Abbe Joanna May /meɪ/ may (born 19 July 1983) is an Australian singer-songwriter, musician and human rights campaigner. From 2002 she pursued her music career in Perth-based groups, The Fuzz, Abbe May and the Rockin' Pneumonia, and The Devil & Abbe May. In 2010 she began to perform as Abbe May and released her solo album, Design Desire, in July 2011. She followed with Kiss My Apocalypse in May 2013. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2013 May was nominated for Best Female Artist for her album. May has been nominated for a total 23 (winning 17) West Australian Music Industry awards since 2008.
Abbe Joanna May was born on 19 July 1983 in Subiaco, a Perth suburb. She grew up in Bunbury, a port city 175 kilometres (109 mi) south of the capital. Her mother taught English literature. May has an older brother, Douglas May (born ca. 1980). She attended a local Catholic school.
By 2002 she had moved back to Perth to further her career in music and performed lead vocals in a music group, The Fuzz, alongside her brother, KT Rumble (aka Douglas May), on lead guitar. The Fuzz had been formed by Douglas with Jiah Fishenden on guitar, Shayne Macri on bass guitar and Ben Mountford on drums. One of their early tracks, "The Bomb", which was co-written by May with her band mates, won the Western Australian final of national radio station, Triple J's Unearthed competition in October 2002.
The Fuzz issued two extended plays, Dead on the Road (2004) and Take the Money (November 2004), and a studio album, 100 Demons (8 August 2005). In October 2005 Dylan McCardle reviewed their CD launch of the latter for PerthSounds.com, which was "a return to simple but powerful formula that is rock 'n' roll ... a night where female vocalists came to the fore, and Abbe May is certainly amongst the cream of the crop. She gave 110% percent with her vocals, she jumped up and down the stage like a woman possessed".
By 2006 May (on lead vocals and guitar) had formed an "electric blues" group, Abbe May and the Rockin' Pneumonia, with Douglas, joined by Alex Archer on violin; Todd Pickett on percussion and vocals; Alien Smith; and Pete Stone on bass guitar. They issued a self-titled EP in that year and followed with an album, Howl & Moan in April 2008.
Abbe May and the Rockin' Pneumonia released a second EP, Hawaiian Disease, in June 2009. For that disc May supplied lead vocals; wah, delay and slide guitars; and a 70's drum machine.The Sydney Morning Herald's reviewer, Bernard Zuel, found the EP was another "hugely impressive release" from "Perth's blues-rock guitarist/tear-down-the-walls singer"; he cited her description of the title track, "Every line is a euphemism for oral sex. I've been collecting sex slang over the years and I've got this great dictionary of sex slang, too, as well as having a general interest in all things sleazy".
In 2008 she formed a side project, The Devil & Abbe May, which was a "more country blues outfit", with Douglas, Archer, Pickett and Stone, joined by David Craft on vocals and harmonica; and Jesse Woodward on banjo and bass guitar. This group issued an album, Hoodoo You Do in that year.Amazon.com's editorial review declares "it is a shambolic voodoo blues album that is both hauntingly beautiful and disarmingly humorous. A five star album from a five star eccentric".
From 2010 Abbe May performed under her own name and released her debut solo album, Design Desire, in July 2011. Zuel noted that May is "drawing from urban and country blues rather than pub rock boogie, riding on swing rather than just thrust, wearing its open sexiness lightly and its wicked humour comfortably" and she had delivered "a rock album smarter and tougher than the rest". According to May it is "about love and lust and the mysteries and miseries that accompany those things. I didn't consciously sit down and decide to write about these themes but I guess they were playing on my mind at the time of writing these songs".
May released another album, Kiss My Apocalypse, in May 2013. Cate Summers at theMusic.com.au felt May had "made a swift U-turn on her previously guitar-heavy style, and this new album highlights her subsequent transition towards what she's labeled 'doom pop'". Mess+Noise's Kate Hennessey noted that May is "strong, talented, irreverent and sexual; aspects of being a woman that are so rarely role-modeled in a holistic way - or in a way that talks to me - that I want to defend her against comments that seem irritatingly reductive" and despite some fans' fears that "ditching the blues muse and aspiring to a mainstream pop aesthetic would leach her authenticity. The opposite occurs ... By snipping ties to the blues' ground-bound earthiness, May's self-expression can - and has - soared, and she's transmitting more personally than ever". At the ARIA Music Awards of 2013 May was nominated for Best Female Artist for Kiss My Apocalypse.