“Is that Wafia?” a stunned, yet softly spoken Annie Hamilton asks on set. “I love her.” It’s in this sentence we remember Hamilton, along with band mates Liz Drummond and Hannah Field, were performing in gastro pubs on makeshift stages just three-and-a-half years ago. They would perform the same songs – covers and originals – over and over to the revolving door of disinterested pub patrons. To the three young girls from Sydney, now known as Little May, spotting a musician they love today is the same as someone recognising them a few years ago; its met with wonder, bemusement and most definitely excitement.
Today though, the band doesn’t struggle to be heard over pub ambience. Signed to Dew Process, a subdivision of Universal Music Australia, the band sell out shows not only in Australia but in the UK, France, Germany and the US as soon as they are announced. Their sound has come a long way too. “When we started out, there was just three of us and we only had acoustic guitars,” explains Hamilton. “Over the last few years, our sound has developed a lot. It’s much more electric guitar based and we also have a drummer (Cat Hunter) and bassist (Mark Harding) with us in our live band. It’s a lot bigger and fuller sound than our pub days. It’s rockier which accounts for some slow builds and atmospheric moments on the album.”
The album Hamilton refers to is of course their debut, For The Company, in which Aaron Brooking Dessner (from The National) produced. Remind Me, the first single released became poignant to their career. For the first time since their folk acoustica EP, intoxicating melodies and harmonies were laden in heavy percussion and given depth with the electric guitars. They’ve debuted this new sound touring with Canadian band City and Colour as their Australian support through March and April, and to high appraise.
In May, the band will aptly begin their largest Australian tour, a big achievement for the girls who used to skip parties to drink at each others houses and smoke cigarettes. “In high school, I think I was perceived as outgoing but, you know, I was trying to figure myself out,” says Field. “I was a bit lost but not in a sad way. I was just confused about the world.”
Today, there are a lot of similarities drawn to Californian indie band Haim, a comparison the girls dismiss as flattering but not accurate. “The one thing I will say is it always strikes us as really weird that people are always like, ‘Wow! You guys are girls!’ or like ‘You’re a girl band’. It shouldn’t need to be a thing,” explains 25-year-old Hamilton. “It should just be, ‘You’re a band’, you know. It irks us a little bit that it’s always brought up as a point of difference. We just want to focus on the music and be the best musicians we can be.”
Hamilton, Field and Drummond may have walked in in singlets, jeans and button-up collars but today, the fashion transformation is astounding. Publicists, managers and fashion editors alike nod in approval; this is Little May 2016, louder in sound and style than ever before. Wafia even glances over from the makeup chair.
Little May begin their national tour on May 5. For ticketing information, head to littlemaymusic.com/tour