Monday 30 April
Despite having started her career at the age of 16, it was probably hard for Dublin-born Imelda May to imagine that she’d one day grace the stage with some of the most influential musicians of her time. With three studio albums under her belt and a flag well and truly planted across the pond, the pioneering rockabilly spared some for The MMP ahead of Wednesday’s Cardiff show to talk influences, the USA and Cardiff.
First of all, I should congratulate you on the news about your first child, who’s on their way – congratulations! How are you?
Thank you. I’m very good; nice and bumpy ahead of these European dates.
I imagine it’s always an exciting time with your first born on it’s way. Do you have any dreams of your child following in your footsteps and to one day be a rockabilly?
Well it would be lovely, of course, but they can be whatever they want to be.
Talking of rockabilly – a genre which has been a fundamental influence on your music – I saw that you’re writing new material at the moment. What’s influencing those new songs?
It’s hard to say because I listen to all sorts of music. Saying that, I am listening to a lot of the same music as I did before. Obviously rockabilly is there, so too country and post-punk.
Should we expect a new direction in your music?
Well in regard to a sound, I can’t say. I’ve not recorded anything yet – I’m only writing – so it’s hard to say that I’ll be taking a new direction because that’s a decision I’ll make when I’m recording. It’s often a case of writing the song with an idea for a melody and then waiting for ‘the sound’ to come to me.
You’ve been fortunate to grace the stage with some great musicians over the course of your career. Who stands out and do you have anyone you’d like to collaborate with, either on stage or on record?
I’ve been very lucky. Performing with Wanda Jackson was great because not only is she a legend but also a huge inspiration and influence. Working with Jeff Beck stands out, so too Meat Loaf as I think he’s magic and it was amazing going alongside Lou Reed. Then there’s Jool Holland – a fantastic man who has helped my career no-end. As for any future collaborations, there are people but I’m keeping my cards close to my chest on that one.
You spent some time out in the USA earlier this year, which seemed pretty successful.
The US was terrific; I thoroughly enjoyed it. You see acts go over there with a big campaign, almost, and I had none of that. It’s taken a while to reach the levels of success I’ve enjoyed out there recently, but I’m very happy. I had the pleasure to play with Duane Eddy, something I was over the moon about. I also performed on Jay Leno four times, which was mad and incredible all the same. They kept asking me to come back.
What can the fans expect to see on this new tour?
Apart from my baby belly you mean? [Laughter]. It’s just going to be exciting. I’ve taken some time off and so after having this break I can’t wait to complete a performing tour.
You played Cardiff before. Are you looking forward to coming back?
You know what? I love Cardiff. The audience is always great and it’s just a brilliant place. I’m looking forward to wandering around. I don’t always get the chance to do that when on tour, because sometimes it’s straight in straight out. I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to check out the city because there’s just something about it.
Do you have any rituals when on tour?
I make sure I have a kettle in my room so I can have a cup of tea before I perform – a standard, builders tea. I’m not very rock and roll, am I? [Laughter].
Lastly, you began your career at a young age. Do you have any words of wisdom for those looking to get their careers going?
Listen, listen, listen. I never had any singing lessons. I simply sung and listened to people whose voice I couldn’t match. I tried to replicate it, over and over and I got there. Also gig, gig lots. You can’t expect to do it for money, you should be doing it because you love it.