LUCY ELIZABETH CONROY: IT'S VINTAGE DARLING - INTERVIEW BY MEL
A beautiful sunny day and I’m driving across the glorious Northern countryside, towards Hebden Bridge, over the Rochdale Canal, and on the way to Yorkshire. The scenery is outstanding, and I am loving the peace and tranquillity.
My mission today is to meet the petite Burnley lass named Lucy Elizabeth Conroy, a name which could have come straight out of a Bronte novel. She is not only a wonderful singer/songwriter; but also a business woman, who owns a vintage boutique in the village called Lucy And The Caterpillar.
As I slope across the square in the village, and cross over to a side-walk café. I spy upon a very Parisian looking blonde femme, sporting a birds nest coiffure, looking very très chic, à la Bardot. I knew at once this must be the Lady I had come to photograph today and engage in chat for a brief interview. So, without hesitation I approach and of course my observations are correct. Lucy is a Petite, twenty three year old, vintage wearing, love child of Edie Sedgwick, with Bardot’s playfulness, and the only person I know who has size 2 feet. We instantly hit it off, and sipping on cappuccinos, we indulge in a girlie chat, infused with giggles, swapping ideas on clothes and ideas for the shoot ahead. Lucy has an extremely likeable, infectious personality, is at once, warm, welcoming and fun. After the photoshoot in the local church hall we head over to Lucy’s vintage boutique for some more photos in her vintage space, plus our interview.
MEL: Lucy And The Caterpillar, is not only your shop name, its also the stage name, which you are known at this moment. How did the name come about? Well obviously your name is Lucy!
LUCY: I don’t know, it came about because I loved caterpillars [laughs] and I thought my guitar looked like a caterpillar [laughs]. I don’t know why but…my songs were quite fluffy and cute and that’s what caterpillars are really. Yeah, I’ve made the shop the same so it doesn’t get confusing [laughs].
MEL:When we were talking earlier [in the coffee shop] you mentioned you were looking at changing your stage name?
LUCY:I think I am – I’ve been doing Lucy And The Caterpillar for about five years now so I think my song writing has changed a lot. It’s a bit more, not exactly serious, but kind of older? So, I am going to call myself Lucille.
MEL: So, what sort of music do you play? Are you a band or are you a solo artist?
LUCY:It’s like folksy, pop? I can’t really describe a genre for it…I don’t know how I got into playing that sort of music? I think it’s just a mixture of all my influences. It’s upbeat, melodic stuff! [laughs]
It’s just myself, I write my own stuff, but I’ve got a Mandolin and Violin player. We did a gig at the Arts Festival in Hebden Bridge and he played for me on stage, it sold out, it were great. All my customers were there, it was quite a surprise for them [giggle] they didn’t know I could sing.
MEL: Do you come from a musical family?
LUCY:No, just myself. I think my Dad’s a bit creative, I haven’t met my Dad but my Mum said he were creative. So, that’s where it must come from obviously, but my Mum is creative as in she paints furniture and does drawings but I think it comes from more my Dad’s side.
MEL: Would you liken yourself to anybody at all?
LUCY:I wouldn’t, I really don’t know who I sound like.
MEL: Name one of your song titles?
LUCY:‘I don’t think I Stand A Chance’ – I kind of base my songs around romance, Paris and vintage.
MEL: So, have you been to Paris? Maybe you have visited the famous Cemeterie Pere Lachaise?
LUCY:I have been to Paris, quite a few times. I love Paris, there is nothing quite like it?
I don’t really go to that side though, I like just going to a Café and people watching. I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower once.
MEL: What about other places such as Italy? Does that inspire you at all?
LUCY:It does, everything inspires me. Paris is the most so.................it’s the kind of City you can write a big long song about it. It’s so beautiful.
MEL: So, when your writing your songs you can see yourself in Paris?
MEL: Do you write your own lyrics and music?
LUCY:Yes, I’ve been writing since I was 15. Even before I could play guitar I was still trying to figure out little cords on the guitar. I went to guitar lessons for a couple of months but didn’t like it cos they taught me on how to write songs and I think you learn that your own way.
MEL: Have you got any releases – singles, albums? Where can people buy your music?
LUCY:I’m just working on my new songs I’m gonna be recording soon. I just want to figure out what I want to do really with Lucille, ‘cos I want to make a fresh start, and go from there.
I am Lucille will be [www.iamlucille.co.uk] will be the next website with my new stuff on. So that will be my next thing. that’s sells my old stuff. That is going to change and will be just for the shop.
MEL: Where will you be recording your album? Do you like record it very quickly or take your time?
LUCY:At friends a house, to get different sounds. They all have their own studios, I like recording songs in different places ‘cos it’ll be a more varied album, as it won’t have the same sound.
I’m impatient, so I guess quite quickly, first takes are the best. If you work on it too hard it won’t sound the same.
MEL: Have you ever supported anyone we might know?And who might you like to support in the future given a free choice?
LUCY:I’ve supported quite a few people. Kate Nash, Scott Matthews, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Florence And The Machine in London before she were famous. That was a great gig at the Nambucca in London! I’ve played some big Festivals, Big Chill, Latitude, Leeds festival…I love Festivals but they are too big for me, I love more intimate gigs, smaller venues, little tiny theatres and stuff is my sort of thing.
I’d like to support Feist, Regina Spektor, Jose Gonzales, people like that.
MEL: Musical influences?
