As part of our Artist Development initiative, Little Oceans have become familiar faces at Parachute H.Q. We've gotten to know them through strategy sessions and their work downstairs at Parachute studios, where they've just put the finishing touches on their new single 'Northern Eyes'. Josh checks in with an update on life in the big smoke and the evolution of the band's sound.
How naive we were when we first moved from our little bay in the depths of the Marlborough Sounds, to the sunny metropolis of Nelson. We referred to the move as: “Relocating to the Big Smoke”. Anyone from Auckland will read that and laugh about how moronic I sound but at the time it was a huge deal for us. Think of it like this - Three teenager boys from out in the sticks, raised on stolen passion fruit from Steve Stevens' back yard and the traffic awareness of a beaver caught on a Canadian highway, trying to carve their groove in a settlement of more than 25 permanent residents. Even the idea of it was strenuous to say the least…
4 years later and those same three introverted wildlings are now braving the storm in “big-time” Auckland.
First impressions: Week 1 in our new apartment. I wake up at at 4am to security alarms blaring. The liquor store directly opposite our apartment is being robbed right before my eyes. They’ve crashed their stolen car through the front doors and are running out of the building with arm-fulls of booze. My initial reaction is like “Get the number plate and ring the cops” then I’m like “No, they’ve got balaclavas and guns, they’re gonna shoot at you, freakin’ hide yo face”. So I duck behind my the safety of my curtain and wait for security to arrive. I visited the store a couple of days later. Turns out the owners had face recognition cameras and got the burglars on tape but the Police couldn’t track them down because they didn’t have their vehicle’s number plate…
There is this myth around every other part of NZ that Auckland drivers are just the worst. It’s no myth. Are they teaching road rage in the schools up here or something? It seems like holding down your horn for more than 5 seconds seems to be the only way to hold down your horn. Any less and you’re perceived as weak. I joined the Angry Auckland Drivers Club the other day by accidentally parking in the clearway between 6 and 9am. An $150 towage fee later and I’m officially part of the gang. The words I cursed - when I returned to where I parked my car, only to find no car - do not need to be repeated on this Parachute Music blog. Also, I now treat the yellow traffic light as just another shade of green.
As for Little Oceans, the move to Auckland has been a complete re-invention. Sonically, I feel the process of moving to an unknown environment, the deprivation of close friends and trying to reestablish ourselves as an artistic collective has led to more emotive themes, darker soundscapes and generally a higher level of consciousness of what our music represents. At the same time we’re keeping to our roots in pop music. We’re trying to push some different emotions with our new sound as well. Romance is the main one. Call me old fashioned, but I feel the romantic side of music has been somewhat lost these days. It’s been replaced with derogatory sexual innuendoes both lyrically and visually. We want to bring back some of those romantic vibes. You know the kind I mean, think George McFly getting the girl when Marty goes back to 1955.
Music production-wise, we’ve started taking a more minimalistic approach. Matt loves writing and producing with very little harmonic content. Sometimes he’ll bring me a track where the verse is just drum samples and vocals. No pads, no synth leads, no bass, no vocal effects, just him phrasing out to a hard-hitting drum groove. As a lyricist, Matt is not a story-teller in the sense that he doesn’t distinctly paint a picture of a scenario. Instead, he’ll analyse a state of mind he’s experienced in his life and string together phrases that relate to his cognitive thoughts and tactile encounters he had at the time, he’ll also include his present reflections on those memories. That lyric style, the minimal production, also the fact Matt’s a bit of a shy, hopeless romantic lends itself to creating the romantic, intimate and emotive soundscape we’re trying to push for with our music.
We have big plans for spicing up our live show too. We want it to be a complete audio/visual experience. Sam’s currently studying Digital Film Production at Yoobee. He’s starting to conjure up ideas of projecting visuals and animations around the stage that’s all synced up and choreographed to the lighting and music transitions through midi signals. Fingers crossed we’ll have our new live show and EP released to take out onto the road by summer. We can’t wait to release to the world this new direction we’ve been working so hard on.