Lucie Gamelon Find Their Rhythm With Offbeat Pop

Singer/songwriter Blair Tefkin leads rising, L.A. pop quartet to Lilith Fair dates and music-publishing deal.

LOS ANGELES -- Blair Tefkin of the pop quartet Lucie Gamelon is

putting on her pout face.

The singer furrows her eyebrows and puckers her lips as she picks the

opening bass notes of the punchy pop number

HREF="http://www.addict.com/Gamelon,_Lucie/Julie,_Not_Her_Real_Name.ram">"Julie (Not Her Real Name)" (RealAudio excerpt).

With her curly, red hair piled atop her head and tumbling toward her face,

Tefkin seems like Shirley Temple gone bad. Instead of singing with ruby

cheeks about the "Good Ship Lollipop," Tefkin is grimacing and complaining

about some klepto wench who stole her T-shirt.

"It's a great T-shirt, I know," she taunts in her honey-coated singing

voice, as she sings to the Cafe Luna crowd during a recent performance. "On

that we both agree/ but you ought to hand it over/ because it looks a whole

lot better on me."

The members of Lucie Gamelon -- Tefkin, guitarist Bernard Yin, keyboardist

Suzanna Mast and drummer Brian Sussman -- kick into the song's rocking

chorus. Tefkin's expressions become more playful as she bobs her head to

the rhythm.

After a pair of late-August appearances on the Lilith Fair tour, a

major-label music-publishing deal for the band's debut release -- the EP

Everything Is Nice -- and interest from producer Glen Ballard

(Alanis Morissette) and rock icon Marianne Faithfull, Lucie Gamelon are on

the rise. Idiosyncratic songs such as "Julie (Not Her Name)" have set them

apart from more run-of-the-mill pop bands.

While sitting on her amp backstage after the Cafe Luna show, Tefkin

reflected on "Julie (Not Her Name)."

"I was in [a] carpool with this girl in junior high, and she was a

kleptomaniac," explained Tefkin, who writes all of Lucie Gamelon's songs.

(The arrangements are a full-band effort.) "She came from a wealthy family,

but she would take things, then come to carpool the next day and say, 'Look

what I got!' And you'd be like, 'That's funny, because I just lost mine,' "

Tefkin said, tossing her head back and laughing.

Though her background is in screenwriting and comedic acting, Tefkin swears

that she couldn't tell a story to save her life until she started writing

songs three years ago. As she learned to play bass, she began setting

quirky tales to tunes, eventually finding a forum at local coffee shops. It

wasn't long before she decided to take her musical efforts to the next

level; in 1996, she formed Lucie Gamelon.

"I genuinely liked that [Tefkin] hadn't spent her career writing songs,"

said Danny Benair, vice president of Film & Television for PolyGram Music,

who signed Tefkin to a publishing deal. "It began very organically.

[Tefkin] decided, 'I want to play bass and I want to write songs.' Instead

of spending years going from [band to band], it was a sheltered songwriting

-- very natural."

Lucie Gamelon released Everything Is Nice earlier this year. It

features such compact and catchy ditties as the retro-pop send-up "Looks

Like Love" and the offbeat elegy "The Enduring," which is "about seeing the

names of dead people in your phone book," Tefkin said.

On the flipside, "Dead Gone Girl" -- sporting a snide cackle from actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh -- has a theatrical feel, as Tefkin broods, "It's that

dead gone girl or me." Though Tefkin's bass often sits at the forefront of

Lucie Gamelon's music, the buoyancy of the melodies overpowers the weight

of the anchoring grooves.

Aside from scoring the publishing deal with PolyGram for Everything Is

Nice, the band has caught the attention of notables Ballard and

Faithfull. While Ballard plans to use Lucie Gamelon's song "Good Advice"

for the soundtrack to the upcoming film "Clubland," Faithfull has

considered recording the jangle-and-groove number herself, according to

Tefkin.

In addition to their Aug. 21 appearance at the recent music conference

North by Northwest, Lucie Gamelon performed on the women-weighted Lilith

Fair tour Aug. 25 in Salt Lake City and the following day in Boise, Idaho.

"The [band's] sound is not quite where I want it to be yet," Tefkin said.

"Sometimes I think the best stuff I've written came out of being ignorant

in a way, she said. "And now that I'm more familiar with the bass, I'm not

quite as inventive ... But considering I couldn't write a song four years

ago, I think we're doing pretty well."