Features | Interviews

The Pipettes

By Alan Baban | 13 August 2006

So you belatedly get up at 12:30pm after a night of manual labour and Dostoyevsky. Your room is a mountain range of unnecessary paper… your family has left your breakfast in front of the Sopranos re-run you’re about to watch.

Appetite temporarily satisfied, you peruse your webzine’s staff board – unaware, that in less than two hours, you will be finished interviewing a Pipette, and also 20 minutes late for an Optician’s Appointment. This is how we do.


CMG’s Alan Baban (CMG): Lily Allen and The Pipettes seem to have received concurrent exposure in the UK, and some people are drawing obvious parallels – female-fronted, British accents, fun pop sensibilities. what do you say about those comparisons?

Rose Pipette: That’s a personal preference, I dunno. I can see how we have things in common, but we’re not really about being "real," or street. We don’t sing songs about people doing drugs. I find that whole style of music a bit questionable.

CMG: What are the Pipettes about?

Rose: Making pop music. Re-defining, and re-addressing how pop is meant to function.

CMG: It does seem that indie has recently, through the piffle, I guess, press like the NME pander on a weekly basis, dissociated into this insipid mush, like there’s been an inspiration drought.

Rose: Yeah, I agree – it felt like things were being rammed down our throats. I remember attending all of these stale gigs, and it just seemed that the whole scene had become redundant. All this stuff about four boys with guitars singing about their "tortured" souls is so self-indulgent and boring.

CMG: On the flipside, many people seem to be ignoring, or downplaying you girls as a novelty act, a flash in the pan.

Rose: I can see how people think we’re not really real. I think it comes from the way in which people value the music we make, or judge us by the way we look, or people who think we’re too “frivolous.”

CMG: You seem to be a fashionable band, though…

Rose: We don’t really feel like one! We’re sort of out of sync with all that stuff.

CMG: I personally don’t understand it – the album, We Are the Pipettes, plays as a sequence of surefire hits, if given the right exposure. Was that the aim with this record?

Rose: We were determined to not have any filler on the record, to just have a succession of hit songs, enjoyable songs that recalled the universality of good pop music. We weren’t interested in long guitar solos – we wanted to cut out the unnecessary chaff.

CMG: What do you think makes up a good pop song?

Rose: It’s hard to define. There needs to be a sense of universality, something that everybody can understand and relate to – and strong melodies.

CMG: What’s with the antipathy against The Beatles, “Let us not speak their name,” and all that gab?

Rose: We wanted a different starting point. The way in which the Beatles were marketed had huge impact, and it seems that too many groups have become dependent on their sound and style. Things have become a bit boring. We wanted to tap into something fresh, something a bit more exciting.

CMG: Are The Pipettes a feminist group, then?

Rose: Not really. There’s three girls up front, who are dancing, but some songs are written by the boys, and although there’s a predominantly female voice in the group, we’re still interested in the male voice, too. We never attempted to be political, or anything.

CMG: Congratulations on the Pitchfork Best New Music…

Rose: Thanks, Pitchfork have been behind us from an early stage, which we’re happy with, of course. We’d love to get out to the US.

CMG: When will the album be released in the US?

Rose: No idea, it’s up in the air at the moment – there’s no secure record deal. It would be wonderful to go to places outside the UK, and communicate with other people, other cultures.

CMG: I hear you like folk music — how does that tie in with The Pipettes?

Rose: We’re not folk in the traditional sense, though I think there’s the same importance of melody.

CMG: What folk have you been listening to lately?

Rose: Bridget Saint John, who was signed to John Peel’s Dandelion label, and also some Bert Jansch.

CMG: What does Becki mean when she says ‘I like to hip hop’ in “Pull Shapes” – does she mean she likes to jazzercise?

Rose: Jazzercise? Jazzercise?! What does that mean?

CMG: Umm, J-A-Z-Z-E-R-C-I-S-E. It’s one of those extemporaneous words that signifies a type of dancing.

Rose: The way in which people dance is personal, we all like different things.

CMG: Is Judy really a guy?

Rose: Either I guess. I remember writing that song based on a group of girls, but I can see how it can apply to both sexes.

CMG: Really? What’s the most autobiographical you’ve worked on?

Rose: I don’t really know, sometimes the songs are just ideas, or little stories completely made up in the songwriting process. “Dirty Mind’s” an example, I didn’t really know anybody like that.

CMG: Well that’s what pop’s for, I guess: transcending, and transfiguring the constricts of daily life, offering up some morsels of escapism.

Rose: Exactly, that’s what the Pipettes are trying to get at.

CMG: The Pipettes have received a lot of support from sites like CMG, Pitchfork as I’ve mentioned, the blogosphere, with mp3 files of your old singles and the album being traded on various message boards. What’s your take on all that?

Rose: It’s good because it got our name out, but I think it becomes an issue when you want to sell a lot of records I guess, but it really helped publicizing us.

CMG: What’s in the future for The Pipettes? Are you going to carry on milking this seam of distilled pop, is development in the works?

Rose: There will definitely have to be musical development – we don’t want to end up, like some other bands, as a horrible pastiche of ourselves. Definitely not. This album, and this style will only act as a foundation. we might try different sounds, production or even re-evaluating all of our roles in the band.

(Note: Yes, I did just use the word extemporaneous in an interview.)