Interview: Little May

I met up with Karen ‘Ball of Poison’, Oosy Feshion and Enis Fogarty. Otherwise known as Annie, Hannah and Liz of the Aussie babe band Little May.

The cuties from down under met with me on the day of their second London gig, ever! Little May shared with me their “it just came naturally” yet perhaps not so natural stage names (hence the previous introductions) and we talked about their latest EP. The self-titled record was released on the 10th of this month, and believe me when I say, it really is glorious. Full of tantalising melodies that’ll melt your heart, and lyrics so dark and meaningful it’ll harden it right back up again. I also discovered why their only band interest is ‘giggling’… *Pause for laughter*.

There aren’t a lot of girl bands doing what you’re doing with the folk/indie style. Is that something your conscious of?

Liz: No, I think we just kind of did our thing.
Annie: I don’t think we were conscious of being like “oh we should do this because there’s a space for it”. We just thought it sounded good, and it’s just what happened.

The themes in your music are quite dark, and pretty meaningful lyrically. What were you inspired by, or thinking about, when you were writing the EP?

Liz: We’ve always been drawn to writing darker music. I think our influences are quite dark, and lyrically we tend to go to darker places.
Hannah: Leaking out feelings I guess, that’s what usually comes out.
Liz: I think it’s therapeutic to do that, I don’t think we consciously want to focus on things that are dark, or depressing, or sad, or any of those. Just kind of happens like that.

There’s a real mixture of mellow moments and then followed by sudden bursts of energy it seems. Do you tend to get the lyrics, melodies or chords down first when you start writing?

Liz: We start with the structure of the song, it varies obviously, but the way that we usually work is to start with the chords of the song and build the structure. And then maybe the melodies or lyrics, we kind of craft it. Quite a crafty process.

You layer a lot in the recording process, is that your technique to build it up?

Liz: Build it up is a good word. We do like to focus on building something.
Annie: I think we always make sure a song can stand on it’s own with just one guitar and vocals. We make sure the melodies and lyrics are strong enough. And once we’ve got that base then we look at what we can add to enhance it, what drums or whatever. So we go from there.

I get a real natural feel about your music, and the sound of it feels like it’s pretty much ‘festival ready’. Is that something you’re keen to get involved with? Or have you been involved with any in the past?

Liz: (Extremely big nod). We’ve always dreamt of playing big stages, big songs to a lot of people. So yeah festivals are something that we’ve been preparing for. So we played our first big festival Splendour in the Grass in Australia.
Hannah: We played Laneway before that.
Liz: Oh yeah. We played Laneway Festival, which is a really awesome festival in Sydney, actually it’s everywhere in Australia. We played that in February and then we played Splendour in the Grass in July. We’ve had a taster of the big sound system and the whole band.
Annie: And everyone is in such a good mood at festivals. It could be really daunting if you’ve got a big crowd and people just sort of stand there. But at a festival everyone’s in a good mood, having fun and I don’t know…just open.
Hannah: I think that festival was one of the first times we looked out [at the crowd] and the majority of the people we didn’t know. Normally, it’s a lot of our friends that come to support us. But playing to such a big audience and seeing some people singing along
Annie: And clapping along. We feed off that energy.

What’s the dream festival?

Hannah: I’d like to play Glastonbury.
Annie and Liz: Yeah.

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You’re about to go tour in America and around Australia, your home country, it’s a fair few dates. Is this the biggest tour you’ve done?

Liz: The first gig we’ve done overseas was last night. This is the biggest tour that we’ve done. We’ve played a lot of gigs in our time.
Annie: We’ve done a few little tours around the east coast of Australia. But that was like three or four nights over a couple of weeks, so this is our biggest overseas trip. We go to New York on Sunday. We’re doing six gigs in five days and supporting Rodriguez when we get back home in his arena tour. It’s pretty non-stop.
Hannah: I found out this morning that we have one day off when we get home I think.

But the London show tonight is sold out. Did you anticipate that happening?

Liz: We always say that we’re really wigged out when we play gigs for people that aren’t our friends. But now we can confirm that these people aren’t our friends, because we don’t know that many people in London.
Hannah: It’s so weird; I can’t process it at all.

