Some may compare this pair to Tegan and Sara or The Indigo Girls, but it’s clear that this folk-duo is in a lane of their own. Winners of the 2014 Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting contest and recently featured on Advocate’s “Hot Sheet,” San Diego’s own, The Lovebirds, are racking up success and we got a chance to speak with Veronica May and Lindsay White about it all – winning the contest, their newest album and more!
You all recently won the 2014 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk songwriting contest. What did it feel like to take that one home?
LW: The entire Kerrville experience was so energizing and rejuvenating after our time on the road. Sometimes the grind of the job can get you down, but going to the Kerrville Folk Festival and being around so many genuine, kind, talented people really lifted me up. Winning was icing on the cake! It felt great to see tangible results that made us feel validated as professional musicians and that justified all the crazy time and energy we put into The Lovebirds. We hope to make this festival a tradition.
VM: It felt very validating. We have been working our buns off for awhile and we really believe what we do is good and true. This was a nice way to reflect how we felt. It was also a bit surreal. There were SO MANY great songwriters and when they were announcing the winners and we heard our name we looked at each other in disbelief…and then immediately started jumping for joy.
So, how did The Lovebirds come about? How did you guys link together?
VM: We both had separate bands. Lindsay had a band called Lindsay and the White Lies and we met through the music scene. It’s a pretty small [scene]. So, anyway we met through a mutual friend [who] introduces pretty much every new musician here. I started singing harmonies in Lindsay’s band and we slowly started doing more and more together. Then, we decided we should start a duo, so that’s kind of how it started.
You all decided to part romantically, but continue creating and performing music together. What was it like putting the album, Breakup Shmakeup, together in the midst of that transition?
LW: I think it was eventually helpful because it gave us a constructive way to work out our own feelings individually and then also come together afterward and work on them together. So, it was kind of the thing that kept it all sane and we were able to get our highs and lows out musically as opposed to personally. . . something beautiful came out of it and something that people can also relate to because everyone goes through something like that, you know. I think it’s a whole collection of relatable songs. . . we surprised ourselves.
VM: We definitely surprised ourselves. It was cool because anytime Lindsay has something to say or anytime I have something to say, we do it through song and it’s very affirming when the other person puts harmonies on it. It’s almost like, alright I’m hearing you and I’m going to do this.
What’s the creative process like in terms of creating new music for The Lovebirds?
LW: It is an ever-changing process. We used to write a lot of songs together from scratch, but the simple fact that we no longer live together has resulted in more individual songwriting. That said, there is still always much collaboration with songs we perform and record as The Lovebirds, whether it be with instrumentation, arrangements and of course our intricate harmonies. The time I spend writing a song by myself is the closest, I can get to a religious experience. I get to sit quietly, connect to and activate the creative energy within. I take creativity seriously and believe it is the entire reason I exist. It’s like my umbilical cord to the rest of the Universe. I care so much about the way thoughts, words, music, and voices intersect. I feel honored to be a vehicle for them to do so.
VM: It all depends. I feel like Lindsay and I have a different process when we write separately. I am dry as a bone for a long time and then all of the sudden a flood of inspiration hits and I grab the buckets to fill them up as best I can. Tour is a time I write. This tour I wrote 6 songs in 6 days. At one point I had three lyric sheets for three songs out at once and when I came to a standstill for one I would skip to the next and so forth. The majority of my songs fall out of me but there are times when I have to sit and think. I feel like I recently had a breakthrough. I usually try to find the rhyme in a song by going through the alphabet – bet, debt, get… – but now I approach it by waiting and feeling what I am trying to say…a rhyme follows. It has made me a better songwriter.
What would you all say is the single most important aspect of your work?
LW: It might sound corny, but our music has always been about overcoming obstacles with love and music. We’ve been able to work through an overwhelming amount of adversity solely by writing and singing and playing and loving our way through it. It’s a simple message, but it’s one everyone can relate to and needs to be reminded of.
VM: The message. It really boils down to our message, whether it is about love, about triumph, about sorrow, about fear…it is all about sending a message out in a beautiful little musical package. We want to touch peoples lives and let them know they aren’t alone.
A lot of LGBT musicians/fans will look up to you all as role models and/or for inspiration. What words do you have for LGBT entertainers, or anyone in the LGBT community that may be discouraged or may feel like they will have a hard time because of their sexual orientation?
LW: It can be a complicated game we play as LGBT artists. We love everyone in our queer community and we are proud to be a part of it, but at the end of the day we all just want to be seen as regular people. We don’t make “gay music,” we just make music. For queer artists, I think it’s ok to align yourself as a representative for your community, but don’t rely on that association alone to be successful. I would encourage artists to utilize your voice within the community because you never know who you might inspire or whose hardened heart you might melt just by being yourself. Sometimes that “voice” accomplishes more as a whisper than as a shout. With The Lovebirds, I’ve witnessed people glare at us and pre-judge our music just because of the way Veronica dresses, only to see them smiling and tapping their toes by the end of the show. To watch someone have a change of heart that fast just because Veronica is brave enough to go out there and be herself is always so inspiring.
VM: Don’t be afraid to be who you are. People almost always rise to the occasion. As my mother says, “the fear is worse than the event”….so many times I have thought “I better not wear a tie to this gig” or “I have to act like a girl”…19 out of 20 times the people that I think will be offended by me end up coming up to me after shows saying they love our music.
What would you want L Style G Style readers to know about you?
LW: I think that a lot of people comment that we’re very open with our fan base, our friends. Our fans are our friends. We share everything on Facebook, we are very vulnerable in our songwriting, we’re very approachable at our shows and online. I think our social media presence is there to say, “hey, come hang out with us,” you know. We’re not like the artist that are like, “oh, our work is so important and we don’t have to talk to people that listen to us.” So, I think people appreciate that and we can reach people in that way, no matter where they are in the world, through social media, which is really cool. We’re really active in that.
VM: I know for myself, personally, in the past when I was in a band, I started writing for the audience. How could I get them to sing along with me and all these things. And I think one thing I would want our audiences to know is that our songs are a true expression of what we’re going through, but the point of us performing them live is to reach out. Our songs are a way of reaching out to people and making them think or making them feel like they’re not alone.
To get to know The Lovebirds more, you can check out their new documentary and music below or visit their website!