The Pipettes

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The Pipettes
The Pipettes at South by Southwest, 2007. From left: RiotBecki, Gwenno and Rosay
Background information
OriginBrighton, England
Years active2003–2011
Past members

The Pipettes /pɪˈpɛts/ were an English indie pop girl group formed in 2003 in Brighton[1] by Robert "Monster Bobby" Barry. The group has released two albums, We Are the Pipettes, and Earth vs. The Pipettes and released numerous singles to support it; the most successful being "Pull Shapes" which peaked at No. 26 in the UK Singles Chart. The group was active from 2003 to 2011.

The group was originally composed of Julia Clarke-Lowes, Rose Elinor Dougall and RiotBecki. At the time of their debut album Clarke-Lowes had been replaced by Gwenno. In 2008, Dougall and Stephens also left the group. By 2010, the line-up consisted of Gwenno and her sister Ani. Their album Earth vs. The Pipettes was released on 6 October 2010 in the UK.[2]

The female members were backed by an all-male band, the Cassettes, which included Bobby, brothers Jon and Seb Falcone, and Alex White.


Formation and We Are the Pipettes (2003–2007)[edit]

Two women singing live in black and white polka dot dresses
Gwenno (left) and RiotBecki in 2006

The Pipettes were formed in mid-2003 by singer-songwriter and promoter Monster Bobby with the intention of reviving the Phil Spector pop sound and giving it a modern twist,[3] after noticing the reaction girl group songs got during his DJ sets.[4] In collaboration with singer, poet, and photographer Julia Clark-Lowes, who was inspired by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty's The Manual,[5] he recruited friends from and around the local music scene.[6] The Pipettes, as they were to become, were all first introduced to each other by Bobby at The Basketmakers Arms in Brighton.[1]

Regarding the formation of the band, Rose Elinor Dougall said in an interview: "Well, basically our guitarist, Bobby, had a contact with someone, and he kind of recruited us all individually. We all kind of knew each other, but not as a group. He asked us if we wanted to be involved and we said yes went for a drink and that was it. I think we had a few songs, he had a few songs, and we had ideas and gradually it evolved to what it is now because we all write songs, but it was Bobby who kind of started it off."[7]

The group have been described as “an experiment” in reviving the late-1950/early-1960s girl group pop aesthetic,[8][9] though members of the band emphasized that they were not a “manufactured” studio creation.[8] Their name, which is a reference to a laboratory instrument, is a nod to the experimental origins of the group.[3][8][9] The male backing musicians, the Cassettes,[10] never appear in interviews or photo shoots, emphasizing the role of the singers. The three frontwomen wear polka dot dresses with synchronized choreography being a major part of their live shows, whereas the Cassettes can be seeing wearing knitted tank tops with their initials sewn onto them. All songs are credited to the Pipettes as a whole. Generally one member has a concept and basic outline for a song, on which the other members subsequently have an input as to arrangement or lyric changes.[6] As a result, all members share credit on their original songs.

The line-up consisting of Dougall ("Rosay"), Julia ("The Duchess (of Darkness)" or "Julia Caesar"[11]), Rebecca Stephens ("RiotBecki"), Jon, Seb, Joe ("Robin of Loxley") and Bobby settled in mid-2004, after earlier line-ups included members of the Electric Soft Parade and Marc Beatty of Brakes. In April 2005 founding member Julia left to concentrate on her own project, the Indelicates, and was replaced by Welsh-language solo artist Gwenno. Three limited edition singles were released in 2005, leading to the group being signed to Memphis Industries shortly after touring with the label's The Go! Team. Debut album We Are the Pipettes was released in the United Kingdom on 17 July 2006 and reached No. 41 in the UK Album Chart. The album was produced by Gareth Parton and Andy Dragazis (of Blue States).[12]

In 2007, the band signed with Cherrytree Records, part of Interscope, to release their material in America, Asia and Australasia. After a series of well-received performances at the SXSW festival, an EP led by the track "Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me" was released on 5 June, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart. The album was released in North America on 2 October, where it reached No. 18 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, and in Asia on 17 October, with both releases containing new bonus tracks. Both of these versions of the album were remixed and produced by Greg Wells, thus resulting in a differing sound from the original European release.

In June 2007, original drummer Joe left to concentrate on his own band Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong and was replaced by Jason Adelinia, formerly of Teasing Lulu[13] and This City.

