Dent May blew through Toronto last night supporting his latest record Do Things. His new sound presents a total shift from his previous album Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele, switching from the folk instrument to a danceier, poppy sound. We caught up with the Mississippi indie-artist to find out where this shift came from, and got a whole lot of fun, eclectic tidbits about what he’s listening to, and what we can expect from Dent in the future. Check out our interview below and photos from the show thanks to our friend Jason Gordon Photography.
We love your upbeat, dance version of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street”, what inspired you to cover this band?
I just recently got into the Grateful Dead. I particularly like that album Shakedown Street and that song. I kind of like it because the grateful dead have their own little world that I was never a part of, and I know a lot of people feel the same way so I kind of wanted to bring my own thing to something like the Grateful Dead which is something that is normally out of my realm, you know?
Definitely… it’s a cool little community.
I think more and more jam band kids are accepting indie rock kids…that bridge is being built.
I love all music, and agree that there doesn’t need to be a gap. What guided the shift in your new album?
I think it was kind of a slow process. I knew I didn’t want to put out another Ukulele album, so basically I just started with what I had around the house. Guitars, keyboards and my laptop to record and make beats, so it kind of happened naturally and slowly where I tried to do it organically and accumulate all the different sounds that I like about music and put them together. I tried not to think about it too much and just make music that I thought would be fun to hear, as a music fan.
Instrumentation is a huge leap for me, but I guess the music is the same at the core. How do you marry your Ukulele album and Do Things? It’s pretty unique to come out with such different albums, especially in the indie scene.
I have always tried to open my mind to every kind of music. I grew up with pop music on the radio. And that may not have been cool for certain people, but I have always embraced things that aren’t necessarily cool. I try to open my mind to everything and use everything I can in my music like that. I kind of go through phases. I am really into country music right now and then ill get into a bunch of classic house music from Chicago house. I go through phases like that and try to soak up as much as I can, be a musical sponge really.
What are you listening to right now? What has influenced you?
There is not necessarily one artist that I really relate to in particular. But mostly I have been listening to R & B and hip-hop music. A lot of radio stuff, current, and 90’s, classic R&B and hip hop. I kind of feel like that is the most interesting music out there right now. I’m kind of tired of guitars even though I play one in my band. I like to hear that next level sound that has never been done before and I feel like that is what is being done in R & B and hip-hop production right now. I’m from the south so I love that dirty south rap. 136 Mafia and Cash Money Records. Getty Fresh Production and all that stuff is a big influence on me.
Can you see yourself collaborating in that world?
Absolutely. I would love to produce for other artists. I would love to collaborate with artists in many other ways. Especially someone who is not an indie rock artist. A rapper, hip-hop artist or singer. I have always kind of thought of having a musical project where I am not the lead singer. It’s a lot of pressure, me every night, and being the face of the project. I have always wanted to find a female singer or a really great singer that I could collaborate with and do production and help with songwriting. I’m super into that but haven’t done it yet.
I read recently that you said you were looking to maybe put out a rock opera with your drummer. How serious is that?
Going back to the different phases, when I was going through a really heavy country western phase, I had a project I was working on called “Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City”. It was a live band, a country band, and kind of like a story that my friend Michael and I were coming up with as a larger scale multimedia project about a junior rodeo champion who has fallen on hard times, and takes a kind of odyssey like trip across the country and stumbles upon a strange, fantastical electric city where he becomes a night club DJ and starts doing a lot of drugs, but I never finished it. I don’t know if I ever will finish, but I do want to do some rock opera type stuff. I do want to work in video format and marry that with my music. Our drummer Alex does a lot of video production, including my last two videos. I just want to expand the talent that I work with beyond music, so I am really into anything like that.
Hopefully for your fans you will go back to it!
I think I am going to record an EP of the songs that I had at the time, and call it “Songs From the Unfinished Rock Opera Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City”.
Photo by Erin Kirkpatric