Image Courtesy of Little May
Sydney ghost folk trio Little May have been getting quite a bit of buzz of late. With the girls about to head out on an east coast tour we though it was time to have a chat to one third of the band Annie Hamilton.
Gareth Hugh Evans: So let’s start right at the beginning – how did Little May get started?
Annie Hamilton: The three of us actually all went to school together. I’ve been Liz [Drummond] since we were about 11 or 12. It wasn’t until about four or five years out of school that we actually got together and formed the band. Liz and Han [Field] had sort of been together since they were 19, mucking around with covers and writing songs together, and I’d always played guitar but just by myself, sitting on my bed trying to play John Butler covers and things like that. When I found out that Liz and Han were playing together I was like “we should meet up for a jam”. That was about two and a half years ago and then it was in about mid last year that we actually decided to take it seriously and do some recording and play some gigs and that sort of thing. That’s how it all began.
GHE: And it seems to have worked out for you. There’s been a bit of buzz around you guys and you’ve released a couple of songs.
AH: Yeah definitely. It’s all moving pretty quickly at the moment especially after “Hide”, our second single. It’s been a really exciting thing to go through over the last year.
GHE: I really like “Hide”, it’s got such a big sound to it. It starts off quite small but definitely builds. Was that how the song was written?
AH: We wrote the song before we’d ever done any recording. It was written on acoustic guitars – very acoustic and bare with just some vocals. But we had that darker, eerier sound and it was quite a powerful song so when we went into the studio with it we set out going “this needs to be big and powerful”. We did a lot of experimentation in the studio so we had a lot of layers of things like synth and electric guitars and percussion and I think that contributed to that big sound that you’re talking about. We made a conscious effort to make it a really powerful song.
GHE: On paper you’re defined as these three girls with acoustic guitars but your sound is much bigger and, as you say, darker than that.
AH: We’re actually now playing with a drummer and a bass player and one of the reasons is because we did these recordings in the studio and came out with these epic songs that had so much going on and we found we couldn’t replicate that with our acoustic guitars. We’re now playing with a full band which now definitely gets more of the darker sound.
GHE: Is the full band a permanent thing or more just for the upcoming tour and when you need them?
AH: We’ll see how it goes. We definitely have a lot of work to do on our live set at the moment in terms of getting everything really perfect. We want to rework a few of the songs before the tour. I think playing with a full band adds so much to the sound and some of the songs that we’ve written lately we’ve written with the full band in mind. I’d love it to be a permanent thing, to have that bigger sound at all of our gigs.
GHE: I’m sure there’ll be some gigs where you need a full band and some gigs where it will make more sense just to have the three of you.
AH: Definitely. We played in Adelaide a few weeks ago and that was just the three of us. That was really intimate. There were probably about 80 people there but everyone was dead silent, just a really cool atmosphere in the room. It was a great gig, it was really nice just having the three of us. It definitely works both ways.
GHE: You said you’re still developing your live show. What is a Little May live show like right now?
AH: Well there’s quite a lot of variation. We have a few of the more powerful songs like “Hide” that are quite epic and then there are a few more gentle, acoustic songs that we’ve been working. And then there are a few that are a bit more eerie and creepy. All of that, a bit of variation, and then some awkward stage banter to tie it all together.
GHE: That’s hilarious
AH: I’m so bad at stage banter! Hannah does most of it because Liz and I are often checking our guitars are in tune and I have to swap to banjo for a few songs. Hannah’s getting better at it but I’m still pretty awkward.
GHE: You seem to describe yourself online as “ghost folk”. You keep talking about eeriness and darkness as well. Is that a conscious direction that you’ve taken in writing your music?
AH: It’s definitely what just comes out. I don’t know whether at first we were consciously trying to make darker, I think at first it was more like we’d play around with the song and the things that always stuck were the things that sounded a bit creepy and dark to us. I guess we’re starting to define our sound, or definitely where we’re heading. We’ve progressed quite a lot in the last year or so – the songs that we’re writing now are definitely a lot darker than a year or a year and a half ago. “Ghost folk” I actually really like. Some one wrote a review about us and came up with the term “ghost folk” and it sort of stuck. It describes pretty well what we’re doing.
GHE: I’ll make sure I always refer to your music as “ghost folk” from now on. You’ve got the tour coming up through December, playing Brisbane, Melbourne and then a handful of shows in New South Wales. How are you feeling about that tour coming up?
AH: I’m really excited. We definitely have a lot of work to do getting our live show up to scratch but that’s an exciting prospect for me. I’m just really excited about the long car trips – I think it will be really funny. We all have a pretty silly sense of humour especially when you put us and our bass player and drummer in a car for 12 hours going to Brisbane or Melbourne.
GHE: Are you expecting lots of singalongs? Are you going to put together some roadtrip playlists?
AH: Definitely. There’ll definitely be some good singalongs in the car. We were thinking about bringing along cameras and just filming a lot of our silly banter and those times when you’ve been in the car for way too long and everyone’s getting pissed off at each other – we could film that and it would be funny to watch after the moment has passed.
GHE: And then don’t put it up online unless you’re 100% sure you want the world to see that side of you.
AH: That’s true – we need to keep that in mind. Sometimes we get carried away.
GHE: And the plan is to release your EP next year?
AH: Yeah, we’re planning on releasing that next year.
GHE: And then from there what’s next for Little May? Is the idea to take that EP on a longer tour?
AH: We’re actually going into the studio quite a lot in the next few weeks. We want to finish this EP and then start recording a few songs for a follow up. I’m not sure whether we’ll do another EP next or an album but definitely we want to start recording as soon as possible so we can keep releasing music after the EP is put out there. And we’re hopefully planning on going overseas at some point next year. We haven’t really got anything set in stone but on the table we’re thinking the States or Canada or Europe, doing a little bit of a tour would be fun. We’ll see how that goes.
GHE: Awesome. That’s pretty much all for today. Thank you so much for chatting with me today Annie!
AH: No worries at all.
The Little May “Hide” tour kicks off this Saturday in Brisbane. Little May will also be supporting Mikhael Paskalev for his tour next March. The full list of dates are below:
Saturday 7th December – Southside Tea Room, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 15th December – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 19th December – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 20th December – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 21st December – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Mikhael Paskalev Tour:
Tuesday 4th March – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 5th March – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Friday 7th March – Howler, Melbourne, VIC