From old-school to new-wave, from bebop to hip-hop, from schlock to rock…
Taro began the idea behind Gigi & Pop In New York City based on the family nickname for his grandparents with a few unreleased recordings and a number of songwriting ideas. It wasn’t until 2005 when he began working with Australian-born singer, dancer and xylophone player Anna CopaCabanna, that Gigi & Pop came to life as a project. The goal was to present themselves as a lounge-style duo, and maintain a likable presence and wry sense of humor. This was the vehicle with which they performed simple but catchy indie pop melodies on a variety of retro keyboard and drum machine sounds.
In 2007 they released their first CD “8 Track: Lo-Fi in Hi-Fi.” These eight songs captured on an 8-Track recorder display influences of new-wave, disco, rock, lounge and other genres through the use of uncomplicated but effective melodies, lo-fi instrumentation and tongue-in-cheek humor. 2007 also saw bassplayer and friend Ken Zwerin begin contributing his musical talents to Gigi & Pop.
Gigi & Pop released the eleven-song CD “On Our Way” in 2008 which continued in their style, however adding a ukulele as a primary instrument for many of the tracks. This also lead to a new focus on acoustic songs in their set. By the end of the year however, Anna CopaCabanna left the project needing more time to commit to her existing work as a solo performing artist.
Shortly thereafter, Taro began working with singer/burlesque performer Anita Cookie. Her knack for comedic timing and array of talents brought a different type of energy to Gigi & Pop and would influence the project to move in a new direction. Comedy would begin to play a larger role in their live performance as they began incorporating a more vaudeville-like presentation of their music. With Anita, songs began incorporating tap dance, kazoo, slide whistle, flexatone and other instruments and toys. In the beginning of 2009 they would begin a monthly residency at The Slipper Room in New York City that would continue for nearly a year and a half.
By the Spring of 2009, Gigi & Pop’s unusual version of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” began getting attention within New York’s burlesque community. This comedic rendition would lead to them performing it at the 2009 Burlesque Hall of Fame (Exotic World) Pageant in Las Vegas that summer where they would win the “Best Variety” trophy. During the next several months they would end up performing this act in burlesque festivals in Toronto, New York, and Key West.
At the end of 2010, Gigi & Pop released the aptly named Odyssey Two (after Arthur C. Clark’s novel, and as a possible reference to a second “incarnation” of Gigi). This CD features 15 songs spanning a wide array of styles and genres of influence. It includes some recordings that had begun in 2006 as well as a live radio appearance in which the trio perform a rambunctious tribute to Spike Jones’ cover of “Cocktails for Two.” The first track on the album, “Tonight You Belong to Me” became one of their signature burlesque/variety performance numbers which Gigi & Pop performed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, Toronto Burlesque Festival and New York Burlesque Festival in 2010.
In February of 2011, Gigi & Pop headed to the West Coast to complete a 9-day, 7-show tour of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego (where Kenball, Taro and Cookie are originally from, respectively). The “Goin’ Back to Cally” tour featured performances in a variety of burlesque and live music venues in support of their album, Odyssey Two. Later in 2011 Gigi & Pop would turn a popular track from the album, “Beware the Company,” into another burlesque/variety act that they took to the Burlesque Hall of Fame and New York Burlesque Festival.
In August of 2011 Gigi & Pop began their residency at the western-themed “Branded Saloon” in Brooklyn where they would enjoy working on their chicanery in an intimate and friendly setting, often after the “White Trash Bingo,” country duets, and an assortment of other colorful acts.
In December of the same year, they digitally released the single “Santa Go-Go!” This irreverent garage-rock inspired holiday tune features some nasty baritone sax licks by “Moist” Paula Henderson and is the first single from their next full length concept album "All Year Long!"
In June 2012, Gigi & Pop once again performed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in Las Vegas. This time they brought their full music set to the pool party at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. In August that summer they would head back to San Francisco and Los Angeles for another west coast mini-tour “Goin’ Back to Cally II” where they played 8 shows in 8 days including a few burlesque shows, rock clubs, a theater art space, a radio spot and a tiki lounge!
In March 2013, they released "Gigi & Pop: All Year Long!" This 14-song concept album is a comedic and irreverent take on the year's popular (and not so popular) holidays. The only non-comedic exception is a pop-hook filled summer-themed song "Fireworks" which was also released separately as a single. "All Year Long" is filled with high energy humor that is at times childish and at times completely inappropriate, but always entertaining. That same month they embarked on a two-week cross-country tour beginning in San Francisco and ending at their home at the Slipper Room in New York City making stops at a variety of live music venues and burlesque houses along the way.