A Conversation with Imelda May
Mike Ragogna: So how's the baby, Imelda?
Imelda May: She's very, very good, she's doing really, really well but of course it took me forever to get her to sleep tonight because I had an interview booked in with you.
MR: I hate to disturb your baby's sleep!
IM: No, she's sleeping fine, it's just Murphy's law. The one night you have something booked in it takes forever. I'm trying to teach her to fall asleep on her own, but it's a difficult time for every parent.
MR: Yeah, and of course you play her your album every night before she goes to sleep, right?
IM: God, no! [laughs]
MR: Wait, Tribal is not a lullabies album?
IM: I've written lullabies for her and I sing them to her and she wants them all and she wants stories and hugs, it's taken on this whole two-hour life of its own, trying to get her to sleep. There's a new thing each time, warm milk and a new teddy and another dolly and another story and another song! [laughs] I think she's playing me. She has me wrapped around her little finger.
MR: From birth, eh?
IM: Yeah, I'm at her beck and call absolutely, she's the boss. But that's how it should be. She's very good and she's very funny, she's a great kid.
MR: Did your motherhood play any role in the way you recorded your third album Tribal?
IM: No, I recorded it after having the baby. I wrote it when she was five months old, I didn't write while I was pregnant at all. I wrote it when she was a tiny baby just the way it came, when she had a nap I'd write a song, and then she'd have another nap and I'd write another bit. That's the way I wrote it. But it didn't change how I wrote. It's funny, a lot of people have been asking me this, they want me to say, "Oh, my whole approach to everything has changed," it's almost like if you're a woman people expect you to turn into a big marshmallow. I love being a mother, she's absolutely my priority, I love her to pieces, but I'm still myself, and I want to keep a piece of myself, too, the same way that my mother did, and I want my baby to be hopefully as proud of me as I am of my mother. I still am myself, I've my own personality, I still want to rock out, I still have the same influences, I'm still writitng albums. I still love rock 'n' roll.
MR: And it didn't affect one iota of your punkabilly jazz blues?
MR: With your music, it seems there's always a progression from one album to the next. So where do you think you've gone with Tribal from the last album? Did you do anything you weren't able to do before?
IM: Yeah, like you said, everything you do, you want to be a progression and that's exactly what I wanted on this. A few things: I wanted to capture the sound and feel we have live, myself and the band, because very often you can have two separate things; a studio album and a live gig can be two very different things. Also I wanted to kick ass more on this and I wanted to tap into the rawness of rockabilly, and there's probably a little bit more punk on this, which is a lot of stuff I love as well. I was listening to a lot of The Cramps and The Clash and The Undertones, Violent Femmes, I've listened to those since I was a teenager, too, so I was probably toying with a bit more of that. A lot of those bands, certainly The Cramps and The Clash were influenced by rockabilly, too, so it all made sense to me, to try and capture that raw danger, that rebelliousness. I wanted to capture that. Thirdly, I wanted to strip it back a bit on this album, I wanted no messing around, no other musicians, no friends dropping in like I did before, I just wanted it to be me and my band, just me and my guys because they're such talented musicians, I wanted to make the most of that and let them shine by just doing what they do. We've been gigging for a long time, I wanted my boys to have opportunity to have less shininess, I wanted it to sound more raw but also bigger. Simplified but bigger at the same time. I produce all my own albums, this was the first I co-produced, so that was a big experience for me, a great guy called Mike Crossey who did The Monkees and Jake Bugg, we got on very, very well. We both have similar tastes and we both respected each other's previous work, we had a really, really fun time in the studio and he helped me get the sound of "Less is more."
MR: That's a tradition of rockabilly. You co-wrote "Little Pixie" with Fintan [Clabby] and your brother. Were you guys accessing all that Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent vibe as you were going along with it?
