Interview + Video + Download : Lady Lamb The Beekeeper
The past few weeks have been some filled with the discovery of new music, new websites.. just new things in general. I couldn’t sleep one night a few weeks back and came across a website called Sleepovershows.com and was truly impressed with what they’ve done. Very similar to the shoots that La Blogotheque has done but with artists that mostly hail from North Eastern states. A girl by the name of Aly Spaltro, a 21 year old hailing from Portland, Maine. She has been writing and performing music under the moniker “Laby Lamb The Beekeeper”. She was able to find some time to talk with me this past Saturday afternoon while I was taking a break from AthFest 2011 in Athens, Georgia.
TheBlueIndian.com (Sean) : Hi Aly, Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, phone tag was getting a bit tiring.. I’ve been looking forward to this.
LLTB (Aly) : Thank you! Glad we’re getting to talk finally. You’ll have to excuse me if I need to repeat myself, it’s a bit loud here.
TBI : It’s fine, I’m surrounded by people at this festival too. I really couldn’t find a quiet place so I’m sure we’ll both have to. So, where are you living currently? I know you grew up in Maine but I vaguely remember seeing an article saying that you had moved to Boston?
LLTB : I currently live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m actually walking down the street here so that’s why it’s noisy. I was born and raised in Maine though. Never lived in Boston though, I just played there as much as possible when I was first starting because it was only two hours away so I become a local of somewhat..
TBI : What prompted the move to New York from Portland? I can only assume because the music scene has a bit more of what you’re looking for?
LLTB : Well, that yes, but I wound up in a bit of a predicament this past March leading up to SXSW. I was getting ready to drive out there and then my car decided it didn’t want to take me there and basically was totaled. I had some money saved up and had to decide whether or not I would buy a car and spend the rest of my money on the drive there and back or move out of Portland and kickstart my career. So I chose to find a place around New York to live and start writing and recording.
TBI : What did you do about SXSW? That’s not really something that you want to miss out on, especially if it was your first time.
LLTB : Well, it was my first time, but I was able to work out a flight there and back that didn’t cost too much and still have the money to do the things I needed when I got back
TBI : What was your impression of SXSW? I know it can be incredibly overwhelming at times.
LLTB : Yeah, it really was. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, it was just a big step for me. I’ve never played anywhere outside of the North East until last March so that in itself was a big deal. I was really well received, I think at least.
TBI : So, I “discovered” you in an odd way, but productive nonetheless..I started watching a few Youtube videos of this artist called Emperor X and from there just went through recommended videos.. A group of videos from a series called “Sleepover Shows” that he did and was really impressed. It directed me to more videos from the series and so there you were. I spent the rest of the evening watching your videos and trying to learn all that I could.. What can you tell me about the video series and website?
LLTB : The website is run by an amazing group of people. Rob Ribera and his wife Kelly started the site as a way to help promote bands coming through Boston while also giving them a place to stay. They would record videos of the bands practicing songs at their house and this eventually turned into a video series and website. They’re teamed up with a guy named Aviv (Rubinstien) who handles most of the production. He’s a great friend of mine. I actually was going to live with him before I moved to Brooklyn. They’re just some of the nicest people you could know and they care about independent music and helping new artists more then just about anything else.
TBI : They shoot you in a variety of locations with different instruments which was probably my favorite part about your shoot. Did you have any part in deciding where you would be playing or the themes for the videos?
LLTB : We just threw some ideas around and I carried my instruments around playing things. They recorded and we just pulled from the footage. I did three different shoots though. One inside their house in front of a giant chalkboard while I was being traced, one on a playground at a nearby park, and lastly one inside my car because we accidentally got locked out of their house and it started raining. By far, one of my favorite video shoots to date.
TBI : I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but what is the background to the name you chose to write and perform under?
LLTB : Well, at the time I first started playing music, I was into lucid dreaming. I would keep notebooks next to my bed and whenever I woke up would immediately write down what I had dreamed about or my thoughts upon waking. One morning, when I was 18, I woke up and “Lady Lamb The Beekeeper” was written in the journal. I don’t have any recollection of what made me write that down or of waking up, but it happened right around the time I was starting to record and so it just seemed appropriate.
