‘The Arts Centre is one of our favourite venues’ - Ida Mae on returning to Norwich for a headline show

Norwich duo Ida Mae to headline Norwich Arts Centre in March 2019. Photo: Dean Chalkley/MBC PR

Norwich duo Ida Mae to headline Norwich Arts Centre in March 2019. Photo: Dean Chalkley/MBC PR - Credit: Dean Chalkley LTD

We caught up with Norwich locals Ida Mae, a husband and wife duo, who are set to headline Norwich Arts Centre on March 12.

Since finding critical acclaim with former band Kill It Kid, Chris and Stephanie have taken their music in a new direction.

'We wanted to keep songs at the heart of everything, and we'd been increasingly pigeon-holed as a rock 'n' roll act and we were pushed to go deeper into that genre. Ida Mae is simply a return to everything that we cared about.'

'The response we've had from audiences and the industry so far has been remarkable and moving to Nashville has been an incredible experience. We've performed in 23 states in the last two months.'

Ida Mae have found that working as a duo hasn't been hugely different from being a part of a band.

'We have an almost identical work ethic and vision for what we do so it's been very simple.'

'We loved being able to adapt each performance and song to each audience we meet – there's a lot of improvisation now. We still have a band on the record and for some live shows.'

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The duo worked with acclaimed record producer Ethan Johns on their upcoming debut album - something they'd both dreamt of doing for years.

'The records he's made with Kings Of Leon, Ray Lamontange, Laura Marling and Ryan Adams have been very important records in our lives, not to mention the historic records his father made.'

'Working with him was a unique experience. 90% of the album was recorded in live takes, straight to tape. You have to leave your insecurities at the door and commit to everything you lay down.'

'He loves to capture the nervous energy of the band and singers as they're learning the song.'

Due for release in the summer of this year, Ida Mae are ready for fans to hear their debut album.

'We haven't made any comprises on this record and have had the great pleasure of working with friends on all the artistic elements.'

'Tim Hyland from Norwich directed all the videos and our friend Kelsey Cruz-Martin has done the print artwork using some photographic work by Natasha Mabille - also from Norwich. We're very proud of it and we're already working on the next.'

'We've spent very little time thinking what other people will think about the record. We just focussed on what we wanted to hear with Ethan and what we felt was important.'

With only a few songs available on streaming platforms, we asked what fans can expect from the rest of the album.

'It's a real variety, roots acoustic blues, love ballads and even rock 'n' roll guitar battles with Dweezil Zappa.'

'One thing a lot of people won't know is that we've added sound clips from our travels across Mississippi and the Deep South of America. Before a song called Rightfully Honestly you hear the birds we recorded about Robert Johnsons grave.'

When it comes to touring, Ida Mae have shared stages with the likes of Nick Mulvey, Will Varley and The Lone Below making it hard for them to choose a favourite tour.

'It's impossible to choose but the two month run with Marcus King across North America was incredible. Playing with those guys every night was fantastic.'

'Also opening for Greta Van Fleet at three shows in their hometown of Detroit was a real baptism of fire. Three sold out shows to 15k people, that's the biggest set of shows we've ever played.'

In the last two months, the duo have travelled continuously from city to city stopping in Detroit, Seattle, London, Berlin, Milan and Paris to name a few.

'That's a pretty gruelling schedule especially when you have to get on stage at the end of the day and there's nothing to hide behind except your acoustic guitar.'

Chris and Stephanie are preparing to hit the road supporting Greta Van Fleet again across the UK and Europe.

'It goes through Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and the UK. It's a little terrifying as they're arenas and we're just playing as a duo. We're most looking forward to playing Zenith in Paris.'

Amongst these dates, Ida Mae will be performing a headline show in Norwich - the city that they are originally from.

'The Arts Centre is one of our favourite venues.'

Fans can expect 'fruit carving, helicopter stunts and live tigers, umm maybe not, but we will be playing with our double bass player and be fresh from the Arena tour.'

'The shellfish stall on the market, lost property in St Gregory's Antiques and Looses, watching Norwich Community Choir and the fact that you can't go anywhere without seeing 30 people you know' are also some of the pairs' favourite things about Norwich.

Once the tour and album are out of the way, Ida Mae will be heading out on the road again straight afterwards.

'After our London show we leave the stage to head to Heathrow to fly to Lexington in Kentucky to start a month long run opening for the band Blackberry Smoke on the east coast and Midwest of America the next day.'

'After that we have festivals booked in the US across the summer and after that we just plan to keep writing and see where it takes us next.'

• Tickets to see Ida Mae on March 12 are available for £11.50 advance from Norwich Arts Centre's website

• For more Norwich music check out our dedicated page every Thursday in the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News or follow Enjoy Music More on Twitter and Instagram