Abby Dobson and Lara Goodridge have a lot of fun on stage as the femme fatales in faux-French duo Baby et Lulu.
The playful banter between the two accomplished singers and the audience is as much a part of the show as their magnifique vocals.
Baby et Lulu are touring on the back of Album Trois which they recorded with musicians Marcello Maio (piano, accordion), Julian Curwin (guitar), Matt Ottignon (saxophone, clarinet, flute) and Mark Harris (double bass, vocals) plus guests Dane Laboyrie (trumpet) and Alex Hirlian (drums, percussion).
The album was recorded by Lewis Mitchell at Sony Studios and Foxtrot in Sydney, mixed by ARIA and Emmy Award winner Daniel Denholm and mastered by Steve Smart at Studios 301. It has just been nominated for an AIR Award for best independent jazz album or EP.
Dobson and Goodridge penned original songs for this album in their adopted language of French while lending their talents to songs by Charles Trenet, Maurice Chevalier, Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, Boris Vian and Stromae.
Dobson honed her craft as a singer and songwriter busking the streets of Paris and New York. She is best known as frontwoman of the ARIA winning Leonardo's Bride and for their emotive hit Even When I'm Sleeping. She has toured with Crowded House, Joe Jackson, Everything But the Girl, Tom Jones and Barry White and has released two solo albums, Rise Up and It's Okay, Sweetheart.
Goodridge has a Masters degree in French Studies and has been playing violin since the age of three. She also performs with FourPlay String Quartet and has supported the likes of Art Garfunkel, Luka Bloom and The Corrs on tour. She is currently studying a Masters at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The pair started making French music 12 years ago as a "joy project" and it is evident it still fulfills that purpose.
"All that we do is a labour of love but our dedication to each project comes in waves," Goodridge explained.
"There are times when we have to buckle down and devote a lot of time to Baby et Lulu.
"The preparation for recording an album is enormous. Then there's the artwork and the credits and the lyrics.
"A year or so after an album is released you have a hiatus but because of lockdown and all the delays, we're not quite there yet."
Added Dobson: "While we do have other projects, Baby et Lulu has been our main focus for the past few years, definitely."
Having put the release of Album Trois and tour on hold for more than a year, Dobson and Goodridge are excited to finally share their new recording with audiences, touring the country performing songs in French in a shared celebration of love, life and passion.
"The response has been amazing - people have been so excited to get out and share the live experience, and so have we," Goodridge said.
"After two years of almost going on tour it's been pretty exciting, pretty special, to get out there."
Said Dobson: "The album always feels fresh when we get on stage. We're up there with those magnificent musicians and we start to play the songs and I immediately go 'Oh, how delicious and awesome is this?'."
Both women approach writing songs - and life in general - in distinct ways. Goodridge likes to be prepared while Dobson is motivated by a deadline.
"You have to make the time and really get your head in that space to write - or have a deadline looming over you," Goodridge said, laughing.
"Abby basically likes to write songs in the studio when we're ready to record. She makes magnificent gems at the last minute."
Writing song lyrics must be difficult enough, but writing them in French when your first language is English? It definitely has it moments, says Dobson.
"I don't feel as confident as Lulu (Lara) does, that what I'm writing is poetic," she said.
"I labour over songs in English as it is [laughs]. It's torturous for me, writing songs."
Goodridge, on the other hand, enjoys the freedom writing in French brings.
"I like it because I think everything I write sounds really poetic.
"There's something a little bit freeing, and less self-conscious, when I'm writing in French - but it's still not easy, that's for sure."
She does enjoy interacting with the audience in French - especially when they can't understand what she's saying.
"We've discovered that we can say almost anything if we say it in a French accent.
"We can be quite outrageous and risque and nothing seems to be too much - so each gig we push it a little further and we're like, 'OK, we got away with that one as well'."
"We used to ask people in the audience to put up their hands if they were French," Dobson said. "We initially thought they were coming along to make fun of us, two Australian girls singing in French."
Goodridge interrupts: "Instead, we make fun of them!"
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