Monday, 7 January 2013

Feature - Abbe May

Published in The Age (EG Section), and The Brisbane Times (online) - early December, 2012.

“I’m actually not afraid of failing, I’m not afraid of people disliking what I do,” West Australian vocal powerhouse Abbe May says, a smile not far off.  “I’m also not afraid of succeeding, and I’m not afraid of people liking what I do.”

It’s this simple yet effective ethos behind everything May does, that defines her as an artist, one who is want to change on a whim, on a dime, heading off down her own path and to hell with the consequences.  Case in point, ‘Karmageddon’, the new single from her forthcoming record, Kiss My Apocalypse – it’s a track which is quintessentially Abbe May, but it’s nothing you’ve heard from her prior to this; a move away from even her last release, 2011’s Design, Desire.

Where before May was a rock pig; a down and dirty blues sultress; a combination of the two and something else entirely, ‘Karmageddon’ sees her take yet another sonic swerve in her already varied career.  This one is dark and moody, it sweeps and sways as a lot of her music has thus far, but this one is electronic and atmospheric,  and it sees May sans guitar for the first time – odd territory for her.

“Well, we made Design, Desire over the course of a year, and it was quite [stressful],” she says on where this change has come from.  “Then I got this great band together, who I’m still with, and we just played [that album] so much after that stretch of recording, that we got bored.

“So Sam (Ford, producer and ‘Karmageddon’ co-writer) and I spent last summer after the tour listening to hip hop and pop.  I’d force Madonna on him, and he’d force Kanye West on me, and so we ended up loving each other’s music and moving as far away as possible from rock ‘n’ roll.  It’s a natural progression, but it was also a conscious decision, which is how I live my life anyway – I’m consciously open to surrendering to change.”

The result is, as the press release states, a “drugged up Destiny’s Child recorded with Portishead.” It still retains the darkness May has always incorporated into her music, whether it be rock or blues, but it’s mainly the mark of an artist not content to spend too much time in one place.

“Absolutely.  As each year passes, you find yourself [moving on],” she smiles.  “And unless you’re completely non-absorbent, then you can’t help but change.”

Samuel J. Fell

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