Lineup changes, second album and breakup (2008–2011)[edit]

Ani Glass, Gwenno and Beth Mburu-Bowie performing at Turning Point Roundhouse, 2009.

On 18 April 2008, the group broke up although it was announced on the band's official website and in a blog post on their MySpace that RiotBecki and Rosay had left "to pursue other musical projects", and had been replaced by Ani, who is Gwenno's younger sister, and Anna McDonald. This means that none of the original female members remain. Jason Adelinia also left the band and was replaced by Alex White from The Electric Soft Parade and Brakes. Adelinia started playing drums for The Ghost Frequency and now plays for Los Campesinos!.

The new line-up made its live début on 3 May when they joined Mark Ronson on stage at the Corsa Presents Bandstand event in Old Billingsgate Market, London. They played their first full show in support of REO Speedwagon on 10 June at the indigO2. On 16 July they appeared at the premiere of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, following the inclusion of "Pull Shapes" on the movie's soundtrack. On consecutive nights from 1st until 3 September they played a series of promotional gigs at The Barfly in London.

On 12 November, it was announced that Anna McDonald had left the Pipettes to pursue songwriting opportunities away from the band. On 11 February 2009, Beth Mburu-Bowie was announced as McDonald's replacement. This line-up made its live début on 5 March 2009 at the launch party of the British Music Experience. Beth toured and recorded the second album until late 2009 when she and the Pipettes parted ways. Her vocals were replaced on all recorded material. Earth vs. The Pipettes was produced by Martin Rushent and recorded at The Dutch House Studios at his home in Berkshire.

On 12 February, a new track "Our Love Was Saved by Spacemen" and an accompanying video were made available via the Pipettes official website.[14] It generally got positive reviews from websites such as PopJustice[15] and PopMatters.[16]

"Stop the Music" was premiered on BBC Wales, in November 2009, and was song of the day on PopJustice on 23 February 2010, followed by an excellent review.[17] The music video was released on 23 March 2010,[18] and the song was released on 19 April 2010.[19]

The group's second album, Earth vs. The Pipettes was released on 6 September 2010, followed by singles "Call Me" and non-album track "Boo Shuffle", a posthumous tribute to producer Martin Rushent. After the second album was a commercial flop, they disbanded in 2011.[20]



Year Album Chart positions
2006 We Are the Pipettes 41
2010 Earth vs. The Pipettes


Year Song Chart positions Album
2004 "Pipettes Christmas Single" * non-album single
2005 "I Like a Boy in Uniform (School Uniform)"
"Dirty Mind" 63 We Are the Pipettes
2006 "Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me" 35
"Pull Shapes" 26
"Judy" (re-recording) 46
2010 "Our Love Was Saved by Spacemen" Earth vs. Pipettes
"Stop the Music" -
"Call Me" -
2011 "Boo Shuffle" non-album single


  • 2006 – Meet the Pipettes
  • 2007 – Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me


  1. ^ a b "Joining the dots with Brighton's hottest new prospect". BBC. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  2. ^ "SlowdiveMusic Blog: The Pipettes: "Earth vs. the Pipettes"". SlowdiveMusic. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b Pipettes Interview Archived 26 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The Unofficial Pipettes Forum FAQ Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Barton, Laura (1 November 2006). "Leaders of the pack". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b CMU's Chris Cooke Interviews the Pipettes Archived 25 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Pipettes – Rose, Becki and Gwenno". 29 January 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Pipettes Popworld Interview Archived 13 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b Kitty Empire (1 October 2005). "The Observer: The Pipettes interview". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  10. ^ Becki stated on John Kennedy's XFM X-Posure show 2005-07-05, they are called "The Cassette", not "The Cassettes"
  11. ^ Indigo Flow: The Pipettes Archived 11 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ We Are The Pipettes liner notes
  13. ^ "Teasing Lulu interview". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  14. ^ "The Pipettes". The Pipettes. Archived from the original on 24 December 2005. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Popjustice". Popjustice. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  16. ^ "The Pipettes – "Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen" (video)". < PopMatters. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Popjustice". Popjustice. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  18. ^ "The new Pipettes video: a posh house, a good tune and a teacup-based dance routine". Popjustice. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  19. ^ "Release details". Fortuna POP!. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  20. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (3 January 2016). "The Pipettes' "Complicated" Legacy: Class of 2006 Interview". Fuse. Retrieved 22 January 2019.

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