Sunday, 7 July 2013

Retro LadyLand presents The Polka Dots

Today is Sunday the 2nd of December 1945, and you are listening to Radio LadyLand, coming live from the front lines. And while war carries on around us, music is in our ears courtesy of three lovely ladies, Caroline Fitch, Michelle McMinn and Ella-Louise Kay, known collectively as The Polka Dots.

These three troopers have travelled all the way from jolly old High Wickham in Blighty to support our troops and give them rousing renditions of all their favourite tracks, from “Boogie Woogie Bugle boy” to “The Chatanooga Choo Choo”.

The chaps are going wild! With only a picture of their loved ones and a cup of brown battery acid every morning, these brave guys need a boost and this is going to be one hell of a show! And the girls are really cooking with gas now as they start their encore!

So if you’re ‘in the mood’, we’ll have a chat to these gals as they come off stage.
Hello, ladies, that was fabulous!

So, how did you all meet, are you school chums or a fit up deal?
Ella: Michelle and I actually started the group with someone else back in 2008, thinking it might be nice to get together for a bit of a sing-song and maybe the odd gig… I’d met Caroline separately in a local production of ‘We Will Rock You’ (‘coz that’s how she really rolls!) and then as we grew, Caroline came and joined our clan, taking over the Top Sop line… and here we are!
Caroline: No impresarios / music moguls were involved.  I knew Ella through a mutual friend and auditioned for the group about 18 months ago now.

I see, but why swing music? Where you all into it, or was it a niche you thought needed tapping?
C: I was never into it hugely until I joined the group and now I'm a fan!  It's just so nostalgic but fun too.
E: My granddad was a big band leader back in the day, so in all honesty it was a genre I felt drawn towards and he has definitely influenced our style  – we could also see vintage was making a lindy-hop, skip and a jump forward and wanted to join the party!  

It certainly is! Everybody loves a bit of
Boogie Woogie! So, what did you each do before you were in a swing band? Have you got a secret punk past?
Michelle: Not secret punk, but I was in an steps esque pop group called Noyz! When I was in my late teens.
C: I'm a bit of a guitar-girl. I used to play in an all-girl rock band when I was 16. Luckily I've checked youtube for any scary evidence of this!
E: … Well I feel really boring now, I wasn’t in a band – I was in dancing lessons when you two gals were popping and rocking it in our teens! I did work as an entertainer in Mallorca and Crete for a while… I was a firespitter too, does that count?!

I think that counts with knobs on Ella!
Have you noticed, vintage is every bloody where at the moment, has this boosted your profile?
Michelle: We launched at the same time as the re-emergence of vintage so this definitely made it easier for us – The key has been making ourselves a bit ‘different’ which is why we’ve made our act all-singing and dancing. Seeing the Polka Dots is not just a performance, it is a show!
E: Definitely! We feel very lucky to have jumped aboard the Chattanooga Choo Choo in-time to be able to make our mark in the, errr, market!
C: Perhaps, vintage is very 'cool' at the moment and quite rightly so.

I know that you incorporate modern music into your act, so do you like any modern music at all, or are you hardened swing fans? Go on do tell…
E: Haha, modern music can be a bone of contention in the journeys to and from gigs!! I have to say I’m with Caro, and the John Mayers of this world whereas Michelle is happy as a clam listening to a hectic drum & bass line… I’m usually driving, so get to win the in-flight entertainment war though! En route home in the early hours we can be heard belting out a bit of Oleta Adams on Magic FM!
C: I got into music through playing guitar so as you can imagine my influences include John Mayer, Incubus, but have so much love for the greats...Stevie Wonder, MJ...
M: I will listen to all genres of music except for thrash metal - it just hurts my throat listening to it!

Oh I know dear, I don’t understand it, just gives me a headache and I have to sit down with a cold flannel… Now I would say that you’re like the later day Andrew sisters and I’m not the first.  I’m guessing you admire them, but who else are your favourites and influences?
M: The Andrews Sisters are legendary and I only hope that we do their songs justice, bringing recognition to a generation that wouldn't automatically know who they were.
E: Ahh the Andrews Sisters set the bar didn’t they?! Since then there’ve been loads of other fabulous trios to take influence from. I hope we’ve used the best bits to create something different… In our sets now, we have some classic as well as modern influences including The Puppini Sisters, Jamiroquai, the Zutons, George Michael, Rhianna and Beyonce (just for Caroline!)
C: Beyonce is beyond awesome, I wish I was her every morning!

