Lederhosen Lucil
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Lederhosen Lucil

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The best kept secret in music



Montreal – Canada's Paris is famous for its Euro edge, the historical architecture of the old port and the sleek fashionistas who litter the sidewalks of the Saint-Laurent drag. But you'd never know it from this crowded club far north on the Main.

Sala Rossa has been transformed into a candy-coloured Pee-wee's Playhouse hallucination of giant papier mâché sunflowers, palm trees and otherworldly foliage.

In the middle of the stage, backed by two goofy-looking dudes wearing pylons on their heads, a real-life cartoon is performing. Sporting fluorescent lederhosen and long blond braids, she coos coquettishly about the lump on her wrist while cranking campy 60s garage riffs out of an amped-up keyboard. Blink and she's switched it up with an electroclash piss-take complete with lyrics about flatulence, Ladytron-chilled robo-vocals and Depeche Mode-gone-haywire dance beats.

"You can be as nasty or nice as you want on the dance floor," she crows in a faux Bavarian accent. "Everybody just look reeeeal good!" The oddball crowd goes nuts, cheering and hamming it up with Solid Gold moves and runway pouts. A frug-crazy ponytailed nerd on the floor wins a dried apricot snack for his Eurotrash flair.

Welcome to the surreal universe of Lederhosen Lucil.

"I really want to create a different world when I'm onstage," Krista Muir, Lucil's alter ego, confesses months later, sitting by a frozen-over pond in Montreal's Parc Lafontaine. "And I want the audience to engage with me so I can take them there. With the costume, I have instant access to something fantastical, and in a bar I have a context to create the universe I want to express through these songs."

She's won fans in the unlikeliest places, from the Paul Frank rep who fell in love with her persona and begged to design graphics and clothing for her, to the ecstatic authentic Germans she played for last summer in Heidelburg, to former roommate and Ninja Tune darling Kid Koala, who recruited her for a cross-country tour last fall. She impressed his reps so much that they asked her to join the next leg – in Europe.

On the street, you'd wouldn't connect Muir to her performance persona. With short brown hair and student-chic duds, she comes off as your average Concordia communications grad (which she is), albeit one with a complete boxed set of Pee-wee's Playhouse videos on her shelf and an array of fuzzy hats in her closet.

But the Kingston native is a born ham, and it comes through. Over dinner with some pals, she bursts into song, gnaws someone's arm, tells an elaborate anecdote about the perils of regular bowel movements over weeks in a tour bus. Mention Lucil in a phone conversation and she snaps into character – accent, broken English and all.

It's second nature for a girl who went from playing a munchkin in an elementary school production of The Wizard Of Oz to her dream of starring as Dorothy five years later.

Classically trained, Muir cut her teeth playing in Kingston garage bands as a teenager and almost studied music at McGill. But it wasn't till 1998, when she threw a martini party in a Palmerston Street apartment in Toronto, that she unleashed Lederhosen Lucil. She put on the shorts and broke into improv mode.

Armed with only a pair of borrowed lederhosen and a crappy vintage keyboard, Muir created her character, a bouncy Germanic goofball with a dried fruit obsession and a penchant for celebrating the banal.

"I definitely felt something click," Muir recalls excitedly. "It wasn't just me in jeans and a shirt playing grunge. It brought me back to my childhood, because I loved dressing up for musicals. And bringing that side out in me again was incredibly liberating. Improv was easy, and I could do things I'd found so difficult before. It changed my entire perspective on performing live."

She recorded her first album of lo-fi electro-pop tunes, Hosemusik, with Fembots pals Brian Poirier and Dave McKinnon in their brand new garage studio in 2001. Hamilton indie Sonic Unyon picked it up for distribution, and the quaint collection of tunes – about cutlery and all things Deutsche – hit number one on Canadian college radio charts.

While Hosemusik was popular amongst the quirky indie set, it comes off as a cute collection of demos. But last summer, when she'd amassed a colourful array of lederhosen – everything from gingham country-and-western hosen to thugged-out hiphop hosen – and perfected her live act, Muir was finally able to do her tunes justice. She holed up in a New York basement to record the delightfully developed Tales From The Pantry (Hypo Records) with producer Terence Bernardo.

Jumping between genres, languages and personalities, from the Go-Gos-ish garage-pop chirp of Doin' The Ganglion to the low-tech Bronx hiphop bluster of Semi-Sweet, Tales From The Pantry is a gargantuan leap for Muir. At times, her subversive lyrical wit and ability to morph between songs evokes a trilingual Disney version of Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville, with a dark edge.

