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19 junio 2024

Interview with Imelda May: “All my records are personal and intimate. I don’t see the point otherwise.”

We interviewed Imelda May just one day before the start of her tour of spain 2022. We talked about her album, creation, her latest book and how she feels about returning to the stage. The Made to Love Tour 2022 will be on June 10 at Teatro de las Esquinas, Zaragoza; 11 Teatro Palacio Valdés, Avilés; 12 Noches de Botánico, Madrid; and 14 Apolo, Barcelona.

This album was conceived during the lockdown, a very complicated situation for everyone. And it’s a very personal album, what pushed you to make such a personal, intimate album?

All my albums are personal and intimate. I don’t see the point otherwise. The reason for writing is to connect with people. And the only way you can connect is to be Truthful. Maybe this album and the one before. Were more openly honest, where I was always writing, I always wrote honestly before. But I’d find a way of maybe hiding it within the song, within the wildness of the music. But my lyrics, if you look at them, were always honest and open. But the last 2 albums, I think I’m more comfortable with just saying what I want to say without hiding anything. And I think it’s important for me as a person and then I think for the listener to be able to relate.

Please explain us How was the creative process? Was it more complicated than previous albums?

Well, the last two albums, I have Tried different things. I’ve cowritten and I made that decision because cowriting for me, it’s a beautiful process and I needed to try new things and I think it’s collaborations. Are they’re maybe more challenging. When I write alone, it became a little easier for me and I knew what I was going to write almost too well, where I needed to be challenged. I wrote mostly with Tim Bran and David Rossi and some with Pedro Veto and some friends of mine, basically, who are very talented. And my process is where I wanted to be challenged was musically, for me, I write lyrics and melody myself, but I wanted somebody else to play the music because that would lead me in a different direction, both lyrically and melodically. So that’s what I did. I’d meet people, they’d play me something beautiful and I’d ask them to continue to play different things until I heard something that would light me up inside. And when that happened, then the creativity flows really fast for me. And so that’s what would happen. I’d listen and then I’d start writing like crazy. And they’d continue to play at my request. I’d say, please don’t stop keep going and they continue to play. And then my lyrics of melody would flow. And then we’d work out what I’d sing, what I had. And then both of us, myself and Tim mostly would sit and work on the arrangements and go through it. And I know what I wanted to work on and we both enjoy working together very much on this. He’s a wonderful producer and the two of us produced very well together. And it was a good collaboration, both writing and production. And it was fun.

This album, as we said, is more intimate, what has changed since “Love tattoo”?

“Love tattoo” was a long time ago. Life changes. Everything changes over years, and they should change. Love tattoo: I wrote that and produced that alone. And that was when I had no money so we all stood in the studio and I had very little time to make it, but I wanted it to be that way. I wanted it to be raw and truthful and simple in a way. It is what it is vibe. This is what I wrote, this is what I play, this is how I sound and I think that’s the perfect introduction, to be real. And for me, because you can’t keep making the same album.

And you can’t keep staying the same person. So you change. And I started singing Blues when I was 16. That’s how I met Ronnie Wood. I wasn’t singing rockabilly then at all. I was singing Blues and jazz. And then I was into punk and that’s how I discovered rockoville through punk and through the cramps, actually, a lot of it, and rhythm and Blues, because I realized that they were singing a lot of rockoville and it made me look more deeper into things. And that’s how I discovered James Vincent and Billy Fury and Eddie Cock and the Wanda Jackson through that way.

And then when I was told not to do it, it made me do it more.

And of course, Jazz, was one of the original punk music, broke all the rules. It was rebellious and that’s why I loved it. And punk obviously was rebellious and I seem to like rebellious. So then maybe change is the same thing. I like to do my own thing. 

Were you looking forward to returning to the stage? How does it feel to commit back on stage again after Lockdown?

I was looking forward to people, being around people, hearing people, seeing people in the audience and having people at my Gigs and not online. And the vibe that you can only get with live music. And I’ve been gigging live since I was 16 years old, many many years, and there is nothing that compares with live music. It doesn’t matter how well you set it up on a TV studio or nothing compares with being in the room with somebody who’s creating music and with an audience who is devouring it. It’s the most beautiful relationship, when we’re all together with the live music.

You start a mini tour in Spain, do you have a special bond with the Spanish audience?

Yes, very much so. I love the Spanish audience. I love coming to Spain always have done. Maybe they remind me of the Irish people because I suppose we’re very passionate. Music is very important to us. Family, food, culture, we’re noisy, we’re loud when we need to be and I think we’re very colorful. We’re very passionate. It’s similar. So, yes, I love Spain and I love the Spanish audiences so much. Spain was the first place I got mobbed.I remember that was very exciting. I had never experienced that before. The whole audience rushed towards the stage and pinned me to the wall. It was fun. It was funny. Yeah.