IM: Yeah, I wanted that on this album. I never co-write, I've tried it before and I just can't do it. My husband writes separately to me, we've different ways of writing. I tried to co-write a couple of pieces for him and it's just not my style. I like to escape, I like to write when I go on a walk, I'm kind of very fairy that way, I get inspired by the wind. [laughs] Or when I daydream, that's when I write. But this song, my brother wrote a poem for my baby and I thought it was absolutely beautiful, he gave it to me for the baby's christening, and I thought it was fantastic, I said, "This isn't a poem, this is a song!" I went home immediately and took out my guitar and I got this melody for it and moved the poem around a little bit until it fit into a song. It's funny, while I was explaining to Darrel [Higham] and the band what it was I wanted, I was kind of saying, "At the beginning I want a little bit of Ricky Nelson 'Lonesome Town' and then I want a lot of Gene Vincent Blue Caps in the background." That was the inspiration for it, those sweet ballads that the Blue Caps did, I wanted to capture some of that sound for it.
MR: When you're recording and performing these days, how does it work with the baby? Do you take the baby with you, or do you and Darrel trade off responsibility? How does it work?
IM: Normally she comes to the studio, but of course me and my husband trade off on a lot of it. But to listen to my heart I would say I probably get the majority of it like most women would say. But that's fine, I love being with her and I love having her. I had her in the studio with me while I was recording, she took her first steps in the studio and she's been having a great time with the band and all the attention she's getting. We take her on tour, she loves the airplane and the train, she gets to meet a lot of friends that I don't see when we travel, we get to meet old people we haven't seen in a while, they bring their kids, she's having a really good time with everything, and she's not in school so there's no harm. She thinks it's wonderful, she has her own suitcase, she loves the airport, she smiles and waves at everybody on the plane and thinks everybody's there to wave back at her. It's a great time, such a lovely age, she's nearly two.
MR: Beautiful. And when she gets older, the two of you can discuss all these wonderful things that happened during the recording of Tribal.
IM: Yeah! True, true. She was on one lullaby I recorded, I didn't put it on the album, but I'll keep it just for her. I sang it just a capella and I have her singing in the background, you can hear her singing and laughing and it's just lovely, that'll be nice to have for when she's older.
MR: We talked about Darrel for a second. He wrote "Ghost Of Love" and "Five Good Men," so is he writing for you or is he just writing and you guys end up saying, "That's just great, we have to record that."
IM: Well we write completely separately, he doesn't hear any of my songs until we're in the room with the band doing the rehearsal, so I do all those on my own, and then he does his on his own. We have completely different ways of writing that kind of clash if we work together.
MR: Is that because you're both strong personalities when you're recording?
IM: No, just completely different ways of doing it, he's very practical, he says, "I'm going to write three songs today" and he goes to his room and closes the door. If I do that, nothing happens. I have to get inspiration from somewhere, I have to say, "I'm going for a walk, I'm hoping to get an idea." It's completely different ways of doing it. He'd already written "Ghost Of Love" and recorded it, but I've always had my eye on that song so I said, "Please let me put it on this album, I love it so much, it's a great song," and he said, "Yes," and I said, "Production-wise I can hear completely different things on it, can I produce it?" and he said, "Absolutely, I'd love to hear it," because he said he wanted to hear it a new way, so with his blessing of course I played around with it and he was absolutely thrilled, so I was glad because obviously I wanted to use it on the album and I wanted Darrel to be happy with it or I wouldn't have used it that way. "Five Good Men," he wrote that for me, he said, "I've written this song, see if you like it," and he played it to me and I went crazy for it, although I don't know what that says about us, since the song is all about a woman singing, "If you don't tell me all these nice things I'm going to run off with five other guys. It's probably a bit weird that my husband wrote it for me, I don't know what that means.
MR: What are some of your favorite songs on this album? Were there any tracks you knew you'd have a blast recording?
