Did Lindsay May Really Burn Down Her Neighbours House?
Kamloops based performer/composer Lindsay May digs deep into her emotional self to weave musical stories on her new album. Yet I�m not sure if I want to be her neighbor.
Acclaimed composer and performer, Lindsay May, has moved around a lot, but she has finally settled in Kamloops, BC. She still tours extensively in Canada and makes it to Europe annually. She manages to put words together in her songs that instantly captivate you. She has done well in songwriting compositions. She was a New Mountain Stage Regional Songwriting finalist in 2010, then a Kerrville New Folk finalist in 2012 at Texas' prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival. It is a festival all about songwriting. Also, May was a Vancouver Folk Festival’s Picking a Folk Star Ukelele Song Contest runner up in 2011 and a top ten Shore 104.3 Sounds of Summer Songsearch finalist. This and her wonderful performing talent has not gone unnoticed and she has parlayed her skills into frequent gigs, including one at the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010. Other prime gigs include being asked to open for Valdy, John Gorka, American Aquarium and Shari Ulrich and being asked back four times to perform at Harmony Arts Festival and Vancouver's Motown Meltdown charity benefit at the Commodore Ballroom. Her music has a rootsy, bluesy feel to it and there are occasional pop sounds mixed in with them. She has a strong work ethic and practices constantly. Presently, May is in the process of releasing her latest album called Lindsay May Acoustic 4.0 and she dropped by the CFBX studio to chat and play a couple of tunes on my show Jazz Notes.
JD: Someone once said “[Lindsay May] is kind of an acoustic Janis Joplin crossed with a bad ass Loretta Lynn.” I kind of like that description and I think she does, too. Hi Lindsay, how are you doing?
LM: I’m great. Thanks for having me on.
JD: So, you live in Kamloops now, right?
LM: I do, ya.
JD: Where did you grow up?
LM: I lived in Kelowna and spent quite a bit of time in the Lower Mainland. I kind of moved around a little bit. It was an intentional choice to come back here. I really like our “little” city.
JD: Same here, it grew on me, too. When you were growing up was there a lot of music in your home?
LM: We had a radio on the wall. I’d say that was about it, but really, not very much to speak of. I had organ lessons when I was about six and that was the extent of the music, so it was more me going after it than anything else. I used to work part time in an office when I was in high school. I just sang all the time. I kind of have a running joke that there is a radio in my head. I definitely was told to shut up and be quiet, quite a bit, because I just sang all the time (laughs).
JD: (laughs) People just can’t stand someone that is happy in an office.
LM: That, actually, was probably part of it, too. There was one particular woman and I just didn’t know I was even doing it and they knew it, too. “You’re driving me nuts.” I just didn’t know I was singing. It made me laugh. It still makes me laugh.
JD: You should have taken requests. Lindsay, you are well known as a composer and have won a number of awards, over time. When you are composing what is the hardest part: lyrics or music, or does it even matter?
LM: I was working on a song this morning, actually. I feel I am very fortunate. The song ideas just keep rolling. Like I said I kind of have a radio in my head and there is something that is constantly there. So, I just sort of hear things. I have my iPhone with me and I have my little voice memo and an app, so when I have an idea, or something comes in my head I just write it down right away and try and catch that. I don’t necessarily finish the song at the time, but at least I can get started on something that I can come back to later. So, I’ve certainly done that quite a number of times. I didn’t really answer your question (both laugh). Ya, I will jam through an interesting chord progression and things will just start rolling. That happens.
JD: I was listening to your new album (Lindsay May Acoustic 4.0) and I must say, you really excel at word imagery. I can see why you have won awards for your compositions. I’m just going to throw some of them out. In a song called “Dandelion Seeds,” ‘Float in the wind until I disappear.’ It fits so nice. There’s one that I caught that you could have used twice, if you get my weird line of thinking.
LM: Ya (laughs).
JD: In “Extra Tall Life,” ‘Stand you up straight and see if you meet the minimum height.’ Well you also have a song called “Rollercoaster.” Now, where do you have to meet the minimum height?
LM: That’s right actually (laughs). Look at you. Smart! (both laugh). Actually “Extra Tall Life” is because I was the past Miss Tall International. I won a pageant and was Miss Tall International for 2017. So that is a song about being tall and what life is like when you are tall. It is quite different.
JD: I wouldn’t know (laughs).
LM: It’s just little things you don’t think about--
JD: Ya, little things (laughs)
LM: --like pants and shoes and things like that.
JD: I did not know that. See, we are learning things about you.
LM: So, I went to Chicago in January as part of my Miss Tall International Duties. Let’s just say, Chicago in January is a fairly, chilly place to be. I was walking on the waterfront, because that’s what you do. Chicago is a beautiful city. At one point I realize it was snowing sideways. You know, we’re from the interior, here and I’m a skier and I’m used to cold weather, so -25 C is not a frightening place to be. But, when it’s literally snowing sideways, on account of the wind, it was something else, like I’ll tell you.
