Interview: Lillie Mae Discusses Her Debut Solo LP, ‘Forever and Then Some’
"There is so much inspiration to be drawn from every circumstance."
For Lillie Mae, that statement is as true today as it has been for her entire life. Mae, who grew up touring with her musician parents and siblings, is celebrating the release of her beautiful debut solo LP, Forever and Then Some.
"I grew up in a full-time family musical outfit," Mae tells The Boot. "It was our living from Day One. It's always been a living, so there was never ever a time without music. It's been a daily part of my life — every single day."
The inspiration drawn from Mae's lifelong occupation continues to drive her: "There is nothing but heart and soul involved in this new record," Mae explains. "I'm in it, and I'm just excited to be on the road, playing these songs and having a great time on tour."
For an artist who has balanced many different projects at once, it's somewhat of a new endeavor for Mae to focus completely on her solo work and only her solo work.
"I've played in several different outfits for the last few years," she notes. "But this new album has taken my whole focus and attention. That's where I'm at. Yeah, I like to sit in with friends here and there, but I'm not really working on anything except this ... and writing and hopefully learning a few new chords."
Before Forever and Then Some, one of those "different outfits" Mae was balancing was performing with Jack White in his all-female backing band, the Peacocks, in support of his record Blunderbuss. In fact, it was that experience that led to Mae's growing relationship with White, who produced her new album and released it on his label, Third Man Records.
"I never shut up," she recalls. "I was always playing backstage. Eventually, Jack expressed interest in recording with me. Probably a little over a year after our last tour ended, we started working on a project together."
An opportunity to work with a mad scientist such as White doesn't come around often -- a reality of which Mae is very aware.
"We clicked so well musically. I love working with him in whatever area — we just really work together very well," she enthusiastically states. "How nice to have somebody show interest in your material and want to work with you, you know? It's a real honor that I got the opportunity to do that. I would work in any aspect with him if I got the call. We seem to be on the same musical wavelength."
Though White might be a newer member of her musical family, Mae still expresses a lot of gratitude to get to work with her own flesh and blood.
"We all play together still," she says of her siblings. "My brother is playing guitar with me right now, and one of my sisters is out singing harmony and playing guitar, too. And the rest of the band, we've all played together for a really long time. I'm really happy about that; I imagine it would be really hard to just throw something together that would be brand new, just to do it. I don't mean it's not good to work with new people -- of course it is -- but I still have a comfort zone, and I know I'm really lucky to have that."
Part of that comfort also lies in Nashville, a town Mae is proud to call home.
"Our family moved to Nashville in 2000, so we've been there for 17 years," she shares. "It's definitely been my home for a long time. Of course, there are different pockets of Nashville, but I've been welcomed and I love that town for sure."
Mae and company recently wrapped up a string of dates with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, but her tour in support of Forever and Then Some continues throughout the summer; she'll play dates across the country, including a stint at the CMA Music Festival on June 10 and a stop at Seattle's Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival in September. Though she finds herself on the road for the foreseeable future, celebrating the release of her first-ever solo effort, Mae never stops looking ahead.
"Thankfully I've been on a wave of writing for awhile, and that's been cool," she says with a hint of excitement in her voice. "Sometimes creativity stops flowing, but my writing side of the brain has been working lately. Getting to travel, it can't help but open doors for that creativity."
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