Music Features

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper (Interview)

Ripley Pine, the debut album from Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, was one of those records that has slowly but surely built up buzz since its release in February 2013. With arrangements that went from lush to chaotic to bare-bones, the album is a masterful mix of emotional lyrics, sharp guitar playing and sincere vocals. Many of the songs have been under development for years, but they still retain raw passion that will make any listener sit up and pay attention.
Aly Spaltro called No Ripcord from her early demoing for her second album to speak about her debut, working with Nadim Issa and her upcoming spring U.S. tour.
Joe: How did Ripley Pine come about?
Aly: It was a lot of years in the making. About half the songs had been written years before and performed as solo songs for a long time. All prior records I'd made and released on my own, and I recorded them by myself as well. This was the first time I was in a proper studio and I was arranging songs for a full band. It about a year-long process of recording, mixing and mastering. It was a lot different to what I was used to. Everything I recorded in the past I was quick about. I would essentially write and record a song and finish it in a day. This is like slaving over twelve songs for a year. It was an entirely different process but still really fun.
J: I had read that when you used to write in Brunswick, Maine, in Bart's and Greg's DVD store, that the process would start off as very raw, with whatever emotions you were feeling that day coming to the surface and with melodies pushing up against each other. Was that writing process something you continued for Ripley Pine?
A: I would say yes and no. Some of the songs were written at the DVD store and existed for two years before they were properly recorded. But the process in the studio was similar to the writing of the songs in the basement, just in that the overall strategy and point for me was to make the songs on the album, in the studio, still be raw and as full of emotion as they were when I wrote them. That's in part why they took so long to record, because I was really focused on making sure that the songs were as energetic and sincere as they could be.
J: Some of your songs have an element of chaos, such as towards the end of You Are The Apple. What draws you to throw in those types of elements?
A: It was a plan of mine to make sure the music followed the arc of the songwriting and the arc of the story, or the emotion in the lyrics and the vocal delivery. So essentially, the arrangements were also written around and with the vocal melody in mind. When the lyrics or vocal are chaotic, I want the music to mirror that feeling.
J: My favorite song on the album is Bird Balloons. Can you talk a little about how that track came together?
A: That was one of the older ones I wrote years ago. It was written very in-the-moment. Even the lyrics were improvised in-the-moment. The night it was written, I just played it over and over until I felt it was finished. That one was quite a process in the studio because I was finding myself forcing instrumentation on it that wasn't fitting. With that song in particular, I had to set some boundaries for myself and decide "Okay, I think I'm messing this up so I'm going to make a rule that the only things I'm allowed to add are more vocals or more guitar."
J: How did it feel when Ripley Pine was finally released?
A: I was really thrilled and surprised, especially since in all honesty, I didn't think about that at all in the writing process. For me, it was more personal, like finally closing the chapter on some of those songs that have been in my life so long. Once the album was finished, I could breathe again. I was so happy and proud of what I made. I really loved it and... it's over (laughs). It's over and now I can move on. Any positivity that came after it was really wonderful and an added bonus. 
J: What was it like working with Nadim Issa?
A: It was the most amazing experience. I hadn't collaborated in the past and I produced everything myself in the past. It was a nerve-wracking thing to open up my work to someone who was collaborating so closely with me. I couldn't have asked for a better partner. He was so thoughtful and passionate about the project. He really gave me the space to do whatever I wanted to do and really understood what I was going for. He just had such a good touch pushing me along when I needed that push. I'm really grateful to him. It would have been a different record if he hadn't worked on it with me.
I think it's very difficult to find somebody you vibe with so well. When you're working on something so personal, it's one thing to have band mates and collaborators and it's another thing to work with someone who doesn't get in the way of your vision but helps you get to it.
J: When I saw you play at Glasslands last year, you went with a half band/half solo set. Why did you choose that type of setup?
A: I think that's just the way I will perform always. It's best for a very specific reason, being that the project started as mine six years ago and I spent the first four or more years, mostly playing completely by myself. There was a short period of time in there where my best friend, who lives in Portland, Maine, joined the group and we were a duo for a year. For the most, people who have known my music in the past have known it as a solo project. I still find a lot of value in playing a lot of my songs solo. I know that people who have been following me for a while also value that. So it's really important for me to give the audience both. I know there are people in the crowd who prefer one over the other. I also really love the idea that once you bring a band into the mix live, then it makes the solo songs seem a little more special. The dynamic is elevated there. I think they compliment one another within a live performance.
J: I saw you are going on tour with Typhoon this spring. How is your preparation going for those shows?
A: We toured together about three years ago. We just sort of developed a friendly relationship through that. About half of them came to my last show in Portland, Oregon. I think it'll be really fun and a complementary sort of bill. 
The practice is actually going really well. I am sort of gearing up for arranging and performing a couple of new songs with the band. I'm really excited to play those live in the spring.
J: Are you far along on the second record?
A: It's starting out. I'm in the process of demoing arrangements for them. It's definitely on its way. There are no plans for recording yet, but it's on its way. I literally called you from demoing right now.
J: Do you have any further plans for 2014?
A: That's pretty much the plan, arranging new songs and equating myself with a few of them live with the band in the spring. When I get from back, the idea is to do some more intensive planning for the process of recording. That's the plan for the rest of the year.
Ripley Pine is available to buy now. For tickets to Lady Lamb's upcoming tour, visit