29 Jun 2012

An Interview With Miri May

Miri May has joined us for an interview today. She's worked with DC Fontana and Jacco Gardner and has a solo 7" coming out soon on Saturno Records. And there's a whole lot more going on for her besides....

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : You're from Spain originally. Did you get into performing over there? What was the music scene like there and what were your influences at the time?

MIRI MAY : I never performed there whatsoever. The only contact with music I could remember is playing three keys from a farfisa on some friends band when rehearsing in a garage that lead to a garden in the outskirts of my city, Santiago de Compostela. The song was called 'Take your bra out Solina' I think. They where a garage punk band. Really nice guys !! Particularly the music scene in my city is more garage punk-like, people when they go out like to party hard, take all the week's stress away and get pissed and stoned with friends, they prefer something lighter like popsike or folk to be home and relax...I couldn't speak for them but that's what I've seen most of the time when partying as far as I can remember. I enjoyed that although I am more quiet and shy and can't rock and roll as hard as them. I am more of an introverted soul compared with the open, crazy spanish mindset when partying hahaha.
Also the venues in my city are quite small, which is not very good if you even want to try out some moves. There is a 60s scene in Spain and nice mod festivals like Euro Yeye and some others... aww I love Euro Yeyé! What a great summery environment, cozy town with great food, nice people, excellent music... Really enjoyed it there! At the time I was in Spain my influences were bands like The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Affinity, The Kinks, Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas, Beach Boys, Bob Luman, Wanda Jackson, Mary Wells, The Supremes, Elvis, Dusty Springfield, Lesley Gore, Everly Brothers, Shangri-las, Los Bravos, Los Mitos, Los Módulos, Jeanette, Los Brincos, Formula V....and some others, I was very young. I was learning and discovering many new things and I am still now after years...There is always lots of music to discover!

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : What sort of songs did you sing originally?

MIRI MAY : Anything I liked, probably mainly soul or pop. I remember I was always singing 'Ain't no mountain high enough' by Tammi Terrel and Marvin Gaye, and 'Somewhere over the rainbow' for the Wizard of Oz. Been singing secretly since I was a child and I was on my own at home, I was quite shy actually. Everyone is impressed now hearing my songs because no one knew I could sing. I was just singing for my own fun or recreation and made it public all of a sudden with this single.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : When did you move to England, and was it purely to pursue a musical career?

MIRI MAY : I moved in 2010. The main reason I felt I had to do it was I was too overwhelmed with routine in my small city, which is very nice but imagined myself living there all my life without going anywhere or without doing anything exciting in my life and just wanted to run away, it was depressing. I felt it wasn't the place for me and didn't really 'click' with me. I wanted to start my own life with no one telling me what to do and without having to depend on others... I've always been very independent. The general situation in Spain is that people at the age of 30 something are still living with their parents because the government doesn't encourage or help young people start their own lives... And it wasn't what I wanted. So I moved to another country with better conditions and more offers in the environment I want to be in. I felt young and had the time to change and do something useful or at least more fun in life. I could also perceive the useless goverment and opposition would never get out of the recession and of course make the situation regarding jobs worse than it was at that time...And I was right! ha! The reason to move was to discover myself and how far and how many things can I get on my own...I wanted to feel useful and independent as well as happy with my own achievements. Being on a film dancing Northern Soul and some others, singing and the rest came as a surprise. Would never imagine doing this if I had stayed home!

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Tell us about your involvement with the band DC Fontana.

MIRI MAY : There isn't much to tell really. They contacted me the day before I was going to visit some relatives that live in the Caribbean Islands and USA to inform me their singer left the band and they needed someone as soon as possible. I told them I could give it a try and when I came back they had another girl and asked me if I could do the harmonies. I accepted, we recorded a few songs, I have also translated one of them to Spanish... did one gig with them in 100 Club and then couldn't get to rehearsals in Birmingham so left the band. Although I might participate in the future if they need some more harmonies and Spanish lead vocals. Other stuff I did with them is three or four recordings, one of them with me singing lead vocals in Spanish, the other ones doing harmonies and backing vocals where I took inspiration from the song from The Drag Set/Open mind - Day and Night to make the song sound more psych-like. And a photo session.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Your solo single "You Are My Angel / Five O'Clock World" has been picked up for a 7" release by Saturno Records in Spain. How did this come about?

