Chances are you’ve adored the Grammy-nominated Song of the Year, “Same Love,” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, with a chorus penned by Seattle-based singer-songwriter Mary Lambert. The single has sold more than a million copies in the U.S. alone, reaching number 11 on The Billboard Hot 100. It rightfully won the award for “Best Video with a Social Message” at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. At that time, you almost certainly knew the hip hop duo from their smash hit, “Thrift Shop.” Last month, they took home a slew of Grammys, including Best New Artist.
The 24-year-old Lambert, a self-proclaimed femme lezzie, provided vocals on “Same Love” and is the soft, warm complement to Macklemore’s cool, edgy rap. She sang right alongside Madonna at the Grammys in a commanding live performance. In the song, Macklemore raps about what it must be like for someone who’s gay: “The right wing-conservatives think it’s a decision/And you can be cured with some treatment and religion …” Lambert follows with what it’s actually like to be gay: “And I can’t change/Even if I tried/Even if I wanted to/My love, my love, my love/She keeps me warm.”
But these are all words we all can relate to—gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or whatever. The song also empowers the LGBT community, proving that we all have the collective power to change perceptions, misconceptions and laws: “No law is gonna change us/We have to change us/Whatever God you believe in/We come from the same one/Strip away the fear/Underneath it’s all the same love.”
Lambert, who also performs and records on her own, just released an EP provocatively titled Welcome to the Age of My Body. Now she’s working on her debut album, scheduled to be released this spring—and in April, she’s performing at Club Skirts Presents The Dinah in Palm Springs. While still on tour with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, she found time to talk to GO about “Same Love,” her busy touring schedule and exciting future projects.
GO: Just recently, you were in New York City performing with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on the U.S. leg of their world tour to spread the “Same Love” message. You performed in three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden! How did that go? Were you pleased with the audiences? Were you exhausted?
Mary Lambert: The Madison Square Garden shows were out of control. The venue is so iconic, you know? It was an honor to be on the stage for three nights. Being on tour is a life-changing experience, and there is so much to take in—from the thousands of screaming fans, to the beauty of each city, to the people you’re on tour with.
You also performed at the smaller club SubCulture in NoHo—in fact, you’re returning there for another show on February 14. Do you prefer more intimate venues?
They are two different beasts in my eyes. I like to be able to make eye contact with my audience, and that’s difficult to accomplish in an arena. That’s hella eyes to look at.
You and Macklemore are both from the Seattle area. How did you two get to know each other?
A mutual friend of ours, Hollis Wong-Wear—who is featured on The Heist [Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut studio album] on the song “White Walls”—approached me to write the chorus to “Same Love” after their original ideas were scrapped. Thankfully, it all just clicked.
How did you personally get involved with the Music for Marriage Equality campaign in Washington State?
The MME campaign worked in conjunction with the release of ‘Same Love’. It was really neat to see the whole city rally during the election season.
In other interviews, you’ve described your traumatic, tumultuous Christian upbringing and that emotional pain led you to music as an outlet for self-expression. When were you happiest?
When I came out, I had a lot of inner turmoil with reconciling my gayness and my Christianity. I found that when I stopped listening to someone else’s interpretation of the Bible, prayed more and focused on the divinity of writing music, I had utmost clarity.
Who would you like to work with creatively?
So many people. Feist, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Tedder, Janelle Monae, Natalie Maines— I have a lot of collaborations in mind!
You’re headlining at The Dinah in April. What other performances and projects do you have planned for the future?
My first EP with Capitol Records was released on December 17th, so [promoting] that is my main focus right now. I’ll be touring a ton this year and writing as much as I can, too.
Write on, girl.