How would you describe your music for someone who may not have heard you before?
I would probably describe it generally as Lo-Fi Indie, but I like to mix genres sometimes – my album has a couple of songs that stray into EDM/Trance music at times. Mainly though it’s quite chilled, sad, ambient stuff!
Why did you choose to release music under an alias rather than your name?
A couple of reasons – I don’t have what I consider to be a ‘Hollywood’ name. Most people that are recognisable have really cool names – Clint Eastwood, Johnny Depp, Joaquin Phoenix…Rob May just doesn’t have the same ring to it. A few of my biggest inspirations as well started their projects out as a solo act; Bon Iver, Ry X, City & Colour, and I just preferred the sound of a stage name. R E May are my initials, and I just stuck an N at the end.
Do you have a usual songwriting process? If yes, do you mind sharing it?
The first port of call for me is usually a subject. If I know generally what sort of mood or emotions I’ll be writing, I can compose the guitar to suit that tone. I’ll then write the lyrics, that can take weeks, or it can take half an hour, sometimes it’s a struggle and others it just tends to fly out. Once I have the lyrics and music down, I force myself into coming up with a vocal melody by recording a voice note on my phone, start playing and singing along and see what comes out. I can then keep what I like, and do more takes to change the things I think don’t fit.
When gigs start up again, where do you want to play first?
I live in Eastbourne, about 40 mins away from Brighton – there’s a cool little place here called Printers Playhouse that do open mic nights – people go specifically to hear music so you get a good, attentive crowd. Another place called Custom Cafe on the road out to Bexhill is decent as well. I haven’t played the GDS yet but would love to, I’ve had a lot of good nights there! I’d like to start getting some shows booked rather than just open mic nights, so anywhere that’ll have me to be honest!
Where has been the best place that you have played and what made this experience so special?
Probably Eastbourne Bandstand. A hometown show in an iconic location – my dad was a bandleader when he was in the army; when I was younger I saw him sing, play instruments and conduct orchestras on there, and my sister got married there a few years ago so there’s quite a strong connection within my family to that stage.
Which song is your favourite to perform and why?
I get very nervous before I perform; usually, I’m worried about messing something up on the guitar or forgetting lyrics. Because I just have a solo act, all the attention is on me, and the music I make requires a performance of vulnerability, so any mistakes are easily spotted. So probably something I’m extremely comfortable with. I’ve done a cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games a few times, that’s gone down very well in the past.
Does your latest single ‘Coffee and Prozac’ have a story? What was the inspiration behind it?
Basically, I’ve struggled with mental health issues from the age of about 6. I’ve had quite a lot of therapy, quite a lot of medication and nothing’s really changed. During lockdown, I was furloughed and it gave me some time for introspection. I basically decided that I was the main issue and that any improvements were going to come from a lifestyle change, not discussing the same things over and over again or taking meds for the sake of it.
Do you have any plans to release merchandise?
I’d really like to get some t-shirts made, I’ve been looking into that for a while. However, I don’t think I’m well known enough yet for anyone to want to buy one!
Who are some of your favourite bands and artists in the Brighton music scene?
Shamefully I don’t know that many as I don’t live in Brighton! I don’t get over too often because of work. Sweetface has some really cool songs, I like Mel Sanson and I absolutely love Phoria.
Can you tell us anything about your upcoming EP?
I’m changing things up a bit for this one, heading back to the 90s and hoping to emulate some Jeff Buckley; so lots of crystal clear guitars, oblique lyrics and tunings and a lot of falsetto!
Check out Remayn on Spotify