Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Feb 8th 2010 2:00PM by David Chiu
"I knew I didn't have be on for this chunk of songs," she tells Spinner, "and I would come on and off stage, so I was up there knitting. [Luna founder] Dean [Wareham] decided to change the set list and was calling for me. Later [guitarist] Sean [Eden] told me 'You were so close to getting fired.' The other day I found my knitting needle bag that had a Luna sticker. I thought 'That's the show [where] I almost got the boot.'"
That's just one of the stories Meyerratken, an Australian who now resides in Los Angeles, has accumulated from her nearly 10 years of being a backup musician for acts such as Luna, Ben Lee and Nada Surf. But now, Meyerratken is calling the shots as her own artist under the name of El May.
With the exception of appearances by some guest players, her self-titled album was written, produced and released by Meyerratken herself. On top of playing all the instruments, she even designed the artwork. "I was going to get a producer to help me with the rest," she says. "Every time I tried to get help, it would sort of fall through. I was like 'This whole experience for me is to show yourself that you can do something on your own.' I kind of kept chipping away."
'El May' is melodic pop music that draws from some of Meyerratken's own experiences, which is reflected in her song 'Don't You.' The track was written as she was moving to Los Angeles from New York where she had lived for 10 years. "That song happened exactly when I started [to feel], 'Wait, I think I need a change.' I was maybe going to move to Portland, Ore., so it was this general pull to the West."
Born in Perth, Australia, Meyerratken studied art and also sang in choirs and played in bands. In her early 20s, she was finishing art school when a fellow Australian musician friend rang her up. "Ben [Lee] called me and said to me, 'Would you want to move to New York and be in my band? You have to be here in two weeks.' It was like winning the lottery. My mom hung my final [art] pieces for me. And then I was in New York all of a sudden rehearsing with Ben."
For eight years, Meyerratken worked on Lee's music, including his 2005 album 'Awake Is the New Sleep.' "He was sort of like my best friend as well," she says. "It was really a meshed relationship, working together that closely for so long." Meyerratken also admits that playing with those artists have influenced her such as Luna, of whom she says she became a huge fan. "That [first Luna tour] was scary. I didn't understand their humor for a few weeks. It ended up being great. Luckily for me I've never been asked to work with someone I didn't like."
But with the new record, Meyerratken is now concentrating on her own career as El May. "No one was going to crack the whip," she says, "or send me memos about the deadline. It was only me who would have been able to get it done."