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Interview: MAY-A talks 'Don't Kiss Ur Friends' EP.

Interview: MAY-A talks 'Don't Kiss Ur Friends' EP.

“His arms around me, I can only think about they’re not yours,” opens Australian indie-pop singer MAY-A on her debut EP, ‘Don’t Kiss Ur Friends’. She uses music to disentangle her thoughts about the world as well find answers to her soul-searching - with this EP being no exception. Sonically you're strapped in and taken through a journey of both her relationship with herself, as she evolves, and with someone else as they retrograde. 

We caught up with MAY-A recently, to discuss everything from the afterlife and the perfect day, to the importance of working on yourself...

COUP DE MAIN: Do you have a favourite lyric from your EP?
MAY-A: I really like the 'Daffodils' lyrics. "I've been buying myself flowers" - I think that's the opening line. That was based on 'Mrs. Dalloway' by Virginia Woolf which is the opening line of that book and it also connects to some old Lorde lyrics, I think she said, "Cut flowers for all my rooms... I care for myself the way I used to care about you." It's one of the connecting inspiration lines to a lot of my stuff.

CDM: In ‘Amiinmyhead’ you say, ‘Are we killing time with each other, waiting for our other lovers?' Do you go into relationships thinking you’re either going to break up? Or get married? Kind of like how Taylor Swift said: ‘It’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames.'
MAY-A: I am so bad at riding it through - so bad! It's kind of like I see the end before it begins. But it's definitely: 'This is either gonna be just a moment or forever.'

CDM: Is there a lyric on ‘Don’t Kiss Ur Friends’ that you’re most proud of?
MAY-A: The very first song I ever released, the first verse is, "Pass around my body like it's all just made of glass / Pass around my body like it's all just gonna crack / Think you're gonna break me but you're dumb for thinking that / Think you're gonna break me but I'll always break you back." I didn't think that I could write something that sounded that much like poetry, so I think that took me by surprise.

CDM: In the song ‘Swing Of Things’, you say, ‘Taking back everything I said to you / I can’t tell my own lies from the truth.' Do you think that a lie eventually becomes the truth if you tell it enough? 
MAY-A: It's ingrained in your head that that is the reality. Definitely. That lyric is about when you overthink and then you're just in a pit of constantly ruminating on your entire life. You can't actually tell what your genuine thoughts are and what the overthinking thoughts are. It has become so normal that it's hard to distinguish which one is actually relative, it's sort of like that.

CDM: ‘Her face, my mind, I’m in someone else’s eyes, and maybe we’ll meet in another life,’ you say in ‘Central Station’. Are you someone who believes in reincarnation, or a type of afterlife for humans?
MAY-A: 100% reincarnation. I did Buddhism classes in school when I was young and my Mum just put me in Buddhism because she was like, "I don't want you to be in... Christianity... Catholic..." I can't remember. Basically, she was just saying, "Well, I want you to do something, but I don't want to do that," so she put me in Buddhism, and it was really hard. It's hard to take things seriously when you're a kid because you're just making fun of everything. I think as I got older and looked back, I was just like, 'Oh, there's definitely some pretty valid points,' so I wouldn't say I'm religious but I definitely think the closest I've gotten is the Buddhism side of religion. 

CDM: If you could be reincarnated as anything, what would it be?
MAY-A: Oh, a dog. I would love to be a dog. You're just so protected. Life is great.

CDM: You’ve described the song ‘Apricots’ as an inner dialogue between your head and your heart. Do you often find that you lean into listening more to your head or your heart? 
MAY-A: My head. I'd say I often listen to my head. 

CDM: What constitutes a perfect day for you?
MAY-A: I think a quiet day, just being in the sun, having lots of alone time, but feeling content in that. Reading a book, doing some art, coming home, getting a good night's sleep, that's a good day!

CDM: Do you find writing about your own experiences or writing about something other than yourself makes the words formulate on the page easier?
MAY-A: Writing on my own experience is a lot easier because it's easy to just say a stream of consciousness of what's in my head right now. This is something that I went through the other day, it's pretty cathartic and kind of diaristic and getting it out. But writing about other people's experiences and something bigger than myself is a lot more rewarding, because you're putting effort into thinking about something other than yourself.

CDM: If you had to describe your EP in 3 words, what would they be? 
MAY-A: Emotional, satirical, and self-deprecation.