"People somehow get the impression that it's totally happy and sweet," muses Muir. "I don't know why. The lyrics are quite sinister. The second album has creepy lyrics about hospitals and the health care system.

"At a very young age, I was told I was a sickly person. When I was seven or eight I almost died from an asthma attack – I was allergic to something in my grandmother's mouldy basement. They had to put me in an air tent, like ET. It was really traumatic.

"Later, a homeopath diagnosed me with candida and food sensitivities. It was amazing. She put me on this horrible diet of cutting out sugars and all these other things that I was pretty much addicted to. I came off them like I was on heroin!"

That obsession with health threads through Muir's music, and it's intricately connected to fascinations with bodily functions and food. She actually had her own catering company when she was nine, and pulled in pocket money baking cakes for her mom's friends' baby showers. She called herself the Short Chef and was interviewed at the time by CBC Radio. All of which explains the juxtaposition of lyrics about brown rice, TVP, burritos and refined sugar alongside images of evil authority figures in white lab coats.

Everyone may not get the intense personal bent of some of Muir's tunes, but it's the combo of twisted subject matter, MTV-generation short-attention-span pop pastiche and over-the-top performance that makes Lederhosen Lucil a fascinating pop phenomenon.

Back in the martini party days, Muir never would've predicted her kitschy caricature would be this successful. Yet she knows she can't keep bastardizing German forever.

"It's like any good musical – characters run certain courses. This is the year of the Lucil, and then I'll move on. Will I start not liking the character? Maybe. Will I start getting annoyed with her hairstyles and having to keep up her pretty outfits? For sure. But I've invested a lot in this character, and so have other people. And I love to give the audience what they want." - Now Toronto Magazine

"Lederhosen Lucil"

By Ric Taylor

Synth-pop oddity Lederhosen Lucil (alter–ego of
Montrealer Krista Muir), taking a penchant for electropop
performed in Pee Wee’s Playhouse, has fashioned a
Bavarian–accented chanteuse that is clever, cute and
creating catchy tunes that strike a chord with everyone
she meets.

“She’s just one of those weird cosmic things that just
happens and you can’t really explain why in logical
terms,” says Muir about her creation. “She’s a fun,
imaginary girl that I dreamed up and she’s great on
stage. Krista Muir’s great on stage too — but I get to be
me every day so I like to get dressed up at night.

“She adds that comedic element between songs but
when she sings it’s actually my voice that comes through
when she’s performing,” she clarifies. “If I could have it
my way, I could have two bodies and have her come out
and introduce the songs and I would sing the songs, but
since that’s not going to happen — I kind of took on this
character so I could have her perform my songs. The way
I express myself is through this musical theatre. It
combines the theatrics of the stage with rock and roll.”

While the blonde, pigtailed, lederhosen–clad figure
seems a tad surreal, there are similarities between
creator and creation. Since her debut cassette in 1999
the following three CDs (culminating with the recently
released Tales From The Pantry) Lucil is becoming a
phenomenon well beyond the Cultural Studies and
Communications Graduate’s wildest dreams. Lucil has
created and headlined Soiro Bizarro, a carnival/concert
that was the must see show this past July in Montreal
and now has secured a spot opening for Kid Koala, one of
her biggest fans, on the forthcoming Short Attention Span
tour set to hit hotspots across North America.

“Things have changed drastically in the last two years,”
muses the singer about her growing fan base and their expectations of her performance. “It’s been evolving and
getting stranger. There’s always some weird theatrical
antics based on the audience participation level — the
more feedback the more experimental Lucil can get. But
it’s as serious and as funny as the audience takes it to be.
For me, I’m just having fun but there are definitely more
serious songs that are sweet and moving and if you close
your eyes it becomes a little bit more dream like.”

Since the age of eight, Muir has liked to express herself
visually, often traipsing around town in a pink tutu and
sneakers. Her current career choice is simply an
extension of that desire to create and communicate from
her own perspective. Incorporating all of her vices, she
entangles her music in punk, country, hip hop, and
Broadway, all with a jaunty new wave tilt — it’s pop music
in the most basic sense of the word.

“That’s what I grew up on,” she laughs. “In the ’80s, new
wave, disco, the folk music my parents listened to and the
classics I studied in school. I really love the camp. In
terms of performing, I find it more liberating than
anything else. If I could go back in time and come out of
Pee Wee’s pantry and hang out with the stuff in the fridge
that would be pretty much a dream for me.

