In Stickybeaks Cafe, you rarely see anyone except yummy-mummies called Tilly and Vanessa. But this is where I meet Fuller and Marlow, or Xanthe Fuller and Toby Marlow, on their way to a rehearsal. The Cambridge-based duo are playing at a number of big May Balls this year, and are clearly on a post-exam high. It’s the morning after a big night at Cindies – you can’t tell but for Marlow’s edgy commando boot-and-shorts combo. The two have an infectious chemistry that clearly spills into their music, and both possess unexpectedly powerful voices. Over a much-needed caffeine-boost, we discuss the pair’s creative inspirations and the so-called ‘May Ball Trall’.
How exactly you describe your music?
TM: We mostly play covers – but not just any covers! We do really cool covers. We basically get contemporary songs and do jazzy versions of them, or we use older songs and make them our own. We do things like mashups of songs like ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.
So your arrangements are like a creative act; you’re almost composing?
TM: Yeah, I definitely feel like I’m composing the arrangements. After the gigs, people will come up and ask whether they were own arrangements, and I’ll say, ‘yeah, do you want the sheet music’?!
XF: Yeah and I think if you don’t change anything in the songs, it’s less interesting, and definitely less fun for us.
What do you think sets you apart?
TM: We really try to play off each other, so at our auditions we tried to convince them we were really in love.
XF: I mean, we are in love.
TM: Yeah, and we’d stare into each other’s eyes, like in ‘Thinking Out Loud’, while singing in harmony.
XF: We like to do a lot of love songs…
You guys seem to have a really good relationship, where do you get your musical inspiration from?
XF: It’s actually quite annoying because whenever we hear a song, we’ll think how we can jazz it up. Like in Cindies last night, Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ was on – it’s astonishing the number of things that lend themselves to jazz!
A few quick-fire questions to finish: Gaga or Beyonce?
TM: Beyonce. Well, everyone who knows me knows that Beyonce is my life. I haven’t stopped drinking ‘Lemonade’ for a month. But when I was younger, Gaga was my one and all. I had like 5 t-shirts. But I became disenfranchised during the Art-pop phase.
Drink of choice?
XF: Water for the vocal chords!
TM: All alcohol. But I love a cosmopolitan glass; I feel like the glass is more important than the contents.
Queen or The Queen?
XF: Well if The Queen were to offer us a gig…
Latin or American?
TM: American, because all my favourite famous people are there.
ABBA or a bar?
TM: A bar.
XF: A bar. We like ABBA, but we don’t do it in their style.
You can catch Fuller and Marlow at Robinson, Homerton, Lucy Cavendish, Emma, Trinity, Jesus, Clare and John’s, and more to be confirmed.