Lunatraktors' nine track debut album This Is Broken Folk is due to be released in August 2019 on CD and vinyl. The album was recorded live at Arco Barco Studio in Ramsgate Harbour and co-produced by Raphael Mann.
The singles 'Turn of the Plough' (11.11.2018), 'Black Raven' (14.02.2019) and 'Jim Jones' (01.05.2019) are available on all major streaming and download services.
“Fab riffs – predict a bright indie future.” – Will Tizard, Time Out
“Spellbinding.” – Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable
"Political, hearty, weird and wondrous." – Brigitte Aphrodite
“Lunatraktors are melting my brain right now.” – Hot Salvation Records, Folkestone
“Can’t get enough of the Lunatraktors… just when you think you’ve got a hook on what they’re about, they throw a curve ball, keeping you always guessing and starry eyed.” – Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
Dark, trippy overtones and glitchy folk beats to raise your spirits. Launched in February 2017, Margate’s ‘broken folk’ duo Lunatraktors (GB) fuse folk music with body percussion, harmonic singing, tap-dance and live looping. The project strips traditional folksong back to beats and vocals, weaving in influences from cabaret, early punk, hiphop and dance music. Inspired by minimalist composers, queer culture and vaudeville. clowning and live art, Lunatraktors trawl the archives of Irish, English and Australian popular song for offbeat tales. The stories they unearth of bravery in the face of forced migration, political unrest, abuse of authority, and institutional violence find particular resonance today. The duo met in Prague before relocating to become part of Margate’s exciting new creative scene.
Combining the percussive and choreographic talents of Carli Jefferson with the four octave range and haunting overtones of trans folk singer Clair Le Couteur, Lunatraktors use the basic ingredients of body and voice to conjure up expansive, unexpected spaces. Equally at home improvising with hands, feet and voices on a station platform, or electrifying a festival stage with custom drum kit, loops, analogue synth, shruti box and flute, they have played a dizzying variety of venues over the last 18 months. This genre-splicing, gender-blending pair have been taking 'broken folk' everywhere from circus cabarets to the Aldeburgh Festival, contemporary art installations to the main stage at Dreamland for Margate Pride.
The Story behind LUNATRAKTORS This is Broken Folk
Carli Jefferson (1978) is an artist, dancer, choreographer, percussionist and clown, who began her professional career touring internationally with STOMP. Originally trained as a tap-dancer, Carli has spent over twenty years specialising in body percussion, performing, teaching and choreographing for stage and screen. In 2013, while living and working in Prague, Carli met singer, research artist and academic Clair Le Couteur (1982), who was then in the process of recording their solo album. Where Carli had specialised in the expressive possibilities of rhythm and the body, Clair had focussed on language and the voice. While studying and teaching English literature, language, cultural history and contemporary art, Clair had spent a decade exploring acapella folk singing, specialising in overtone technique: shaping the mouth and tongue to produce more than one note at the same time.
Carli and Clair bonded over mutual interests: improvisation, accident, the infinite possibilities of simple, minimal ingredients. Both shared a love of flamenco, jazz, and UK dance scenes like drum ‘n’ bass and trip-hop. Both had spent their childhoods on the Essex coast, with family links in England, Ireland and Australia, but had never felt rooted in a place, and were living far from home. The Lunatraktors performance project was formed through a question: what do we have left when everything is taken away? Who are we without our possessions, without the people and the places that seem to define us? What can we do with just our bodies, our voices, our memories? As well as being urgent political issues for the 21st century, these are very old questions. One answer can be found in traditional music, particularly the hoard of 18th and 19th century folk ballads linking Britain, Ireland and Australia, which tell the stories of people displaced by war, famine, and colonial regimes.