“Theatrics are coming more to the forefront,” she
continues. “Musicians are realizing you have to do more
than just play music, kind of like Devo did, taking on this
whole intergalactic perspective, poking fun but having a
good time and making it really accessible. I think it’s a
really positive thing to be able to dress up and
experiment with different sides and bring new things to
the stage.”

With songs like “Doin’ The Ganglion”, “Anarchavid” and
“Meine Augen,” Lucil is a pop phenom who can easily
laugh at herself and still offer some thoughtful discourse.

“I definitely think people can make a difference. You have
to do something if you want to make a real difference, but
it also comes in small steps. The absurdity of our
day–to–day living is a lot of what makes me laugh. I’ve
never taken a philosophy course so I guess I’m the
accidental existentialist.”

And while her dreams are slowly becoming reality, Muir
is excited to occasionally peer through her special looking
glass at the future.

“I see music videos, I see a kid’s television show, I see a
carnival theme park, I see a natural food product line, I
see a lot of things. I would love to be remembered as a
great and fun entertainer that made people laugh. Music,
comedy and art are fused and they’re inseparable when it
comes to Lucil. I don’t think it’s meant to be understood…
I think it’s meant to be enjoyed.” - View Weekly

"The shelves are alive - Lederhosen Lucil on magic portals and kindly Koalas"


Semi-sweet chocolate, juicy, lumpy ganglions and self-washing dishes are just some of the subjects joyously tackled in song by Montreal’s mistress of keyboard-driven pop Krautery, Lederhosen Lucil. Following her second annual Soiro Bizarro in July—which was such a success, she’s already planning an outdoor, all-day festival for next year—Lucil is launching her trilingual sophomore record, Tales From the Pantry, a ritzy set of classic pop bubbling with cool new wave, dreamy waltzes, funky basslines and party rap. And as the album title implies, the fairyland fraülein draws lyrical inspiration from her dry, cramped living quarters among boxes of pudding mix, cornstarch and graham crackers.

“It’s one of those classic sci-fi fantasy ideas of portals to other worlds being based in reality,” explains Lucil’s pantrylord and other half, Krista Muir. Like the closet to Narnia or the dwarf door to John Malkovitch, Muir’s pantry leads to Lucil, but two larger and less quaint portals have proved invaluable for Muir and her new album.

The first is that mystic invention called the Internet, where an L.A.-based graphic designer named Parker Jacobs stumbled upon her Web site, shared the “hosemusik” with anyone who would listen and subsequently booked Lucil as the opening act for his band (Gogol 13) and his brother’s band (the Aquabats), designed her CD sleeve and incorporated her likeness into a little T-shirt for his company, Paul Frank Industries.

“Of course, the Internet is pretty amazing and powerful, but I never expected it to take me to L.A. to play big shows with these cult bands and make crazy new friends. It’s been a dream!”

Portal two is one McGill University, where Muir studied cultural studies nearly a decade ago with a kid from Edmonton named Terence Bernardo. The sound recording technology student now lives in Brooklyn, where Muir recorded Tales From the Pantry with more than a little help from her producer, co-arranger and bassist buddy.

“He definitely challenged me more than the Fembots, who recorded [LL’s first album] Hosemusik. They didn’t have much input, but this was [Bernardo’s] first big project, so it was a serious investment of his creative energy and time.”

And after a mini-tour of Ontario and a stop at Halifax’s Ladyfest, Muir is investing the remainder of the fall in her first major North American tour. Already backed by ample college radio airplay in the States, Lucil will spend 40-odd days on the road with her other McGill buddy, former roommate and future remixer, superstar DJ Kid Koala.

“He actually lived in a room much like a pantry for a whole year. I remember he could just fit his double futon on the floor, his dresser was on half of the bed. I felt terrible ’cause he had given me his room when I moved in, but he said, ‘No, no it’s cool, I’ll stay at my girlfriend’s house most of the time, whatever.’ He was the best roommate. Whenever I was in a foul mood over exams, he’d make a fridge full of sushi or leave Oreo ice cream in the freezer for me. I mean, who does that?” - Montreal Mirror

"Synth Punks and Super Freaks"

Excerpt from article:

“Les Georges Leningrad? Oh my God, I love those guys,” gushes Krista Muir, known to most as the bouncing, braided Casio starlet Lederhosen Lucil. On stage, she’s a charming fake fraülein who cheers audiences with her quasi-German quips, sugary vocals and skilled strokes of the keys. As on her debut album Hosemusik, Muir dips lightly into new wave, ska, hip-hop and garage with enough presence and pop prowess to make it all gel.

“It’s like making mix tapes for myself,” she says, hinting that her new material is equally varied. “It’s not only because I love so many styles of music, but I love the contrast.”

