July 12, 2013 Interview: Kristen May of Flyleaf
Flyleaf is a band which has garnished major success since their debut album self-titled album Flyleaf in 2005. Their 2009 album Memento Mori was ranked # 1 in billboard alternative albums, Christian albums, and hard rock albums. In 2012 the band released their third full length album New Horizons. To the surprise of many fans vocalist Lacey Strum left the band immediately following the release of the album. Determined to carry on their musical passion Flyleaf quickly found a new singer in Kristen May. Kristen May is an established vocalist with a strong passion for live performance and is up to the challenge of taking the spot light as the new singer of Flyleaf. Recently we sat down with Kristen for a personal conversation about her experience as the new singer of Flyleaf, the future of the band, and her love for music.
Crypticrock.com- You joined Flyleaf in 2012 following the release of the band’s album New Horizons and departure of Lacey Strum. Was it overwhelming at all to be taking the lead as the voice in front of the band especially considering the timing?
Kristen May- I think it had its share of challenges but I was just excited to be playing again. I was in a band for about 8 years previously and hadn’t been on the road for a couple of years. I just wasn’t really sure what I was doing so it was just nice to have an opportunity to write and play again. I’d say the positives definitely outweighed the overwhelming feelings.
Cypticrock.com- It’s definitely a positive thing and probably a very exciting time for you. Since you joined Flyleaf and have been touring with the band how do you find fans are responding to you as the new vocalist?
Kristen May- Well we’ve only done one tour technically, but we’ve had a couple of one offs as well. The tour we did with Drowning Pool was an amazing reception. People were really cool and came up and were really sweet. I think people were into it, we play the best that we can when we play live. I feel really good about it, I think the energy’s there and the passion’s there. I’m definitely connecting with the fans live. It’s always good when people actually come out to a show instead of just judging from their homes of what it will be like.
Crypticrock.com- That was a great tour and you did put on a great performance. There is now a new single out called “Something Better” featuring Sonny of P.O.D. The single is off the new Flyleaf EP Who We Are out July 9th. How was your first recording and writing experience with the band for this material?
Kristen May- The writing experience was really awesome. I was really stoked on how the guys were really open with everyone’s ideas. We just all came in with different things we had and we collaborated it. It felt like a really good collaboration and a positive environment to write, so that’s key to making songs you love. “Something Better” is the single we decided to take to the studio. Working with Howard Benson was awesome, he really pushes you. I wanted my vocals to be true to what I do but also push it a little bit because it’s more a rock pop song, I feel really good about it.
Crypticrock.com- As you said it is more of a rock pop song. It’s very upbeat, catchy and has a nice message. That being the first single off the EP are there a couple other new tracks on there?
Kristen May- It’s mostly a live EP. We have 4 songs that we did on the Drowning Pool tour. A couple from New Horizons and Sorrow off an older album. “Something Better” is actually the only studio recording. I’ve written more songs but on this EP it’s 4 live songs and 1 studio recording.
Crypticrock.com- Well that’s something to look forward to and see a full length album in the future. Now on July 11th you are headed out on a Co-headlining tour with P.O.D. How excited are you about this tour?
Kristen May- I’m so stoked. I used to listen to P.O.D. when I was younger and I’ve always been a big fan of Sonny. I’m just excited to get out there and play “Something Better” and we’ll probably play another new song that we’ve written that’s unreleased. I just love playing live so I can’t wait.
Crypticrock.com- It should be a great tour. My next question for you is regarding the label of the band. I personally don’t like labels but many label Flyleaf as a Christian rock band. With that said, we are living in a very complex world where sometimes people will write off a band merely because of the band’s religion. That is truly awful in my opinion because music is music and whether you personally agree with someone’s religion or not why should it affect your opinion of them. What do you think of this?
Kristen May- It’s definitely a huge issue. It’s funny you say that because I’m the new singer of the band and I am a Christian, but I’m already getting some kind of lashings from other Christians saying I’m not Christian enough to be in this band because Lacey was like an angel (laughs). It’s really interesting, I don’t think it’s just people who maybe aren’t Christian or believe in something else who maybe don’t want to listen to Flyleaf because of that. I just think it’s ignorance and it’s people being judgmental or maybe afraid of what they can get out of it. I don’t know, I think we all do that in our lives. We all kind of put labels on things and put people in boxes even if we don’t realize we’re doing it. I think it’s unfortunate because I think the guys in Flyleaf all have really good hearts. The whole Flyleaf family, all their friends and family members are really amazing people. I hope people can give it a chance no matter what connotation people think Christian adds to it.
Crypticrock.com- Of course and it’s awful that people do that. The labeling thing is ridiculous because everyone has their beliefs in something. Regardless of what you believe in you can take something away from it. It’s just a positive message in general.
Kristen May- That’s definitely how I feel. No matter what you believe it’s definitely a positive message. I think we all need hope and inspiration and that is what I hope people can take from the music.
Crypticrock.com- That is the best quality music can offer. Now besides being part of Flyleaf you also write music solo. Do you think working with Flyleaf will influence your solo work or are they two separate entities?
Kristen May- You know I don’t even know how to answer that question yet, that’s interesting. I’m going to have the opportunity to go to LA shortly after this tour and work with the drummer of Grouplove. He’s one of my good buddies and he’s a producer as well and that’s going to be my solo project. I haven’t thought about if I want to separate this from Flyleaf. It’s kind of hard for me to set up boundaries like that. I’m definitely a person who lets all my inspirations flow out into what I do.
Crypticrock.com- That is a good outlook and it will be interesting to see where the road takes you. What are some of your musical influences?
Kristen May- I feel like it’s ever evolving. Growing up my parents listened to a lot of classic rock, Led Zeppelin, The Who. My mom listened to Joni Mitchell, Carol King, and Stevie Wonder. When I heard Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate and Bjork, those were three of the musicians that really changed my perspective on music. Those definitely influenced me and as things progress I’ve been lately into Ellie Golding and I love The Temper Trap, and MGMT. More kind of electronic but a little bit experimental. I’ve always loved pop, I can’t get away from pop. I’ll totally jam out to the latest Selena Gomez with my niece and I can’t help it (laughs).
Crypticrock.com- It’s good to keep an open mind about music. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Kristen May- I don’t really watch a ton of them. When 28 Days Later came out I loved that movie. I remember watching it with my husband and I thought it was really artfully done and really interesting. I remember watching The Ring and that also kind of blew my mind and that was the beginning of when everybody did that style. Those are probably two of my favorites.
Crypticrock.com- You mentioned 28 Days Later, did you see the second film 28 Weeks later?
Kristen May- I didn’t like it as much. It was cool, the soundtrack was pretty amazing, and it started off really intense. I just liked the grittiness and the way 28 Days Later was filmed. 28 Weeks Later was pretty cool though too.