Little May: “We’ve formed a little family”

Words by Hope Scott

Sydney based indie-pop band Little May – Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, Annie Hamilton –  have spent the past year working their way up. Playing festivals, producing an EP, gaining national and international attention; these girls have nothing but a promising career in front of them, and their forthcoming debut EP is just the tip of the iceberg. The trio have just announced that they have been signed to some pretty immense international labels: Island Records in London, and Capitol Records in the US. A pretty impressive feat, considering their debut EP, ‘Bones’ only dropped last month.

We had a chat with Hannah about all things Little May, music and Bruce Springsteen.

So you have a self-titled debut EP to be released next week, which sounds so great, by the way! How has the production process been for you guys?

It’s been a pretty a long process with the EP. We started a couple of years ago, actually. We’ve worked with about three different producers on it, but it was a really good progression for us to figure out our sound. We were lucky enough to try out some new things with different people and different producers who have really put some really great spins on the songs.

 So it’s been a bit of a collaborative effort?

Yeah, totally! A lot of people have worked on it with us and it’s been great!

 That’s the best way to do things though; different people bring out different things in you.

 Completely, yeah.

Do you have a favourite track on the EP?

I’m gonna have to go with Midnight Hour. It was one of the first songs Liv and I ever wrote together, so we were probably about 20 or 21. It’s just holds a special place in my heart because it really started a journey for us… As cliché as that sounds.

What brought you three girls together as a band?

Liv and I became really good friends in high school in grade 10. We spent a lot of Friday nights together just learning covers, and stuff like that. Liv was a self-taught guitarist, and I just loved to sing from a young age. But we really only formed Little May about two years ago when Annie came into the band. Liv and Annie went to school together previously, so we all knew each other in different ways.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Little May’?

I wish there was a great story behind it. Liz’s mum, when we were trying to figure out a name, suggested Little May and we really liked it. I remember trying to figure out a way that we could make it into a cool story… So because my dog’s name is Maggie and Liz’s is Tilly, we said, “Oh, if we mix them together, we could form Little May,” but we gave up with it. Though now I think about it, that story is just as bad! It’s come into its own for us and it has meaning now because we’ve formed a little family.

Who would you cite as one of the biggest inspirations for Little May collectively?

We have such different music tastes. I have always been inspired by artists like Bruce Springsteen. I think collectively though, we just share different music around. Over the past year, one of our biggest influences would have to have been The National. We just love listening them. If we wanna feel inspired while writing, we just put them on.

You kind of just answered my next question too which was, would you say you’re all pretty like-minded when it comes to music?

Yeah, we are… but we share a lot. I’ve come to love certain artists that Annie has introduced me to, and vice versa. There is no way Annie Hamilton would have listened to Bruce Springsteen before I made her listen to a couple of tracks. It’s been really great because we’re not all the same in that kind of way – which is really nice.

Given you guys write your own music, what is your song writing process, if any?

We don’t really have one… It changes from time to time. If we go away together, we find that really productive ‘cause we’re locked in a house together for a certain period of time. I love that. I feel like getting out of the city is really inspiring. Places like Patonga – which is just up from Sydney on the coast, and Jindabyne – which is just so hauntingly beautiful. It’s really collaborative, we do it all together. But Liv might send us some ideas that she’s recorded and I might come up with a melody and lyrics, and Annie might put something forward. We’ll just share it around, come together, see if we like any of the ideas and then we’ll go from there. It kind of changes, I don’t think we’ll ever have one way. We kind like to experiment to get different things out of each other.

Given you guys have different music tastes, does it affect your writing together? Like, do you end up meeting at a middle ground when settling differences, or is it a two against one kind of thing?

We know the Little May sound so well now; we still have to keep learning and discovering new things about what we want to write…  But I think we’re all on the same page. We know if that’s Little May, or it’s something to keep to yourself if you want to set up a side project or something. And then sometimes someone will bring something forward, and it’ll be like, ‘That’s so interesting, I never even thought to do that!’ We’re very open minded, but if something was too far to the left or right, we’d probably be like, ‘Nah, maybe another time’.

2014 has been a year of festivals for you – Laneway, Splendour in the Grass and most recently, Bigsound in Brisbane. Has it been pretty rad to play to such awesome crowds?

Yeah! I never really went to festivals before last year, so for me it’s been really eye opening and I’ve loved it. Festival crowds are just so happy and so excited, and they really just lift you. You just want to have fun with them -you can’t help but smile. Just being on those stages was one of the most experiences feelings in my life, like I don’t actually think this is real. Still hasn’t hit.

What do you girls get up to when you’re not Little May?

We do Little May full time pretty much. Annie is a graphic designer and works one day a week. In my spare time I like to exercise, spend time with my family… I hardly ever get to see my friends, so it’s nice catching up with them. Everyone’s busy now, you know, growing up and getting a bit older. And I guess just write.

So even when you’re not Little May, you are Little May.

Yeah! I think so!

You’re about to embark on a national EP release tour. What can fans expect from your shows?

We’re gonna go pretty full out! We’ve got our bass player and drummer who are in the band – Kat Hunter and Mark Hardy. It’s a really full sound. People can expect a darker vibe from us as we’re gonna put some of our new stuff in there as well as the EP. So I think people will be able to see the progression of where we’re headed. A few new dance moves in there too. It’s gonna be really fun! A pretty intense sound, so we’re really excited about that; even though we like playing stripped back shows as well.

Are you going to add some stripped back songs then, or keep up the intensity?

I think that’s a good idea, I might have to put that one forward. Boardwalks is quite acoustic and beautiful in that way, but then you have songs like Hide which are pretty full on with the drum side of things. We might throw in a cover!

You should get everyone to put their phone lighters in the air during the acoustic songs… live the rock star life for a moment.

Oh my gosh, I can’t wait until that happens.

Is Midnight Hour the song you’re most excited about playing live as well, or is there another song which is your favourite to play live?

Midnight Hour is super vibe-y live. Probably my favourite song to sing live is one of our new tracks called Shotgun Bride. It’s very emotional for me, and quite sentimental. So that’s my favourite at the moment… But it kind of changes. It changes depending on, you know, you can feel when the band is loving it as well; they’re always the best ones to play live.

If you had the chance to open for ANYONE who would it be?

I can’t go past Bruce Springsteen. I don’t even know if I’d get to meet him though. Apparently with all these big superstars, even if you’re opening, you can’t even get a photo with them. But still, that would be incredible.

If you could sing a song with him, what would it be?

I love I’m On Fire, but I have a Born To Run tattoo on my foot… So I think I’d have to say Born To Run.

Tour Art