Many years later, in 2016, Clair was completing a PhD in London and Carli was living in Mexico when the moment seemed right to make Lunatraktors a reality. Margate had become a magnet for community-minded creatives from around the world, a space of possibility where solidarity, transnational hybridity and queer resistance could thrive, and the pair decided to throw their fortunes together and move there. With luck and a lot of hard work, Lunatraktors began exploring their material in a huge variety of venues, including Durham’s Empty Shop HQ, the Aldeburgh Festival Pumphouse, Whitstable’s Horsebridge Arts Centre, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Margate’s Tom Thumb Theatre. It was at the Tom Thumb that Steve Webbon (Beggar’s Banquet) met the duo and offered to support their debut This is Broken Folk. The album was made at Arco Barco, a tiny studio built into a viaduct arch on Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour. Each track was recorded live and in the round, using a maximum of three takes and no overdubs. Raphael Mann handled the engineering and mixing; his attention to detail and listening skills meant the duo decided to co-produce the entire record with him. The completed album was mastered by Gizzard’s Ed Deegan, with the vinyl master made by veteran Graeme Durham at the Exchange. Lunatraktors is a transmedia project – Clair and Carli also produce all the sets, costumes and imagery – so it was natural for them to take on the album artwork. With expert design assistance from Steve Webbon, the result is a unique document of this experimental performance project on the borders of live art, queer cabaret, theatre and traditional folk song.
Carli Jefferson (1978, UK) is a trans-disciplinary performance artist. After graduating in Dance and Visual Practice with Liz Aggiss (Brighton, 2000), she touring with STOMP for three years before developing Stepflow, a combination of tap, body percussion and dance techniques. Carli currently performs, teaches and choreographs worldwide in multi-genre projects from folk to street dance, film to textiles, gallery installation to international stage musicals. Recent personal projects include a residency at ]performance space[ Folkestone, and Footfall (2018), a performance for the Draw To Perform festival, Brighton.
Clair Le Couteur (1982, UK) is a non-binary trans research artist and singer, currently completing their practice-based PhD – ‘The Fictive Museum’ – at the Royal College of Art, London. Recent projects include: Transportation Blues (2016), a live-looped folk song cycle at the Horse Hospital, London; Roots Between the Tides (2016), an a network installation of 144 images on long-term loan to Warrington Museum; essays for Gender Forum, Shades of Noir, and the Oxford Artistic Research platform. Clair teaches workshops on trans theory, research art and folk music at postgraduate level for institutions including Goldsmiths and Open School East.
LUNATRAKTORS, Empty Shop HQ, Durham / Sick Nature, Constable’s Studio, Brighton / LUNATRAKTORS, Vinyl Head Café, Ramsgate / LUNATRAKTORS, The Pumphouse, Aldeburgh Festival / Afternoon Tea, Chiara Williams Contemporary Art, Margate / Muckle Mouth, Horse Hospital Gallery, London / SWAN Women Artists Day, Swan Theatre, Prague / Daybreak, Peckham Asylum, London / Oral Rinse, Dalston Hive, London / LUNATRAKTORS, Tibet Open House, Prague / Trutnov Dance Festival, Czech Republic / Curious Couples, Looping the Loop Festival, Margate / Art is something much more dangerous, Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable / Profound Sound Festival, Folkestone / Fine Art Lecture Series, Goldsmiths College, London / Circus Cabaret, Fun Fatale Festival, Prague / Natur Blick, Koppel Project Hive, London / Screaming Alley Cabaret, Royal British Legion, Ramsgate / LUNATRAKTORS, Queen Charlotte, Ramsgate / Why do you never speak? Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable / Variety II, Dreamland, Margate / Margate Pride 2018 / FREE RANGE, Canterbury / Easycome, Skehan's, London / Elsewhere, Margate / Bar Wotever, RVT, London / Queer Voices, Gallery Cafe, London / Connect Nothing With Nothing, Stretch Gallery, Margate / LUNATRAKTORS, Rosslyn Court, Margate / Sonic Boom: Friday Late, V&A Museum, London / LUNATRAKTORS, JW3, London / LUNATRAKTORS vs Oscar Wilde, The Hot Tin, Faversham / This Is Broken Folk, Chapel Playhouse, London