re poking fun because it’s really an homage to all things French, like Matilda Marseillaise. But we’re often being very silly as well. I think thankfully that they can see that we absolutely ADORE the language and the music because we certainly also, aside from the jokes we pour in a lot of love I think.
So there are some French people and then it’s really nice range of all ages. We certainly do get an older crowd as well and we’re very comfortable with that. A lot of a lot of people from older generations, like I say, like the movies that we were growing up with – that’s their era. So that’s wonderful. And we get a lot of retirees who are coming and drinking wine and having a fantastic time so that works for us. It’s a nice range.
So it’s a mixture of Francophones and Francophiles.
Absolutely and even friends of them. The lovely thing is they bring people along who have no idea what they’re seeing have nothing to do with French language or French music and they all leave with a huge smile on their face saying “we’ll be back“.
What is your favourite French song to listen to? Any all time faves?
I can never remember all-time favourite of anything so I can’t answer that question. However, I can tell you that two of my favourite latest last albums by French performers were the last Camille album, she did a French version and an English version. In English, it was Seeds (and in French OUÏ). I listened to that over and over and over and just loved it. The other one was Christine and the Queens. I listened to her last album so much.
When the tour does happen, if people haven’t seen you before, how would you describe your show?
It is fun. It is a musical extravaganza. Our band are just absolutely and utterly stunning. They wow us at every show. There is an energy between all the musicians and between me and Abby that is really, really joyful and trusting and we all feel supported by each other. It’s a great experience for us on stage and I think that’s why people keep coming back. It’s a genuine pleasure for all of us and it has an energy of its own and it’s a really joyful experience and a really beautiful musical one.
We thank Lara Goodridge for taking the time to chat to us about Album Trois, Baby et Lulu’s latest release out this week.
Album Trois pre-order/pre-save/pre-add
You can pre-save/pre-add/pre-order Album Trois to your preferred music platform via the links you’ll find here: https://ffm.to/albumtrois
You can also pre-order a physical copy of Album Trois, as well as the previous albums via Baby et Lulu’s website: https://www.babyetlulu.com.au/shop New Baby et Lulu merch is also coming soon!
Album Trois single releases
You can listen to a few of the tracks already released from the Baby et Lulu’s new album, Album Trois, via the links below:
1st official single release: Jardin aux souvenirs https://ffm.to/jardinauxsouvenirs
2nd official single release: Paris sera toujours Paris : https://ffm.to/parisseratoujoursparis
Also watch the video for it here:
3rd official single release: La ballade de la mer: https://ffm.to/laballadedelamer
Baby et Lulu Album Trois Tour Dates and tickets
Saturday 4th Sept – Camelot Lounge – Marrickville NSW – https://bit.ly/3i7GO2D
Friday 1st Oct – Memo Music Hall St Kilda VIC – https://bit.ly/2TG1aqs
Saturday 2nd Oct – Palais Hepburn Hepburn Springs VIC https://bit.ly/2UYpmVy
Sunday 3rd Oct – Archies Creek Hall (3.00pm) Archies Creek VIC – https://bit.ly/36YvI9M
Saturday 9th Oct – The Music Lounge Wollongong NSW – https://bit.ly/3kWaem4
Saturday 16th Oct – The Street Theatre Canberra ACT – https://bit.ly/2V5Ij8t
Saturday 23rd Oct – Trinity Sessions Adelaide SA – https://bit.ly/3x8oBpQ
Saturday 30th Oct – Camelot Lounge (6.30pm) Marrickville NSW – https://bit.ly/3BM9l5D
Saturday 30th Oct – Camelot Lounge (9pm) Marrickville NSW – https://bit.ly/3BM9l5D
Friday 5th Nov – Powerhouse Brisbane QLD https://bit.ly/2UO1jZl
Friday 12th Nov – Baroque Room (6.15pm) Katoomba NSW https://bit.ly/3eVUzj7
Friday 12th Nov – Baroque Room (8.45pm) Katoomba NSW – https://bit.ly/3wZkwV2
Have you seen Baby et Lulu live before?