London-based friends Luisa Gerstein and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens conceived the idea of pop-folk outfit Lulu & the Lampshades during their time at Bristol University in 2009. Gerstein originally created a MySpace page to service her desire to be part of a band, aptly named Helouisa -- a mixture of both their names -- and the group began to take shape. After parting ways with a string of male guitarists, Jemma was installed on guitar alongside drummer/percussionist Dan who completed the lineup.
Borrowing elements from a range of influences, from calypso beats to traditional folk melodies, the group's stand-out harmonies carry their sugary folk songs through twisting tempos and intriguing structures. Led by Gerstein and backed up by Behrens, the vocals encompass styles from their friend Peggy Sue's brooding vocal style, and a soulful, textured backing vocals that at times features the entire band. The foursome went on to release single "Feet to the Sky" on U.K. independent label Voga Parochia on a limited 7" run of 200 copies which subsequently sold out. Their live shows garnered much interest, especially as the "Lampshades" -- two friends dressed as lampshades dancing on either side of the stage -- would show up and add to the playful eccentricity of the outfit.
With a penchant for writing songs on bikes, their equally innovative and unconventional style of assorted instruments includes ukulele, glockenspiel, trumpet, violin, and skiffle-style percussion formed of scrapyard metal, pots, and pans. The unique rhythm section is epitomized by their D.I.Y. YouTube hit video for "Cups," and was inspired by a percussion class routine and blended effortlessly with gospel styled call and response vocals. Indie label Moshi Moshi signed them in 2010 and released the "Cold Water" 7" as part of their singles club in 2011, with "Cups" on the B-side. ~ Scott Kerr