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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Playing it French

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Baby Et Lulu at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club on Friday

Baby et Lulu is a truly magnetic musical partnership that has been seducing audiences since their debut release. Abby Dobson – ‘Baby’ (Leonardo’s Bride) and Lara Goodridge – ‘Lulu’ (FourPlay) have recorded a second selection of classic and contemporary chansons, as well as, for the first time, a number of their own original compositions written in French. Baby et Lulu have enjoyed a new-found poetic freedom in writing in the language they both love so much. Their shows pack out wherever they go, and this Friday it’s time for Mullumbimby to experience a little bit of Française.

Tell me about Album Deux – what did you set out to achieve in recording this one?

We set out to achieve another beautiful collection of French songs, including a new selection of our self-penned chansons. After our first album was received so ravenously, we wanted to give people more music to swoon to.

Why do you think the French thing is so damn sexy? It just doesn’t seem to work with the Australian intonations and phrasing! I can’t imagine Anais Nin being read in an Aussie accent!

Perhaps it’s the way the words all run together… the soft sounds of the consonants… its mellifluous cadence perhaps… And then when it is spoken by ze Frenchman or Frenchwoman, well it comes with all the trappings of the French culture infused into it!

What is it about thinkers such as Derrida that you find intriguing; what is it about French culture that seems to embrace less conventional, philosophical and at times quite intellectually radical thinking?

I would say that the geography put France in the middle of the Enlightenment, which took hold of western Europe as a result of that particular mix of material wealth reforming religious institutions and the slow development of stable states. This made for a fertile ground for powerful thinkers. The revolution and the republic were early triumphs by comparison to their neighbours and the culture of Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité as a principle for an early people’s democracy was a fertile ground for modernist thinking and the postmodern thinking that developed from it. Paris is also an example of an early cosmopolitan city, where people from all over the empire would gather and experience diversity and the libertine spirit of places such as Montmartre would have had a huge effect on breaking down the cultural conservativism that usually holds back progressive thought.

I remember once reading Luce Irigaray essay called When two lips speak as one – or something like that; it was about the auto-eroticism of women because our vaginal lips are always touching… 

in academic writing it was clever and insightful – but when I tried to explain it I sounded insane! What are the most radical or bizarre ideas that have caught your attention?

Well, I really could extrapolate this concept of two lips speaking as one to Baby et Lulu! This would take the femininity and feminine sexuality of this band to a whole new level, n’est-ce pas?! (I can’t say I can think of any more rad idées at zis moment!)

Although France claims radical French feminists De Beauvoir and the like, it is still an intrinsically sexist culture; a French journalist has recently complained of how patronising politicians are to women journalists, saying things like, ‘I’ll take a question from the pretty one’. Do we need to be careful of romanticising culture in case we become too reductionist?

Well, that’s a bloody good point. However, we choose to absolutely reduce France to its most delicious parts and totally ignore its hypocrisies. Is that wrong?

Baby Et Lulu
Baby Et Lulu

What is the story or the pictures you like to create with your work as Baby Et Lulu?

We like to create an atmosphere of joie de vivre but also with the shadows of life and love that we embrace. We like to let our sassy and feminine sides come out to play and also enjoy our shared love of the ridiculous. But we also love to plumb the depths of passion and intensity and be unapologetic of this expression.

It’s a great concept – how does it give you scope to expand and move creatively? I mean, could Baby et Lulu suddenly go German?

We do joke about doing the German show! We would need to do some YouTube research on the great German songwriters and perhaps do a shopping spree for some cool lederhosen! Es ist ein gut idea!

I was a huge Jacques Tatie fan when I was in my early twenties. What are your favourite French movies?

Baby loved 37 degrees du Matin or Betty Blue as it was called here. She saw it on release in her mid-20s and it took her quite some time after the credits rolled to realise that she wasn’t Betty. She also loved the 3 Colours trilogy from the early 90s… even though these were made by a Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Also his sublime La Double Vie de Veronique, which is on Baby’s top five films of all time list (if she had a list). Some of Lulu’s all-time favourite films include Diva (Jean Jacques Beineix), Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte), Ridicule (Patrice Leconte), of course Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet), which was just so delicious, delightful and with such an original voice. And more recently Lulu adored The Intouchables. What a film!

What should we expect for your show in Mullumbimby?

Each show is different, but always uplifting and transportive. Our magnifique band are world-class musicians who we adore and we get to be fearless chanteuses because of their brilliance! We are often a bit silly and talk in a faux French accent between songs at times.

We get dressed up in frou-frou frocks and sometimes put birds in our hair. We had a super fantastique time last year at the Mullum Music Festival and we’re looking forward to getting back to all ze beautiful people zere!

Mullum Ex-Services Club, Friday 8pm.

Tix & info: www.mullummusic.com.au.

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