Have you got any plans to come back to the UK to do more shows?

Hannah: We’re definitely looking at some dates for next year, or a period of time next year. But we really want to work on the new album early next year.

And what stage is the album at? Writing or recording maybe?

Hannah: We’ve written some songs that I think we’ve all agreed on that we would like to go on the album. But nothing [concreted] yet.
Liz: Think we’re planning like a week to go up to my parents’ farm and record demos and knuckle down and get our own demo done and then take it to producers.

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I’ve got a scenario for you now. For the upcoming tour, imagine you can only take three things, excluding each other and instruments because they’re a kind of necessity. What would they be?

Annie: Probably my pens. I have an extensive pen collection. It’s a bit ridiculous. I do a lot of drawing so I’ve got a lot of fine liners. And every time someone wants to borrow a pen I’m like *imitates reluctantly passing over a pen*.
Liz: Oh god, sorry, I always borrow your pens to fill things out on the plane.
Annie: I’m like you can use this pen but not these ones.
Liz: I won’t borrow your pens from now on.
Annie: I’ve got designated pens, it’s fine.
Hannah: If I had to pick three things… my friend recently have me a Gameboy with Pokémon in it. I’m like obsessed. But the batteries ran out on the plane. And I bought a dictionary, but I bought it at home. I was like “I’m gonna highlight all these amazing words”. But then I left it at home so I wish I had my dictionary [on this tour]. And my friend’s lucky coin that he lent to me before the first gig that we ever played.
Annie: My mum gave me noise-cancelling headphones. Which are the best things to ever be invented. You just put them on and all noise is gone. They were a lifesaver for tour.
Liz: I don’t have any sentimental things. I’d just take my phone and my earphones so I could listen to music. How boring. I’d probably take my spanner earrings.

On your band Facebook page, the only band interest was giggling.

Liz: We got told to take that down. I was like “no, I like it”.
Annie: Some of the meetings we’ve been in recently, we’ve been full of jetlag and so delirious, and we’ve not made any sense.
Hannah: We had a meeting the other day, and we were so tired that everything we said did not make any sense. The people were probably wondering what is wrong with these girls, they’re just crying with laughter.
Annie: We started talking about my mental image of Flume playing a giant triangle.
Hannah: There’s no context to that story.
Annie: There wasn’t any context at the time either.
Liz: I think we scared them.

What’s your funniest band anecdote?

Liz: I’m just thinking about how many there are.
Annie: We’ve been coming up with stage names.
Hannah: Liz and I, when we were younger, we were having a couple wines on the balcony and we said “we’ll form a band one day and our stage names will be…” And mine is Oosy Feshion.
Liz: And mine is Enis Fogarty.
Annie: Mine is Karen ‘Ball of Poison’.
Liz: Mark is Purty Beuy.
Annie: Because he has the best hair in the band.
Liz: And Cat is BB Schnitzorn. They make no sense what so ever.
Annie: We always said that they’ve got to happen naturally; it’s taken like a year to get everybody. Cat really wanted a stage name, and we were like “we can’t force it, just let it happen”. And then it happened and she became BB Schnitzorn.

That’s amazing.

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Your new EP took about two years to fully finish to a point of release, what do you hope to happen in the forthcoming two years for Little May?

Liz: Well the EP took so long because we really wanted to focus on creating our sound and make sure we got the right band together for live shows. And take time to consolidate what we were trying to get together. But we’re keen to do an album. We were going to an EP but because of the amount of time the previous one took, we’re ready to do an album now. So hopefully it won’t take as long as this one.
Hannah: We’ve definitely developed a lot more confidence in our sound. For this EP we were quite sensitive about whether we wanted to go hardcore folk.
Annie: The sound has evolved naturally and now we’re like “this is what our sound is” and before we were like “we have a few songs, what can we do with them?” So now we have a much clearer idea of what we want to achieve. We’ll get there.
Hannah: Just keep writing and try to produce something that we’re proud of and that people enjoy.

Words: Eliza Frost
Photography: Matt Martin