I interviewed Abbe May a while back ahead of her (then) upcoming Clam Jam shows as part of the Perth Festival. Unfortunately, I was unable to distribute it to the world back then but with her shows this week at Settlers, Jack Rabbits and her performance at the Commonwealth Games Festival on Wednesday (!), and as Johnny said, there is no time like the present so have a little peak into this honest chat we had early one summer morning.
Hello Abbe how are you going?
Good how are you? …
Okay so, what was it like growing up in a regional town?
It was awesome, it was as beautiful beach-y town and I was fairly naive kid like I didn’t really drink til I was 18 so I had a really innocent, fun childhood down in Bunbury. It was lovely.
Haha understandable, while we’re on your childhood, I read that your mother was an English Literary teacher, do you have any book recommendations? (I am both impressed and intimidated by how quickly she responded to this cheeky question I threw in)
Yes! A really good book is called A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. Let me just pull it out of my pile here – you have a pile, I love it – Haha yeah well I read a lot of books because I find its a great way to develop your writing skills and sort of exercise your brain. A Manual for Cleaning Women is a collection of short stories written by a now deceased author and its pretty fantastic and a very cleaver curation of stories. After a while you realise these characters are all various versions of the ‘self’. This book is kind of an autobiography, through short stories and I think she is one of the most amazing writers I have ever read, another great writer is Tony Morrison and she has actually won the nobel peace prize for literature, so she is very worth reading. My mother obviously was always reading and as an english literature teacher and put an emphasis on how important the physical outlet of writing could be, and I hold that in high regard, I guess I inherited that from my mother.
I noticed as well, your lyrics are quite literary based and it seems to me personally, that rather than the music taking the lead, the lyrics seem to pave the way, what is your writing process?
I come up with a beat first, I start with a drum beat and work from there. Generally the beat comes and the vocal melody follows from there and then I develop the chord structures and so on. I take it to a producer or co writer after that who can add to my creating and writing.
I read that you are working with Matt Gio, he has such a lovely energy….
Yeah he is an amazing guy and he has become a really really close friend of mine. I met him about 3 years ago and I had wanted to work with him from reccomendations with other artist, so when we eventually started working together, we started collaborating really well straight off the bat. I like his style and I like the way he shows respect to me and I find it easy to show respect to him. He generally has a different approach to things which I think is very important for a count and a co writer. I’m really interested now to see how to move ideas into spaces that I might not know ho to approach myself, so what I found with Gio is that he is not only just a lovely bloke and talented person, ,he also has a lot of talents that I don’t have, so I really enjoyed working with him and I think that we have made my favourite album to date.
I love the title..
So you said before, Matt treats you a certain way, or rather, he respects you. I know that this topic seems like a bit of a ‘trendy’ thing to discuss but what are your thoughts on the whole, feminist wave movement that shouldn’t really be a labeled as a trend at all but rather a current evaluation of an ongoing process, do you have any commentary on women and their voices at the moment?
I think it has definitely come to the foreground of attention in the past couple of months, especially with the Harvey Weinstein revelation and I think that movements like “MeToo,” these notions are powerful in terms of showing family and friends that we have all had these experiences of sexual assault and recognition is a fundamental element of progressive change. I actually sat back and watched it (Weinstein) unfold and a couple days later it kind of just all came to me, the thing about assault and the abuse that women have had to and have to face in society, it becomes so commonplace that you forget that its not actually normal for a man to put his hand up your skirt at a bar, that it’s not normal to feel unsafe in a public space just because some man with toxic masculinity has decided that he wants to verbally, sexually harass you, it’s not normal. It’s an interesting thing that has brought to attention these things are not okay, and I think prior to these past months of movements and marches, much more public discussion between what is acceptable with regards to treatment of women was needed. Rather than it being something that highlights humanities downfalls or a fad movement, I think its really incredibly powerful and I think we are seeing a huge change and I think that it’s really fucking cool.
A m a z i n g response. Do you have any advice for young women? You know girls that are looking to create something and not really sure where to start?
I think that for anybody who wants to create, it’s really important to do it because you want to get better at your art rather than because you want to be powerful, famous or rich. It is an incredibly difficult field to make money in – music. Fame and hype are fairly short lived and I think you should focus early on developing your art and your calibre, so do it for the right reasons and everything should flow, that is my primary advice to young artists.
I also read that at one time in your past life you experienced a seizure that was related to your mental health. In my eyes mental health is so important and sometimes overlooked in the current day and age, how do you now manage this part of your life? What changed for you from then and what are some perspectives on mental health?
