Interview: Puppini sister Stephanie O’Brien

Dan Poole
Thursday 13 March 2008 08:00

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” trill The Puppini Sisters on their latest album – The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo – and they should know. Arriving on the UK music scene last year, they have forged a reputation as modern-day purveyors of the Forties scene, all red lipstick, jazz hands and show tunes.

They met at the Trinity College of Music, London, one of the top music institutions in the UK. When you take into account this mixture of artistry and academia, we thought we better get some tips on cultural entertainment for university or college straight away.

Stephanie O’Brien one of the three legs of the Puppini tripod, was happy to take a break from their tour of Paris to enlighten us. Stephanie started singing when she was three and attended the Purcell School of Music in Hertfordshire when she was 16. After that she was accepted at Trinity; the rest, you might say, is history. Here are her top picks...

Best song to wake up to?

“Wave” sung by Frank Sinatra. I first heard a friend sing this song in a class at Trinity and I fell in love with it. It's a beautifully mellow and happy song which makes it the perfect song to start the day with.

Best book to fall asleep to?

I have a short story collection by Guy de Maupassant, which I picked up a while back. The stories are a nice length and a pleasant read before bed. They explore moral dilemmas – “Boule de Suif ” is a tale of the generosity of a poor woman and the problems she faces from those of a richer class.

Best film to get you inspired?

Belleville Rendez-vous. It is a French/Canadian movie that has no speaking in it at all, just wonderfully dark animation with a brilliant soundtrack and a unique story that involves three sisters. It’s the movie that inspired The Puppini Sisters to form!

Best album to study to?

A compilation CD of the works of Wolfgang Mozart. I listened to this music a lot when I was studying for my A-levels and I found it aided my concentration and helped me to relax. Instrumental music is better to study to as you can’t be distracted by lyrics!

Best TV show to eat your dinner in front of?

I don’t watch TV while I eat, so I’d rather recommend a CD called Blue by Joni Mitchell to have on while you chat with whomever you’re eating with! I was introduced to her music when I was studying jazz at Trinity and loved it.

Best book to read in a café?

Nausea by John-Paul Sartre. This was a book that was recommended to me by my art teacher when I was studying at the Purcell School of Music. The book was easy for me to relate to as the main character struggles with the meaning of existence, and at the time I was struggling to find the path I was supposed to take in music. Everyone that reads this book can draw their own parallels with it.

Best boxset for a rainy Sunday afternoon?

That has to be the Doris Day boxset. It consists of about four light-hearted films that are set in the glamorous era of the Fifties. Doris Day was a singer I loved from a very young age – she had such a clear, warm voice and was a wonderful actress. She’s timeless.

Best magazine to waste time with?

i-D magazine is one of my favourites. I studied art from GCSE to A-level so I really like the artistic feel the magazine has. It’s full of great photography and very creative fashions – lots of images to inspire!

Best artist to have on your iPod in the library?

Nick Drake was a wonderful singer/songwriter whose music is very mellow. It’s not too loud so you won’t disturb anyone either!

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