Singer and multi-instrumentalist Aly Spaltro, aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, has been writing, recording, and releasing music from her bedroom for years, but it’s only recently that she decided to record a studio album—her debut, 2013’s Ripely Pine. In this setting, Spaltro was careful not to over produce her songs, keeping the raw energy and emotion of her live shows intact. Fresh off a European tour with Neko Case, we chatted with Spaltro about her unusual inspirations, her athletic past, and the challenges of recording in a professional studio. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper opens for Torres at the Crocodile this Tuesday (6/18).
Do you prefer playing with a band or are you more comfortable by yourself? Up to this point, I’ve been most comfortable on my own because it’s what I know best, and I’m most confident doing it. But I do have a lot of fun playing with the band. Next headline tour, I want to add at least bass and drums because it’s important for me that my fans feel they can have fun and dance, not just watch me.
A fan told me that you like to eat a signature dish from each city you visit. What’s the best thing you’ve eaten? That’s a tough one. I had a good Philly cheesesteak recently. That was a monster of a sandwich.
A lot of your press photos involve pies or peanut butter, and there’s a pie eating contest in the video for “The Nothing Part II.” Where does that influence come from? That’s hard for me to pin down. I get inspired by things I like, and I love to eat [laughs].
You wore a fencing uniform in the video. Do you fence or is that another thing you like? I’ve never fenced, but I really like it. The costume is really cool, so it tied into the kidnapping thing, having a mask on, but also, I wanted to get a fencing outfit so that I could get lessons.
Did you play any sports when you were younger? I was never too competitive, but I played basketball and soccer. I was super into basketball as a kid, and that sort of fizzled out by the time I hit high school.
You’ve been writing and recording on your own for a while now. When did you start thinking about recording a proper studio album? It took me years to go into the studio, which was no accident. I started my career making recordings on my own in my bedroom and the basement where I worked, and I did that for years, and I was happy doing that, so it didn’t really occur to me to go into the studio until I felt ready to expand the songs.
Was working in an actual studio an odd change? It was definitely a challenge, but it was a welcome challenge. I felt ready to focus on the songs and nurture them and give them a lot of time because in the past, I had only recorded a song in a day, started and finished in a day. It was definitely a different approach, but I learned a lot, and it took a lot of patience, which is a good thing for me.
What’s the reason behind including the sound of the door opening and closing and your footsteps on “Regarding Ascending the Stairs?” It was important for me to respect the songs and not push anything onto them that they didn’t want. I didn’t want to polish them or overdo them in any way because they just didn’t want all that stuff.
You taught yourself guitar when you first started writing music. Have you taught yourself any other instruments? I’ve taught myself a few other things. I played a lot of the bass on the record, and I also play banjo, some keys, autoharp, omnichord and some percussion, but guitar is what I’m most comfortable with.
What does the rest of the year look like for you? I’m touring pretty much through the summer and into the fall. Being real busy but I’m hoping to be able to start writing again when I get a break.