Um I hadn’t really thought much about my mental health up to that point. After that I personally had tremendous difficulties with mental health. I went from being really strong and healthy and generally just quite productive to being riddled with anxiety, crushed with depression. There was a connection between the physicality and the mentality and I went from being really strong and capable to virtually being unable to leave my house for seven days, I wasn’t able to order coffee I had massive anxiety around noise and people and once I started to have the dark thoughts, I told my mum and doctor. My Dr. was amazing and found me a great psychologist and I am really lucky in that my mental health issues were able to be cured through years of therapy, good nutrition and exercise. I still have minute elements of physical anxiety but my head space is really good now. I think that some people do need to be medicated, it’s important for me to not use medication, but I think for some people it is important so I feel people should talk to their doctor about stuff if they feel something is out of whack. That said, I am glad that something did happen because I have ended up in a space where I have much more perspective about what is important, I am a much better friend, sister, daughter, Aunty … I’m a much more higher functioning human being since experiencing that, so sometimes a little breakdown a, breakthrough rather, is a good thing. I wouldn’t wish it didnt happen, as intense as it was, I got through with a little help from my family and friends and especially my doctor. It’s the same as having a broken leg, if something is wrong, you work to fix it and mental health is the same as any other ailment, it just needs to be addressed.
I just wanted to thank you for being one of the people to realise that there is more to everything than our own perspective Abbe and for being an amazing role model for young women in the music industry. So thank you.
Thank you Brooke! Look forward to seeing you out there.
As far as gigs go, this one was probably the nicest smelling one I have attended.
I don’t know where it came from really. I don’t know if it was the lady’s shampoo I was standing near or if someone was burning some incense in an art room or whether I am just slightly unhinged… but god damn it smelt like musk Lifesavers and it was so great.
So pair this with the comforting ambiance of Fremantle Arts Centre and a night that’s slightly colder than perfect and BAM you have got a good time.
Oh yeah, the music.
Henry Kissinger – the better one – is surprisingly cool. He’s probably my new favourite keyboardist (sorry Ray Manzarek) thanks to his bass fueled loops and beats that make me dance quite good without having to think about it too much.
Ziggy’s performance is astounding. I love Hip Hop. A lot. Discovering a new local artists I can listen to at home and follow throughout their career is why I keep going to gigs really. That and the exercise I guess. So give these guys a listen if you like your breakbeats and flows. Ups to JCAL as always, as well.
POW Negro hardly need an introduction sentence anymore. If you live in Perth you’ve probably already witnessed their wondrous live performance; theatrics, musical instruments and now these amazing visuals, and well if you live anywhere else, you can’t claim to be the music connoisseur of your mate group unless you know these guys, sorry.
On this particular Friday night, the gang was launching their single ‘Money for Portraits.’ The song in its self is a banger. Not just because its catchy but because its arranged nicely. The verses have great lyrics, the bridge is a highlight and really pumps you up for the riff driven chorus.
When I said musical instruments before I wasn’t just drawing attention to the fact this band plays instruments (shocking, I know) but more that Pow! Negro are a breed of artists that interchange the composition and roles of their members frequently.
This reminds me of A – The Beatles and B – the struggle millennials are facing to get a job; no one’s going to look twice at you soon unless you bring that little bit more to the table.
The drummer sings, the guitarist plays drums, there is a saxophone, singing and rap intertwine, there is dancing, banter and so on and so forth. I love it, but also am exhausted by the dynamics, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I guess the band it’s an accurate representation of life. Without stating the obvious, we all know art is a perception of society so what I am trying to say here is Pow portray feelings of the community on a small scale and humanity on a global scale well, which is ah kind of necessary, but a bit deep for a single launch review.
I existentially wonder what is next for music. I love the hybrid everything that seems to come with conscious human evolution condensed into one lifetime, but also still love simple well-though out compositions. Really, I don’t know what I want and I am sure you don’t either but that being said we can figure it out together. Something to look forward to in this post-truth world.
As an audience member and a music consumer I can kind of tell that each member is bringing their own vibes to the table behind the scenes and then as a band they pick up what’s good and work on something from that – obviously beautiful cooperation.
It really is ‘Zac de la Rocha-ish,’ but to be honest I’m sick of people comparing them to Rage Against the Machine. Like that’s accurate but lazy and they’re so much more.
They’ve nailed the funk, the melody and the jazz. Next up I would love to see more slow jams. They already have one or two – check out Sam | Saim on Soundcloud – which they pull off well.
