Lunatraktors are a collaboration between choreographer and percussionist Carli Jefferson (she/her) and vocalist and researcher Clair Le Couteur (they/them). Starting in 2017 with an apocalyptic question – What's left when we've lost everything? – the project strips down folk to the basics of rhythm and voice. Jefferson’s hybrid of tap dance, flamenco and body percussion, developed after touring with STOMP (2001-2004), meets Le Couteur’s self-taught overtone singing and 3+ octave range. Building on this foundation of somatic sound, their 'broken folk' style expands from harmonic singing and dance into eclectic acoustic beats, accordion, whistles and analogue synth basslines.
Reimagining Anglo-Celtic folk music through a shared love of trip-hop, flamenco and post punk, Lunatraktors reveal that 1800s broadside ballads can feel just as personal and urgently political today. A double act in the old fashioned sense, Le Couteur channels the voices of multiple tragi-comic characters, matching Jefferson’s hyper-expressive performance style. Jefferson’s compulsion to dance while drumming prompted Lunatraktors’ custom percussion kit, providing both rhythmic and melodic elements to their sound.
Lunatraktors are known for dance, costume, installation and film as much as their music. Since their debut in 2017, they have created hundreds of performances, workshops and commissions for a wide range of theatres, festivals, galleries and museums across the UK and Europe, including the V&A, the Turner Prize opening weekend, the British Museum, and Waterford Gallery. Their DIY debut album This Is Broken Folk – drums and vocals recorded live in a viaduct arch – made #9 on MOJO Magazine's Top Ten Folk Albums of the 2019. Their second album The Missing Star explored a fuller, more cinematic studio sound, reaching MOJO’s #2 spot in 2021. Solstice Wyrd, a trippy yuletide folktronica release by festive alter-egos Yulatraktors, was selected for Tradfolk.com’s top three Christmas folk albums of 2023.