On this tour you are going to play in smaller and bigger venues, is there a difference for you? do you prefer the big auditoriums or the, let’s say, more intimate ones? 

It doesn’t matter to me. For me, my job is to make every connection important. So when I’m in the bigger venues, I almost want to make them more intimate. The connection is the important thing.

Yes. In the big venues, I get to have big screens and things, but the reason I have the screens is to be able to make the people feel the same way as in the small so people can see what it is I’m doing. So it’s the connection that’s the importance, with each individual in the audience. That’s it, it doesn’t matter how many individuals it’s with each individual the connection is the important thing.

Let’s talk about Friday’s concert in Zaragoza. It’s the beginning of the tour after a long time, do you feel any special sensation? What do you expect from this concert?

Expect to have joy, fun and love. This is called the made to love tour. Everything is for love and about love and because of love and I I want people to come. I’ve worked hard on this tour. I’ve had more messages than ever in my whole career of people. After coming to the gig saying how much it was so special, I meant to them and I’m so glad because that’s what I wanted. We deserve this after being a part. We deserve this beauty. After being in a void for so long and I want to give people everything that I’ve got and I want to send people home with joy with love and abundance and they feel amazing. And so far I’ve I think I’ve been able to do that, so I look forward to bringing this feeling to Spain.

What can the people who come to see you expect? 

Joy love emotion.

Besides the album “11past the hour” you have written a book “A Lick and a Promise” a book of poetry. Why a book and why poetry? What attracted you to write? What similarities do you find between music and poetry?

I’m a writer. That’s what I do all day. If I could without you know doing errands, I would write all day if I could. That’s what I love to do and draw, I did the artwork for the inside of the book. I’m a creative. I’m an artist. It’s what I want to spend all my time doing so poetry has more freedom than songwriting because I don’t have to think of arrangements or band or how long or short it is, or the rhythms of it can change. So there’s a freedom and to poetry writing and so many songwriters are poets too, I think. You know you just look at Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and Phil Lynott and it’s not unusual. If you’re inspired daily and if you were creative, it’s just you need an outlet for what’s going on inside your mind. So that’s what being creative is for me. It’s it’s an outlet for all my thoughts and feelings.

Finally, a few simple questions, which can be answered quickly: Please tell us which musicians have inspired you in your career?

Oh my God so many, I’d be here all night. So many people that I named before from Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, Janice Joplin, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Gene Vincent, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Luke Kelly, Phil Lynott and Paul Brady, just  so many. Amazing just music.  What do I listen to now? Everything. 

What music do you listen to?

Inhaler and Pillow Queens, Joshua bournside, Neil McNamee, Fontaines DC, Mini Mansions Heartless Bastards, Noel Gallagher, High Flying Birds, Blake Mills, the genius John Grant, the genius PJ Harvey, the Smiths. Yeah, so many people I listen to. I love there’s a lot of amazing music at the moment.

Your favorite place?

Ireland is my favorite place because it grounds me. It’s where my ancestors are and my family and I feel grounded when I’m there you know and I feel my ancestors bones in the ground beneath my feet they make sense to me and it holds me so that I can fly higher. I recently visited Valencia and I absolutely loved it. I got to spend some time there, it’s so drenched in beautiful art and wonderful people. So I enjoyed it very much.

Your favorite book?

I have about four or five books on the go at any one time I read a lot, there are books all over my house and I carry suitcases of books with me that I need. I have some old poetry books, Leonard Cohen, Nikita Gill, Shamus Heaney, John Cooper Clarke. Oh, and Pat Inglesby is one of my favorite poets ever and so yeah, there are loads of books I’m reading. And I’ve just started Ulysses, James Joyce Ulysses, and I’ve just recently finished some others. I’m also reading scripts for new movies. I’ve made a movie that’s coming out in September, called Fisherman’s Friends, One and All, and I’m currently reading a couple of amazing scripts for other movies. 

Your favorite record?

All my records. I have hundreds of records the beauty and the perfection in in some of them is just mind-blowing. And Kate Bush, her creativity is boundless. It’s just so inspiring. David Bowie, is just so phenomenally creative and Blake Mills, some of his albums give me a lot, within the production also, very surprising production which is very beautiful. And Howlin’ Wolf is just some of my favourite music. Killing Floor is one of my favourite songs, fucking great. So there you go, thank you so much. I’ll see you soon, bye!

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