When you hear the velvet sounds of Mississippi's Dent May you may picture the classic Vegas lounge singer, full tux, cocktail, maybe bubbles floating through the air. That picture may not be completely wrong, but Dent is actually a southern boy from Mississippi who takes great pride in his roots. In fact his debut album, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele (Feb. 2009, Paw Tracks) plays to his roots in every tone and in every lyric. He sings of the small town boy and the lonely housewife, the quite parties, and the pretty girls. The other local aspect of this album is the artist that he asked to do the cover and design work, Will Bryant. If that name sounds familiar it is because Will was featured on Orange Alert back in June of 2007. He is also from Mississippi and now he has done a cover for a Paw Tracks album. Now he, just like Dent, may find the national attention they have deserved for years.
Recently, Dent May was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): The forthcoming album, The Good Feeling Music of..., sounds and looks great. It seems like you have rerecorded some of the songs from your self-released ep, and even added a few new elements to songs like "Meet Me in The Garden" and "College Town Boy". Why did you decide to record new versions of these songs for the album?
Dent May (DM): I considered scrapping them all but ultimately those songs were a part of the original vision I had for the album before I released the E.P. I had the album title and a track list that's pretty similar to the final track list before I wrote most of the songs. Then I recorded demos for all the songs. Sometimes I wish I rerecorded "Pierce Avenue," but I moved away from Pierce and it didn't feel right at the time. I also didn't want to go down in history as the dude who played a Prince cover on ukulele.
OA: It seems like giving away your ep digitally for free last year has really paid off. Have you ever second guessed that decision, and do you think that move is what caught the eye of Paw Tracks?
DM: I've never second guessed that decision and hope to release much more free music in the future. I'm really excited about the possibilities that the Internet brings to the table for both artists and consumers. It's not what caught the eye of Paw Tracks though. I met the Animal Collective dudes down here in Mississippi earlier this year.
OA: Speaking of Paw Tracks, what has your experience been like with them so far?
DM: It's been dreamy!
OA: I love the artwork and design of the new album, Will Bryant is someone I met almost a year and a half ago and remains an undiscovered Mississippi talent. Why did you pick Will over a more established artist?
DM: Will is a friend of mine, and I wanted a Mississippi artist although the bastard's moving to Portland. I wanted everything about the album to be as local as possible, yet still with an ear and eye toward the global. He's been making my flyers and what not for a while, so it was natural. He may be undiscovered at the moment, but he'll do big things I assure you.
OA: You are gaining the reputation as a showmen in the classic sense of the word, what can folks expect from a Dent May show as you tour the country this Spring in support of the album?
DM: Costume changes, bubble machines, champagne, handclaps, dancing, singing, etc.
OA: What's next for Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele?
DM: Well, I hope to tour the majority of 2009 with my ukulele. But after that I'm going to record some non-ukulele jams. I've been working on some dance music and plan on using the moniker Dent Sweat. Hopefully I'll have some songs finished before the ukulele album comes out.
OA: As a small town boy Mississippi, where can you find the best cup of coffee in your area?
DM: I was working at a book store in Oxford called Square Books. It's an excellent store and has a cafe upstairs. I don't drink coffee, but I hear it's good. On a nice day you can hang out on the balcony overlooking our fair town square, and its delightful. Look me up if you do.
OA: What was the last great book you read?
DM: The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret
For more information on Dent May please visit his website.