scraped from various spanish language articles about the band
May 16 2022
I noticed her the second time I watched the music video for "Himno generacional N° 83", retaining a stone cold expression, even as the Spanish child firing squad gunned her down. I remember thinking, "Hey, there was a woman in Los Planetas?".
I Google searched it and found little information more than her name: May Oliver. A strange name for a Spaniard. She seemed to be secretive: could this be a pseudonym? I Google searched some more, and found the information I have translated here.
First, from the Spanish language Wikipedia page:
May Oliver is a Granadan bassist who formed part of the band Los Planetas from their beginnings until the release of their second album Pop.
At some of the band's concerts, May played with her back to the crowd due to her shyness, something which she did in the studio as well.
She was replaced by Fernando Novi for a brief period, but the band continued with Kieran Stephen as their bassist.
In an interview conducted in May 2019 with Juan Rodriguez, singer and guitarist of Los Planetas, it was revealed that May works in a bookstore and is not professionally involved in music. In January 2022 Juan updated this information, saying that she works as a professor in an institution.
A quote of Oliver's opens "Granada; puerto de estrellas (II): Del éxtasis a la poligamia", which details the beginnings of the Granada indie rock scene, though the rest of the article only again mentions her tendencies to play with her back turned.
"There was a time where Granada was the world where every day we celebrated having met each other. What was important was to not stop talking about life, about what songs said about us, about literature and us, about films and us..." May Oliver (Planta Baja 1983-1993.)
In an interview with Red Bull España, which says that Los Planetas and Red Bull "go way back", singer J is asked about May:
Interviewer: What became of May and Paco, the other two founding members? Do you guys stay in touch?
J: Yes, we see them once in a while, though each of us has our own life and our own way of doing things. May is a good friend of mine, she works in a bookstore, although we don't see each other so often. She's not a very social person, never has been, and has preferred to keep herself in the background. And Paco I saw just this morning. Neither of them still play music.
An article about rock bands whose members are lovers in Valencia Plaza claims May and J to be a couple:
Did you know when Los Planetas formed, the band featured a mysterious bassist who played with her back turned to the audience? Her name was May Oliver, and she was J's ... girlfriend. She soon abandoned the group because, according to La Verdadera Historia (the book about the Granadan band Jesús Llórente), "she couldn't keep up with them anymore", and that "it embarrassed her that the lyrics talked so explicitly about drugs".
A history of the band on the blogspot "La vida del trabajador" mentions the bassist in more than one paragraph. First:
It all started in Granada, J (Juan Rodriguez), a sociology student, met Florent, who was studying law at the time, and months later, he found out that Florent wanted to form a group. J had the idea to start by practicing with his then-girlfriend, May Oliver, and later, when he knew a bit more, start playing seriously with Florent. So they ended that summer playing in May's grandmother's house and recording songs on a four track owned by May's brother. Later, they bought a drum set and recorded a few more tracks with the help of one of J's friends, Paco Rodriguez.
On September 22nd, 1996, Los Planetas performed at BAM, and allowed Antonio Luque of Sr. Chinarro to hop on stage to sing "¿Qué puedo hacer?", and after this concert, May Oliver brought up the idea of leaving the group. May was a little burnt out from her life in the band. She said that the band controlled all aspects of her life, so after performing another show in a town in Almería, May definitively left the group. Almost simultaneously, Raúl left his role as drummer, pushed by J and Florent.
May's life remains mysterious to me, but I'm glad she can keep it that way. There aren't many people who are able to be so influential while keeping so private.
Photo taken from the second article, "Puerto de estrellas II: Del éxtasis a la poligamia".