Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Little May

Little May
Little May
arrive in the UK at the beginning of October for a handful of club dates, providing the opportunity to see a band up close and personal just before things really start to happen if their highly anticpated, Aaron Dessner produced debut album For the Company is anything to go by. The record, which is released during the UK leg of the tour builds upon the gorgeous, melancholic musings of the trio’s eponymously titled 2014 EP and AMBY managed to catch up with guitarist Annie Hamilton to find out what it was like working with one of the biggest names in the business.

AMBY: For all our AMBY readers around the globe, what and who are Little May?

Annie: We are Annie, Liz, and Hannah, and with our powers combined, we are a band :)

AMBY: You’ve released an EP in 2014 along and an album is about to drop in October. Tell me about how your experiences creating these records differed.

Annie: The processes for the EP and the album couldn’t have been more different… The EP was a bit of a work in progress, recorded over several different locations, with several different producers over about two years. Over that time we were constantly reworking songs, recording new songs, and scrapping other songs, until we finally decided on the final five songs.   The album, on the other hand, was done and dusted in just five weeks. We had been writing for a while to build up a bank of songs, before going over to New York to record with Aaron Dessner. We spent 3 weeks in Hudson (upstate NY), tracking the songs in an incredible old church that had been converted into a studio, then two weeks in Brooklyn finishing the album in Aaron’s garage studio. It was such a whirlwind experience but we all feel like we ended up with a really cohesive body of work because of it.

AMBY: Your forthcoming album was produced by Aaron Dessner. Can you describe in layman’s terms his role and influence on the record?

Annie: I think at first we were all a bit star-struck to be in the same room as Aaron, let alone working with him, especially when he would sit down at the piano and start playing a National song… It was very surreal. He was incredible to work with and actually played a pretty large role in the sound of the album, beyond that of a normal producer. Aaron definitely pushed us to find what was working in each song, and to build on the good parts and scrap the parts that didn’t blow us all away. A few of the songs on the album are actually co-writes with Aaron, where we took lyrics and melodies from existing songs and reworked them with him to create something new. I think you can definitely hear his influence in the record in the textures and layers of production on each song.

AMBY: The new material certainly seems darker and more foreboding. Was the shift in style intentional or is the process more organic than that.

Annie: I think this was a natural shift that occurred over the time between recording the EP and the album. Even though the EP only came out in late 2014, it was a long work-in-progress so our musical style was actually developing throughout the recording process. The EP feels like a nod to where we began, whereas the album feels like a more accurate representation of what Little May actually sounds like.

AMBY: New bands always seem to draw comparisons with more established outfits. Who have you been compared to and were you happy with this comparison?

Annie: This is a tricky question because we always seem to struggle comparing ourselves to other bands… One comparison that we’ve had a few times is with Haim, which seems a bit strange to us because we can’t really see any musical similarity between us. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an extremely flattering comparison as Haim are an incredible band, it just doesn’t feel like the most fitting comparison in terms of our music.

AMBY: Are there any dates or countries you’re particularly looking forward to visiting?

Annie: On this tour we’re going to a few places that I’ve never been to before, like Amsterdam and Brussels, so I’m super excited to see those cities. We’ve also spent quite a bit of time in London lately and it’s starting to feel like a bit of a second home, so it will be nice to go back there.

AMBY: Does the band have any musical guilty pleasures that could be perfect for an impromptu cover version on the tour?

Annie: There was one time when we were in Hudson recording our album that we had a sing-a-long in our apartment where we just took classic songs and re-wrote them to be about cheese. We ended up with such classics as ‘Dancing Cheese’ by ABBA and ‘Father & Cheese’ by Cat Stevens, amongst other gems. It was pretty ridiculous. I don’t know if any of them will ever make it into a live show, time will tell.

AMBY: I recently saw Melbourne band Money For Rope who are an amazing live band and I was wondering if there were any other Australian bands that you recommend.

Annie: There are so many great musicians in Australia right now… to name a few: Gang Of Youths, Szymon, Montaigne, Holy Holy.

AMBY: Who are your musical heroes, vocally and musically?

Annie: Some of my all-time favourites would be Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Buckley and Arcade Fire… Lately I’ve also been listening to a lot of Animal Collective, they are awesome.

AMBY: It’s early days but do you have a song that you’ve written that you are particularly proud of and why?

Annie: My favourite song on the album is Cicadas, which is the opening track. It’s quite intricate and delicate but it feels very meditative at the same time.

AMBY: I understand that you were friends before you were in a band together. Does being in a band test the friendship in any way?

Annie: It can be really tricky, especially when we’re on tour and living in each other’s pockets. Generally when we’re touring we’re together 24/7, sharing beds and driving around in vans together, so we have an almost sibling-like relationship now because we’ve spent so much time together.

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Monday 5th Oct, Exchange, Bristol Tickets
Tuesday 6th Oct, Bush Hall, London Tickets
Thursday 8th Oct, Gulliver’s, Manchester Tickets
Saturday 10th Oct, Brudnell Social Club, Leeds Tickets
Sunday 11th Oct, King Tut’s, Glasgow Tickets

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Thank you Little May, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Iain Fox | @iainafoxphoto

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