Abbe May (Official)
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Abbe May (Official)

Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music



Abbe May has just released a monster album of doom pop, Kiss My Apocalypse, and she's knee-deep in press interviews. As she's quick to point out, it's a hectic time but rewarding too to have finished such an ambitious project.
"I'm lucky I've got such good people to work with." She says. "I can barely keep my own shit together and I've gotta look very closely at all these lists of who I'm talking to next."
The sound on the new album seems much more electro, with bigger production all round than your last two. Does it feel like a natural progression for you?
Yeah it was a natural progression. After [2011 album] Design Desire I'd been touring rock n' roll since I was 19. Since Design Desire had been toured to the nth degree I’d started writing tracks for a new album and wrote 'Napalm baby' and it was this big scaling riff but it was basically just the same fucking thing as Design Desire, just a different song.
Kevin Parker had done a remix of 'Mammalian locomotion' and it got me thinking maybe we need to remix these songs and take a different approach. You know, maybe even take the guitars out altogether. And I thought how am I going to say this to [producer] Sam [Ford]? And then right around the same time Sam came up to me and said "please don’t be angry - I've done some remixing of hte recordings". We'd both basically arrived at the same idea. So it was very natural you know? But very deliberate – I always want to find something new, I never want to just do the same thing again.
How did you write these songs?
Well previous I brought songs into the studio and there was a lot of co-arranging - other people suggesting "maybe we should put a piano on this song" and things like that, but I'd never co-written before. This time Sam and I wrote a lot of it together. He'd maybe come up with a beat and then I’d write a vocal melody over it.
How long did the album take to write?
About 18 months. Once we stopped touring Design Desire, when we started writing new rock n roll songs I would count from then 'cos that whole process fed into these songs. So yeah, 18 months.
Were you still writing songs after the recording process began, or did you have them all ready to go before you stepped into the studio?
Oh yeah, we had a deadline and had to get the whole album written, so I was still writing songs after we started recording. That can be very stressful. With the next one we intend to not tell anyone until we have the album ready to go. But it was good - having the deadline really forces you to work. But with the next album we’re gonna take 2 weeks and go down south and just write a really fucking trippy record.
What next? Will there be another big shift in your sound or are you going to explore this new territory some more?
It's hard to say at this point 'cos I’m influenced by what I hear as I go too, you know? Ask me in 2 years time. With this new album I do feel like we’ve really found our sound that’s best though. I think we’ll continue on these lines but hopefully get better within that genre.
What's exciting to you in Australian music at the moment? Any particular acts?
Bertie Blackman is incredible. I think her album released last year [Pope Innocent X] was criminally underrated; in the industry people really respected it but I’m not sure the public got it. Bertie Blackman is one of the most incredible, powerful musicians I've ever seen live and the album she released was stunning. Sometimes that’s just what happens though – somebody releases a great album and it’s just not the right time or doesn’t get the right coverage. Maybe that’s what happened there. To me that was a tragedy, 'cos that was a really great, quirky pop album with a lot of credibility. Another artist is a local over here [Perth] called Mei Swan Lim. She makes the most stunning trip hop just from her bedroom. There’s a few things like that out there that really blow my mind. There’s heaps of good stuff out there. I think Australia has some of the best female artists in the world. Women are very intense and very powerful. Music is a male dominated industry but when you see the women who break through, who make good music, they are very powerful and very creative.
What have you got planned for the near future?
I might take a little break. I might go and holiday in Greece or something. I need to go and learn how to use drum machines so in the future I can be a bit more helpful in the studio. [laughing] - The AU Review

"Music / Abbe May"

You might be surprised to find someone so firm, so resolute and wise behind the breathy, almost dizzying tracks on Kiss My Apocalypse. Perth musician Abbe May, she is all of these things. She says what she thinks and isn’t easily perturbed. Her sound has journeyed from seriously stirring rock to synth pop. Her ambition, it’s authentic (“I hope to develop as an artist and a writer in the same way that in my life I hope to become a better person”). She is above all earnest, perhaps too much so: “That’s the main reason for continuing … For the pure sake of continuing doing what you love doing.” For us, she speaks openly about heartbreak and takes shit from nobody.

How do you go about making music?
My process is basically: I generally fall in love – usually with somebody who’s really bad for me – then I get broken-hearted and then I have to go and write songs about it. It seems to have been the process so far. No drugs, just weird, bad, crazy love. We all have our muses I guess, and it’s debatable whether love is less dangerous than heroin or peyote.

Your heartbreak has taken on different sounds in your records, especially in your latest release Kiss My Apocalypse, what’s changed?
I wanted to stick within the parameters I set at the start of the project, which was to make a fairly sparse electronic record that didn’t have a huge amount to do with the big scaling guitar riffs of past albums. I tried to stick within those parameters but really for me writing is about catharsis; so it’s literally a case of write an album, spend thirty grand making an album or spend thirty grand on therapy after a failed love affair. So it’s more a process of getting those emotions out and trying to turn it into a good song and a good record where I can get my experience out, but it’s not so self-indulgent that only I would get it. Hopefully the process of writing the songs goes from being a kind of exorcism of the heart to a structured and developed song that people can relate to if they haven’t experienced what I have.