CDM: In ‘Daffodils’ you say, ‘I’m pretending I’m not drowning in my self-destruct, in my own fuck ups, in everything that I’ve done, I’m tryna hold myself up now.' When asking for help in these types of situations, do you think it's harder to ask for help, or to actually receive it and take it in?
MAY-A: I'm definitely bad at both. I'm probably worse at listening and it's definitely something that I'm working on. When it's help for myself, whether it's professional or not, it's so hard for me to see things getting better that I just think that everything that everyone's told me is like, 'Yeah, thought about it, yeah, thought about it,' you know... brush it off a little bit. But I'm definitely working on not doing that.

CDM: You say, ‘I’ve been buying myself flowers, crowning myself my own king,’ in Daffodils. Is self-care something that you find yourself valuing a lot in your life?
MAY-A: It was more of a metaphor, but I do like buying myself flowers. My old housemate was a florist so we always had flowers in the house, but I never bought them. I think I've learned to appreciate them a lot more.

CDM: You’ve described ‘Swing of Things’ as a song about the longing feeling of wanting things to go back to normal. Are you someone who looks mostly to the past, present, or future?
MAY-A: Probably the past, I definitely got caught up in the past, and the future scares me. I hate waiting for things. I think that's the biggest thing you can wait for.

CDM: Do you have a specific memory from making the EP that has stuck out to you? 
MAY-A: I remember making 'Daffodils'. We wrote the whole thing in a few hours with my producer, Robbie, he did the beat and I was just freestyling over the tracks. I remember the second day we went to re-record one part and do a bunch of harmonies and by that point, we were so fucking delusional that it's just funny because it's such a sad song but in between takes I was just pissing myself laughing, I couldn't explain the energy. It was a very weird match between the first day, kind of super emotional, and the second day I think I couldn't handle feelings anymore. I felt like I was high or something. It was a lot of fun.

CDM: "Don’t lean on me, please don’t lean on me," in Daffodils is kind of the polar opposite of the famously optimistic and cheerful song ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers. Would you describe yourself as more of an optimist, or a pessimist, or somewhere in between?
MAY-A: Pessimist 100%. Another thing that I'm trying to change. It's not working out for me great, I'm not always this sad. It's so much easier to write about the sad feelings and focus on that than it is to write about the happy feelings. It's 100% harder to write a good happy song than a good sad song. But I think I did get into a habit of constantly writing sad songs and if they were happy they were almost satirical and still sad or just completely not taking myself seriously because I think you need a lot of confidence to pull off genuinely a happy personality without people kind of judging it.
CDM: Yeah, I think it's kind of hard to ride the line between a corny and a happy song.
MAY-A: 100%. Pharrell Williams is a really good example of that because he's got a couple of songs that are happy and great and then he has 'Happy' and I can't listen to that song without thinking about Minions. 

CDM: In ‘Apricots’ you talk about someone living and taking up space in your mind - do you think the versions we create of people in our heads can be damaging?
MAY-A: 1,000%, That's something I write about too often and I lose track of which songs are out that have that theme in it and which songs are not out that have that theme in it but it's definitely something that I don't think is going to go away that I can stop writing about. There's an Ariana Grande song as well that's called 'In My Head'. That's a really good example of it as well, I think I listened to that right before I wrote that song. I was like, 'That is such a good point.' It is damaging 100% because I catch myself doing it still. I'm like, 'No, this is just a complete fantasy that I've made up,' and I think it's the same thing as when you tell yourself a lie too many times you start to believe it. Once you think up enough scenarios, you really believe that that person is what you're thinking in your head.

CDM: You also talk about wanting what you can’t have in ‘Apricots’, and once they’re gone, you want them back. Do you think the concept of ‘the grass is always greener' is something that has just become a core part of human nature today?
MAY-A: I think that that's in all my songs as well. I've just been in too many relationships that are on and off constantly, and it's just exhausting. It's pretty pointless. I definitely have that sense of really having the urge to get rid of something, for some reason, and then almost immediately afterwards being like, 'Fuck, I might have needed that.'

CDM: Is there a song from the EP that you are most excited to get to perform live?
MAY-A: I'm just excited to perform the EP in front of people with people knowing it. I've performed all of them already but people haven't known the songs. I'm excited for 'Amiinmyhead' because people would get pretty rowdy for that song without knowing it so I'd love to see what that would be like with them knowing it. 

CDM: Do you have a colour that you most associate with the EP?
MAY-A: 100% purple, a weird sort of purple mauve, and a dark red. In between of that scale is definitely what I feel that is.

CDM: Do you have any big future goals / daydreams / bucket lists / pipe dreams you want to put out into the universe today?
MAY-A: I just want to play festivals so bad. It's such a cliché but Lollapalooza, or Coachella. 100% would die to play those festivals.

MAY-A's debut EP 'Don't Kiss Ur Friends' is out now - watch the video for 'Daffodils' below:

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