JD: That wind is coming off one of the coldest lakes in the world: Lake Michigan. It’s just pain.
LM: That’s exactly the right word: pain. So, the one thing that people do, is go inside and I got a chance to go to Buddy Guy’s blues club (Buddy Guy’s Legends). I actually got up and jammed. It was jam night. It’s quite a thing to get up and jam. Any musicians that have ever been to a jam night know that a lot of times they will give you three songs to start. These guys start with two songs. At the end of it they sort of look at you (laughs) because they are going to make a decision.
JD: You either pass the test or …?
LM: So they said, “What else do you know?” So, that’s the hugest compliment and we had a good jam and lots of fun.
JD. You passed the test.
LM: Ya. It sent me coming home and writing blues music. The twelve bar is sort of my style. I definitely have that “bend” in me and I wrote “I Told a Lie,” the tune I wrote for a title track.
JD: Cool. There’s also other ones that I really like. This could be a lot of us. ‘I commit to you for now,’ off “Love Gets Ripped Away.”
LM: Ya, I went through a pretty rough five years. I had about four family members die in the space of a year and all the family fall-out from that. I certainly have my down moments and I write from those, but this record has a lot of pretty open, painful parts. It’s got some fun and some hope, too, but it’s a mixed bag, that’s for sure.
JD: That seems to be what happens with a lot of people. Emotional events work well for composing. It’s too bad you have to go through them to get to that point, but whatever works, works.
LM: (laughs) Right.
JD. Now my favourite line on the album is ‘My neighbours house is on fire. I know because I started it myself.’ That is on the tune “Start Somewhere.”
LM: (laughs) What a great starting line, eh?
JD: (laughing) It just gets you. Oh, yeah, you think, I got to listen to this song.
LM: I love that song. It is so much fun to play live. I played it at Ribfest with the band—Lindsay May and the Mayhem—that’s the band and we had a great time playing that. It was lots of fun.
JD: That would be a great first line for a book or, I think they have contests where you go in for a night and you have to right a long, short story and they give you the opening line. You would have around twenty people in the room and it would be interesting to see what they come up with if they started with ‘My neighbours house is on fire. I know because I started it myself.’
LM: Right! (laughs) Where are you going to go from there?
JD: (laughs) A lot of places. Out of town, quickly, I would think. That’s cool. I really do enjoy your songwriting and I’m enjoying the album.
LM: Thanks, I appreciate that. It sounds a little bit different. I did everything myself on it. Previously I co-produced all my records, but this one I did completely on my own with my own recording gear. There’s definitely a couple of things I would do different sonically. Just sound wise and different compressors I would use, things like that. But, it was just a great learning experience and I’m very glad I did it. I went through the whole process recording it myself; mixing it myself; mastering it myself. Everything.
JD: Being that we are talking about the album, how would one get Lindsay May Acoustic 4.0 or tracks from it?
LM: It’s on iTunes, so you can download and it’s on CD Baby as well if you want actual digital downloads. I chose not to produce the physical CD at this time. I’m doing some other work this fall, which I’m probably going to end up rolling in, when I press an album. It’s going to be with what I’m working on this fall and that album. You can stream it on Apple Music or Google Play and Spotify. It’s my fourth record. Crazy, eh? How’d that happen (laughs).
JD: I almost forgot. One thing I wanted to ask you, you had an Olympic gig during the Vancouver Olympics, what was that about?
LM: Oh, the 2010 Olympics. I was in Vancouver at the time and I was in the B.C. Experience Pavillion. So, it was this huge plaza stage, right in front of the downtown Vancouver Library. I played at noon, so it was on the Noon News and there were people ziplining in front of me. It was just packed. It was fun. Got to play with Lindsay May and the Mayhem, the band, again. Ya, it was a hoot. There was lots of work for different artists during the Olympics. I was very fortunate. I hooked up with some great people and I just had won a bunch of songwriting awards, so I was kind of on a lot of people’s radar. The opportunity was wonderful.
JD: That’s awesome. That’s really cool. You know the Olympics rarely come back to Canada and to be involved in them in any was is so cool. Anything else you want to tell our listeners?
LM: Thanks very much. If you are curious about me, I have a website called lindsaymay.com and I have a Youtube web channel official Lindsay May and Facebook and Instagram. Feel free to check it out. Otherwise have a great weekend. I have a bunch of gigs here locally. I’m very fortunate. I’m a lucky girl. Including your show, this is a five gig weekend (laughs).
Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzce7FKFSkkoVwEQmsJ-zSg
‘I told a lie” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zsk83bFv_U&list=PLrzLnis-O1UPZmTNqfH9uzpo2XckXKvFw