During this cold snap it’s always handy to have either something to look forward to when the weather picks up, or some music to act as a comfort blanket, giving the listener a reminder of endless warm summer days (all the more rare if you’re talking about Yorkshire). Fortunately, the hauntingly fragile rootsy compositions put together by singer songwriter Lucy Cioffi, aka Little Lapin, are more than able to provide just the midwinter musical antidote we need.
The West Country songstress has arguably put in more miles than Whicker on her artistic odyssey, first plucking up the courage to let out the musician fighting to escape from within whilst travelling around New Zealand. Ending up in the little North Island surfing bolthole called Raglan, Lucy met three likeminded individuals and formed the quirky folk-tinged quartet ‘Hand Me Downs’, honing her songwriting and stage skills to considerable effect over the next few years, after which she decided to go it alone, returning via a stay in Auckland to the South-West of England, and getting hitched into the bargain.
2013 saw the release of the first Little Lapin EP as ‘Waiting Room’ appearing on the BBC Radio 6 Music Introducing Mixtape Show, a sure sign that she was onto something special. Catching up with Lucy currently holed up in a caravan in Devon, one can immediately detect the remnants of her stay down under, a discernible tinge of Kiwi accent still evident as she speaks. With a new Little Lapin single, the engagingly ramshackle shuffle ‘Remember the Highs’ again picked up by Tom Robinson and due for release on 9th February, there are also a sprinkling of live dates as she continues to spread her wings back on home turf, this time venturing into the Midlands for the first time and backed by a trio of live players.
Interestingly, Lucy’s first musical inspiration did not come via a pop song, it was in fact the Elizabethan classic ‘Greensleeves’ that first piqued an interest leading to flute and piano lessons during her formative years, encouraged by Mum despite admitting to suffering from shyness during secondary school. Indeed it was only much later whilst journeying around Australasia, Lucy started writing poetry, then found herself putting melodies to the words, finally plucking up the courage to play live on the other side of the world. Perhaps emboldened by the chilled out vibe of the surfer community, plus the opportunities for self-reinvention so far away from home, the positive response she got from those first audiences gave Lucy the confidence she previously lacked and set her on her way. Notwithstanding, Lucy admits her toughest assignment was following her return home, performing for the first time in front of her family, this after 5 years of gigging around New Zealand, playing live for her nearest and dearest still proving a daunting prospect.
Talking about the time when first putting together Hand Me Downs, Lucy also confesses to only playing guitar for the last 4 years, not having picked one up until after the band got together as it soon became apparent that putting the melodies in her head to the lyrics she’d written would be a lot easier if she learned to play guitar herself, the instrument also proving a lot more portable than the piano she knew how to play. ‘If I had a song bubbling away inside, I started to become uneasy until the song was written’ presumably fearing it would be lost forever without swift action.
Listen: 'Remember The Highs'
Starting the band in a small surfer town also meant that most of the townsfolk were there for the band’s early shows although after a while, the desire to progress and reach a wider audience became stronger leading Lucy to move to Auckland, gigging there for about a year until the remoteness of the country that first gave Lucy her musical voice suddenly became a drawback. That, combined with a marriage proposal led Lucy (now performing solo as Little Lapin) to return to England in 2012 and since then the last couple of years have seen much gigging, writing and recording. The first EP arrived in 2013, a mix of Pretenders, Aimee Mann and Sia, her vocal rich and comforting, the songs catchy yet introspective. The new, more upbeat, ambitious single serves as an appetizer for the full album due this time next year.
As well as the 6 music exposure, Lucy describing the show as “a great platform for new music’, ‘The Waiting Room’ was also featured on the winter 2013 edition of Stateside indie music magazine Under the Radar, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Local Natives and Chvrches on an eclectic playlist, Lucy admitting, ‘that was so unexpected, but really cool, great to appear alongside more established artists’. Currently there is still no record deal but with the increased exposure of her songs, combined with perhaps a festival appearance or three this summer, it’s surely only a matter of time before her services are deservedly signed up by a label.
Words - Mike Price
Little Lapin Official