Interview with Little May

Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton have taken Australia by storm as the harmonious Little May. After the release of their long awaited self-titled EP, the band has been on a non-stop cycle of touring at home and abroad. Vocalist Hannah took some time to chat with the chief of Happy about visiting the Big Apple, songwriting and regrettable photo shoots.

Little May

Today’s illustration of Little May comes courtesy of the lovely and talented Ljubov Zaguljajeva. Ljubov is an illustrator and graphic designer from Estonia. Oh yeah!

HAPPY: You guys have been super, super busy, and the overseas run is kind of a big deal, and I’d love to hear what some of the highlights were?

HANNAH: It was really new. It was actually the first time I’ve ever been overseas in my adult life which is pretty cool. Between 18 and 24 I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I never had enough money to ever go traveling or anything like that. So to be able to go over with the band and do something we love, that was a massive highlight. I think the first who we played was Rockwood, and we were all nervous as hell, and Mark had the wrong keyboard or something like that and couldn’t figure out the sound. We thought it was gonna be a pretty dodgy show but it all just sort of lifted and the crowd was just amazing. That was pretty amazing. Just being in New York!

HAPPY: One of the first things I’ve noticed about you guys was how effortlessly well crafted the songs are, they’ve got an immediacy about them, they feel familiar and I see that as a really positive thing as a music lover. Obviously they’re very original, tell me about the process from inception to a live show.

HANNAH: It’s a bit of a process. We always make sure the song can speak for itself with just guitar and voices. Usually from the get-go. It differs, with writing and stuff like that sometimes Liz will come with chords and I’ll come up with the melody and some lyrics and we’ll all sit down and craft it from there. I love writing verses and I like choruses, but I struggle with all the other stuff because the none of us are really trained in that department, so we kinda go by ear and what sounds good to us.

HAPPY: So it’s always different, but you know when you nail it?

HANNAH: Yeah. Oh, I don’t know! We like to get feedback obviously. Liz has a really, really, really great ear. When she knows something is working we all have faith in that particular song.

HAPPY: Another thing that comes to mind when I see a band move from one level to another is branding. It’s one of these things that rarely come up in interviews, but a band’s image is one of these things that is meant to be effortless. Do you guys think much about that?

HANNAH: I think when we started and we first approached Mon to be our publicist, that would have been a year and a half ago now, we thought about it a lot more than we do now and it felt a lot less natural than it does now. Who we were back then was what we thought we should be, and how we thought we should package ourselves and it was completely wrong because we weren’t being true to ourselves.

HAPPY: Is there an image you can reference?

HANNAH: Yeah for sure (laughs). Our first press photos we brought to her was us in flowing dresses, on a beach. We even brought guitars with us in the car like “Maybe we should get a photo with the guitars!” It was the most unnatural – I don’t even know what that was! Because we’re all such, we’re no way hippie in any way. The closest thing, I like Byron Bay.

HAPPY: Someone has to work on your SEO, because those flowing dress photos come up in the first three results in Google!!

HANNAH: I know! It’s given us so much grief as well when people go “Oh! I didn’t expect that when I saw your live show” or “I didn’t expect that when I met you” because we’re all wearing jeans and t-shirts and jackets now, it’s just kind of hilarious, but it’s not funny. I wish we could get that taken care of! After chats with management and labels and stuff like that it kind of came naturally because we kind of just have to be us otherwise it’s not gonna translate.

HAPPY:  You touched on management and label, you guys have had a couple of really great wins recently, obviously Mon as we’ve mentioned and more recently Dew Process. A lot of our readers are musicians and bands and a lot of people don’t realise how big the team is and what’s involved. It isn’t a question, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the unsung aspects of what you do.

HANNAH: I guess, we’ve gotten where we are because we’ve had no fears from the beginning, and we were lucky enough to introduced to Dan Hume who is our agent. We probably had three songs under our belt and he was like “I’m just gonna chuck you out there and you’re gonna play really shitty pub gigs for the next year and a half. And I don’t want to hear you wanna be on festivals, I just want you to work hard“. We did that, and then through talking to Dan he said “I think the next move is getting a publicist“, and we didn’t realise how having a publicist actually puts you on the right track.

I had no idea, and we’re all so new to this still but having the right team behind you, if you can just start small and don’t rush anything. Just have the people on your team when you need them. I think rushing into management – we had so many weird opportunities that didn’t make sense. Like contracts given to us when we hadn’t even released a single, so you know you just need to be able to time everything correctly and be reasonable about where you’re actually are in your career before you get anybody else on your team. You’ve gotta put in the hard yards first and just time it correctly.

HAPPY: Yeah I hear a lot about contracts being put in front of people prematurely and it is a bit upsetting that people try to get in early in that respect.

HANNAH: It’s really sad, I’d imagine it’d ruin a lot of people and the chances of getting anything out there. Even though it’s very exciting when you become a little bit more popular than you expected you would be, I think it’s important to take a deep breath, and talk to a lawyer (laughs).

HAPPY: And finally, what makes you happy?

HANNAH: I’ve realised that home makes me so happy. Even though we weren’t away that long coming home was just pure joy. Meaning family, Australia, friends, whatever you define as home. It was really eye opening me for coming home and just going “Ah shit, I really missed this“.

HAPPY: You weren’t ready to move to New York? You weren’t ready to throw it all in and move to the Lower East Side?

HANNAH: (laughs) Even though that was amazing, there’s nothing quite like Pymble. And Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen makes me pretty happy.