Multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Amy May (b. 10 September 1978, Hammersmith, London, England) began to demo songs in 2004 for the project that became Paris Motel. Pre-nineteenth century classical music was as much an influence on May, as the kind of twee and gentle late 60s and early 70s children’s music that appeared on the Trunk Records 2006 compilation Fuzzy-Felt Folk.
After arranging other artist’s compositions for a living, May’s first attempts at songwriting were made available from the band’s website in a raw, unmastered form. Regular band members Mike Smith (b. 8 April 1976, Dulwich, London, England; bass/vocals), Joe Smith (b. 18 May 1978, Sidcup, Kent, England, drums) and Paul Reeves (b. 9 June 1975, Romford, Essex, England; guitar/vocals) were usually accompanied in performance by a number of classical musicians. The small London stages, from which Paris Motel made their early live performances, struggled to accommodate as many as 13 of May’s orchestral recruits.
In late 2005, the 071 EP was released on the band’s own Hotel Records to moderate critical acclaim. May’s vocals betrayed a pronounced and eccentric Englishness akin to Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell, while the production of the EP updated the sound of their Paris Motel demo. She proved that a classically trained performer could retain the credentials required to create a buzz on the London indie scene. As well as her elaborate dresses and impeccably suited bandmates, it was May’s choice of live covers that warmed many to Paris Motel. Blur’s ‘To The End’ and Elliott Smith’s ‘Waltz #2’ were examples of these.