Published on September 5th, 2017 | by Brittain Thompson0
Across The Multiverse with Dent May
Dent May, long-time Oxford resident and founder of the Cat’s Purring collective, recently released Across The Multiverse on Carpark. The artwork for the release was done by May’s friend Robert Beatty, who has also done work for The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, and Real Estate, as well as the new Kesha album.
The album treads familiar territory while showing his growth since moving from the Velvet Ditch to Los Angeles.
“I’m not sure if it’s living in Los Angeles or just getting older, but I work harder at it and have put so much of my life into songwriting. It’s sinking in that I’m building a catalogue that I want to mean something to someone when I’m gone, even if it’s just a handful of listeners,” said May.
His time in L.A. hasn’t been the stereotypical experience many might imagine.
“A lot of people think of Los Angeles as a show business town, but my life here has nothing to do with that. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of talented people, and I do enjoy the remnants of old Hollywood here and there,” said May. “Like I’ll go to Musso & Frank where Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart hung out, and it gives me energy. There’s too many people here trying to be Chainsmokers and not enough trying to be Arthur Russell, but I’m very much in love with this city.”
Across The Multiverse contrasts futuristic aesthetics with retro textures. The themes, in line with the title track, blend high concept with the basic emotion of love.
“I was thinking a lot about science, technology, outer-space and the future. Maybe it’s because it feels like we’re on the brink of some sort of radical reimagining of what it means to be human, if not a full on apocalypse,” said May. “The idea of traveling across alternate dimensions in search of an impossible love stuck with me. ‘Distance To The Moon’ is inspired by an Italo Calvino short story from a collection called Cosmicomics. I’m also preoccupied with death, but sort of in a way that’s celebratory rather than somber. That’s where song titles like ‘I’m Gonna Live Forever Until I’m Dead’ and ‘Take Me To Heaven’ come from.”
May’s songwriting style lends more towards a full, maximalist sound rather than today’s more popular minimalism.
“People always ask if lyrics or melodies come first, and for me it typically all comes at the same time. I need a strong idea in the form of a title or a refrain that’s tied to a melody I can’t stop singing. Once I’m recording the song, arrangements pop into my head and I just keep piling them on,” said May. “I’m definitely an accidental maximalist. I try to record a stripped down song and somehow end up with like 60 tracks going in my recording software. I want to make music that’s an adventure to listen to and unravels more on repeat listens.”
The artists that inspired May and led him to his current sound is a diverse list from household names like Smokey Robinson to obscure European producers.
“I’m inspired by a lot of ‘classic’ songwriters like Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Todd Rundgren, Smokey Robinson and so on,” said May. “I’m also fond of producers who achieve a singular recognizable sound like Giorgio Moroder, Curt Boettcher, Jam and Lewis, David Axelrod and Joe Meek. As far as my love for disco goes, a lot of that comes from DJing. I like danceable tunes, but I prefer the underground tracks that Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles would play. And I love a lot of European disco from producers like Claudio Simonetti and Alexander Robotnick.”
May will return to Oxford September 14 for a release party/DJ set at End of All Music and later in the evening play a show at Proud Larrys’ with Bonus and Melinda.
“It’s very nostalgic to be back in Oxford, especially at Proud Larry’s where I was playing 10 years ago before I had ever released any albums,” said May. “I remember the first time I performed at Larry’s I sang ‘I’ve Got Friends In Low Places’ at a fundraiser for Colour Revolt’s stolen van. It’s also a little sad to come back and see all the hideous new housing developments and flimsy condo buildings.”
Tickets are available now online at proudlarrys.com or at the door the night of the show.