Kate sat down with Ida Mae ahead of their performance at Back Deer Festival.
Ida Mae, a roots, bluesy Americana duo are married couple; Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean. They used to be in the band Kill it Kid, after three albums they felt that they needed a creative change. Ida Mae was created to have a classic Americana and Blues. They’ve just released their first album as Ida Mae – ‘Chasing Lights’ with Thirty Tigers, produced by Multi-Instrumentalist Ethan Johns on June 7th2019.
CL: Thanks for giving me the time to chat to you today, I know that you have just arrived from the US. The first time I saw you was at Americana Fest in Nashville last year. You had just moved to Nashville. I saw you again at Americana Fest in January at The Moth Club in Hackney. How have the last few months been?
IM: It’s just been hectic, it’s been manic! We have just finished touring with Blackberry Smoke for a month. We’ve just come back from the scariest tour of our lives opening for Great Van Fleet. They were big stadiums.
CL: I know! I saw your posts on social media.
IM: So it’s been incredible but we haven’t seen too much of Nashville as we’ve been on the road constantly, But, it’s been great, the record came out (Chasing Lights June 7th) and hit number one on the songwriters charts.
CL: Are you riding the wave at the moment? Or do you have some downtime planned?
IM: We have three days after today. Our record has just come out. We are very aware that being on an Indie label we have to do everything to push the record, but it’s been fantastic.
CL:What else have you got booked for the summer.
IM: We have our own album launch party on the 11thJuly in Shoreditch at The Kings Head, a ‘secret’ miniature gig, if you are around. Then we are going out on tour with Josh Ritter for a couple of weeks; England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany and then back to the States in August.
CL: A lot of the artists seem to do Germany and Scandinavia don’t they?
IM: Germany’s great. They have really loyal serious fans.
CL: You went there recently didn’t you?
IM: Yes, immediately after The Moth club gig.
CL: I remember you saying that you weren’t stopping but driving straight to Berlin.
IM: Yes, that’s right. Then we go back to do the festivals in Colorado, one in Las Vegas, a few of our own shows in August, a small run of our own. Then we are back here in September and in Germany.
CL: Where are you playing in the States?
IM: We are going to re trace every place we have been from East Coast to West Coast, Canada, just everywhere! We are trying to go back to all the territories where we have played.
CL: How have the festivals been?
IM: Great! We have just come back from Bonnaroo, it was fantastic! Getting Bonnaroo is like getting a stage at Glastonbury. We were on quite early, but it was still really busy. It was smaller than I thought it would be as everyone talks about it all the time. We are doing quite a few festivals, Telluride, Vegas. Then we have a Blues cruise going to the Bahamas in February.
CL: Wow, they are getting really popular now aren’t they?
IM: Yes, we have never done one before. I am skeptical and excited. It will either be incredible or terrible.
CL: It is not my thing, but a close friend went on the Brantley Gilbert cruise and loved it.
IM: That’s what I cannot work out. Will being stuck on a boat stress me out? It’s the novelty value. It may be fantastic, but reality? We will see.
CL: Your album tracks are all different. You’re in the Americana genre, but you’re very bluesy and rocky.
IM: We talk about that quite a lot. From playing Emmylou’s festival to Greta Van Fleet to Blackberry Smoke and then Josh Ritter. What other act could do that and pull that off right now? We are lucky that we can adapt our sets. With the heavy blues thing we can gear that up to be very rock and roll. The record is essentially a songwriters record.
CL: People need to see you live, particularly with your guitar skills, you’re very much a live act in my opinion. Some bands are the same on the album and live and that’s fine and others can be different live and offer you so much more.
IM: I like that, it is a real compliment. I think that it is also because we were in a rock band before (Kill it Kid) and we get carried away.
CL: I think that it works very well. As a duo you could be quite static but you’re not at all.
IM: We would get very bored with that. Ethan said to us that ‘You need to pare this down for the record, you need to get to almost speaking voice’. People do not want to be screamed at for 40 mins of the record. It needs to be a private intimate thing that you are inviting people into which we really understood but live you cannot necessarily do that, especially at festivals or being an opening band. You react to what is going around you.
CL: Yes, you do have to adapt to the crowd and the vibe.
IM: You have to react to the audience as well. We don’t always play with a band but tonight we are playing with Nick, our bass player on our record. He’s also Ethan’s bass player. He’s going to join us for a couple of songs. That really changes things. We can get heavier or softer, the dynamic changes but when it’s just the two of us we tend to go pretty full throttle.
CL:. So, what’s going to be the next single?
IM: I don’t know what the plan is next. We might do an acoustic track. There’s talk about that. Our song Reaching has done very well in the States on the radio over there.
CL: Records stay in the charts for a long time in the States don’t they? You can be in the charts for 50 weeks and then have a number one in week 51.
IM: Yes, it’s weird.
CL: Whereas over in the UK if you’re not top ten in a week, you can forget it.
IM: I don’t think that there will be another anything for a while. We’ve just got so much touring. We are going to concentrate on that and then we will think about the next album. We’d like to do the next record fairly quickly assuming that we get some time to write some songs whilst touring.
CL: You’re with Thirty Tigers aren’t you?
IM: Yes, we worked our way thorough Universal and Warner Bros before that.
CL: Thirty Tigers are a much better fit for you aren’t they?
IM: They are fantastic, they are a great label. They are good people. We’ve been messed around by various other companies. It is nice to be with good, honest and hard-working folks. It’s a weird life, there’s real ups and downs. The main thing for us now is that now we are with Thirty Tigers, we own everything. We own all of our copyright. Whereas, before we sold them all off in advances and it is a horrible situation to be in. You’re constantly having to dig yourself out, even when you are having success. A completely backwards way of doing business. We feel very proud as well, we stuck to our guns with this record a lot and working with Ethan, to do it how we wanted. We made it a very unique thing that didn’t pander to anyone else’s tastes with no compromises. To then have some of the success we have had and some of the sales that we have had validates what we thought initially and that’s a really lovely thing. We are in a lucky position as getting out of our previous deals paid for this record. We could have got completely stuffed and tied up in knots.
CL: I’m really looking forward to your set. Are you then going back to Norfolk for a few days?
IM: We are staying in Crawley tonight where Stephanie’s parents live. Then we are going to stay with some friends in Bath before we have some stuff to do in Bristol. We have an instore set.
CL: Well, thank you for fitting me in as I know you’re tired and short of time.
IM: Thank you.