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Interview: Annie 'Little May'

Sydney based indie/folk band Little May have released a brand new EP featuring some of their ‘not so brand new’ tracks. Annie Hamilton joined us for a little chat to tell us all about their new release, their future plans and just generally how Little May roll.

So just to get started, for those who don’t know how did Little May form?

The three of us have been together for about three years now. So I went to school with Liz when we were a bit younger from year 7 to 10 and then she changed schools and went to school with Hannah. And Liz and Hannah sort of started playing together, Liz bought herself a guitar and the two of them started writing a couple of songs and playing a few covers and things when they were about 18. And I’d been playing guitar for a while by myself so the three of us starting jamming together and doing some covers gigs and then started working out some originals. So yeah, it was about three years ago we actually decided to give it a shot and start taking it seriously.

With the EP that’s out Friday, what was the process for writing it? Have you gradually written over the last 3 years or did you go into the studio and say right, we’ve gotta pump out an EP?

It’s actually an interesting one because the five songs on the EP are actually really old, they’re some of our oldest songs. And we originally started recording it back in 2012, so we started recording in a friend’s warehouse and then in the last few years we’ve been refining parts and changing parts. We actually had two other songs on there that we decided to ditch and we replaced them with songs we recorded this year.  So it’s sort of been all over the place, we’ve been recording across a whole heap of places. A big work in progress but mostly old stuff, I think we’re all really excited to release it and get started on some new stuff which will be fun!

That is exciting, especially after three years in the making finally getting to release it…

Yeah, it feels like a long time coming.

So you released Boardwalks on Soundcloud a year ago, did you expect how fast you guys would take off? This last year has been crazy busy for you…

We had no idea, it’s been very strange, surreal but very amazing at the same time! We released the first two singles ‘Boardwalks’ and ‘Hide’ independently on Soundcloud and the response has just been mind-blowing. ‘Hide’, especially. I think ‘Boardwalks’ was a bit slower and was a nice introduction but then Hide got onto the Hype Machine Charts which meant that it had a lot of online traction around the world  and that has just been really surreal for us. We never had any idea, and I think that started everything off and we really had no idea.

Do you find that you write your songs together collaboratively, or is there one person who does majority of the writing?

It changes. Some of the older ones, like the songs on the EP, Liz wrote a couple of them on her own, or Liz and Hannah would be the main writers and I’d add in my parts but lately it has been a bit more collaborative. Like the three of us will sit down and just sort of start playing around with things and see how it feels, or other times one of us might write a verse or two on our own and record it on our phone, send it to the others and then we can restructure and work on it together. It changes, it depends on what the song is and that sort of thing, but yeah it definitely is more collaborative at the moment.

Do you draw inspiration from anything in particular? Do you find that there’s group experiences that someone writes or brings up that you can all relate to?

Yeah, I think in terms of the lyrical meaning behind the songs, Hannah probably writes majority of the lyrics so I guess there is a bit of consistency throughout the songs because most of the lyrics come from her. But in saying that there are parts of songs that I’ve written or Liz has definitely written a lot. But yeah it all comes from our experiences, or Hannah might write a verse for a song and tell us what she’s feeling or what it’s about and we’ll come up with a chorus that relates so it’s awesome.

Do you find that you argue, I’m just imagining 3 girls in one group…

Yeah definitely, the fact that there are 3 of us and we’re together almost every day, we’re sort of like siblings now or some weird married couple. We’re all sort of able to speak our minds now and tell each other what we want and sometimes results in arguments but we also tend to sort them out pretty quickly. And you know we can be screaming about something like ‘No I think this song should do this’, and 10 minutes later we’ll be sitting around laughing, just hanging out which is good.

So you guys played Splendour and Laneway earlier in the year... how do you feel that festivals differ from normal gigs?

Well with both of those festivals, and we also played Secret Garden festival and all three of those festivals we played during the day, especially Laneway when we were the first of the day, so we were on pretty early, um and, I guess having so many people there who’ve never heard of you, like they might just be walking past the stage and stop to have a listen, it is really different from playing a small dark room at night where people have bought tickets specifically to see you. Maybe it’s a bit harder, but also at the same time festivals tend to have such a fun, exciting, chilled out vibe and everyone’s having such a good time that that also is so fun to do. So yeah they are a bit different but I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other. I love doing both!

So you’re supporting Rodriguez in Perth… who are some of your favourite old school musicians or influences?

Well, it’s pretty exciting that we’re supporting Rodriguez because my Dad has always been a massive Rodriguez fan, so I still can’t even believe that we’re actually supporting him, it’s absolutely crazy. I think my Dad has influenced me a lot, even when I was growing up, when I was really little, he doesn’t sing or play himself but he’s a huge musical lover.  So I grew up with a lot of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Rolling Stones, Neil Young all that sort of thing. Even if they don’t necessarily influence our sound, I grew up listening to a lot of it, so it’s definitely an influence even if our songs don’t sound like Bob Dylan!

I’ve had Dust on repeat for the last week, it’s one of those songs I can’t get sick of… is there a story behind that song, because it’s quite emotional and I’ve noticed that with a few from the EP, they seem quite personal?

Yeah, Dust is a really interesting one. It’s one of the oldest songs, I think Liz originally wrote it about 3 years ago and it was originally called ‘Mexico’. So, she was coming out of a long term relationship and it was kind of just about loss and that sort of feeling. And Hannah helped her write some of the lyrics so I think lyrically, the last bit ‘take me back to summer’, is about missing a time in your life. There is definitely sadness and a sense of loss and grief in there. But the song has also evolved so much in the last few years, like originally being called Mexico, and being recorded in our friend’s warehouse and then for the last few years we’ve just been coming back to it and changing parts and rerecording parts and then at the beginning of this year we actually decided to change some of the lyrics. So the whole first section a lot of the lyrics changed and it became ‘Dust’ instead of ‘Mexico’. It’s actually funny, Liz originally put ‘Mexico’ in there because it rhymed with another line even though she’d written the song about Portugal, Portugal didn’t rhyme so she said I’ll change it to Mexico because of the same symbolism or whatever, and then we sat down and were like, “why is it called Mexico?”  So we re-wrote part of it and changed the name to Dust, so yeah it’s sort of been everywhere that song.

That’s a really nice little history behind the song! Okay, now… If you could sum up the EP in three words what would you say?

Um, this is hard, maybe um, I’m having the biggest mind blank right now!

Three phrases maybe?

Um, well for me it just feels really old, because they are such old songs to me. For me I guess it’s like ‘back to our origins’ or ‘back to where we started’ and how we started writing and what we sort of started working from. I don’t think that’s three words…

That’s good! So you’re looking forward to touring the songs and seeing the audience reaction or are you more looking forward to getting out some new stuff?

I am really excited about the tour, it’s going to be really fun! It’s going to be pretty exhausting; we’re going overseas next weekend and then we’re basically non-stop touring until the end of the year so I think it’ll be amazing but by the end of the year we’ll definitely be ready for a bit of a break. We’re planning on recording an album hopefully at the beginning of next year so it could be some very welcome time in the studio

That’ll be good! And then new stuff early next year hopefully?


And do you have any recent obsessions, either musically or otherwise?

Um, yeah! I really like the new Alt-J album, there’s a couple of songs on there that I’ve had on repeat for the last week. I tend to get really obsessed with things and put like one song on repeat and play it non-stop. I have been listening to a bit of Rodriguez, getting myself pumped!

That’s exciting! Well thankyou for talking to us, good luck on the tour and we’ll see you at the end of this year!

Thankyou for chatting to me, it’s been fun! 


Little May's self titled EP is available from Friday 10th October.

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