IM: All of them! I really, really wanted all of them on the album because I'd written about twenty two songs, I whittled it down to eighteen, I still had to put it down to twelve and I found that really hard. So every song that's on there I really want to be on there. Each time I'd cut one out one of the guys in the band would go, "Oh, you can't get rid of that one!" and I'd think, "Oh God!" I was trying my best to get it right, and it was the album that said, "that's best for me." Some songs you might like, but they might not fit as an album so well. I'm old-fashioned that way, I still think albums terms as opposed to single terms. For me, it has to work as an album, so that's why I put them together this way. I think of the running order as well like almost a set at a gig, how we're playing it from beginning to end which is the way I love to listen to an album. Some people just listen to two songs, but I like to hear the whole album so I still approach it that way, which like I said is quite old fashioned now. But that's what does it for me, so that's what I do. I knew "Five Good Men" would go like crazy and I knew we hit "Right Amount Of Wrong" in one take, we got such a vibe on it we just flew. "Round The Bend" I also knew would go well recording and "Gypsy In Me," I could really feel that coming along nicely, too. All of them, really.
MR: Whittling down from twenty-two songs must have been painful for you. Are there any that you play that didn't make it on the record?
IM: Yeah, there's a couple of things we play, and luckily they want extras on everything, iTunes wants an extra song, France wants an extra song, Japan wants an extra song, at least I have some that I can use for there and then maybe eventually release some on an EP or something. But I have extra ones ready on iTunes, I have three extra songs on there. So I was ready, I suppose, without meaning to be, but I won't use any of those on another album, I'll just write for the next album.
MR: It's really cool that you can look at the material and go, "You know what? It's going to be even better next time."
IM: Yeah, I don't know what the next album's going to be yet, I'm just going on this so I wouldn't use a collection of songs from an old album. I might do, but probably not.
MR: Where are you heading from here? Does it get more tribal than this? Is there something you're really aiming for direction-wise?
IM: Oh I just want to write the best songs that I can write and reflect my mood at that time, so I don't know what my next album is going to be yet, but I know I can keep improving, I want to be a better songwriter, better singer, better producer, I want to be better all the time. Like I said, I have no idea what it's going to be, I just know that Tribal is my mood now, I want to rock out with the guys, especially since we had the break when I had the baby, the guys are chomping at the bit to get back and record. They're going crazy, they're in love with all the new songs, we keep them in for a little while before recording, I always like to do that. We were flying on them, I know we're all getting a great adrenaline rush from them. Tribal reflects where I am now, there's melancholy songs, songs about things that drive you crazy, any album, I suppose, should be a fraction of your life at that time. I hope people can relate to that.
MR: Imelda, the usual question. What advice do you have for new artists?
IM: Follow your heart, keep with your passions, fight for what you believe in, but also take advice, listen to people around you and then make a decision, and enjoy the journey, not the destination, never sell your soul and have an absolute blast.
MR: Every time you're on a TV show--let's say Jools Holland or Conan or whatever it is--it's clear how much everyone loves you. You've been elevated in a way that a lot of artists haven't yet. People know about you in a shorter amount of time than they would with many other artists who haven't had a big hit.
IM: Yes, I'm not mainstream.
MR: Do you think that has a lot to do with some of that advice that you've taken from yourself?
IM: Oh God, I've taken all the advice from meself, and that's why I'm giving it to somebody else, because I'm really happy! I enjoy music so much, it's such a passion in my life and I hope that comes across. I couldn't not to do music, I couldn't not be a musician and I couldn't not write, it's part of who I am, I've been doing it most of my life at this stage and I love it and i"m very, very lucky to have a great husband who supports me and he has my support, too. We've been together seventeen years, in separate bands for most of that, but because we're both so passionate, neither of us would ever let the other give up so we say, "Keep going, keep going, go for it!" That's been a huge help to me. We always said no matter which one of us did well the other would support. Initially he was doing really well and I was quite happy to support him, and then things started take off with me and he's supported me. It's great that we can be in a band together and share the whole experience together. I have him to lean on and talk about things at the end of the night, it's great that we can bring our baby together and it's also great that I've had such a wonderful family. My parents never told me to get a real job, they always said, "Go for it! If this is what you want to do, work hard." They were always very supportive. Maybe that comes across, I'm very grateful because I've been doing this twenty four years, so I know no other life, I've done other jobs but there was never the passion that I had for music, so even if it wasn't doing well for me, I'd still be doing it, because I love it. Another artist asked me that, a lot of people chase fame and success without knowing what it is they want to do, and for me that's kind of missing the point of life a little. I think the thing is to find your passion first and find your talent which I do believe everybody in the world has a talent, it's just a matter of finding it. Some guy working in a fish market could be the best rock climber that ever lived but he'll never know until he rock climbs. You just have to find your talent, whatever that is. I think I've been lucky to find what is my thing and what my passion is and to run with it. Maybe all that comes across, my passion, but I'm very happy to be able to do this and I'm very aware of how lucky I am.
