Lady Lamb the Beekeeper: the art of generating real buzz
Aly Spaltro, aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, set many music hearts a flutter this year with her debut album Ripely Pine. So how did she create such a stir? “Every single decision that I made was going for that real emotion,” says the former video store clerk
The way Aly Spaltro tells it, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper came to life in a video store at home in Brunswick, Maine. It was in Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion that Spaltro first figured out how to write and record songs.
“I had graduated from high school and was taking a year off before going to college,” she explains. “I was planning to work with little kids in Guatemala during my year off, but that didn’t happen at the last minute, so I was faced with being home in Maine for a year without a plan.
“I’d always been a productive kid so the idea of doing nothing for a year wasn’t an option, so I started putting my poetry to music and teaching myself how to play guitar and sing. When the year was up, I was invested in that and decided to continue.”
By day, she worked in the shop and watched films (“I’d watch Paris, Texas every few months and it still always reminds me of the store”). By night after her shift had ended, she practiced, wrote and recorded.
“I was shy about it. My desire to make music was based around recording it rather than performance. I was really into layering the songs myself alone and making a recording on my own. I was teaching myself on the spot so the only way I could do was by dedicating myself entirely to it and spending as much time as I could on it. It was very therapeutic. I was making the songs all alone late at night and there was something really enjoyable about that.”
The songs you’ll find on Spaltro’s Ripely Pine album certainly sound like the stuff of the small hours. They’re delicate, bruised and emotional, as Spaltro sketches the width and depth of feelings with great panache.
When the time came to show her songs to the world, Spaltro decided to do so from behind the Lady Lamb the Beekeeper name. “The reason why the moniker came into being was because I felt more confident using that to perform. When I had 10 or 11 songs recorded that I was happy with and happy to share with other people, I wanted to do it anonymously.
“I made a bunch of CDs and put them on counter of the Bullmoose record store next door to the video store to be given away for free. I put my email on the back and Lady Lamb on the front.”
Since then, Spaltro has done a fair bit of moving onwards and upwards. These days, she calls Brooklyn home. “I can live in Brooklyn without a car and it’s a good base to get to other big cities by bus and I’ve a good support system of people who already live here.
Spaltro believes it’s vital that she retains control. “I’m very protective about everything I do, probably to a fault. When I get off the phone with you, I’m going to start arranging a new song by myself. I’ll write the drum part and the bassline and, live, that stuff will be played by other players. The reason why I’m pretty controlling over the material is because I thoroughly enjoy creating it, that’s my favourite part . . . I get such a joy from writing the arrangements at the very beginning.”
She’s now starting to work on songs for her next album. “It’s a little more grown-up,” she says. “It’s a little more observational or insightful or inquisitive rather than being so frustrated. The subject in the last record is very confused and frustrated and, naturally, based on getting older, the next album will be a little more evolved.
“Ripely Pine is really special to me because the whole premise was to be really vulnerable and earnest and let nothing compromise that. Every single decision that I made was going for that real emotion. I know that’s not something I’m going to lose because that is always going to remain the most important thing.”
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper plays The Sugar Club, Dublin, on Wednesday October 16h