#04

Autumn2015

INPerson

What are your names and ages?

Hi, I’m Nicki McNamee and I’m 29.
I’m Julie McNamee and I’m 27.

Whereabouts are you based?

Nicki – We live together in North West London.

Are you originally from there? If not where did you grow up?

Julie – We grew up in Tamworth, Staffordshire but have lived in London for 10 years now.

How long have you been singing together?

Nicki – We’ve been singing together in My Favourite Things for nearly three years. We did sing and dance together in shows growing up but not professionally.

How did you start?

Julie – Nicki was working in a music hall for a year or so and realised her niche was in this era. One night she came home and started teaching me some of the songs and we choreographed a routine together. (No alcohol was involved…honest!) We realised how in sync we were when we performed together and that’s when the idea came to us.

1940's-Vintage-Photography
Where did the name come from?

Nicki – Well we sing, dance, tap dance, dress up… all of our favourite things!

Can you remember your first gig?

Julie – Pop Up Vintage Fairs London. Not only was it set in a gorgeous gothic church in Hampstead, it was a vintage paradise. We had a blast performing to so many lovely people and it was a great introduction to the vintage world we now love. Thanks to our first gig, we have made some great friends and continue to perform at Pop Up Vintage Fairs events.

Why this particular style of singing?

Nicki – We sing predominantly songs from the 40s. This music came from such a nostalgic time and the lyrics and melodies are so moving. Then there’s the glamorous and theatrical side of it that we love. Plus our dancing style is naturally more suited to this era also.

Did you start out singing old songs or did you go through a period of modern style songs?

Julie – Although we toyed with the idea when we began, we decided to remain true to the vintage classics.

Did you dress in a retro style all the time now or is it just for performances? If so did the singing come first and the style follow or vice-versa?

Nicki – I think I naturally dressed ‘vintage’ at times without realising it but my wardrobe has definitely morphed into vintage emporium in the last couple of years. Every time we perform at a vintage fair we just have to buy something.

Julie – Nowadays, my shopping trips definitely steer towards vintage shops. Having finally mastered the vintage hair dos, I regularly pop a victory roll in, finished off with a flower.

Nicki – And red lippy is a must too!

Not only do you sing but dance too! How long have you been dancing for? What styles of dance do you know?

Julie – We do indeed. We’ve been dancing since we were

 

little, training in the usual dance school styles; Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Acrobatics, Lyrical, Street. I trained in contemporary dance at university and now we’ve entered the world of Jive and Lindy Hop. We’re lucky to get lots of practice in, as there are so many fantastic dancers who attend the events we perform at.

Nicki – I trained at Arts Educational School when I was younger too and then did my degree at London Studio Centre. This gave me a solid training background which has definitely helped me in the performing world.

Who’s your biggest influence? Both in style and music.

Nicki – My biggest influence is definitely George Gershwin. I just adore his music. We have several of his songs in our repertoire. He was a master at fusing pop, classical and jazz music together. I like the fact that his brother wrote the lyrics too and they worked as a team similar to us.

Julie – We even have our own Gershwin, which comes in the form of our pet hamster! I am hugely influenced by one of the top stars from the 1940s, Rita Hayworth. Gorgeous, stylish and utterly talented – what a career she had!

What’s your favourite event? Either to perform at or just to attend?

Nicki – Ronnie Scotts was a great place to perform and it was made even better that we performed with our talented band. I will always treasure performing at Wiltons Music Hall too. Such a gorgeous venue.

Julie – I love the Vintage and Classic Car Shows. It’s always a great crowd. We get to do a spot of shopping and have lots of photographs posing in gorgeous vintage cars – a perfect day out!

What do you think of retro style acts covering new songs in an old style?

Julie – There are some acts out there that do this brilliantly. I think it depends on the event if I’m honest as a lot of strictly 1940s events like to keep the entertainment authentic.

Nicki – I think it’s good that old classics can be recreated which makes them appeal to a younger audience who wouldn’t necessarily know the songs otherwise.

There are a number of retro style singing acts on the scene now, how do you think you ‘stand out from the crowd’?

Julie – We move a lot! Dancing is at the forefront of what we do, alongside singing. We put just as much energy into our dance routines as we do our harmonies. And of course we love popping our tap shoes on towards the end of a set (unless we’re performing on the grass!).

 

Gareth-Millar-Photography

Nicki – We haven’t stuck strictly to the ‘Andrew Sisters’ set up that many acts do, we also have a large repertoire of show tunes that we feel adds a touch of glamour and makes it more of a show. Plus we personally cater our set lists to suit each event.

What are your plans for the future?

Nicki – This year we are curating the vintage marquee, ‘The Spitfire Pavilion’ at The Retro Festival at Newbury Showground. It’s the UK’s biggest Retro Festival now and we’re really excited to be involved. We’re collaborating with some amazing artists to create a cabaret show for the Saturday evening too. We’d like to get involved in putting on and creating more events next year. And we’re starting to do a lot more workshops too.

Julie – We’ve been teaching some tap workshop at various events alongside performing which has gone down a treat. We’ve also found that children really take to our performances, so this summer we’re putting on a workshop for children. ‘A Week with My Favourite Things’ will consist of singing, dancing, tapping, dressing up, afternoon tea’s and lots of our favourite things!
We’ve also been approached by a few songwriters about collaborating on some original songs which is very exciting. Watch this space!

 

Win a limited edition
diner dress courtesy of

logo-simpleCampbell-Crafts-studio-shoot-May-88

How to enter:
Simply head over to Instagram or Twitter and send us a picture of you enjoying a tasty beverage!
Don’t forget to hashtag #dinerdresscomp!

Entry closes: 27/11/15 at midday

 

Mathew Keller is a photographer, designer and film-maker living in Brighton. For the last five years he’s been capturing intimate portraits of fellow full-time lovers-of-the-past for his Southern Retro project:
www.southernretro.com