MR: Perhaps that's why a lot of people love you, because of everything you just said. Maybe it's as much about the passion of the person as it is about the sound of the music.
IM: But it's also about the audience, too, they can smell a rat miles away. Never underestimate your audience! A lot of people go to stage school and say, "I want to pretend to be rock 'n' roll," and they might not me. They want to pretend to be something else and I think people always smell a rat. If somebody's wanting to do music they're not into just because they think it might be popular, the audience knows. They know. Never underestimate your audience. People pick up on how I'm just saying it like it is. I don't know why people love me because I'm a big pain in the ass as well as everything else.
MR: [laughs] Maybe that's also why!
IM: [laughs] If you ask my husband, he'll agree.
MR: Just one more question... Are you picking up a little glimmer in her eye when she's listening to music? Do you think there just might be a chance that your daughter's also going to want to do what mom and dad do?
IM: Yeah, we were talking about that today, that it's looking very likely. She was angry with me today because I was trying to feed her her supper without music on, and she was shouting at me, "Music! Music!" like, "How dare you not play music?" because normally the radio or the record player is on, so I put on a favorite band of mine called The Bellfuries, a modern American band, they're great guys, they do some beautiful stuff. I put the Bellfuries on and she smiled and she was very happy with that. She loves music, she has perfect rhythm and she makes up her own songs. I don't mind what she does in life, as long as she does what she loves and she works hard at it. I know swhe's definitely musical, so if she wants to go with that that's fine by me and her dad, and if she wants to do soemthing else that's fine by us, too. As long as she's happy and she's ready to work hard at whatever she puts her mind to and finds her passion. She's the most talented and the most talented and the most beautiful baby that's ever lived, like every parent will tell you about their own child. I'm lucky to have her, she's a great, great baby, she's a great little girl, she really is.
MR: Are you looking forward to the tour? I noticed you're playing all sorts of places in the States.
IM: I can't wait to tour! I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be interested to see what it's like with the baby in tow. The only difference, obviously, is I'm mommy in the morning and all day long and then I'm Imelda May by evening. Everything gets done that needs to be done, the only thing is I don't get full sleep because I finish one job late and I start early being mommy. All the rest of the guys get to lie in all day but of course I'm up bright and early giving her breakfast. It'll be interesting to see how it goes, I know i'm going to be exhausted, like every working mother, but I can't wait to get on the road, I can't wait to get touring, the release of the album has been pushed back to the states because it needed a bit more time to be settled, Samantha will agree with that, I'm sure. It needed more time to get everything ready, so this is just one quick sweeping tour that we're doing, just basically for no other reason than to get back to the fans. People have been asking for us to get over there as much as possible and I don't want to wait any longer, I want to get over as quick as I can just for people who've been wanting to come and see us. Hopefully they'll come out and see us in force and then when the album comes out we'll get back again.
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne
NO SINNER'S "THAT'D BE THE DAY" PREMIERE
The Vancouver soul/rock band No Sinner is fronted by 25 year-old Colleen Rennison. She's already built her career in Europe and the band's new album Boo Hoo Hoo is being released in North America on June 24 on Mascot Label Group. Colleen explains the video for "That'd Be The Day" was shot "...in the apple orchard behind Strathcona Park on a late fall day lamenting about love lost but not forgotten."
A Conversation with Desert Noises
Mike Ragogna: Your music has been described as being made for jumping in rivers, shouting in canyons and getting into a marital status with the road. If you could add to these three, what else would make the list?
Kyle Henderson: Good times with new friends, watching a storm, party party.
MR: How did this Utah conglomerate congeal?
