De’May has just released her debut album If We Don’t Leave Now, a record that announces the arrival of an intriguing new talent on the local scene. The album weaves it’s way through blues, country and folk styles with her voice the unifying element. She sings with real conviction and the ability to sound both tender and fragile (‘Tell Me’) and bold and confident (‘Cruel Creature’). De’May’s songwriting and arrangement skill really shines through, she knows when to build a band sound around a song or strip it bare to expose/highlight the melody, her voice and guitar. At times she reminds me of New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins, both artists filter English folk and American roots music qualities into their music and it gives the songs a timeless, floating sense of place, perhaps best exemplified by the lilting march of ‘Truth Be Told’.
If We Don’t Leave Now is out now via Laughing Outlaw Records and De’May will officially launch the album at The Commons Cafe in Newcastle on May 23rd. Other upcoming shows include 19th April @ Hunt and Gather Markets in Newcastle (Pacific Park) and 7th May @ Lizotte’s Newcastle.
To coincide with the album’s release we asked De’May to answer our Six Strings Q&A…
Which album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
I’d have to say that hearing my father play Neil Young records all the time when I was younger was the beginning of it. The album Harvest Moon has always stuck with me. I’ve listened to an array of genres since then, some more embarrassing than others during the teenage years, but I’ve always come back to Americana, folk and blues. It leaves you with a hunger to delve into history and explore who influenced the songwriters you love and who they’ve since inspired, it’s never-ending.
What’s been the favourite or most memorable gig you’ve played?
Any shows in my hometown Newcastle where friends come along for a drink or two are fun. I recently played a show with Robert Ellis and Cory Chisel from Nashville that I really enjoyed, was great to support such great songwriters that are keeping Americana alive and well today.
How did you learn to play your instrument?
I picked up a guitar for the first time when I was about twelve, I learnt a few chords from my Dad and brother and practiced until I could sing along. It was an inconsistent progression from there and wasn’t until I was about fifteen that I started to play around with open tunings and write my own songs. Often I wish I had tuition for theory sake, but I’m kind of glad that I’ve ended up with a strange hybrid style to call my own. After years playing in open tuning I’m now going back to standard tuning and learning from scratch. ‘Learning’ usually entails jamming with my partner with a bottle of red wine, it ain’t so bad.
If you could sit in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
Hmm… probably J.J. Cale during performances of ‘Naturally’. Such a sexy album, I’d be in heaven.
Do you feel there is a country/folk music community in Australia and how could it be strengthened?
Yes there’s definitely a country/folk music community in Australia. I think the way it can be strengthened is pretty simple, we all just need to be supporting each other’s music more. We produce some fantastic singer/songwriters, but I think people are becoming a bit lazy with turning up to live shows. Everything is so easily accessible online these days that people watch a video on YouTube and lose their desire to go and see the person/band perform live. So turn up to shows, buy each other’s records, collaborate, drink together, laugh together etc.
What was your favourite Americana release last year?
Caitlin Rose – The Stand In
What are your aspirations over the next 12 months?
I’ve just released my debut album, so I hope to follow that up by putting a band together and doing an East Coast tour. Other than that, I’ve just come back from an incredible trip throughout America so I’ve got a bunch of ideas for songs that I’d like to get down on paper.