Lady Lamb the Beekeeper:
The TVD Interview

We first heard about Lady Lamb the Beekeeper from fellow Brooklyn darlings Pearl and the Beard. As it turns out, word of mouth is a fabulous way to find new music and in the case of Lady Lamb, this suggestion offered us a musician who engages her crowd with her rawness, sheer musical prowess, and nuanced delivery of powerful lyrics. 

We had the opportunity to talk to Aly Spaltro, the powerful young songstress behind the Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper moniker, about her first album Ripely Pine (released in February of this year) and her humble beginnings as a sales associate at a movie store. 

Was there an album or musician who inspired you to pick up the guitar?

No, I don’t think so. I started teaching myself when I was 18. And it wasn’t prompted by any one musician inspiring me. When I look back at it, it seemed to have happened just out of the blue. I was in a tough spot in my life at the time. I had just heard from college potentially and taken a year off to take a long trip to Guatemala that fell through at the last minute.

So, I was faced with being at home in my town in Maine while all my friends went to college. I’ve always been a pretty productive kid, so the idea of being home and not doing anything worthwhile wasn’t an option for me. That’s when I started teaching myself to play. I had a strong poetry background from high school, so it was a thing of wanting to challenge myself to put my poems to music.

Do you think it’s important to learn other instruments so you can achieve different colors of sound?

Yeah, for me it was natural. I taught myself the guitar and I was also interested in picking up other things I could. At the time when I was layering my own recordings, I was playing a little bit of keys and bass and light percussion, harmonica and autoharp, anything I could get my hands on.

How do you translate what you hear in your head to a full band sound as opposed what you can do on your own?

For me, it’s a lot of undoing because I’m so used to the solo performances, so I had to be open-minded with expanding the songs. The structures stayed the same, the tempo, the guitar rhythms, the lyrics and the melodies all stayed the same, and then I just worked around it with adding other instrumentation. It was definitely challenging to hear the songs differently enough to open them up and let them reach their full potential.

How important do you think it is to be vulnerable and honest with music?

I think it’s integral. I wouldn’t write music if I felt like it was coming from a place of dishonesty or it wasn’t earnest or if it was for the wrong reason, like to be cool or appeal to a certain group of people. That’s just not the way I write.

Would you say that music and writing are forms of therapy and way to process through what life hands you?

Yeah, yeah, totally.

Let’s talk about Ripely Pine. Where did you begin writing those songs?

I started writing them in Maine, a couple were written in New York further along the way, when I was staying in New York before getting my own apartment, a couple are a few years old, several are much newer than that. They took about a year to record. All of 2012 I was in the studio sort of rearranging them for full band.

I remember reading you were working at a movie store and you’d put your CDs on the counter. Was it ever weird to have customers come up and take your music without knowing it was yours?

I actually only ever put music at the counter of the local record store right next store. I only did that one time which was in part why I wanted a moniker. I wanted to share my music anonymously; my town was pretty small and people knew me by name at the movie store and I didn’t want them to pick it up and trace it back to me next store.

Where did the moniker come from?

It was pretty much just dreamt up. It was written in a notebook when I woke up one morning. I was training myself to write in my sleep because I was so inspired, I was having trouble sleeping and wanting to write lyrics all night. I would roll over half awake and write down lyrics and phrases and parts of my dreams. That was just something that ended up in my notebook, and it was right around the time that I wanted to put some recordings at the record store.

What prompted your move to Brooklyn?

I had a strong support system in Brooklyn. I did what I could do in the scene in Maine. There’s a limit to what you can do and the amount of press you can get in Portland. I started venturing down to Boston and once I tackled that, I wanted to move to Brooklyn where I knew I’d be playing to bigger audiences. It was my hope it’d trickle into the rest of the country and would be a really good challenge. I’ve been in Brooklyn a little over two years now.

Do you feel like there’s a good support system with musicians in Brooklyn?

There are pockets of communities. I have a lot of band friends who all know each other and we all play shows together and in that way we support each other. In that way, it feels a little bit like living in Portland. It’s not as big as it seems on the outside. You really do get to know musicians and the community and have each other’s backs and help each other out.

How does it feel to be going on all these tours: headlining then onto a tour with Neko Case, then to the West with Torres and then with Thao and the Get Down Stay Down?

All the touring feels super exciting. I feel very lucky to be very busy this summer. I feel really honored to be working and sharing the stage with artists that I really admire and I’ve been a fan of for a long time. I’ve been listening to Neko Case since I was 14 and Thao since I was about 15. These are people who I’ve driven long distances to see them play and I’ve been in the front row.

It’s a little surreal. And I’m really excited. It’s definitely overwhelming. I have to take it day by day. It’s a long time to be away from home. I really do consider myself a homebody, but I don’t have a single complaint. It’s very important to me to get to all these markets, promote this record, and share it with people in their places.

How do you reach the audience when you’re performing?

There’s just a special thing that happens in a live setting. You just connect by being yourself and vulnerable and engaging. When you’re that on stage, you open the floor up for other people to do that in the room with you as well. In a sense, you get to say what the experience is by how open you want to be with it.

It’s definitely important for me for people to feel engaged and like they’re having a special experience with the songs live. I encourage singing along and dancing. I just want it to be really fun. There’s nothing like it.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper‘s Ripely Pine is in stores now and she’ll be touring all summer with a variety of talented musicians who are sure to captivate you. If you have the opportunity to get out and see her, take it. 

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