Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:03:57
Flyleaf enter a new stratosphere altogether with their majestic fourth full-length offering Between the Stars. It’s heavy at all the right moments, but the songwriting advances light years, yielding some of the band’s biggest anthems to date. Moreover, the instrumentation stands out as eloquently spacey and soaring, bringing a robust energy to each musical moment. Kristen May also delivers an undeniably powerful, passionate, and poetic performance throughout. Go Between The Stars with Flyleaf—it’s precisely where hard rock should be heading.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kristen May of Flyleaf talks Between The Stars and so much more.
What's your take on Between The Stars as a whole?
Anytime you're creating an album, you want it to flow, and you want to take people on a journey. We all wanted that while making Between The Stars. I think we executed that. We want everyone to feel all of the emotions we felt when we were writing the songs whether it be heartbreak, joy, sorrow, or hope. We wanted everybody to feel like they went on that ride. That holds true for it musically as well. We have some songs that are a bit more upbeat and other tracks with acoustic guitar or piano. It's that journey.
What does that journey entail for you?
For me and the guys, Between The Stars was an opportunity to show where we've been the past couple of years as writers and as people. We had the chance to write about that. Some of the songs I brought to the table come from experiences over the past couple of years. Joining Flyleaf was definitely a new experience for me. It got me out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways, threw me into uncharted waters, and made me face certain anxieties I had about joining a new group. I had been in a previous band for seven or eight years and had gotten pretty comfortable with how that relationship was. When I wrote lyrics for "Set Me On Fire", it was basically about being in love, but it was also about having an experience that really ignites a fire in you. For me, it was getting to tour again and feeling that love as well. That and certain songs on the album are about finding that zest for life because life is too short not to find something you're passionate about.
Your lyrics are open to interpretation, but they're still personal.
Yeah, if you know my personal experiences and where I'm coming from, you can pinpoint it like, "Maybe this song is about this person or that experience". Those are some of my favorites. We want it to be universal. We want to play a stadium where everyone can feel a shared experience but also their personal experience in these words. I really tried to make it that way. At the same time, we let the music and the whole experience unravel as you were in the process. There wasn't a formula we tried to follow. It was just being mindful of how people will listen to these songs and wanting them to hear something powerful when they hear the music.
What's the story behind "Home"?
It's one of my favorite songs on the album. That was one of the first songs we wrote together. We did about five or six songwriting sessions together where we threw out ideas and that was the first one. It started with some riffs and words Sameer had. It morphed into what it is now. We didn't even know if that song would make the album at first because we had written so many songs. There's a message of such hope, peace, and longing that all of us felt. We all felt it in these uncharted waters. They lost a singer. I joined a band that was different from what I'd done in a while. We all craved that home. What is "Home"? Where is that moment of peace and solace within all of this unknown? They left their record label. Life experiences were changing. When people hear that song, I hope people feel a sense of hope. I think that's also the reason we put it as the last track. We put it last because it really sums up the whole journey, and it tells you not to give up. That's the biggest message Flyleaf has—to keep that hope alive.
Where did "Blue Roses" come from?
It went on a bit of a journey as well. It's about the pain of losing someone. We can become so wrapped up in our experience with that person that it's almost impossible to move on. We become trapped, holding on to what has already died. This song is about trying to find the strength to move past the pain and start anew.
What else inspired you?
I was thinking about joining the band and some of the online hate I received, which is what I wrote "Head Underwater" about. Ever since I turned thirty, I've been on this new self-exploration, figuring out who I really am. You go through that in your teens and twenties, and now I'm going through it again. For me, it's really about being comfortable in my own skin. That's what a lot of these lyrics are about—feeling comfortable, knowing who you are, and not allowing a lot of the outside stimuli and people's perceptions of you change you. When I was younger, I was really moved around by what people thought or said. That's normal to be interested in life and all it has to offer, but for me, a lot of these lyrics are about finding a way to stand on my own two feet and listen to my inner voice and really find that peace.
What's been inspiring you lately musically?
I like so many styles of music. I just went to this festival where there were all of these different African groups playing. It was world music with lots of drums and soul. I've been into a lot of world music. I've been doing a lot of yoga so I listen to this Indian music. That allows me to explore certain melodies, rhythms, and beats that I hadn't really dove into before. I've really been into that. I love pop too. I love Sam Smith's album and Ellie Goulding. I'm also always listening to vinyl with my husband like Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It's a little bit of everything.
What artists shaped you?
I have these different musical times in my life that were influential. When I was young, it was classic rock because that's what my dad played. I will go back and listen to Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Then, there was grunge and indie rock when I was in junior high like Nirvana and The Cranberries. There's also Jimmy Eat World. Björk showed me how you can be artistic with your voice and play around with certain parts of it. Coldplay is probably one of the bands that when I really started writing songs for myself and touring, I was really enthralled by Chris Martin's melodies. I go back and listen to Parachutes often. I grew up on Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, and Fiona Apple.
If the album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
That's a crazy question. I like it! It would have a lot of action in there. There's definitely some love in there and hope. Someone's on a journey. I don't know if the movie's been made yet. I'd love to compare it to Harry Potter because I'm obsessed.
It could be like the last Harry Potter movie.
Let's say that! That's great.
Have you heard Between The Stars? What’s your favorite Flyleaf song?