Singer Mary Lambert Steps Out On Her Own
By Stacy Lambe
Last year, two budding hip-hop artists (aka Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) needed something to complete their pro-gay marriage anthem, "Same Love." Luckily for listeners, that something turned out to be singer/spoken word artist Mary Lambert, who provides the beautifully haunting vocals on the chorus. Over the summer, the song has been getting a lot of radio play thanks to the Supreme Court's rulings on gay rights as well as performances on The Colbert Report and the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards.
Now the singer is stepping out on her own. She has spun the chorus' lyrics into a new track, "She Keeps Me Warm," which is earning tons of Internet buzz. Lambert talked to us about writing about her relationships, why she's the American version of Adele, and her intense love for Tegan & Sara.
Out: How much did you contribute to the development of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love"?
Mary Lambert: The bulk of the song was already there. The whole music was there. But it was all blank. The choruses were blank. They didn't know what they wanted. Actually, when they sent it to me, in place of a chorus it was [Diana Ross'] "I'm Coming Out." It was really bad! So I was really excited to get on it and hopefully elevate it. So I just spent about two hours working on it, doing my best to encapsulate what [the song] means in of a couple lines. It was nerve wrecking. I wanted them to pick me. I thought I was being auditioned. I came up with four choruses and they were all used.
Prior to "Same Love," did you ever think about the potential political ramifications of your music?
I never thought I would write a song like this. I wanted to write a song like this, but every time I attempted to write a gay rights song or socially conscious song it just felt contrived. I wanted to make sure that I was being completely authentic throughout the whole song. To make sure that what I was saying not only was completely truthful to myself but also resonated with people. It has never been a question to me about what the ramifications might be. That's never a question when I'm writing. I'll deal with that later.
The chorus, which you turned into "She Keeps Me Warm," is very different from "Same Love." How much of the new song was developed when you wrote initially the chorus?
What had happened is, I was doing enough solo shows at the time that people were requesting the song. I took an old song and I used the chorus [for "Same Love"] with it. I felt that it was another side to "Same Love," and I think what resonated with people on the chorus is that everybody wants to have someone to keep them warm. Everybody is who they are. You know, I am who I am who I am. I wanted to craft a song around that idea that attraction is universal. You know those giddy feelings that you get when you meet someone new and you're really excited about a new relationship. I think this provided a great context for it. I am really pleased with the result. I am really happy.
Did you have a conversation with your girlfriend about the "She Keeps Me Warm" (and how much of it was influenced by your relationship with her)?
She's a wonderful person to present my art to. She's so supportive of everything that I've done. We've been together about three years and in the first year of dating I wrote this song about my ex. It was very raw and I played it at the show. I said, 'Is that okay?' She says, 'That's beautiful. That's your art form and that's what you do. I respect that and whatever you need to do to have that I'm never going to take it personally when your art form needs to be fostered in any way.' She's so supportive about everything.