Love comes in all forms, shapes and sizes and sometimes from the most unexpected places. No one knows that better than Mary Lambert. Singer, songwriter, poet, author, and all around talented and amazing gal, Lambert has been building a name for herself in the artistic scene in her native Seattle, Washington. After coming out as a lesbian in her late teens, Lambert has focused her art on love, acceptance and self-discovery. Her journey had not been a simple one, as she struggled to reconcile her faith with her sexuality, as well as dealing with the judgement of others, but her perseverance has been an inspiration to many. Her collaboration with celebrated duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (“Thrift Shop”) not only raised Lambert’s profile but it gave her another platform to share her message that love, all love, should be celebrated. Mary Lambert took the time to chat with Addicted’s Nadia Elkharadly about life, love and her addictions.
Nadia Elkharadly: You have a beautiful voice and are a gifted poet and speaker. How did you discover and shape these talents?
Mary Lambert: I was raised around music; my mother is a singer-songwriter, and was always making fun songs up on the spot. I started imitating her, and found my voice pretty early on. My real secret is that I held press conferences, interviews, and performances in my living room by myself from age 5. I had a pretend interview with Jay Leno that I think went really well. I practiced my songs every day, and realized that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington to hone my technical skills and pursued my career as an artist relentlessly.
NE: Would you call yourself a singer/songwriter first, or a poet first?
ML: I try to consider myself a writer to kind of cover all bases. Music is my first love and provides a very spiritual writing experience. Poetry for me takes a sharpened skill, thinking more critically, from start to finish. I try to marry my poetry and music as much as possible, which I think gives the poetry performance a lot more depth and tends to be more effective for conveying the gravity of the emotion intended.
NE: How did you end up joining forces with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? Did you anticipate that you’d be writing the “iconic gay anthem” for 2012?
ML: We all ran in similar circles. Ben (Mack) was working closely with Hollis Wong-Wear, who wrote the chorus to ‘Wing$’ and ‘White Walls’. Hollis was a dear friend of mine who I met through the Seattle poetry community. She gave me a call in May of this last year and said Ben and Ryan were working on a song about gay rights, and needed a singer-songwriter on the chorus. I nearly peed my pants. As a lesbian, I always wanted to contribute something to the fight for equality, but never had time nor the money. I knew this was a huge opportunity, not just for my career, but also to promote the message of love and human rights.
I thought the song might get big around Washington State, because of our big vote on gay marriage approaching, but never expected it to have the global impact. I have to pinch myself every day.
NE: “Same Love” is such a beautiful and powerful song. I’ll admit, it brought tears to my eyes. Between the music and the strong message in your lyrics, I’d think anyone who heard it would be touched. Tell me about the message you were trying to send when writing the song.
ML: When the guys sent me the song, I was moved. It was a message of progress, not of hatred to the “other” side. I wanted the chorus to reflect that. In full disclosure, I had 2 hours to write the chorus before I was supposed to go into the studio. The writing was effortless for me. “Same Love” was MY experience, so I only really had to tell my story. I was raised in the church; my partner and I are both Christian. I think gay Christians have a lot of questions to ask, and there’s a lot of crap to navigate through. Part of me wanted to use the opportunity to slam the anti-gay community, but I quickly realized, just as I had when I was 17, that the only way you can approach these situations is with love. I just wanted to express that my relationship was no different than theirs. Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert
NE: What has the reception been like for “Same Love”?
ML: Out of control. Overwhelming. Number 1 in Australia and New Zealand? Reached the Billboard top 100? It’s surreal. Sure, there are crazy people filled with hatred that despise the song, but I’m going to find them and give them a hug.
NE: In writing such an iconic song, you’ve become a rolemodel to others, in such an amazing way! Do you have a “coming out” story you’d like to share with our readers who may be struggling with that right now? What advice would you give to young men or women who are struggling with their sexuality?
ML: It was never a question for me. As soon as I realized that I loved women at age 17, that was that. The only questioning I felt was through my relationship with the church. It was a heavy weight thinking that I was going to hell. Especially that I was going to hell because I loved someone! Trying to wrap my head around that was devastating. You already feel like a freak when you’re 17, but thinking that you belong with the devil is debilitating. After all of that, I watched an amazing documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which is a phenomenal film about being a gay Christian, and through prayer and a kind Christian community that guided me to belief that my gayness was not a sin, I felt empowered to further that movement. My advice is to find a support system, even if it’s online. When you have friends, you’re never alone.
NE: You’ve recently published a book of your poetry (Congratulations on your book!) 500 tips for Fat Girls came out just a few weeks ago. Tell me about the book and how it came about? What do you hope your readers get out of it?
ML: Thank you! ‘500 tips for fat girls’ is my first collection of poetry. The book has a lot to do with body image, societal pressures, and my battle with bi-polarity. I have wanted to release a chapbook for YEARS. I just never had the time. I was able to devote a lot of my time and effort to my art once ‘Same Love’ came out, and I jumped at the chance to finish my manuscript. I hope that my readers take away my vulnerability, and find their own as well. I believe so firmly in the power of vulnerability and that we have the most beautiful connections to each other when we allow ourselves to be emotionally naked.
NE: You recently stopped in Toronto for your Good Feelings Tour was the tour. How is the tour going and what did you think of our city?
ML: The tour has been amazing. I’ve never been to the East Coast with my solo music. Almost every venue we’ve played at has been at capacity. Toronto was lovely. The crowd was so unbelievably receptive, and I we can’t wait to come back. I don’t get Tim Horton’s though. I’ll pass on that.
NE: You’re also very open about body image and fighting against “mainstream” or conventional standards of beauty. What advice would you give to young women, or young people in general who are struggling with body image issues?
ML: Your body is the only one you’ll ever have. 90% of people are struggling with self-love, and as soon as we realize we’re in this together, the easier it will be to evolve past our body shaming.
NE: Our magazine is called Addicted. We’re trying to remove the stigma from the word and focus on some positive “addictions” people have, whether it’s to music, health and wellness, etc. Do you have any addictions to share with our readers?
ML: I have an addiction to promoting self-love. I have an addiction to writing and capturing emotion, and being vulnerable. Also, I love comfy ass beds.