Interview by: Natalie K.
September 10, 2009
Estrella: For the record can you please state your name?
Imelda: Imelda May
Estrella: What made you decide to go solo in ’06 and form your own band?
Imelda: I’ve been in other people’s bands for a long time, but I’ve always been writing my own songs and I wanted to do originals. There is a certain amount of politics involved when you are in someone elses band and I thought if I don’t do it now than I never will.
Estrella: Was it easy to break away from the other band, they did not care?
Imelda: No, no, no, and I knew what I wanted to do and it was more fun I suppose all new, and something I have always wanted to do so I thought I may as well get on with it.
Estrella: How did you end up forming with your band members?
Imelda: Well I’ve played with them all over the years in different bands so basically I stole them I suppose. No, they have their own free will I asked them if they wanted to join and I was delighted when they said yes. I’m glad it’s a good bunch of people.
Estrella: I know this is your first mini US tour how did that come about?
Imelda: The stuff was on myspace and we seemed to get a great reaction from the states through the internet, which is great for that and we thought why not. My manager sent some stuff over and then some people started to jump on tour so we thought why not let’s see how it goes. It was never a major plan to go to America, people were coming to us saying, we can’t buy the CD, we can’t see the gigs so why not release it so it’s been great.
Estrella: I know you guys are playing 5 shows in 3 different cities how was that determined?
Imelda: Well that was through Fred and a few people. We have been packed with so many gigs that we only had a set amount of time to go and then we will come back again. It’s good to feel the waters and see how it is.
Estrella: What are your feelings towards playing in the US?
Imelda: Oh I feel great! Looking forward to it, and especially being in Chicago as well the heart of the blues and that’s what I started singing.
Estrella: Are you guys going to sight see around the different cities?
Imelda: We will a little, we don’t have much ton of time but we plan to cram it in anyway.
Estrella: What are your tour plans for after the US?
Imelda: We are back in London with Jeff Beck he’s asked us to join him on that and then we are in Ireland, England, France, Spain all over, it’s great.
Estrella: What was the recording process like for your album Love Tattoo?
Imelda: Fun, it was good fun but we had no backings from record companies at the time so we just got on with it. Begged, borrowed and stealed myself and my manager and got the record done we did not have enough money for a sound engineer so we were running in and out twiddling the knobs ourselves if that is not too rude (laughs). It was great to get it going and I enjoyed the process very much.
Estrella: Do you write most of the songs?
Imelda: Yes, yes.
Estrella: Were there any songs left over that were not put on the album?
Imelda: Oh yeah, a whole bag full of songs at home that I make my way through, and I have envelops with the song on the back of every envelope. I wrote all the songs except for maybe 2 or 3 of them and on the next album I am looking forward to co-writing at some stage with a couple members of the band.
Estrella: Why did you decide to name the album Love Tattoo, why that song?
Imelda: I just liked it, simple as that (laughs).
Estrella: I know you recently won best female at the Meteor Ireland Music Awards what was that like?
Imelda: Brilliant, it was tons of screaming young girls which the male members of the band were very, very happy with. My family got to go and we worked with some great acts and U2 was in it, and Enya. It was a good big show and Enrique Iglesias was there and these were contenders so we were thrown in with glitterati so that was interesting.
Estrella: Was that your first award show?
Imelda: First big award show, yes.
Estrella: How did you pick out what you were going to wear?
Imelda: Well it was St. Patrick’s day so I wore green leopard print as you do (laughs). It was interesting going up the red carpet and doing all of that for the first time. I was delighted to be nominated but to win was absolutely fantastic and it was a televised thing so family could see.
Estrella: It was voted by the fans too?
Imelda: It was by the fans, which was great and then me family was ringing like mad after because they just watched it on TV.
Estrella: So has your album been released in the US yet?
Imelda: Yeah, yeah it has been so you should be able to get it and we are working on the next one right now.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Imelda: Go to Chess Recording Studios and I did that today and it blew my mind, I was absolutely delighted. I’m delighted to be in Chicago because when I was growing up as a kid around sixteen my brother brought me to buy records and they were selling off vinyl rather cheaply because they knew it was starting to go out of fashion and they knew other things were going to come in. Anybody I bought with the word Chess on it seemed to be really, really good. I didn’t know anything about Chess and I just found a pile of them for a couple of dollars and I went back and bought everyone I saw with the word Chess on it and I took them home. That’s how I learned the blues through Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and I realized Willie Dixon was the main writer amongst him. Then I started singing in blues clubs in Dublin, blues is huge in Dublin so it was a huge, huge honor to get to go to Chess Recording Studios. I never thought I would get there and now I’ve been there and I got a t-shirt (pulls her sweater away to revel her Chess Studios t-shirt she is wearing and laughs).
Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Imelda: Ohhh that’s a weird one. ‘Count my fingers one, two, three the one in the middle is for you to me’ (laughs).
Estrella: That’s a good one!
Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Imelda: That’s too difficult because there are a million songs and a million artists.
Estrella: They could be dead or alive too.
Imelda: Oh I think it would have to be either Billie Holiday singing “I Love You Porgy” or I would say Howlin’ Wolf “Smokestack Lightning”.
Estrella: Do you have any final comments?
Imelda: No just thank you (laughs).