Great voice, amazing stage performance and a lot of hard work – in our interview, enchanting May Swan, who is a professional (and very busy) singer from Augsburg, told me what it takes to make her gigs so highly coveted. Get yourself ready for glamorous musical girl power at its finest ;-)
May, how did you originally get to the music business?
Music has always been an important part in my life - since I am able to speak, actually! In the age of 9 I started my "musical career" as drummer in a traditional Bavarian marching band. But after a view years I realized, that nothing could keep up with my passion for singing. I began to sing in different churches. It was a really modern style of worship music, for example inspired by "Hillsong". At the age of 16 I thought about visiting a musical-school - but my parents were urging me towards a “proper” education. That’s why I started my apprenticeship as a graphic designer.
After a few years working in this job, I wanted to give the music more space in my life. I found a new job as marketing manager with the great opportunity to work only 4 days at week. This enabled me to visit the "Downtown Music Institute" in Augsburg, where I studied "popluar music". After the year of education I still wanted more. For one year I was singing in a band named "Triple Talk", which was an acoustic-combo combined with a string quartet. During this time I learned a lot about arrangements and voicing. After my time with Triple Talk I searched for a new band project and eventually became acquainted to my actually band-partner (and in the meantime also life partner) Holm.
Holm is working in the music business since almost 20 years. He encouraged me to built a more professional musical career - and so I started singing at weddings. I never expected such a great feedback – these performances really became a fast-selling item. Within just one year I learned a lot of new songs and worked at my performance. Now I’m in the "wedding business" since 3 years and I’m absolutely enjoying it.
As the perfectionist you are in your performances, what are you doing to “get better each day”? Any related tips you would like to pass on to other musicians?
To me, being a professional singer means to work continuously on the voice. You can compare it with bodybuilding - you have to train your voice like muscles. I do engage with different voicing techniques, and also, I always try to keep my body fit. Apart from this, I also engage with acting and stage presence. I think I will never reach this point to say "Now everything what I´m doing is perfect" - but I think this is the key for being really successful.
You are touring and gigging as a professional singer – sometimes in the solo spotlight, in a duo combo and sometimes with a whole band. Which of these setups is your favourite and why?
I'm really enjoying it to sing while Holm is playing the guitar - it's simple but has this special magic ;-) But I also enjoy singing with the band and filling the songs with different voicing. When people book me as a solo singer, I'm working with high professional instrumentals. It's not the same like an "all-live" performance but it's always good for a singer to be independent in this business.
I would imagine that performing on events like weddings, etc., involves meeting even special expectations of clients and playing a lot of covers. Would you sometimes say you are more a service contractor than a music artist? And would being one be better than the other?
From my side I'm trying to combine the best of both. To me, being a service contractor means to be reliable. I try my best to make each wedding day more beautiful with beautiful music. The other side is my "artist soul". Of course there are days when you are not in a perfect mood - but I would say artists who are playing only their own stuff are in the same situation. They also have to fulfill a roll from the moment on they are starting to play for money. An artist always needs someone to listen to and appreciate his or her music. Thus, in a way every artist adapts himself to a target group - big one or small one doesn't matter then.
In the end for me it's an honor to accompany such special days, like weddings, and to make the people happy with different kind of music styles.
What do you prefer – studying songs, which you adore yourself and presenting a great cover version of it, or writing and singing your own pieces?
I love it singing covers. With my own songs I'm most of the time to critical to share it - and unfortunalety I have a really big time problem to create new songs. But everything in life has it's time. My dream is to create one day a German pop-soul album - and I will fulfill it one day.
How do you motivate yourself to perfectly sing cover songs which you actually don’t like yourself?
I motivate myself with the feeling that songs which are specially chosen from my customers having a special meaning for them. More than one time I started to like a song after we played it as band and after we saw the reaction of the people. Of course I also set some limits, for example I'm not singing songs with really bad meanings. Lyrics are really important for me- otherwise I couldn't sing it in a good way.
As you said, you are also working as a marketing manager: pencil pusher by day and music star by night – how is this mantra working out for you?
Very well, actually! The good thing is that my marketing job gives me a good foundation and security – thus, I don't have to take every singing job that is offered me. This gives me a high amount of freedom and keeps the music as my passion and not "as a job".
What are your plans for 2016? Any own projects, gigs, releases coming up?
In 2016 my focus lies also at performing and staging - I will not release own songs. I got the great opportunity to sing in a music show with also acting and dancing parts in the end of 2016 and the whole year 2017. I'm really looking forward to this new experience.
Thanks for the interview, May!
For you, my dear readers, I highly recommend checking out May’s work on her YouTube channel as well as on the Honey & Soul YouTube channel and on Facebook.