Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Lydia May. Together we discussed their relationship with music, being a graduate of BRIT school, their latest album “Orbit”, and so much more!

1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today? 

Just breathing my way through the day, it’s going… reasonably well.

2. What was your relationship with music growing up? What songs do you remember always being played?

I was thrown a bunch of everything as a kid. My mums an opera singer and my dad an avid campfire player so everything from musical theatre to the Beatles to Joni Mitchell was what I grew up on. As I got a bit older and through school music became my only way into making friends with choir and weekend musical theatre lessons. Everyone played sport at my school so I didn’t have any friends except when I was singing really.

3. Is there an album or song that had a significant impact on you?

Hello by Adele was huge to me when it came out. It was the reason I went to the BRIT school to be honest. I felt so much power and passion and saw a woman embracing her emotions and channeling it through art and music. Similar to Cold Play’s Clocks. Whilst I don’t write music in the same genre, I try to re create the same build and release of energy in my own music as they do. It’s very cathartic belting those songs out.

4. At twelve years old you released a demo album. What was your creative process back then? How has it evolved since? How did it feel to have a demo released at this age?

I did ! Gosh it was a while ago but it was entirely an emotional process as well as musical. My dad took me into our garage the night before my birthday and got out an old tape recorder and we wrote a song and recorded it. We did move to garage band eventually but I was amazed at how in control of my emotions I felt. It was the lowest time in my life mentally writing that album and my dad used it as a way to keep me motivated on something. When I didn’t want to do anything he encouraged me to get in the studio and just focus my energy on something musical. It saved my life. I still write from my own emotions but my musical journey has since evolved into a bigger artistic expression. Now I hope to connect with others going through a similar experience and create a beautiful welcoming sonic world. I can also produce my own tracks now which is amazing.

This was at my dads friends studio who helped master the final project. It was the first time I’d ever been to a real recording studio and I loved it

5. You’re a recent graduate of BRIT School. What lesson did you learn from there that will always stay with you? Did you have a favorite course?

Be a sponge to knowledge, be kind to everyone and listen more than you talk. 

My favourite courses were probably my GCSE art lessons and weekly singing lessons. Those 30minutes every week with my teacher contained some of the most calming, reflective and supportive conversations – even when we weren’t singing. I’m so grateful for every opportunity I was given there – it was great.

6. Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne are some influences of yours. Could you tell us more about how these artists have influenced you? What songs of theirs do you recommend all humans listen too?

Not only do I think vocally that they are brilliantly talented, I’ve gained so much inspiration to be loud and proud from those two women. Fore fronting a male band and being a young solo female rock artist in the face of a very male dominated industry and even more so genre will continue to drive my confidence self as a female artist. I write happy grunge inspired music and have a rock band behind me when I play and love to belt my heart out. Without those 2 artists I don’t think I would be where I am today having the guts to write the type of songs I do. Ain’t it Fun is one of my favourite songs and Complicated will always be a banger.

7. In 2017 you released your album “Heart & Soul.” What was the inspiration behind this album? 

This was the first project I ever committed to and had no idea what to expect. I desperately wanted to do something that I could share and use to connect and make friends with but it ended up being an incredibly personal experience. I was inspired by Nora Jones and Joni Mitchell who my dad played to me when we’d drive around if I was having an anxious or depressive episode and I was really encouraged to translate my emotions into music. Putting my heart and soul into what I was writing. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew how I felt. The best piece of advice I got was also from my dad during this process when he told me “to write what I know”. Writing music has continued to be about sharing my own experiences in hope someone else will be able to resonate and relate with.

8. Mustard has observed humans have a heart and soul. What are some ways humans can show you they have a heart and soul? How do the heart and soul connect?

Be creative and engage in other peoples creations. Human are so wonderful and full of life and we are continuously channeling our thoughts and feelings into art in beautiful ways. Express yourself how you feel is right and take the time to look at how everyone else is doing the same and tell them you think they’re doing great. Everyone’s trying their best all the time and if you put some kindness into the world it will always come back to find you. Love and personal perspectives are what adds to the experience of life, I think everyone should lead with both of those things every day.

9. A couple years later you released “Priorities.” Could you share some of your priorities at this time? When it comes to doing things daily, what are some top priorities of yours?

My health and friends as my main priorities now. Looking after and loving myself takes a lot of effort but it allows me to give more to my friends and family. On a daily basis I make sure to journal, tell my friends I love them and try to drink enough water !

10. You’ve had the opportunity to perform at venues such as The Bedford and The Half Moon. Can you recall what it was like performing at these venues? How would you describe your live performance?

The Bedford was one of the most rewarding performances I’ve ever done. Tony the manager is incredibly supportive of artists and it was so lovely to play at his venue with my band. I remember people coming to stand by the door to watch because there weren’t enough seats! The Half Moon was equally as special.

You can expect a bit of a party from me performing live. I treat the set list as a journey and I try to tell a story through my songs, whilst making you get up and dance and sing along. As well as potentially shedding a tear in the acoustic songs I sing. I want people to arrive and leave feeling as though they’ve been allowed to let go of anything not serving them well.

11. One of the songs on your latest album “Orbit” is Pretty Bullshit. Could you share some examples of bullshit? How can you detect when a human is being dishonest? What is some bullshit you cannot tolerate?

Oh god can I ever. If you’re not getting back the energy you put in or aren’t being met half way, take your amazing self and walk away. They don’t deserve you. Same with being confused about someone’s feelings, if you don’t feel inundated with love then it’s not worth it. Bullshit is anything or anyone that makes you doubt yourself and your goals. And there’s no time for any of it.

Dishonesty is difficult to navigate, sometimes people don’t know how to be honest with themselves let alone someone else and that’s ok but redirecting that sense of confusion or frustration onto other people isn’t. You have had to decipher what you want and what your truth is by yourself, whilst protecting your peace.

Bullshit I won’t tolerate? Unnecessary anger.

12. When did you begin working on Orbit? What was it like putting this album together?

I began writing this back in 2019 after meeting my producer Matt (who I’m still working with to this day). We started in the studio but then covid hit and we had to go to zoom sessions which was really strange. I created a home studio to record myself and would send the stems to him and watch as he would mix it on zoom. It took a year and a half to finish all 10 songs and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I pushed myself to reach a new level of musicality, lyricism and create the spacey sonic world that reflected my difficult experience with disassociation at the time. It allowed me to focus and grow at a time where the world felt very strange and disconnected.

(On a zoom session with my producer in 2020)

13. What is next for Lydia May?

I have just started working on my next project which is going to consist of 3 EP’s that tell the story of my experiences as a friend, lover and family member. I’ve got a new band and a clearer vision of what I want to do. Which is essentially create a welcoming and fun space when you can be yourself and vulnerable and connect with other people.

14. Where can readers listen to your music?

Spotify is a great starting place but my previous releases are available everywhere. I post new ideas and happenings on my socials, mainly my TikTok (@Lxdiamay) where everyone interacts with each other as well.


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