Little Kid is set to release their newest album Friday, July 3rd. In anticipation of the release, the band let me fire some questions at them regarding the evolution of the musical project and much more. The band consists of members Kenny Boothby (lead), Megan Lunn (banjo, keys, vocals), Paul Vroom (bass &vocals), Liam Cole (drums) and Brodie Germain (drums, guitar, percussion).
MFL: I understand your musical project has been around since 2011. How did Little Kid begin and how did it become what it is today if you can articulate?
Little Kid (LK): The first Little Kid album came out in April 2011, but I had been working on some of those songs since 2009, so in a sense the project has been around even longer… It started out as a way for me to experiment with writing and recording music by myself for the first time (prior to LK, I was basically just in a bunch of joke bands with my friends, and I’d never tried to write a song I sincerely liked). I was really interested in recording on tape and integrating found sounds into my songs, and Logic Songs turned out to be a mix of pretty simple folk-influenced songs and more ambient soundscape stuff. When I started playing shows, I found myself wanting to perform with other people, and Brodie became a pretty consistent collaborator and we wound up recording the second Little Kid album together. From there, the band has seemingly grown a little bit with each release, and each one has been more collaborative than the last. Paul joining around 2015 had a big impact on the recording fidelity as well, because he went to school for that sort of thing and has recorded us in his home studio since then. Nowadays, the songs typically start with a musical idea I bring to the table, and the band helps me develop it musically. The lyrics have mostly been by mine exclusively, with the exception of one song Brodie wrote and sang lead for on our previous album, Might As Well With My Soul.
MFL: Along those lines, since this project has been around for almost a decade, has its intention changed at all while you have grown as a person?
LK: Definitely the intention has shifted over time. Lyrically, I’ve tried to be less prescriptive – I feel like a lot of my older stuff seemed to have a clear message or moral, but I don’t feel comfortable imparting anything resembling wisdom these days. I’ve definitely embraced storytelling more in recent albums, and I think the songs folks have connected with the most have been the ones that tell a compelling story. Also, as I mentioned earlier we have moved towards a more collaborative approach over time. I think things have shifted musically as well: in some ways, the songs are more direct (distinct verses and choruses, less meandering passages), but they have become more experimental in other ways (working in unexpected chords and finding ways to make the songs sound strange without resorting to guitar pedals and computer plugins).
MLF: It seems you have bounced around Ontario for many years! Have you lived outside of Ontario? If so, where?
LK: Sadly, no. I’ve lived in a few different cities in Ontario. For a long time my goal was to wind up in Toronto, and despite a lot of gripes I have with it, it’s probably still my favourite city I’ve been to. I hope I can stay indefinitely, but the high cost of living definitely feels unsustainable.
MFL: How was music part of your upbringing and when did you know it would be part of you forever?
LK: My upbringing was pretty intertwined with church, and that’s where a lot of my most formative musical education happened. I went to a Catholic school, and attended masses occasionally there, but my family went to a Pentecostal church from my childhood right up until I moved out at 17 to go to university. I learned piano and a bit of guitar when I was really young from a more traditional, classically-trained musician, but it didn’t stick. When I was around 11, I got an electric guitar and started taking lessons from a high school student from my church and learned some of the basics there. But music really started to click for me when I started playing in the worship band. I started to notice patterns – a lot of those songs are built around the same chord progressions – and I got some really valuable pushes in that direction from a couple musicians at the church who kinda blew my mind with things like the circle of fifths. I grew up with a piano in the house as well, and I think when I started to play that again around 13 or 14, and noticed the ways it relates to the guitar, it all started to click and I fell in love.
MFL: Little Kid has shared the stage with some incredible musicians! Can you touch on some of your favorite experiences?
LK: We’ve definitely been blessed with some incredible opportunities. A show we often reminisce about was playing with Friendship in September 2017 – they are just an incredible band. One that was kind of surreal was getting a last minute offer to open for Keaton Henson at a sold-out show at the Great Hall in Toronto. That’s the biggest venue LK has ever played… We were told it needed to be a solo set and I was given about a day’s notice to get prepared. I was super nervous and I definitely made some mistakes, but overall it felt great and I think we reached a lot of new folks with that set.
MFL: What do the next few weeks look like for you all in anticipation of the release of Transfiguration Highway on July 3rd?
LK: Not super eventful from the looks of it… Most of us are laid off from work so we are just trying to stay indoors and keep healthy. I’m lucky to live with a couple friends right now so I have company – it would be really hard to be alone through all of this. I’ve also been trying to keep up with what is happening in the US and Canada right now with the Black Lives Matter movement, and trying to find ways to help.
MFL: When and how was the idea for Transfiguration Highway born?
LK: The songs sort of came together separately without a particular concept in mind. The album takes its name from the song “Transfiguration Highway,” and that song is about returning to your hometown and examining the ways both you and the place have changed over time. It was mostly inspired by a visit to Petrolia (my hometown) in early 2019. The title felt fitting for the album, though, because a lot of the songs in the album include some mention of roads or highways and I picture a lot of the characters in the songs as existing somewhere along the highway from Petrolia to Toronto.
MFL: Feel free to answer individually or as a group! Who are you listening to when you are you not working on your own music? I love hearing about what kind of music artists are digging into!
LK: I think some more-or-less band-wide favourites would be Radiohead, Big Thief, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Wilco, and Modest Mouse. Lately, I have been enjoying the Tenci album that came out last week and the Empty Country album that came out a few months ago, and I keep finding myself going back to DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar recently. Brodie from LK recommended a recent album called Floatr by Happyness and that has been a pretty frequent listen too.
Transfiguration Highway is out tomorrow, July 3rd, on Solitaire Records. Big thanks to Dan Rutman for facilitating.