Abbe May has been described as Kylie on ketamine and Beyonce in the microwave, but there is really no pigeonholing this genre-spanning musician. We sat down to talk taking on the boys, Kiss My Apocalypse and her upcoming national tour…
By Emma Dean
What’s the first thing people should know about you?
Like most people, I loathe being patronised.
It’s interesting to see the wide range of influences on your music – who inspires you musically?
I’m inspired by any musician that pushes beyond their comfort zone… that applies to writers, film makers, artists, graphic designers, actors, athletes and photographers too… I’m inspired by any individual who seeks more than the mediocrity they are brainwashed into thinking is all they can expect from life.
What’s a typical song writing session like for you?
No such thing as a typical song writing session… Sam and I take on so many different roles during the process of making the records… sometimes I create the beat …sometimes he does… I always write the lyrics and vocal melodies – we both keep each other on track during the process. He is a great producer and co-writer. We just let it flow and whoever has the best ideas gets to put it into the song. We don’t compete. We collaborate.
You’ve taken a turn from heavier riffs to “weirdo pop” – what inspired the change?
I’m bored to death by rock and roll and not all, but a lot of people associated with it seem to me to think that that the only way to be ‘cool’ is to be hard to listen to… or to be frantic and rebellious… cool is knowing yourself… being good to yourself and others… having original thoughts… wishing the world well… respecting action and consequence. THAT is cool. I still listen to Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Zeppelin, Stones, The Beatles, Beasts of Bourbon, Sabbath, the Loose Lips, White Stripes…all of that.… I still have a place in my heart for the good stuff… It would just be inauthentic for me to play it right now. The coolest person I know is a 60-year-old country and western songwriter… I have beers with him most Sundays… He’s a predominantly a kind but unhappy man with a big heart and a supreme intellect whom I like to make smile… He teaches me a lot… I love him because he never ever pretends he is anything other than what he is. THAT is cool.
Your new album Kiss My Apocalypse is out in April 2013 – what can you tell us about it?
You can expect a trip through the wasteland of the death of love – conceptually I am linking the end of love to the end of the world – hence the apocalyptic themes. You can expect no heavy guitar riffs – instead a real beat-based, trip-hop doom pop record.
Talk us through your latest single ‘Karmageddon’
It’s pretty obvious that Karmageddon was born out of a traumatic experience of love gone foul… the writing and recording of the song was an act of catharsis and healing for me. I had to let go somehow and the only way I could do that was to write and release the song. The video… well, that was collaboration between my director and dear friends, Luna Laure and Cinematographer, Dave Le May. It is meant to conjure up images of the darkness that can exist when love turns foul.
You’ve had a couple of tracks used in TV shows and commercials – for musicians how would they go about doing that? Would you recommend it as a good way to break into international markets?
These sorts of syncs are usually attached to a publishing deal – a good publisher should give you an advance of money and actively seek syncs for your music… I strongly urge most musicians to avoid signing deals like this until they have enough of a back catalogue to sell and a big enough profile to attract a quality publisher… my main advice in this regard – forget thinking about it and focus on making good music.
You’re about to head out on the Karmageddon tour around Australia – what are you looking forward to the most? What can people expect from your live shows?
I’m looking forward to playing an entirely new set live. I’m looking forward to meeting the east coast audiences again and I’m certainly looking forward to the grand finale at the bakery in Perth on Dec 21. Some of my best friends are supporting and it will be really special for me.
You can expect a really dynamic and powerful set of doom pop. You can also expect to not hear anything from my previous recordings.
You’ve toured all over the world, where do you enjoy performing the most? Do any places inspire your music?
I loved playing in Montreal… the people were so beautiful and I enjoyed the beauty of the environment. People there are absolutely gorgeous.
Rock n roll is still a pretty male dominated genre – do you find it easier or harder being a female musician? Why?
This question… always seems to be so frequently asked… in some ways it is an advantage to be a woman in a male dominated industry… When I was playing guitar I could play most men under the table… (not all ha ha ha – my brother kicks my arse in this regard)… people seemed to enjoy that… which was so heavily based around me being female… I think that is fucking dumb…
Now… I just think it should be that if you are good – no one gives a fuck if you have balls or ovaries. Who cares if you are pink, blue, purple or a motherfucking multicoloured leprechaun… if you can play and are authentic then what does it matter?
What’s your opinion on the music scene in Perth?
AMAZING. We have so much quality music here… and some of the greatest musicians I have ever met. It’s a great environment for music and the development of talent. And it’s not just music! The film industry, the photographers, the graphic designers, the actors, the artists here are all incredible… I’m so lucky to have been able to hand pick some of the best here to work with me… Western Australia is a paradise on so many levels.
What are some up and coming bands we should know about?
Dianas, Hayley Beth, Rudy Eugene, Polly Medlen, These Shipwrecks, Blackmilk, French Rockets…Felicity Groom, Long Lost Brothers , Cow Parade Cow, Usurpers Of Modern Medicine… Guns… Naik, Davey Craddock… Mathas… Tomas Ford… so many more!! I couldn’t possibly list them all.
Thanks to Abbe for taking the time to chat to us.
Check out upcoming tour dates here: http://abbemay.com/