With their mysterious, haunting melodies and hypnotic lyrics, Sydney-based band Little May are proving they’re a little more than a one-time success, and their new album is proof they’re here to stay.
We chatted with Annie Hamilton, one-third of the band she started with fellow school friends, Liz Drummond and Hannah Field, back in 2012, while she was in Sydney in between international tours.
Your success has been rather sudden. Was there a moment when you thought – “Wow! This is actually happening to us!”’
On the one hand it feels like we’ve been chipping away at it for years, because we got together three years ago. But then on the other hand things have gone pretty fast. It’s been huge surprise for us.
We’re so busy and we have so much going on but every now and then we do have a moment where we take a step back and go “What are we doing? We’re on the other side of the world playing at a festival! What is happening?!”
Can you tell us about one of those moments?
Yeah! We were at Southside Festival in Germany in June. We’d been away for about three months on this massive tour, and we’d been in the states recording. I think we were all a bit homesick at that point; loving it, but ready to go home. It was our last show for the tour. We were on an early time slot on one of the side stage so we were expecting to get there and just play to an empty field. But there was a bit of a crowd there and some people were singing and clapping along. It was amazing that people knew our music. It was one of the best gigs of the tour!
Have you always grown up wanting to be musicians? Was there ever a plan B?
I’ve always played music but I don’t think I ever thought it would become my full-time career. It just seems like a very unrealistic dream. This band has grown naturally [but] there was definitely a moment we made a conscious decision to give it a go.
I studied design when I finished school, so I work as a graphic designer and illustrator on the side of the band. But when I was little I probably wanted to work with tigers or something.
Your new album sounds amazing, and produced by a pretty big name in music…tell us about that!
Oh, yes! We recorded our album in April with Aaron Brooking Dresser from the National, which was incredible! He’s one of our biggest musical heroes so getting the opportunity to work with him is amazing. He is just the nicest guy! He’s such a legend. So generous with his time and excited about working on other projects.
What a dream come true! How did it all happen?
Our manager basically just emailed the contact us page on the National web page and said, “Hi, I represent a band from Australia called Little May. They’re making an album. Would Aaron want to be involved?” We wrote a list of dream producers and he was number one, we were like, “Imagine if that happened?”
And he replied and was like, “Hey, yeah! Let’s do it.” We were just like, “What? How did that even happen?!”
Who is Little May? How did you come up with the name?
[Laughs] I don’t even know! There’s no awesome story of how we got the name. I actually think it was my mum’s suggestion. We were trying to think of a name and she suggested it. Liz’s dad suggested ‘The Demandaccons’ and we were like, “Mmm… Maybe not”.
Top moments so far?
Recording with Aaron has been a huge highlight. We’d be in the studio (a converted 19th Century church in upstate New York) working on songs, and then he’d sit down at a piano and start playing a National song. We would all just lose our shit and be trying to act cool but really we were just freaking out because we’re friends with The National!
On our last tour in London, we had so much gear. We mapped out a walk to a train station and a commute on a few trains to Paris. We thought “Oh this will be easy! Google says it’s a three minute walk and a three minute train.” It ended up taking an hour because we had more gear than we could carry at once. We had to leave a pile on the footpath with one person minding it and then everyone doing trips back and forth. It’s like one of those riddles where you’re like; “You have a boat and have to cross the river but you have a fox and a rabbit… So how do you do it?”
What can we expect from your album?
It’s quite different from what we’ve done in the past. There’s a lot of variation; some songs are a bit rocky, others are beautiful and subdued. A few songs are quite meditative and hypnotic. We’ve branched out in terms of instrumentation and explored different soundscapes.
Little May’s new album For the Company is out on 9th October 2015.