LUCY:When I was younger I listened to The Smiths a lot, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees and then I went into The Beatles. I love the songwriting of The Beatles and I like Joni Mitchell, stuff like that, old Jazz, Billy Holliday. I don’t really like much modern music, but there is one person I do like Feist. Leslie Feist, she is great.
MEL: Have you always been a creative person?
LUCY:I think I have, I make dresses, and I like anything arty? I appreciate a lot of things, when people create something I really appreciate it. MEL: What kind of style of dress do you prefer these days, what's your ‘image’?
I think its more 60’s at the moment, I went from 50’s I used to wear little cute dresses, now I’m more black. Simple dresses, really now, but I do love my dresses.
MEL: You’re really into your female characters…[as noted on her black and white photographic wallpaper in the dressing room she made herself out of a book]
LUCY:I love my old female idols and black & white classic movie star stuff. [laughs]
MEL: Your favourite film star I guess is Brigitte Bardot?
LUCY: It is, I love her, she is great, and I also like Jean Seberg and Mia Farrow, they are iconic ladies!
MEL: What’s your favourite movie?
LUCY:My favourite movie is Rebecca – Alfred Hitchcock [laughs] very dark but….When I first watched it I thought oh my god it’s the slowest film I’ve ever seen but by the end of it my nails were bitten, I was sat on the edge of my seat, it’s a great film. A classic!
MEL: You like all the old films, no modern films in there?
LUCY:I like the old films, some new films – obviously my French new films we’ve got a little cinema in Hebden and they play old black and white films, old and new. It’s an old art deco cinema, really beautiful.
MEL: You mentioned about your customers earlier, we must tell our readers you have a super vintage shop! [It’s a very cool shop as well]
LUCY:Yes, and we are sat in it now! Vintage shop, I’ve had it for five years, I opened it when I had just turned 19, and it’s a booming business. We are open Thursday, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, but I’d make sure the weather is alright, ‘cos I’m not open if its raining [laughs]. Hebden’s one of those towns that if it is bad weather, there is no point in opening.
MEL: So where do you get all your stuff from?
LUCY:[laughs] Dead people! A lot of people bring stuff in, I actually brought stuff from Paris when I was over there and brought it back. I’ve been collecting for a long time, so most of it was my collection.
MEL: You’ve not just got clothes, you have cameras, record players, lampshades, chairs, stockings, its like Aladdin's cave.
LUCY:[giggle] A good rummage in here will sort you right out.
MEL: Where do you think you get your love of vintage from?
LUCY:I think its just because I like anything different. Growing up I never bought off the high street, because I just felt I would be like everyone else, so vintage is so unique and unusual I felt that something that was for me. It’s got a story, a history and I like that.
MEL: What do you do in your spare time - do you perhaps read?
LUCY:I only read Vogue! [laughs] The problem with me is that my minds on other things, maybe if I tried to relax and read I’d be a little less of a hyper person. I really can’t sit there, I start thinking about what I’m having for my tea mid read, and then its like what have I just read? I’m more of a listening to music person, I love drawing my own little logos for the shop, drawing dresses that I’m gonna make, writing as well. Letters to friends, the old style, we always just e-mail nowadays and I hate it ‘cos you’ve got no memories if your computer crashed. I just love that, I’ve bought old diaries before of people from the war and I just love them, they are just memories, like pictures. [you were born in the wrong era]. I was born in the wrong era it really depresses me [laughs]. I hate modern stuff now!
MEL: What else do you do..…?
LUCY:I spend a lot of time with my Mum [laughs] we go shopping together, love going to antique centres and I’m also putting on a vintage fair in Hebden Bridge its in Hallmarks Art Centre on Holme Street on September 10th and there are going to be lots of vintage treats if you like that sort of thing.
Do you want me to tell you my dressmaking story….well, I make my own little frocks. When I moved into the shop five years ago, I shared the room with a Lady called Dorothy Rumble, who was a seamstress, since she was five, her Mum taught her all the nitty bits of sewing, and she taught me how to dress make. I do bespoke dresses for anyone who wants a vintage style 50’s dress. Yes, using vintage fabric in the shop, that’s what I do in my spare time.
MEL: Will people be able to find the Fair on your facebook?
LUCY:Yes, I’ll post it under Hebden Bridge Vintage Fair, and you’ll find it there.
MEL: You mentioned earlier that you didn’t know if you wanted to move from Hebden, perhaps to the big smoke – London or Manchester?
LUCY:I have been thinking of moving away but I love it here and I’ve got my little dog - my little Coco Chanel, who loves the Countryside [laughs]. I’m sure she’d love the city, she’d get used to it but…she loves the park here and the greenery.
MEL: Is there anything else people should know about you??
LUCY:Watch this space [massive laughter]!
MEL: What’s next for Lucille?
LUCY:Lucy & The Caterpillar are no longer - gonna work on the songs and make them more me now. When I started off I was only 15, and I hope I’ve grown up since then, so yeah its gonna be Lucille, new videos, new songs, new blog.
MEL: And finally who would you like to find backstage at one of your shows - it can be anyone dead or alive?
LUCY: I’ve probably like to meet Coco Channel, or Brigitte Bardot. They sound like absolute unique people, Doris Day too, she’s a recluse. The recluses have got loads of animals and I can picture myself like that, I love animals. I’m a vegetarian, so I like to do my bit too. I’d have loads of animals if I could.
Thank you very much, and we wish you all the best. Get yourself down to Lucy's shop for some vintage rummaging. Check out the full set on Flickr