Betcha Bottom Dollar on the Puppini Sisters

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.’s Katherine Knowles meets a camp trio who have risen from lesbian strip clubs to the top of the iTunes Jazz chart.

If you haven’t heard the Puppini Sisters yet, you’re missing out on one of the most sunnily beamingly happy listening experiences you can possibly sing along in your car to.

Quite frankly, this 40s inspired elegant close harmony trio Swing.

The music makes you want to pin your hair in kiss curls, slick on red lipstick, pull up your bobby socks, and spin around in your flared dancing skirt until you’re giddy. Even if you’re a boy, apparently.

Now, this is exactly how I had intended to spend my evening of serious work reviewing the demo CD, in the privacy of my own home, of course, and probably with a smartish cocktail in hand to lubricate the evening along, so to speak, but my plans had to be delayed for a few nights when some other unscrupulous journalist stole the copy from my desk. You know an album’s good when …

Universal Classics and Jazz obviously agree. They snapped up the band after hearing only 30 seconds of their music, committing to a 1 million pound deal in what is said to be the fastest signing in history. Tom Lewis, Artist Development Manager had been “having a bad day” until he heard the trio sing, and realised that he had “unearthed magic”.

“I was grinning from ear to ear. They were sensational, with a beautiful sound and they make you feel glad to be alive.”

But interviewing the Puppini sisters is less like talking to the music world’s next big thing, and more like gossiping with three best girlfriends all verging on getting the giggles.

“I used to be a stripper in a lesbian club before I did this. Did you know that? Well, I was, but I was rubbish at it and if I had not have left they would have fired me … but it worked out for the best in the end because I absolutely adore what I do now! Not that I went straight from stripping to singing, I did have other career options … I’m rambling. I’ll shut up now. Honestly.”

It’s a delightful and eclectic mix of band promotion, good natured ribbing, and ribald anecdotes that would make their publicist blush. But for now, the giggling is brought under control and the interview resumes.

“We met through the jazz course at Trinity Music College.” Marcella, the self appointed spokesperson, and evil genius behind the enterprise tells me. “We were not all there at the same time, but we were all connected. I knew Kate and Kate knew Stephanie and Stephs’s a very hot redhead so I thought that a red head would fit in nicely between a brunette and a blond. Oh, and she could sing of course.

“And most importantly, we all absolutely love this music!”

“I saw the film Belleville Rendezvous, and there was a close harmony group in it and I loved it. I just thought, I could do that!”

It’s utterly appropriate then, that less than a year on, the Puppini Sister’s first album has been produced by composer Benoit Charest, the Oscar nominated composer on Belleville Rendezvous.

Seeing the Puppini Sisters live is quite an experience. In keeping with their 1940’s tight harmony leaning-in-around-the-mic sound, the girls like to dress the part. It’s matching cinched waist dresses and teetering court shoes, or sexy-bottomed pedal pushers and contrasting neck chiefs all the way, usually topped off with a slash of mega watt lipstick.

“We do enjoy the fashion side of it” says Marcella, who incidentally appears in the album booklet wearing a burlesque ice skater leotard, a red rose and a big smile. “In fact, I worked at Vivienne Westwood, and we did the maddest concert for one of her parties, where there was not a stage so we had to perform standing on the bar! But, this band was never just about fashion. We love the music and we love singing it.

“We arrange the songs ourselves, and we play as many instruments on the album as we could. I mean, there the harp, the accordion, the sax, the piano, the melodica … we’re learning banjo.

“That’s one of the most satisfying things about this group. It’s very much a musician’s band. Because we arrange for ourselves, we can arrange any music that we like. So some of it is traditional and what you’d expect from our sound, but some of it is more unusual. It’s great because our audience is quite diverse. I mean, the jazz people like the more traditional close harmony things like Mr Sandman and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, but other people like the more modern stuff that we do in our style, like Wuthering Heights or I will Survive.

“Actually, scratch that whole musical integrity thing, we probably just have a heightened sense of camp!” Marcella grins.

“What I’d like to happen is for the band to cross over into the mainstream charts. I’m dreaming big for us. I think the time is right at the moment with the popularity of burlesque, Dita von Tease is a really big fashion influence at the moment I think …” and maybe mainstream audiences are ready for something a little different, I suggest. Look at Jamie Cullum.

“Well, we like Jamie Cullum, and he is very pretty. But unless he wants to dress in little outfits I don’t think he really needs to worry about being in competition with us! Still, Betcha Bottom Dollar is currently number one in the iTunes jazz chart, so who knows!”

“We’re so excited about this record deal and we’re so pleased with the album. Betcha Bottom Dollar comes out on the 31st and we’re going to be in HMV Oxford Circus at 6pm doing a signing. Can you believe it?!”

Much giggling from the girls.

But I say, believe it. If you’re after your pleasure with an irreverent yet sophisticated edge (and a healthy does of camp), buy the album, pour yourself a warm bath and a cold martini and the Puppini Sisters will get your right in the mood.

The Puppini Sisters album, Betcha Bottom Dollar, is out this weekend.

For a preview click here