Interview with Brother May

Experimental by nature, Brother May has crafted a sound that is truly unique to his own. He brings an extensive depth to the realm of rap music as he merges it with an eclectic twist.

His pallet as an artist is dynamic and he has gone onto perform shows at international festivals and venues such as Roundhouse and Barbican. He has also previously worked with artists such as Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, Kwes and Kate Tempest.

Brother May became widely recognised last year with the release of his critically acclaimed project ‘Aura Type Orange’. Continuing to build a buzz within the rap circuit he follows up his project with his 2020 release ‘Love is in Demand’. The four-track EP is captivating from the moment you press play, the EP demonstrates his innovative lens as an artist and it’s produced by Rudi Zygadlo.

‘Love is in Demand’ eloquently examines the cycles of love and his singles ‘W84U’, ‘Demanding Love’, ‘Friendzone’ and ‘Fall Out’ takes you through the multi-faceted dimensions of it. The themes of love vary and delve into platonic love, love of music and falling in and out of love in relationships. Each track contains a unique message and soundscape that capture the exhilarating emotions and the depth of the track. Stylistically his project deviates from the current sound in the mainstream and allows us to get inside his creative mind and hear music interpreted a different way.

Following the release of his EP we spoke with Brother May and we had an in-depth chat about topics such as his incredible project, his creative process and his stand out moments of a career.

You have just released your latest EP ‘Love is in Demand’, what was the concept behind the project? 
The concept was to explore love in all its glory, I thought given our current situation in the world we wanted to shine a light love ups and downs. I wanted to speak about perseverance and consistency, through fighting for something you love and declare my love for music.

What inspired you to create the EP?
My current day to day life and the worlds pandemic – plus BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement was all an inspiration to this EP, in a way ATO (Aura Type Orange) inspired this project too in the sense I wanted a follow up concept album that could be in the same conversation as the project I dropped prior (2019)

What was the creative process like, do you have a method that you go through when completing tracks?
Yes I do have a method, my method is to just draw on the unlimited forces, inspiration from my children, my Mrs, past failed friendships or relationships to help my creative process – I just say an advanced freestyle, for example, then further define the lyrics when and where I see fit, then I help co-produce the overall song afterwards with the producer so I’m pretty hands on!!

What was it like working with Rudi Zygadlo on the production, how did the collaboration form?
It was really easy and straightforward working with Rudi, I think we work really well together, we both have huge energy and are both keen to do the hard work, I loved his production straight away from when I first heard the song entitled ’Fall Out’ it was a wrap from there, green light!!

You have a unique experimental sound that incorporates a wide variety of genres, how would you describe the sound of the project?
Thank you, appreciate you saying. 

I would describe my sound as fresh new and pretty much in my own experimental lane, as an artist, I try to add all the sounds I loved in the 90’s hip-hop & r&b era I heard growing up.

I think it’s important to pay homage and not forget who paved the way for us and who paved the way and made an even bigger impact before that and so on! I could give a description for days, but I think it’s best when you hear other peoples perspective on the project!!

The EP comes off the back of your project ‘Aura Type Orange’, tell us a bit more about the project.
‘Aura Type Orange’ is my baby, it’s now all grown up and left the nest/home to fly away, and now, it’s hopefully, flown into all of your homes too! Lol. 
It’s my debut LP – it has some of my truths, mistakes, triumphs, lessons and inspiring content overall in there, its deffo worth a listen.
Much appreciated if you’ve already heard it!

What are your top three stand out moments of your career?
1. Performing with Mica Levi at a sold out Roundhouse, 5,000 plus people opening for Arca.

2. Meeting Biggie Smalls mum and having a handshake (before COVID-19) in the Year 9 Secondary School for a show I’d done in Lambeth college, South London.

3. Dropping my debut album (Aura Type Orange) – with physical copies –  CD – Cassette & vinyl financed by me and my wife/manager independently with no label

Who are your dream collaborations? 
I’m really in love with the elder generation in music they always have so much to teach you, you can learn so much from them. People like Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion and Adele. 

These people make incredible music and I think we’ll work extremely well.

Taking it back to the beginning of your career what inspired you to become a musician?
The day my mum let me watch Cable TV, I saw MTV & I was sold from there, I recall being about 6-7 yrs old seeing Micheal Jackson & Vanilla Ice to name a few and all these other amazing acts dressed really flamboyantly dancing wildly and I remember thinking, I know exactly what I wanna do when I grow up lol.

Who were your musical influences growing up?
You know the same generic ones like everyone growing up in my era, Biggie, Tupac, Missy Elliott, Total, Immature, TLC, Aaliyah, Goodie Mob, Shabazz The Disciple, Mobb Deep, G-Unit, Jay Z, Nas, Raekwon, N.O.R.E etc, 90’s era was too wavy.

You have performed at a variety of places across the globe. Where is your favourite place that you’ve performed?
I have a few I couldn’t name just one, I have a special place in my heart for every city I’ve ever performed in! They’ve all treated us with amazing hospitality and have all been amazing experiences, so my favourite is all.

How has Coronavirus restrictions impacted your creativity over the last few months? 

At first, it was alien to me and I thought the world was going to end. Then luckily, I realised it wasn’t me, it inspired me to write new music with new producers so I’m excited about that, I’ve also used this time to bond with family I haven’t had time to speak to in a while.

Once gigs and festivals start running again what would be your dream venue to perform?
I wanna perform in Brazil at the Rio Carnival, but coming from London I’d have to say Glastonbury first to be patriotic to my country lol.

Finally, what are your plans for the next few months, do you have more new music in the pipeline?
Yes I’ve got music coming out my ears tbh, fortunately, I have people around me that keep me motivated and I’m pretty decent at being self inspired so, it’s not as difficult for me to write as it might be for other musicians. I have much more music in store over the next coming months – not to mention our October 26th record store day release, exclusive vinyl only, of my archives, music I’ve recorded from 07’ that I didn’t want to go unheard so we’ve decided to release it for my real day one supporters who have requested, funny enough, some of the songs that we have on there!

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