Matching polka-dot dresses, choreography, and retro sensibilities form the building blocks of the Pipettes, a modern-day girl group from Brighton, England.
The group was launched in 2003 by Monster Bobby (real name: Robert William Barry), a local promoter who sought to revive the classic Phil Spector-inspired sound of the early '60s. An all-male troupe of backing musicians, the Cassettes, made up the backbone of the Pipettes' sound, but Monster Bobby smartly recruited three photogenic vocalists to take the wheel: Rebecca Stephens (RiotBecki), Julia Clark-Lowes (the Duchess of Darkness), and Rose Elinor Dougall (Rosay). Once assembled, the Pipettes sharpened their cheeky, endearing pop routine throughout 2004, playing shows in Brighton and London. As Gwenno Saunders replaced the departing Clark-Lowes in early 2005, the Pipettes put the finishing touches on three limited-edition singles -- "School Uniform," "ABC," and "Judy" -- all of which began making a buzz in indie circles during the summer of 2005. Memphis Industries, having risen to prominence one year prior with the success of the Go! Team, took interest and offered the Pipettes a recording contract.
"Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me" arrived in March 2006, giving the Pipettes their first Top 40 hit in the U.K. The full-length album We Are the Pipettes followed in July, and its relative success paved the way for another deal -- this time with Cherrytree Records, which issued We Are the Pipettes in America and Asia in 2007. That same year also marked the group's first performance at the South by Southwest Music Conference. Despite the momentum, both RiotBecki and Rosay left the group in 2008, leaving the Pipettes with no original members and requiring new replacements to climb aboard. Anna McDonald and Ani Saunders filled the vacant spots, although McDonald also departed several months later, with Beth Mburu-Bowie joining in her place. Mburu-Bowie eventually left the group, too, but not before taking part in the recording sessions for the next album (though her parts were removed when she left the group). The revamped lineup's second record, Earth vs. the Pipettes, was produced by the legendary and semi-retired Martin Rushent (Human League, Altered Images) and was released by their new label, Fortuna Pop, in September of 2010. ~ MacKenzie Wilson & Andrew Leahey, Rovi