Pairing Lucil with Les Georges is, of course, its own study in contrasts. If Montreal’s keyboard toting entertainers were metro drivers, Lucil would offer organic fruit bars to all her passengers, while folks travelling with Les Georges might be blasted with intercom shrieking or feel a ghostly finger up the ass. But despite their converse comfort levels, the two acts have been chasing each other’s tails for years, trying in vain to book a show together. Last year, Lucil sought Les Georges for her Soiro Bizarro, a sold-out event that saw La Sala Rossa transformed into an enchanted cabaret full of gleefully eclectic performers. The second Soiro happens July 26, and Muir hopes to create an atmosphere akin to her childhood TV faves, from the hallucinatory British cartoon Doctor Snuggles to post-Andy Kaufman, interactive kids’ shows like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

“‘Scream real loud!’ — ‘AAHHH!!!,’” Muir enthuses. “That playfulness was so different from most shows, which you’re supposed to watch passively, and a lot of new bands have adopted that fantasy approach. It’s like psychedelic childhoods manifesting in a weird adult world.”

Muir’s own fantasy began to bloom in her hometown of Kingston, Ontario, and those blossoms formed the foundation of her career in Montreal, where she’s lived for much of the past decade. She played dress-up from the age of three and wrote music and musical theatre as a teen, finally launching her alter ego as an elaborate joke at a Toronto house party.

Around the same time, Vancouver’s Canned Hamm also tapped into skewed kids’ culture, a scene that’s long been budding down south, from early Ween and Beck through Mr. Quintron & Miss Pussycat and the Aquabats, whom Lucil recently supported in L.A. in front of a thousand screaming kids. It was her biggest show ever, a thrilling and relatively easy gig coming a week after her most stressful show ever — in Germany.

“I was standing backstage thinking, ‘I could just run out the back door right now,’” she recalls, but she stayed, playing Heidelberg’s literary festival along with a pack of sombre poets. Worse still, the venue’s flat lighting made every face and every gesture crystal clear. But with all this and the pure pressure of dishing her faux-Bavarianisms to “the real thing,” Muir charmed the crowd, drawing laughter, applause and many kind words.

“The best moment was when this little nine-year-old girl asked for my autograph,” she says. “This character is like a fairy tale, even for me, but she was so happy, she was obviously in fantasy land.”

Back in Montreal, Muir is working hard at her fantasy, recording another album (out this fall in time for a tour with Kid Koala), preparing Soiro Bizarro, and pondering Gelée (“stoned”), her project with Kingpins singer Lorraine Muller. They’ve yet to release any music outside the city, but the Cure and New Order-inspired duo might emerge one of these days to join the fray of local new wave and glam obsessives like Echo Kitty.

“Those Echo Kitty boys are so cute,” Muir beams. “They’re almost like sprites from another world.”
- Exclaim! Magazine

"Rockin' sie Deutsch - Lederhosen Lucil's Germanic genre-jumping creates an electro culture clash"

It's hard to imagine Lederhosen Lucil coming from any Canadian city other than Montreal. What other city would spawn a trans-Euro cabaret character with two '80s keyboards playing twisted Teutonic tunes that borrow from polka, punk, ska, synth-pop, electro hip-hop, country and torch balladry?

The woman known offstage as Krista Muir was raised in Kingston, did her undergrad at McGill and gave birth to her alter ego while working crappy data-entry jobs and recording with The Fembots in Toronto. But as a performer, Lederhosen Lucil didn't really come alive until Muir moved back to Montreal for grad school.

Interviewed at an old-school Montreal café complete with a striking woman practicing show tunes on an upright piano, the charming and funny Muir explains how she came to be the local comedic Queen of Kraut, who "puts the oomph in umlaut."

"I have no German background, really," she confesses. "I really wanted to learn the language for no reason at all. I took one course at McGill in first year. I thought the idea of lederhosen was so great -- leather pants! -- and I always wanted to have a band that used lederhosen somehow. I did Ukrainian and Scottish dancing in Kingston, and I always loved the costumes they'd wear. I don't have any real background in this, just a weird synthesis of fake backgrounds."

Lederhosen Lucil's debut CD, Hosemusik, was released this spring, combining her 2000 Fembots recordings with her first 1998 demo, recorded with Hawksley Workman sideman Karl Mohr. While the novelty factor is rather high, it's not a one-joke shtick (which the live act could easily be accused of being). Rather, Muir reveals herself to be a catchy and fantastical songwriter, who's actually a great keyboardist as well.