KH: It was a long process that all started in the basement of my parents' house. Through time and lineup changes, we ended up with the four of us. No one really knew much of each other when it all started but the road has made us a family. We are like brothers on a journey making the most of every situation.
MR: Tyler, are you truly an Osmond or did you just take on the name because of the magnificence of "One Bad Apple"?
Tyler Osmond: Hey man, sometimes you've gotta give it one more try before you give up on love!
MR: [laughs] Excellent. What kind of noises are in this desert and do any scare you or prevent you from sleeping at night?
KH: Rattlesnakes, man. Those things... scary stuff.
MR: What were some of the other names other than Desert Noises being bandied about before you?
KH: The other name we had before Desert Noises came was John Johnson and the Exotic Fish. The first bass player's [Riley Johnson] dad was named John Johnson and he sold exotic fish for a living
MR: Okay, no one freak out with this question but it will be the elephant in the room if it isn't asked. How related is the music you make and your religious convictions and how do they partner up, like during the creative process or mission statement or...?
KH: I think it has a big influence on us in the way that we grew up in it. It's impossible to forget about something like that. It also taught us some important things about how to treat others and do the best you can at all times. Breaking out from that was difficult and not what everyone around us wanted but as time goes on they respect us for our decision and we respect them for believing in what they do.
MR: Do you guys get along on the road or do you just fight over what's on Sirius/XM all the time? Are you all watching your diets? Any musical creativity happen in the vehicles?
KH: We get along really well. Like I said we are like brothers. Everyone has their bad days but that's normal in human life. As for diets...we are trying but fast food just seems to be part of the job sometimes. You're in a rush with no time and a Taco Bell comes up on the side of the road. so you take it. We've tried to write a bit in the van but it's hard. We do much better when we can al set up and jam together.
MR: Now about the album 27 Ways. Can you name all of them? You can split them up amongst yourselves if you'd like.
Brennan Allen: I could name a few but it would be vastly inappropriate.
MR: What was the creative process like in the studio and with the songwriting?
KH: Usually, I will write a basic structure and the lyrics and bring it to everyone and we will get parts going and maybe switch things around and really dive into the song. But other times it just lands in a jam and happens in a flashing moment. In the studio, we all collaborate and make decisions as a group.
MR: Who's the easiest going member of the group and who is the Prima Donna and how would you stereotype the remaining two?
TO: Well, we like to believe that Denzel Washington is our fifth member and he would definitely be the most Prima Donna/easiest going/bad ass of the band. No one else compares.. No one!!
MR: What's all this recording and touring leading to ultimately for Desert Noises?
KH: Hopefully, it's leading to us playing music until we are 80 years old. Touring as grandparents.
MR: What advice do you have for new artists and don't screw around with this answer because there are many who will be doing EXACTLY what you suggest. No pressure or anything.
KH: Haha, my only real advice is to be honest and pour your heart into it. If you are being honest and trying with everything in you, something good will come. It may not be exactly what you thought or wanted but you will always be happy with your results and never regret the work you put in.
MR: After all the pressure of the road and recording and maintaining romantic relationships and parents' expectations and the pressures of flossing and having to be well-groomed all the time, do you guys still even like each other?
KH: Well, we are never well-groomed. But we love each other. We like to have a good time and laugh. That's the best part of life.
A Conversation with Hop's Erez Pilosof & Guy Gamzu
Mike Ragogna: Erez and Guy, let's start off by going into what exactly the service is that your company provides.
Erez Pilosof: Hop makes your regular email effortless and natural - just like real conversation.
It connects to your existing email service and automatically show all your messages by people and brands. Hop also makes sure your email works for you - rather than the other way around. So it sorts your incoming mail into active conversations and everything else. This way, friends and colleagues stay in your line of sight, while less-important emails stay in the background so you can focus on the messages that matter.
Guy Gamzu: The first email was sent in 1971. Today, 43 years later, the email is probably the only means of communication that everyone still uses. While email is an open and robust platform, very little has changed in the way we use it. We process email much like we go over our physical mail. Hop mission is to help people communicate better and we decided to start by disrupting email. Hop gives 2.5B email users a modern communication tool. It has everything you love about instant messaging, group chatting, photo sharing, voice and video communications all built into one slick app that sits on top of your regular email address. Hop will forever change the way you think and do your communication.