TBI : I spent some time reading about your background and watching a few different interviews you’ve done to have my facts right but still wondering things. Can you tell me about what prompted you to start playing music and recording, as well as the styles and themes for your songwriting?
LLTB : It was really just a simple way for me to express myself in ways that sometimes didn’t make sense unless they were put to song. I started playing around the time I was 18 years old and would just write poetry, keep journals and stuff, and it all seemed to translate over eventually.
TBI : You’ve said in a few interviews I’ve read that you draw inspiration from dreams you’ve had, but also from the exploration into everyday occurrences of love, hate, heartbreak etc.. What would you say you draw the most influence from?
LLTB : I try to write about only things that I know. When I don’t know them but feel like I should, then I’ll write about what I want to know and my reasons for it. I don’t find much value in writing about things that haven’t happened. I think the most influence on my writing comes from the people around me, the city, transitions in life and the changes that we’re all constantly going through.
TBI : From what I could find, you have 5 records out?
LLTB : (counting) Uh, yeah, ha ha I think thats right. Yeah, 5 including the one I just put out.
TBI : You aren’t currently signed to any record label are you?
LLTB : No, and haven’t been before. I’ve put out 5 albums by myself. All of them have been done completely by hand, with the help of a few friends. I duplicate the CD’s, hand make all the CD cases. The most recent CD I put out, Mammoth Swoon, was done in a set of maybe 1200 that were individually wax sealed. I take some pride in the amount of time I spend on things, even though it may seem redundant to people.
TBI : Can you tell me about the process of making all these records independently.. Do all the albums only feature you or do you write and record some songs with friends?
LLTB : I’ve done everything by myself pretty much. There was a period where I had a bandmate that would play with me and it just worked out better playing by myself given the direction I wanted to go. Most recently though my friend Emily Hope Price was on two of the tracks on Mammoth Swoon.
TBI : Mammoth Swoon is a 15 song compilation of songs that were previously unreleased, rarities, and a few newer tracks. I listened to a few songs on your Bandcamp and was thoroughly pleased with how the songs transfer over as studio versions from the ones I’d heard from the different video sessions. Are you planning an upcoming release in the next few months?
LLTB : Thank you! I’m not exactly sure when the next record will be, but of course there will be one. I’ve been writing and demoing a bit on an 8-track in my apartment but I’m not sure if I want to record this next album or actually go into a studio and do all the official stuff you know. I think for sure though, it will be later this year or early 2012.
TBI : So you recorded all the previous albums yourself?
LLTB : Yep, I got some help from some friends when I started off, but I learned how to do things pretty quickly and just ran with it. It’s all part of the feel of making a record yours.
TBI : It looks like in the next few months you’ll only be playing shows around the Northeast, but those dates include opening slots for Beirut, Grace Potter and more, so that’s definitely something for you to be pleased about. When do you expect to set out on a tour of the East Coast?
LLTB : I am so excited about those shows! Opening for Beirut again will be amazing of course, but this show especially. It will be the first time I’ve played a show in Maine since I moved away so I’m hoping to see all my friends and family out. The other show is a week long festival called KahBang!. I think My Morning Jacket and a lot of other awesome bands are playing so thats something to be really happy about.
TBI : Congratulations on that, I’ll look into the festival.
TBI : We like to always find out what the artists we’re interviewing are listening to. What bands would you recommend that we and our readers look into from your area?
LLTB : Maine has a somewhat small music scene, but it’s very loyal. Off the top of my head, I think definitely check out The Milkman’s Union. They have a song called “Texas Hold Me” that I got to sing on which was a real treat. Also look into Sontiago, she’s a female rap artist. And an awesome blues musician named Samuel James. He is incredible.
TBI : Other then what we already discussed, What are you looking forward to over the next few months?
LLTB : Getting settled in my new home in New York. Writing and recording more music. Meeting people. Touring eventually. It’s going to be an exciting year.
TBI : Thanks for taking the time to talk, Aly. Have a great afternoon.
LLTB : Thank you so much, and you too!
Photo Credits: Shervin Lainez & Madi Daigle
FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY:
You can download the song “Between Two Trees” from her most recent album Mammoth Swoon HERE.