That said, she does rely on the built-in drum sounds on her old Yamahas. "I don't program anything," says Muir, whose sound has been described as "budgetronic." "I just got a sequencer in the mail today through eBay for eight bucks. I'm rooted in acoustic instruments like upright piano and violin, so my keyboard was the first electronic thing I'd ever used. I have so many songs that I need to create without the keyboard now, because they are limiting. I'm at the point where I'm running out of voices and beats that I like."

Muir says her songwriting sprouted from her urban ennui while living in Toronto, taking refuge in the delights of a new electronic toy. No, not that kind -- we're talking about the keyboard. "It was almost like therapy," she says. "At night I'd come home from working my crummy job and start playing it and experimenting with it. It's a whole band in one instrument, and I could play it at all hours. Stories started coming out of me about being in a new city and being exposed to a bunch of new things. All this music comes from both me and this character. They could be separate things, but for some reason they fused together.

"The first few times I played, I didn't know what to expect," she says. "If people had responded poorly to the character or thought it was offensive or whatever, it would have been lost along the way. But people really liked it. There's something about this character that everyone both old and young thinks is funny and bizarre. It is a humorous character, but some songs are more serious and based on true-life events. Those are harder to deliver in character. I could drop the character and I think the music stands on it own, but it's certainly fun for performances. The character might change, or I might develop a new one. I've been working on a goth girl for a while, so she might come out of the closet soon."

As for any dormant debates about cultural appropriation, Muir denies that Lucil is even necessarily German, even though it's the one of the last cultures that's politically OK to mock.

"She could have any accent, be from any part of the world," Muir insists. "She could be speaking her own language, it doesn't have to be German. I just happen to like lederhosen. A lot of non-Germans tell me, 'Oh, if you played in Germany you'd be in trouble!' All the Germans at my shows ask me if I'm German and tell me that they really like what I do and that I should play Germany, that in Europe they're so much more open to weird, freakish cabaret stuff. So I don't know." - Eye Weekly


Hosemusik (Hypo Records) 2002.
Tales from the Pantry (Hypo Records/ Triage) 2003.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Who is Krista Muir?

She is a songstress. She is a multi-instrumentalist. She is an actress.

And who is Lederhosen Lucil? She is Krista Muir’s original alter-ego.

Krista Muir, grew up (in Kingston, Ontario) taking classical piano lessons, but also listening to stuff like the Clash, the Ramones, Patsy Cline, and the Pet Shop Boys. This intersection of piano with, among others, punk, country and new wave, has led to the wonderfully weird pop perfection of the songs she performs as Lederhosen Lucil. Her music is ridiculously catchy. It's often played on two vintage Yamaha keyboards and totally rocks. It's genre-defying, often hilarious and always compelling.

But why "Lederhosen Lucil"? Lederhosen Lucil is a manifestation of Krista's many sides. She's Krista in drag. She's an escapist plot, a hopeful mischievous sprite. A Bavarian girl with a faux-history, audiences always find a side of Lederhosen Lucil that they can relate to because she connects with the audience and then takes them away to a land far away.

And why a character? Consider that Krista Muir, when she wasn't playing piano or listening to the Clash, was watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse religiously. She came to embrace the idea of the alter ego, and the infinite possibilities of being (almost) another person. As Lederhosen Lucil, Krista is able to openly explore one side of herself as a musician and performer- cracking up the audience between songs with her lightning-fast wit while singing about topics like sucrose, temp jobs and dishwashers.

Her classic songs are featured on two albums: Hosemusik (Produced by Toronto-based Fembots on Paperbag Records) and Tales from the Pantry (Produced by Terence Bernardo of White Mud Freeway on Bar None Records). As her songs touch upon so many styles and her personality connects with so many emotions, she has been invited to share stages with the artists as diverse as Hawksley Workman, Le Tigre, Stereo Total, Momus, Mary Timony, Luke Doucet, Fembots, Luther Wright and the Wrongs and Weeping Tile, and she has toured North America and Europe with Kid Koala and the Aquabats.

But what next for Lederhosen Lucil? Have we seen all we have to see in this braided-blonde girl in german-short-pants? More importantly, what next for Krista Muir?

Krista's next album is going to be an exhibition of her more dark, ethereal and experimental side. Exciting, tragic and emotionally riveting, it promises to move you through her darker and deeper stories. Quirky lyrics fall by the wayside and in their place more complex melodies will emerge.. And through all this, we will see Lederhosen Lucil evolve into a new character. Her second alter-ego, Krystal Skaul, will be set loose in the studio while Lederhosen Lucil continues to challenge audiences to laugh, dance and to sing along.