Why the shift from rock to electronic?
I felt like I’d done everything I could with the music I was making in (2011 album) Design Desire and it felt like there were plenty of reasons to make a second rock ‘n’ roll album: we got a lot of radio play, we got spots on all the summer festivals and things were starting to look as if they were working overseas. It felt wrong to have that notion of ‘well this is working’, to think about it like a product is really wrong and I basically had to go, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore’ and I have to take the risk of losing everything for it. I’m glad I did ... I’ll never make records to sell them, it’s just not something I can do. And turning something that’s so important for your emotional wellbeing, it is a way of balancing myself by getting any kind of negative experience out of my life by making music out of it. If I turned that into a commodity or a commercial activity it would be very difficult to feel balanced about it. Maybe I’d have more money but, oh well, I don’t really care too much about it, money comes and goes.

Where else do you look to be influenced?
I’m really influenced by visual artists: the photographer Toni Wilkinson, filmmakers like Wes Anderson. I’m really influenced by them because a lot of what a writer has to do is create visual imagery with word and sound. I’m also an avid reader so I read a lot of novels to develop my writing style. And they take you to another place, which is what all writers should really be aiming for.

Your icons?
I really admire Diane Arbus; her work is just stunning – beautiful and disturbing at the same time. I also admire Toni Wilkinson who’s a brilliant academic and photographer. There’s a young artist too called CJ Hendry. She does these photorealistic illustrations of wonderful iconic pieces of fashion and Australiana with ballpoint pens and they look like black-and-white photographs. I admire anyone who’s brave enough to be themselves.

And your best piece of advice?
Be supportive of each other, be brave, and don’t take shit from anybody.

- See more at: - Russh Magazine

"Lust and a tantric beat"

Abbe May speaks like she loves: in great consumptive waves. On Kiss My Apocalypse, the Perth singer-songwriter's third studio album, the 29-year-old invokes an obsessive relationship with references to sexual hunger and images of obliterating floods. ''Remember the lights, shut out by the bed covers,'' she intones on the baroque pop of T.R.O.U.B.L.E., ''remember to lie, to all of your other lovers.''
''The love affair that this record was borne out of was very destructive,'' May explains, sipping a lunchtime tequila in a Prahran cafe. ''I'm not claiming to be a victim of it, but I put my heart in harm's way - probably deliberately - and although there's no victim here, it was intense and painful.
''If you take the big highs, you have to take the big lows, and I had the choice between spending 30 grand on psychotherapy or 30 grand on making an album. I chose the album.''
May's background has positioned her as a rock'n'roll hellion, a guitar-slinging update of the blues-rock lineage. But on Kiss My Apocalypse she's remade herself as a practitioner of downbeat pop - ''Kylie on ketamine,'' is one of May's shorthand descriptions - that turns on drily declarative drum programming, atmospheric synths and strangled shards of guitar. Music careers in Australia favour conservative continuity, but May is unconcerned.
''We could have built up that rock-chick bullshit, but I'm just a woman with a guitar, not Suzi Quatro,'' May says. ''You articulate your music with an instrument and this time I was sick of the guitar. I was sick of the heaviness, the fuzz, and I wanted to try something new. I know it's a big risk … but I don't care. If you make a record for the right reason, then it doesn't matter what the reviews are or who buys it.''
With long-time collaborator Sam Ford, May experimented with the Memotron, the digital version of the Mellotron keyboard, and remade her band; Tantric Romantic references May replacing her drummer with a machine. But May's version of pop music is more vintage Grace Jones than Rihanna, and she doesn't offer an uplifting resolution or hold out the promise of pleasure.
''I don't have sex with a lot of people, I'm pretty picky,'' she says. ''For me it's more the emotion of that union. My friends can detach and do that, but I need to know who are you before I let you come that close. While sex is generally pleasurable, the effects and strain of it when it's tied to your emotions can almost drive you mad. The record stays dark and in the mire.''
In person, May is friendly and forthright. She talks about the circumstances that resulted in Kiss My Apocalypse in the past tense and emphasises there is a degree of humour in the heightened state of personal menace she summons. Still, May describes the experiences that formed the album as life-changing, even if that doesn't preclude revisiting the badlands of unfettered desire.
''I would never disrespect myself that way again,'' she says. ''I would never allow the value of my heart to be lowered the way I did. It's life-changing because I'm a better person for it. I'm not bitter and angry. I came out of a painful experience positively. As a passionate person, I'll continue to put myself in the way of situations like this, because you have to allow yourself to love and be loved. This is my way of accepting that. I'll get hurt again; I'll hurt someone else again.''

Read more: - Sydney Morning Herald


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