RacketBall goes off as always and when performing ‘Hidle Ho’ they are joined on stage by Ziggy and MC Marley which made everyone smile. Trust me, I genuinely looked around and took note and everyone had their pearly whites on show.
A lot of their music is still not available online, or rather has been quite scarce in the past but with their Big Splash 2016 win, hopefully we will see more recordings pop up on the World Wide Web.
So anyway, that’s enough tangents from me – to wrap it up, can’t wait for the EP.
We’re All Meat and We’re Gonna Get Eat.
Lets end with a difficult question, what are your Top 5 Albums of all time?
Neil Young: Harvest
PJ Harvey: Stories from the City Stories from the Sea
Police: Outlandos D’Amour
Ani Di Franco: Knuckle Down
Patti Smith: Horses
It will be a sad day when Free Range Gallery closes its doors later on this year, so we really encourage you to check out some of the local talent they’re showcasing over the next few months and experience this unique space while you can!
Running until Saturday, Support Structure is an exciting exhibition of new works by Liam Colgan (WA), Emma Schrader (WA) and Grace Herbert (TAS). Examining the artists shared interests in built environments; the show will consider the ways in which these spaces have the ability to influence their occupants.
Drawing inspiration from three very distinct spaces: the gallery, bedroom, and construction site, Support Structure highlights the unseen mechanisms of our built world. Through multi-media installation Colgan playfully explores how the environments we live in can subtly shape our identities. Schrader uses sculpture to sensitively examine how the human body can connect and relate to the space it occupies. Herbert’s photographic installation seeks to investigate the transient nature of built spaces.
This project is supported by the Department of Culture and the Arts.
Hipflask sat down with Andrew Sinclair (Sinco) the legend from Good Company who, with his partners Nik and Perri, have just launched Good Company Records to compliment their already established record store and promotion work.
We chatted about the essentials and the development of Perth’s cultural identity
I remember back in the day when I knew you as the drummer from Erasers. What was your first foray into the local music scene?
Erasers actually grew out of the first band i played in, Shock! Horror! The name says it all really. We we’re very young, very naive & way too ambitious. Like all first bands i guess. I don’t play in Erasers anymore but they are still making music and it is some of the best music right now.
Are there particular pieces of technology that you favour when it comes to making and distributing music?
When it comes to making music the ear, mind & soul are still the most essential technologies. If those things are working together in harmony then you can make magic out of anything, with anything. And when it comes to distributing music, it’s obviously very easy to push music far & wide with things like soundcloud and bandcamp, which are essential for any self promoting musician, but good word of mouth is key! If you can get good people talking about your shit, you’ve got it made.
Good Company has hosted and co-hosted some of the most enjoyable parties in Perth over the last few years. How are you guys likely to split your time between putting on gigs and producing recordings?
It’s pretty simple actually, just people power. Nik Patterson is the man responsible for making the parties what they are, alongside Jack Faulkner of The Monarchy, who we collaborate on with le Club. Perri Basile holds it down at the record store, which leaves me to focus on the label. We all contribute ideas and work to all aspects of the biz, but when you boil it down that’s how we are doing it and keeping all 3 things as good as they can be.
What would you like to see happen in the local music industry or the music industry as a whole, to compliment the work you’re putting in?
There’s lots of little things I would like to see happen but the basic goal is to enrich the cultural identity of this city through the power of music. That means helping people be more open-minded, helping artists understand where they fit in this world, helping them develop their own musical identity, then trying as hard as you can to take their art to the rest of the world.
I also want to make sure the people here get to enjoy musical experiences rich & unique to us as a people.
Check out their Hugo Gerani, their debut artist to sign to the label.
‘Paradise Circus,’ an exhibition by Matt Wright, is a dizzyingly beautiful arrangement capturing the female figure within an accurate portrayal of life – enigmatic and passionate.
Using different blends of acrylic, charcoal and graphite, urban landscapes lurk in the background of a poolside daydream as we are invited to wistfully surrender ourselves to this world of utopia of chaos.
Created with strong lines but defined with wistful expression of powerful colour these somewhat personal representations entice us into a voyeuristic lull and wake us up with harsh, obscure text – purposely open-ended to invite the viewer to draw their own conclusions of the narrative.
Matt exudes the skill of a weathered artist after only painting for a year and a half. This exhibition forms the first public display of his work as a visual artist.
At The Bird. Now showing until the 3rd of May. Check it.