Imelda May has always done things her own way, and has followed her nose since she was 16 when it comes to her music. With her sixth studio album, 11 Past The Hour, May reveals her most authentic self, diving deep into her Irish roots while asking the big question: what is love?
Marker pen in mouth, Imelda May joins the Zoom call in the middle of signing a mountain of CDs. “I’m in a secret hideout,” she says cryptically, while continuing to sign away methodically.
May is clearly used to multitasking, and confirms that she’s currently juggling writing a poetry book, working on various artwork and videos, another mysterious project that she can’t discuss yet, has recently finished an EP release – oh, and she’s just completed her brand new album, 11 Past The Hour.
“I've been crazy busy! While I'm talking to you, I'm unpacking around 2,000 CDs that I'm supposed to be signing by the end of today, which I will do, and I still haven't. I do too much, but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I love it. I find it exciting and fun. If I wake up and it excites me, that's why I do it. I'm like a child that way; I like to keep the childlike curiosity in what I do.”
Born and raised in The Liberties area of Dublin, May has become one of Ireland’s most famed female artists. Discovered by Jools Holland who asked her to go on tour with him, May has gone on to perform duets with artists including U2, Lou Reed, Sinead O’Connor, Robert Plant, Van Morrison, Jack Savoretti and Elvis Costello, and has featured on recent albums and live tours with Jeff Beck, Jeff Goldblum and Ronnie Wood – the latter who joins her on 11 Past The Hour.
May shares that she’s always been headstrong and music-mad, and suddenly recalls the time she snuck off to her first ever gig:
“I was 15 and I told my parents I was staying at a friend's house. I got a coach and went on a five hour journey, and I told my parents I was staying overnight with some friends around the corner. I remember it was during a massive storm where there were warnings to stay indoors – the bus was shaking all over the road. I thought it was gonna blow over and I was more terrified of being caught than I was about being killed!” she laughs.
“I did something similar to see Guns N' Roses, as well. I hitchhiked all the way to Slane Castle, then got stranded and had to sleep in a field. I only told my parents about that a little while ago – they were horrified! But it was totally worth it.”