MR: What are the practical effects of not having threads and administrators and who would benefit most from Hop Groups?
EP: By not having the traditional old threads and administrators you reduce friction and complexity. Current email communication can be very formal and tedious. It is based on its predecessor - the old paradigm of letter communication - subject lines, from, to, cc, folders, etc. What good does it serve? Why do we need to converse using artificial hierarchies and formalities? Do we really communicate like that with people? is it natural? Groups is where email becomes real collaboration.
GG: The question should actually be, "What is the benefit of having a thread administrator?Anyone can join and leave from the group exactly like any email thread with multiple participants. We believe in simplicity. Unnecessary administration layers mean complexity. Hop is focused on enabling your conversations - friends & family, fitness & sports teams, education and study groups, lifestyle & points of interest (like design, art, cooking, etc), event driven groups (wedding, trip), and of course - business & working groups (like a product team, management, partners). Our imagination can only scratch the surface of all those amazing uses people will make with email groups. Remember, since it is based on email - the only requirement to join, read, post and be a group member - is to have an email address! I don't think I know anyone who doesn't have one.
MR: Is there anything similar to this on the market and are there additional services you offer that compliment Hop Groups?
GG: That's the first time a consumer product lets anyone create and use email groups. And people love using groups. This trend is clearly seen with the ubiquitous use of digital groups through instant messaging applications (Whatsapp, Kik, Telegram) and social networks (Facebook, Linkedin).
The problem with those platforms is that they are closed. You must be a member of the service to be a member of the group. Why? If I want to communicate with my running team - why do I have to expose myself on Facebook? Why should I give out my personal phone number and become a Whatsapp user? Why should I force other members to do so?
Email is open and everyone has it. It is the only platform where you really own your information. Everything is stored and you can easily search and find anything you need.
Hop leverages the power of email and actually lets you create your group using a brilliantly simple way. In seconds, you, your colleagues & friends can kick off a discussion that anyone can easily follow.
EP: By design, Hop runs email at the speed of instant messages. When you Hop, threads turn into back and forth, real-time conversations without all the old-school subject lines, signatures and faux-letter formality. Hop groups automatically generates a unique web link to every group, so group members that do not use Hop can easily experience the the entire group timeline too. Hop is designed for creativity. It has built-in tools for drawing, taking photos, making videos and recording audio. It lets you integrate files and documents from Dropbox and Gdrive - so it's easy to share with the group anything - right from the app.
MR: What is the history of the company and how far back does your partnership go, and how and when did you meet?
EP: Hop is a young startup. I started working on Hop a year and a half ago as I was totally frustrated from my own email experience. I decided to code something and see if I can fix it. I met Guy a while ago when I was working on something else. I actually liked the way he said no. Guy is a renowned angel investor in the Israeli tech scene, and when I showed him Hop - he immediately joined as a co founder and an investor.
GG: Erez is a serial entrepreneur. He was the founder of Walla! - the Israeli "Yahoo" - 20 years ago. He also happens to be the most talented person I have ever met. When Erez called me one morning to show me "something new" - I expected to see something amazing. But when I saw the prototype - I was really astonished. I couldn't wait putting my own email into this magical App. We instantly realized that this is something we must build and share with everyone.
MR: Is there any service out there similar to yours and from your perspective, what are the differences?
EP: We are not aware of such service for email communication,but at the same time we do not restrict our service to the conventions of email communication. Groups is only the first example to what we can do with email. We have many more surprises to share in the future.
MR: How do you see the company and Hop Groups expanding or evolving in the future?
GG: We see ourselves as a modern communication company rather than a pure email App. Our product roadmap includes ideas and features that will let people express themselves in ways never seen before. Our society is undergoing a revolution that brings about many changes in the way we consume and produce information and services. Currently, the messaging space is fragmented and cluttered, sometimes even rigid and closed. Currently, Hop is just another part in this huge puzzle. Our mission is to be part of the team who will solve this puzzle and turn it into a clear masterpiece.