Interview: Abbe May
Words by Richard Gifford - Published on December 13, 2012
By Jeremy Elliot
Hailing from the southern depths of Western Australia, Abbe May is an electronica/doom pop star. Her 2011 LP Design Desire was ranked in the top five Australian albums released that year. Get to know Abbe May as she chats about her relevantly themed follow up LP Kiss My Apocalypse, which promises to be a particularly rambunctious piece of ‘doom pop’. Catch Abbe as she tours Sydney, Melbourne and Perth throughout this month.
So you’re currently adding the finishing touches to Kiss My Apocalypse, what can listeners expect in this follow up album?
It’s a very cohesive ‘doom pop’ record. It’s meant to be a trip from start to finish I guess. Basically a collection of songs when once put together aims to access parts of the heart which I find is a place where tremendous beauty can grow if you access those parts creatively. The idea behind the album is that the death of the world is inching towards to the death of love and every song is more or less a different angle towards the death of love. It’s likening this idea of the end of the world to that notion of when you get your heart broken it does indeed feel like the end of the world, and then gradually accepting that it’s just the end of a world. I guess that’s why we have used so much apocalyptic references.
After the overwhelming success of your previous album Design Desire were you intending on going for something completely different on Kiss my Apocalypse?
Absolutely. Every record I’ve made has been incredibly different from the last one. Album production, next to performing live is one of the best parts of my job and both of those things and in particular album production is a great way to develop and grow as a song writer. There is not a lot of point in making a Design Desire 2 you know, because I’ve already done it.
Your current producer, Sam Ford, is also your bassist. How do you enjoy recording with him and how much influence does he have on the final cut?
Yeah Sam has a great deal of influence on all the records we make. We have basically fallen in to a practice of co-writing the songs, often he’ll bring in a beat and I’ll write the lead or I’ll bring in a beat and he’ll bring write some key parts for it. The only thing we don’t really share is music writing, that’s my job.
Do you focus much on reviews or what critics are writing about your albums?
I definitely don’t ignore it exactly but at the same time I don’t really give a shit if you like it or not. If I made it to please people then it would be an extremely difficult process. Sam and I write music that we want to hear and you either like it or you don’t and I have no control over that. After a few albums you do get to a point where you will get good and bad reviews. There is no truer saying than “old opinions are like assholes.”
A lot of the lyrical content of your songs involves love and sex. Is this something that you find easy to write about?
Like a lot of people, love and sex is at the forefront of my mind most of the time. I was shocked recently to find out that some of my friends didn’t make sex and love a priority in their life and tended to be more focused and that type of thing. My priority is love and it’s such a great muse for me along with many other artists, love and sex is a great motivator.
Being a female musician, have you experienced any prejudice towards your music at all?
No not really. I found that because I manage myself more on an industry level many people expect a woman to be less driven then I am but I refuse to believe that drive and motivation should be associated with anything unfeminine. To be honest I’ve found it an advantage being a woman a lot of the time.
What is the biggest misconception about Abbe May?
I think a lot of people see me as quite a serious person and you look at the lyrics and its quite a dark sense of humour that permeates everything. But I think this is quite an inept part of my character, what else you are going to fucking do but laugh? I can’t help but laugh at myself and I think that’s where the humour comes from, what I’m upset about and what I’m writing about is a bit of a luxury compared to somebody who can’t find food or who’s getting bombed. You might as well laugh at yourself and cry for other people.
Which musicians inspired the classic Abbe May riffage?
I came out of quite a heavy rock and roll background, listening to a lot of Hendrix and those sort of characters. We had a few members from Pond and other psychedelic players from Perth playing on albums. Every musician involved in the band at that time had a massive influence on the way everything sounded. More than anything we were listening to; every album has been inspired by the players on it as much as it has been by me and my experiences.
If you were on the moon and gazing back at earth what song would you play?
I’d probably pound something from Air’s A Trip To The Moon.
Which artist would you bring back from the dead?
I’d probably bring back Amy Winehouse. I was pretty upset that she wasn’t able to bring out a second album. I was completely blown away by Back to Black and when it came out I was so excited and I’m eternally grateful to her for reviving my interest in modern music.
Which musical decade would you most want to live in?
Which one of the wiggles would you bang if you had to?
None of them, they’re all hideous. Probably have a shot at the big red car.
Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
I really like them both obviously. I’m always drawn to the band that you could not bring home to your mother and that would definitely be the Stones.
Tipple of choice?
Top shelf tequila, straight on the rocks
Spotify or Rdio or neither?
I think it’s a great idea and a great way to get your songs out. There’s no point hoarding your music and holding people at ransom for it. I personally like to buy my music and not so much use things as spoitfy however I probably will find myself using it shortly.