Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: MAY

The New York singer-songwriter offering up heart-wrenching melodies.

New York singer May
New York singer May

Be prepared to stockpile your tissue supply, because New York musician MAY is pulling at the heartstrings with her haunting, heartfelt tracks.

With influences ranging from Leonard Cohen to Pavarotti, she started out infiltrating churches around Brooklyn with her husky, fragile vocals.

And her latest track, “Baby Save Me Tonight” is a slow-burning account of doomed romanticism, inundated with simple melodies and gorgeous, pleading lyrics.

We chatted to the artist about her journey so far…

How did you start out making music? 
I was very musical as a child. Growing up, we had a piano in our house and I always gravitated towards it when I felt emotional or needed a haven. It was this pull that led me to begin writing and making music. 

Who did you grow up listening to? 
Leonard Cohen, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Tracy Chapman and Pavarotti, to name a few. I’ve always loved artists that when they sang, I believed every word.

What inspires your songwriting? 
Life itself. I have an almost obsessional desire for writing songs as an ode to a moment in time. To keep the memories and feelings alive, especially ones that I am not able to comprehend at the time. To write about people and situations in life is so cathartic for me, to create something beautiful out of something that, perhaps, wasn’t.

I heard you started out playing in churches around Brooklyn – is this how you grew a fanbase? 
I’ve always been drawn to churches and the ethereal aura they have inside of them; the history, the aesthetic, the way sound echoes, the feelings of sadness and hope they hold within their walls, but I’ve never been a religious person. My experience with church started at a young age when I was asked, on several occasions, to play at the funeral services of loved ones. Using music to comfort someone, allowing them to feel completely understood and at ease for a moment, to sing through the sorrow, is natural for me.

That sounds like a really personal and cathartic experience…
The last show I played at a church in Brooklyn, I was singing a song that I sang at my late fathers funeral, and during the most intimate part of the song when I sing “let the bells chime,” the church bells started to ring. I stopped mid song for a moment. There was no space or time.

New York singer May face
New York singer May shadows
New York singer May face
New York singer May shadows

How do you think where you’ve grown up/places you’ve lived have influenced your music? 
I have always thrived off being alone and putting myself in situations that, subliminally, push my thoughts and brain to a further level. Definitely since moving to New York I feel like I have managed to live about ten years in the space of three. My music has become darker,  more worldly and honest. I think, especially for me as a writer, the environment has almost everything to do with the writing. 

What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received about your music? 
I will never get over the fact that my music brings people to tears. To see people moved to a point that is beyond words is indescribable.

How do you want people to feel when they listen to your songs? 
Reflective. Empathetic to their own feelings and thoughts. Understood.

What is “Baby Save Me Tonight” about?
A devout sense of longing to be saved. A feeling that comes late at night in your darkest hours. It was written in a conversational way that is hopeful and honest, yet met with a sense of tongue-in-cheek cynicism.

How would you describe your style? 
Haunting and dark. Operatic at times. Evocative and almost gothic. I love old films and everything black and white. This very much reflects in my nature as a person and in the way I dress. It is all one entity. 

New York artist May
New York artist May
Photography
Meredith Traux
Location
Downtown Studios, NYC
NEW NOISE: MAY

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