BioBorn in Providence Rhode Island, Lisa Papineau was raised in respective wilds of Massachusetts and Vermont. Spending the better part of her childhood as a bookworm and the tall girl with the unfortunate perm that seventh grade boys and social studies teachers loved to pick on, Papineau nonetheless managed to tepidly dabble with the flute and the oboe.
Intent on pursuing an academic career in the study of anthropology and religious systems of thought, Papineau found herself drifting with regularity into performance art workshops, film classes and multimedia projects on and off campus. After fighting, and not quite conquering an intense streak of stage fright and general public timidity, she debuted as Jenny in an unhinged adaptation of the Brecht/ Weill opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Staged by the late John Braswell (co-founder of NYC’s legendary La Mama Etc. theater troupe), the show’s run was the culmination of a yearlong workshop of the piece.
Continuing to write and play in multimedia performance, most notably with the Arachne group (Edinburgh Fringe festival), Papineau found herself incorporating more and more music into her pieces, exploring the limits of what a raw vocal and body in motion could express. After seeing such a performance, the reknown soprano soloist Kitty Rowe encouraged Papineau to consider herself seriously as a musician, and offered advice and training to help develop and protect her voice in its rigors.
After a bout of reading too much postmodern literature, Papineau packed up on a whim and moved to Los Angeles. Working with such groups as Fizgig, Fka and SissyBar, and not withstanding the abstraction of the Sting/Metallica folk rock puppet theater Big Enough Umbrella, Papineau then began a collaboration with the composer Tyler Bates. The project was lovingly dubbed Pet. Coming to the attention of Tori Amos and her manager/ collaborator Authur Spivak, Pet was the first signing to their imprint label with Atlantic Records, Igloo.
The eponymous record (the title Le Pet was rejected by the fellows of the band as being too fey), was released to a great deal of critical success(..terse enigmatic songs that could be X-rays of adolescent mood swings -New York Times.) However, it was the band’s appearances on the soundtrack of The Crow II and, on the Rock For Choice benefit album Spirit of 73, that brought the group a wider following. After touring extensively, including a stint on the Warped Tour, the band returned to the studio to record two tracks for the Blue Note Records soundtrack of the film, The Last Time I Committed Suicide, which Bates also scored.
After the break up of the group, Papineau headed back to Vermont for a much needed hiatus. Upon her return to LA, she co-produced the film Treasure Island. Directed by Scott King, the film was awarded the Special Jury Prize for “Creative Vision” at the Sundance Film Festival.
Soon after, Papineau began a recording project with Pet bassist Juan Alderete, songwriter and producer Bruce Bouillet and bassist Tim Commerford. As the music was initially meant to be only a studio incarnation, Cummerford soon headed back to his day job with Rage Against the Machine. Continuing to write and develop their sound, and now calling themselves Big Sir, Alderete and Papineau began to perform the music live, with line-ups that fell, on any given night, between raw, intimate sets as a duo, and full bodied, eight-personned shows.
The release of the debut album on Mootron Records was met with a modicum of success, quickly selling out the limited run.A remix album of the original songs soon followed, featuring creative stylings by the likes of Dan The Automator, Sugar (Buffalo Daughter), and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Ima Robot), among other professional fancypants.
During this time, the two musicians continued their collaborations with other artists. Papineau lent her vocals to such diverse projects as the last two AIR albums (10,000 Khertz, Talkie Walkie), P.O.D’s The Fundementals of Southtown, Scapegoat Wax’s Okeeblow, Farflung’s Belief Module and NinePin Body, and the debut album of Summer at Shattercreek, while also rocking mic and synth for the farewell tour of The Rentals. Alderete worked with Money Mark and Dr. Octagon; most recently touring and recording extensively with the Mars Volta. Big Sir have recently completed and will release their newest album in November 2006, with GSL records.
2005 featured Papineau singing two tracks each on the M83 Before the Dawn Heals Us January release, and Scenario Rock’s Endless Season album. She also made an appearance on the Eenie Meenie Records tribute to electronic music pioneer Bruce Haack, which features her rendez-vous with The Anubian Lights on the track “Walking Eagle.“