Briana Everett catches up with a unique Australian duo with a very French repertoire.
It all began in a basement. The Basement in Sydney’s Circular Quay, that is.
French-language chanteuse duo Baby et Lulu had its beginnings in a singer/songwriters gig at Sydney’s prime jazz venue, about eight years ago.
It was at this gig where the musical partnership and close friendship between Australian singers Abby Dobson and Lara Goodridge, the beautiful voices of Baby et Lulu, first blossomed.
Both singing that night, Goodridge watched Dobson, the former front-person for Leonardo’s Bride, perform and was instantly drawn to her to voice.
“I was floored by her beauty and her songs, and I just fell in love with the music,” says Goodridge, a violinist/singer with string quartet FourPlay.
Recalling how their friendship grew after that first encounter, Dobson, nicknamed “Baby”, describes the moment her and “Lulu” discovered their mutual love of all things French.
“We worked together with my [solo] album and had a great time. We became very close and realised that we both had the same ridiculous sense of humour, and also, quite late into the friendship, we realised that we had this love of French,” she says.
Dobson first fell in love with French as a young girl, influenced by her “glamourous” French-speaking aunt, and later lived in Paris where she made her debut as a professional singer, performing at a tequila slammer bar.
“I had roses on my dining room table every day because people would bring them around,” she says. “They really have this reverence for singers and artists in France, so it was a very nice beginning.”
For Goodridge, her love affair with French also began early on.
“I just remember being a kid and being madly in love with everything French. French cinema, French music,” she says, adding that she couldn’t wait to study French at school, continuing her studies at uni and leaving with a masters degree in French.
Many years later, when Goodridge and Dobson happened to be in Paris at the same time, the two met for lunch and the Baby et Lulu seed was finally planted.
“We had lunch in a café one day and Lara had this book under her arm. She’d bought an early 20th Century French songbook,” says Dobson of how the Baby et Lulu conversation started.
Then, back in Australia, Goodridge and Dobson did an impromptu performance for their friends at a party.
“We made up the name on the spot, pretty much, and just did one song,” says Goodridge.
“On a crate … with no microphones or anything,” adds Dobson. “At the end we thought, ‘It can’t be over! It can’t be over!’ We loved it so much. We just had so much fun.”
Since then, Dobson and Goodridge haven’t stopped having fun.
After singing that first song together, the pair performed a couple of times each year as Baby et Lulu, limited by the fact that, at the time, the two were living in separate cities.
“I was living in Melbourne and Lara was living [in Sydney], so we did two gigs a year, just for fun, whenever I was [in Sydney] … It was really just because everybody loved it so much and every audience was cheering more than [ever],” says Dobson, laughing that the responses to their Baby et Lulu performances have been overshadowing those of their own solo performances.
“The French people just loved it, for a multitude of reasons, so we thought we really should record this.”
Releasing their self-titled, debut album on Bastille Day this year, Baby et Lulu has already topped the iTunes jazz charts and was labelled Album of the Week by Radio National.
Recorded live with a band in just one day, the album features a mix of classic and contemporary songs written by some of the 20th Century’s greatest French songwriters, including songs made famous by Edith Piaf, Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy.
Thrilled with the response to the album so far, Dobson and Goodridge talk about how they’ve uncovered the tremendous love of France held by so many Australians.
“There is an awful lot of people here with that love of all things French,” says Dobson.
Category: People & Culture