Hold on, I’ve just been handed some news… Telecommunication suggests that something quite major is happeneing… No definite news yet, but it’s going to be big… The Japanese are on the USS Missouri and pens are being drawn… Any hoo, back to you guys…

Now apart from here, I know that you do the festival circuit, which is a little like here but without the threat of being blown up… So, where is the best place you’ve played?
C: We are so lucky to have played at some awesome venues at private functions/ charity events.  I'm looking forward to our Goodwood gig this year...
M: Performing at the Glenn Miller festival on the main stage will always be one of my all time favourite performances. It was a very special experience and I was lucky enough to share it with the girls.
E: Oh there’ve been so many! Sometimes it’s the place, and sometimes it’s the people that make a gig great! Have to say though, the Glenn Miller Festival was a definite highlight, sandwiched in between the Glenn Miller orchestra and the Jive Aces (ooh lucky us!) in front of thousands of people. We have gigged quite a few times at Goodwood together with those beautiful vintage cars and even had out own butler for one event, which we could definitely get used to.. he gave us a glass of champers as we came off stage!

Has anything disastrous or particularly amusing happened while on stage? I noticed some of the chaps out there asking you to show them a bit of leg, do you get heckled often?
M: We have had our fair share of wardrobe malfunctions (tops falling down, hold-ups sliding down you leg ending up like Nora Batty)
E: Pretty much every gig there is something we

get the giggles about – and often mic stand or wardrobe malfunction-related… I once got completely stuck in a toilet trying on a dress at a vintage festival we were performing at – I I’d have been scared if I wasn’t laughing so much… the girls were no help but bent over double in stiches!
Heckles? Well we’ve got an army gig this weekend so we’ll see how rowdy a crowd we can create and come back to you on that one ok?! ;)
C: Not yet...!

Oh bless Caroline, I’m sure you will soon!

Now, you all look so divine each time we see you, who creates your couture
M: We discuss what kind of look we are going for and then research what's out there - obviously sticking to the theme.
E: A fabulous local designer called Clem Short designed and made all our signature Dotty dresses… Now we can’t currently say too much, but keep ‘em peeled for some new cozzies that may soon be coming our way!
C: A local designer Clem Couture made our dresses....

Oooh, I’ll get their number off you later.
I have to say dears that your harmonies sound just smashing, my friend Mabel and I tried a while ago, but we sounded more like we should have been sitting on a garden wall watching out for dogs than singing in The Albert Hall! I do admire you so! How long do you have to practice to get them so perfect?
M: It takes me quite a while as I am not a natural musician and I also sing alto which can be a difficult melody to pitch - we never get the tune! I have to repeatedly listen to the track in order to secure it in my mind and sing with confidence. 
C: Close harmony work with dance moves takes a bit of practice, it's a case of just getting it all into your muscles memory and making sure you blend.
E: Ah piece of cake innit?! Haha – It’s  tricky one but I think it gets easier with practice. It’s just a matter of zoning out what you think you know or how you think a song should be, and re-learn your line as if it was the tune. The great thing is, working together for a while now, we tune into each other and so often can feel when something’s right or not. Caroline’s the expert on that one though!

So, one last question, If you could sing with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
E: Ooh good question! Michelle and I actually sang with Stevie Wonder once (ok, we were in the audience of thousands singing backing to Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but it was a spesh moment ok?!) For me there’s loads of people and all for different reasons… Glenn Miller and his band of course! Nat King Cole’s voice is smooth like chocolate for me, we could do ‘Unforgettable’ but also I’d love to have performed on-stage with Michael Jackson – schamow! What a show we’d have put on!
M: I would love to sing with Freddie Mercury - an absolute legend! 
C: I'd love to work with John Mayer, his music is really soulful. 

Thank you… Wait, more news coming in! Yes, yes yes… We have word coming in that the Japanese have signed the surrender documents and the war is officially over!!! Rush out on to the streets everyone, hold on to your young ones! String up that bunting and shout as loud as you can! The war is over!

So, I know what I’m going to do now, I’m off to find myself a bottle of liquor and a soldier, so what are you going to do ladies? What’s next for The Polka Dots?
C: Onwards and upwards!
M: World domination 
E: Well said Mich! Look out world, here we are!! xxx

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