Electronic music doesn’t often get the love it deserves in these Track of the Day segments, but May Roosevelt’s latest album ‘Junea’, out now via Inner Ear records, definitely deserves some attention. Hailing from Greece but having performed and collaborated with artists from all around the world, the composer, producer, and thereminist (the theremin being one of the most unique, and earliest, electronic musical instruments) creates soundscapes that transcend us to a digital world that feels fully developed, taking inspiration from classical music to take its narratives to the next level. The album is better enjoyed as a whole, but opening track ‘Air’ is a highlight in the tracklisting, bringing together darkwave synths and Roosevelt’s ethereal vocals.
We caught up with May Roosevelt to talk about her inspirations, her musical process, and her new album.
What were some of your first musical influences?
Thinking about the first mix tapes I did for my friends I realize that my selections were quite diverse as I have never been a big follower of a specific music genre. Of course I was always into the orchestral sounds and classical music and I remember listening to the Hungarian Dances of Brahms when I decided that I wanted to play the violin. As a child I was listening to pop music as well, and I still do. Back then Michael Jackson was my favorite!
I believe that the tools that are available to us have a big impact on the music we create, and mine from early on were electronic; my computer, a keyboard, then my theremin. Although I was playing the violin, when I recorded my own music for the first time I did it on my laptop. Of course I like electronic music, the fact that you can create a sound from scratch or shape it the way you like, but I am interested in music making in general. I believe that music is one, despite the instruments used.
Can you talk a bit about theremin, your main musical instrument? What draws you to it?
The theremin is one of the first electronic musical instruments and it’s main characteristic is that it’s played without being touched, by movements of the hands in the air close to its two antennas. For a skilled player it is a very expressive instrument, very sensitive to the smallest movement of the body and that brings a kind of immediacy, transparency and fragility into the performance but also a new way of creating and shaping the sound.
How does ‘Air’ compare to other tracks on the album?
Air is the opening track of Junea and sets the overall tone and atmosphere of the album. It’s more minimal regarding the percussion parts and beats compared to the other tracks, but follows the same compositional style with lot’s of layered vocals and melodic synth lines.
How would you describe ‘Junea’ as an album? What was your vision of it?
I wanted to create a sonic world that is uplifting, to give a sense of optimism with the melodies and the feel that transformation is possible as it is actually occurring during the progression of some tracks. It’s difficult to put music into words, especially the one that does not convey a certain story through the lyrics. Music is a language on it’s own. It’s more about abstract ideas that could be perceived better through an image or video, and although I guide the listener to a certain extend through the music I also want to create space for their own interpretation.
Could you tell us a bit about the visual aesthetic behind it?
Since the whole music of the album was made mostly with digital tools I wanted to have this digital touch in the artwork too. I am also a designer and I decided to created everything in a 3D graphics software, from the self portrait on the cover of the album to the images that accompany the music. They depict imaginary spaces that capture the overall atmosphere of each track.
What are your plans for the future?