Dean & Britta

Dean & Britta


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While working on a solo album in 2003, songwriter Dean Wareham -- the founder of Galaxie 500 and Luna -- reached out to Luna bandmate Britta Phillips for help. The two soon formed their own duo, sketching out a melodic, sexy sound that took its cues from Serge Gainsbourg and Lee Hazlewood. They doubled their efforts after Luna broke up in 2005 and married each other one year later, all the while continuing to tour and release new material. Dean Wareham was born in 1963 in the city of Wellington, New Zealand. At the age of 14, he immigrated to the United States with his parents, settling first in New York City and then moving to Cambridge, MA, to attend Harvard University. While in Cambridge, Wareham fell in with fellow students Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, with whom he formed Galaxie 500 in 1987. After spending four years as indie-level stars -- during which time the trio helped birth the subgenre that eventually would be dubbed slowcore -- Galaxie 500 split up in 1991. Wareham returned to New York and formed Luna with fellow New Zealand expatriate Justin Harwood (formerly of the Chills) and New Jersey-born drummer Stanley Demeski (formerly of the Feelies). Among other lineup shifts, Harwood left Luna in 2000 and was replaced by Britta Phillips. Phillips, a Michigan native also born in 1963, was working as a struggling actress and singer in the mid-'80s when she landed the lead role of Jem in the cartoon series Jem and the Holograms. Essentially a futuristic, anime-influenced recasting of Josie & the Pussycats designed to sell dolls and accessories, the cartoon ran from 1985 to 1988, with each episode featuring Phillips singing a different '80s bubblegum pop tune. Following the cartoon series, Phillips had one major film role -- as the lead guitarist in the campy 1988 Justine Bateman/Julia Roberts rock chicks movie Satisfaction -- before she decided to forsake acting for her music (although, much like Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley and Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's, she still picked up the occasional paycheck as a voice-over actress for cartoons and commercials). Phillips formed a shoegazey alternative rock band called the Belltower with guitarist Jody Porter, whom she later married and then divorced. After a handful of singles and one album, 1992's Popdropper, the group split up in 1995. Porter and the Belltower's bassist, Adam Schlesinger, formed Fountains of Wayne, while Phillips formed a short-lived band called Ultrababyfat and spent a stint as bassist in Ben Lee's touring band. After Phillips joined Luna, her vocals became an integral part of the band's sound. In 2003, Dean & Britta, now romantically involved, released a breezy duet album called L'Avventura. Following the 2005 dissolution of Luna, Dean & Britta made their partnership official with the release of the 2006 EP Words You Used to Say. This was followed in early 2007 by the full-length Back Numbers, a collaboration with Pete Kember (aka Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3 and Experimental Audio Research fame). Several years later, the musicians -- now husband and wife -- began working on the soundtrack to 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests, a film featuring several of Andy Warhol's silent film portraits on artists like Nico and Lou Reed. The film was released on DVD in 2010 in conjunction with the Andy Warhol Museum; a double disc CD featuring songs from the film as well as remixes by Scott Hardkiss, Sonic Boom, and My Robot Friend soon followed. ~ Stewart Mason & Andrew Leahey, Rovi