Abbe May Talks Clam Jam, Touring And Being A Fruit

Written by Joseph John
Category: Music Published: Wednesday, 07 February 2018 10:03

Abbe May is set to launch her new album ‘Fruit’ at Clam Jam as part of Perth Festival, but there is more to the new album than just a handful of songs.

“’Fruit’ is an open declaration of my sexuality. There’s this little spoken-word story interweaved in it, telling key points from my life of accepting who I am. It’s a soul-pop record but it’s definitely really gay. I’m not changing any pronouns to make it more universal – I’m singing about women and my experience as a woman who loves women.”

Visibility in Australia’s creative industries is rising, but it is still limited to a handful of names including Portia De Rossi, Josh Thomas, Troye Sivan and nobody will forget the strength and advocacy Magda Szubanski has displayed since she came out. Abbe believes that more cultural icons and recognisable faces becoming visible is key.

“When I was a child I didn’t see anyone like me, there was no one on TV until Ellen – and when she came out she got sacked. My family didn’t have any gay friends – there was just no one. It wasn’t really talked about within film and television. I think now is the time to stand up and declare that you’re an ally of us or that you’re actually part of our community.”

The death of Tyrone Unsworth left the community in shock in 2016, and his story left many people, including Abbe, with a drive to do something more.

“I remember thinking that could have been any one of my friends, or me, but I’ve had the good fortune of a really good support network around me. I’m not sure if I was just lucky because I lived in a little bubble, but there was something about his suicide that made me go ‘I need to be really visible and confront any internalised homophobia of my own’. Not everybody knows that I’m gay, I think it’s time [they do]. Those that came before us did a lot and now it’s time for us to stand up.”

Prior to same-sex marriage law passing in Australia, campaigning – particularly on the ‘No’ side – brought up anxiety over sexuality that many people had thought they’d buried long ago. Abbe discusses how this affected her.

“I was sitting at a table in this café having a really nice chat to the lady there. I though ‘oh my God, what if she’s a no-voter?’ but then I realised that’s how they get to you. That’s the vision they’re creating. Even though I’m having a nice time, if she’s a no-voter I don’t feel welcome here. It’s classic division politics I think.”

It hasn’t all been negative however, the support for marriage equality was overwhelming and the families and friends of those in the community did what they could to help. “My dad [wore] an equality t-shirt to work and he’s a Catholic schoolteacher,” Abbe laughs.

Abbe May 2017

‘Fruit’ will be launched at Clam Jam as part of Perth Festival. “We have declared that all my shows are safe for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community. It just ends up being this incredible mixture – there’s a group of drag queens that come along and among that there are a group of straight people who are just there for the music. We’ve just created this space where people respect each other and celebrate women in music.”

She hopes the album “does help to change people’s lives, so that people like Tyrone can see that when somebody’s calling him a faggot, I’m standing up and saying there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a faggot. If it just affects one person’s choice to stay alive then that would be really f***ing awesome.”

Clam Jam is on at Chevron Gardens 14 February as part of Perth Festival. ‘Fruit’ is out now.

Abbe May Tour Dates

Fri 16 Feb - Edinburgh Castle (Adelaide)
Sat 17 Feb - Clancy's Fish Pub (Dunsborough)
Fri 23 Feb - Yah Yah's (Melbourne)
Sat 24 Feb - Hobart Brewing Co (Hobart)
Thu 8 Mar - The Lansdowne (Sydney) 

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