Tapping toes with the Tootsies

UK girl band, Tootsie Rollers, loves all things retro and vintage. They tell Kareena N Gianani how they promise to mix memorable ’30s-’50s classics with contemporary music at their debut gig in the country

Five years ago, artistes Katy, Khiley, Anne, Flo, Lisa and Meg formed the retro band, The Tootsie Rollers. In India for their first gig at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse today, the band says they are waiting for some trippy cultural shocks. Their music? Think The Andrews Sisters meets Girls Aloud, think a dizzy cocktail of the ’30s and some contemporary tunes, and you’ve probably got these girls figured out.

The Tootsie Rollers during Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot

How did the six of you meet? And what was life before you came together as the Tootsie Rollers?
We met five years ago, performing in a retro musical in London, and ‘Toots’ was a term of endearment we used for each other. It wasn’t long before ‘Toots’ became “Tootsie” and then The Tootsie Rollers were born. It’s no coincidence we met on a retro musical — all of us love the great Hollywood musicals and grew up watching retro silver screen movies. Life before Tootsies? It was a just a bit less shiny and colourful.

What kind of music and artistes are part of your earliest influences? And tell us about the influences that still seep into the kind of music you enjoy making the most.
There is something wonderful about the golden era of Hollywood, the fashions, the music, the lifestyle. We enjoy giving the era a contemporary twist and bringing the retro up to date for a modern audience. We each have a 1940s icon who inspires us. It seemed obvious that Lisa (our redhead) would feel an affinity for Rita Hayworth and Flo (our bombshell) would gravitate towards Marilyn Monroe.

What have been your most memorable gigs till date?
Colin Firth is even more attractive in person. We sang at his 50th birthday party. Kevin Spacey is a pretty good singer himself. His rendition of Somewhere beyond the Sea is quite something. Richard Branson requested we sing Like a Virgin for him live onstage, so we had a quick confab, worked out some swift harmonies, cheekily tweaked the lyrics Mister Virgin, and trooped back out to serenade him. He was delighted.

What kind of music and details have you got planned out for your gig in India? What went behind those choices?
We are so excited to be visiting India — none of us have been before. We like to fuse the best of the old with the best of the new. Our music is bright, vibrant and fun, and we love it, so we hope others do too. Our style is accessible, nostalgic but relevant. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

What do you think sets your band apart from the rest and why? Do you all plan to experiment a bit for the Indian audience ?
We hope we might be the first retro girl band to perform in India. We’ve worked on a whole new set for our Indian audiences. We’ve kept our Tootsie favourites, but added some new contemporary tunes, which we hope people will know and, more importantly, get up and dance to. We are six best friends having an absolute ball, and what you see is the real us. We call it the Tootsie factor and hope India will like it.

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