MIRI MAY :  Yes! That was great, I posted my songs on Bandcamp at the end of April. Did a facebook page 'MiRi MaY' the second week of May more or less and at the beginning of June I had a record deal already! This is thanks to the social media and people sharing the music around...it's very easy to discover new bands and music really quickly for record labels and if what you offer is what they look for...voilá! I am very grateful for their faith in me!

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : These two tracks were produced by Jacco Gardner, who did a great job with them. How did this come about, and how was Jacco to work with?

MIRI MAY :  mMmMm...As he explained before I needed an organ player for 'You are my angel' and contacted him after someone told me he played keys. When I sent him a message, he answered me he was starting his career as a producer and wanted to do my songs as he liked my voice/style and would also be good to add more jobs from foreign artists to his portfolio/work experience as he'd only worked with Dutch bands before. The tracks I sent were very messy as they were the raw takes without having been mixed whatsoever -  raw recordings that needed mixing and some parts needed to be rerecorded...He also helped to deliver the sound I was looking for. So I went to Holland to do vocals and another two songs singing together which will be released by the Sunny Day Records Spanish label I believe. Although I don't know when yet, as he is still working on them. Jacco is easy to work with, he knows what he wants and he goes for it strongly. He's got a strong personality and so do I. We had fun recording...I remember he had good Spanish wines in the studio!

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : You mentioned previously that you'd recorded a couple of other covers during these sessions. What were they, and do you have any plans to release them at this point, or would you rather keep this information under your hat at the moment?

MIRI MAY : The songs are called 'Rosie can't fly' by Sleepy and 'Walking Around' by The Moon. We wanted to do some songs together and we looked for many that could fit both of us so when I suggested these ones it was a 'yes' straight away. As I went for a short time we didn't have time to do any originals because writing a song is a long process so we looked for something to do that we could adapt to the time and to our taste and those songs had everything we wanted to cover them... We were also thinking about covering The Turnstyle - Riding a wave or Californians - Follow me...

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Do you have any other recording plans at this point? What does the future hold?

MIRI MAY : Yes, the recordings with DC Fontana with the song in Spanish and harmonies in some others to be announced, Did backing vocals for King Mob album, sung for the new side project of the producer of King Mob which is not public yet and of course more Miri May collaborating with other producers into psych around the world to come. The instant future I believe will be Miri May with a band from Leeds called the Rhubarb triangle...they do experimental, garage kind of heavy psych sounds. They are also wild, young, sophisticated and nice guys. They get an authentic sound and in live are hypnotic.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Is there anyone in particular you'd like to work with in the future?

MIRI MAY : Yes, a producer from US I will be working with in the future as the outcome of a conversation through social media. Although it is not officially confirmed so I won't make it public yet.

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : The material you've released so far has been covers - but with a lot of very original ideas in the arrangements. Do you write songs as well?

MIRI MAY : Yes, I started writing some songs also and would like to start working on them soon with Rhubarb Triangle as well as their own ones. I selected the songs I wanted to cover because ' You are my angel' which is the English translation of 'Tú eres mi ángel' wasn't very known and didn't have a studio version so thought I could make it very different following the groovy melody of the Hammond organ. 'Five o'clock world' has been covered before but there wasn't any really psychedelic version of it...so I went for it...I enjoyed singing it so I said...why not?

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : As a listener, who are some of your favorite artists and some of your favorite songs?

MIRI MAY ; Natural High - Mike Wallace
Pleasure - The Moon
10.000 Words in a Cardboard Box - The Aquarian Age
Need all the help I can get - Suzi Jane Hokom
Superlungs my Supergirl - Terry Raid
Girl on a swing - Kevin Ayers
I don't believe - The Things
Walking in the forest of my mind - Paul Parrish
Dream on my mind - Rupert's People
Paper Sun - Traffic
You met your match - Affinity
While my guitar gently weeps - Beatles
Touch me - The Doors
Juventud - Tiza
Triste y solo - Mi Generación
Mr Train Hurry Up - Shelly y la nueva generación
Un día pregunté - Manolo y Ramón
Get on your knees - Los Canarios
Por qué te vas - Jeanette
Ando meio desligado - Os mutantes
Pode vir quente que eu estou fervendo - Erasmo Carlos
Les temps de la reentrée - France Gall
Et moi, et moi, et moi - Jaques Dutronc
Elpida - He will come ............

THE ACTIVE LISTENER : Is there anything else you'd like to add?

MIRI MAY : I wish peace love health, and patience to everyone these days....and less globalisation and loss of traditions!!

Listen to Miri May on bandcamp here. Download available too.

Like Miri May on facebook here to keep in touch.

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