Off the back of a US tour and the release of their phenomenal track, “If You Don’t Love Me”, husband and wife duo Ida Mae, (Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean) recently visited the UK for a pair of shows. The dates came following news that their debut album “Chasing Lights” would see release on July 12th on Thirty Tigers and following the second of the shows, we had a quick chat to Chris from the group.
1. Thank you for your time. You’re about to head back out to the States shortly, are you excited to get back there?
“Yes we’re very excited. We’ve lived out there for about half a year now in Nashville. We’ve been out in Europe and the UK for a bit so we’re excited about getting back there and back to work.”
2. You toured the States extensively at the end of 2018, any good stories you can tell us?
“Well, we’ve done some pretty wild tours. We toured with Marcus King and, on that tour, we did something like seven thousand miles in six and a half weeks. We played everywhere on that tour from somewhere in Georgia to some amazing venues in New York and everywhere in between. The weird thing is that we ended up that tour opening up for Greta Van Fleet at the Fox Theatre and we had no idea how big that venue was. They’d sold it out for three nights and we found out it was where the Motown label did all their big reviews and you’ve never seen a venue like it!”
3. What are the best and worst things about touring thousands of miles around America with your partner?
“The hardest thing I think is the differences. Driving ten hours in a day and that being seen as relatively normal. That’s not normal [laughs]. I guess as well just feeling like a tourist as every different place in America has it’s own personality. You have no idea when you arrive at a venue about the place or the community or the people at the venue. So, New York to Nashville to somewhere like Alabama, they’re all completely different. The trickiest things are things like knowing what to say and wear on stage because that will have a big impact on what people will think of you. For example, if I’m wearing skinny jeans with my long hair on stage in Alabama, that’s probably not a good idea [laughs].”
4. You’ve done the two shows in the UK, when are we going to see you back here?
“Hopefully at the end of Summer and the Autumn as well. We’ve got festivals through the Summer some of which have been announced on our website and some which haven’t. That’s the rough plan.”
5. Before that you’ve got your new album coming out in July. What can you tell us about that?
“Well, this is our first album as Ida Mae and we’re really excited for it. We got to work with Ethan John who is one of our heroes, he’s worked with some of the artists we love and on some of the albums that had a big impact on our lives so we always wanted to work with him. That was a bit of a dream come true. The album is quite sprawling and different, we haven’t tried to write for radio or anything like that. It’s a real record, it’s all recorded live straight to tape which is the way Ethan works. Not many people do it these days so hopefully we made the right decision.”
6. Musically, you’ve moved away from your previous band Kill It Kid. What prompted the shift?
“Our last band was named after a song by a 1920’s blues singer and me and Steph met singing blues and jazz. We got heavier and heavier because of bad record deals and the direction we were being pushed in then we decided we wanted to get back to our roots and what we started playing music for so that was the main reason?”
7. Did you have a vision of how you wanted Ida Mae to sound?
“We did but it is just a case of working with different players and the record labels were pushing us in the direction of a heavy rock n’ roll band which I can do but it’s not where my heart is. When we got to the end of the bad deal, we decided then it was time for a change.”
8. How does the writing process work between you and Steph?
“Well, I’m the main writer and I mainly write on my own whereas Steph is more of an editor. We have written quite a few songs on this new record together but we’ve been doing this together since we were nineteen so this is all we know in terms of creativity. We find it pretty easy touring and playing and writing together. We have a very similar mindset as to how we should look and sound.”
9. You mentioned the move to Nashville earlier. How much of an inspiration has that been to your sound?
“It’s been a huge inspiration. We made the move because, all the music I love on Planet Earth has come from a triangle of New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis so to be in that environment is just incredibly inspirational. Also, travelling America and being part of that landscape and being able to connect with that music more deeply than I could have beforehand is really exciting. Also some of the characters you meet. I have to say because of that I’m really excited about the next record already [laughs].”
10. Finally, the album is out in July and you’ve mentioned the festivals, do you have any other plans lined-up for this year?
“Yeah, we have a lot of things going on. We’ve got stuff going on in the States, a festival in Colorado and a couple of others. We’ve touring with Blackberry Smoke and we have a couple of other tours lined-up which we can’t reveal yet but that will take us up to August. We have some other shows in Europe in October so it’s going to be a hectic year. Today we’re playing in London and tomorrow night we’ll be playing Kentucky so today is the maddest travel we’ve done in our entire lives. No sleep for us then [laughs]!”