Little Scout are a Brisbane institution and remain to be one of the most exciting pop bands in our long history of exciting pop bands. Over the years, I’ve seen the name and sound of Little Scout develop from a by the numbers Indie Pop band to an incredible dream pop outfit who collect all kinds of spooks and shivers to communicate some incredibly deep aches. The band’s 2011 debut album “Take Your Light” is an essential piece of music that showed incredible growth and artistic integrity from a band who I originally had not connected to. It was deep, it was dark and it had an array of very smart pop skills, it made me a fan instantly. I have feeling it was all those Cocteau Twins references that made me connect with it and of course the fact that Little Scout offered something different to what was happening in our town at the time.
The bands second album “Are You Life” has just been released and it showcases a new level of confidence. It is quite clear upon first listen that Little Scout have once again gone a bit deeper into the history of music and come back to communicate a movement of music that is clearly superior to their debut album. There is a new sense of fire and lots of rock n roll creeping in and out of the dream pop landscape that the band once indulged in. It allows the songs more freedom to shine and shiver with the end result being a more cohesive piece of communication for the band and on a basic shallow level, it’s got a bit more swagger which always adds a million hits of light to classic pop skills. The album also boycotts but embraces the whole “psyche” sound that is creeping in to most modern indie human rock pop bands, but these small peppering’s of psyche once again have more to do with Cocteau Twins than they do Tame Impala.
Earlier this year I got the opportunity to interview one of the creative forces behind Little Scout, Melissa Tickle. The main thing I wanted to discover was just how the band arrives at their sound and what kind of emotional landscapes are they harvesting in order to build such vital dream pop music.
Here is how the interview went down:
H&W: What kind of emotions and experiences have gone in to funding specifically the lyrics and melodies of the music?
MT: I suppose we hope that people decide that the songs are about whatever they like. Lyrically some of the songs do include themes of the ups and downs of relationships, but primarily the songs are observations. I’m fascinated by reality and perception, and how hard it is to differentiate between the two when you start to involve the uncertainty of human behaviour. I write a lot about what I see in the news and in current affairs, and about characters in books I’ve read. We try to push the boundaries musically and lyrically while maintaining those natural pop sensibilities.
We’re all very happy and comfortable people, but there’s a lot in there about middle class guilt, over-thinking and the fear of growing old and forgetting the things that make you happy – the reality of being a conscious person with an evolved brain. Monkeys have it so easy…
H&W: Escaping the need for genre classifications how do you describe the music you make?
MT: Well, the new album is a bit of a departure – it’s a lot louder. I have absolutely no idea how to describe it. When you hear it, I would love to know where you think we fit in terms of genre. I’m not very good at describing our work.
H&W: As an artist, what was the spark for you?
MT: My parents always played great records when I was a kid, and I started listening to good music because of my high school friends. I was a bashful kid – I still blush when people ask me to sing, so I secretly recorded demos and sent them to my friend Pat in my first year of uni. The rest is history!
H&W: As a female musician, do you find it challenging to escape the expectations of a male dominated music industry? Are you attracted to elements of feminist culture? Do you feel like there are certain unwanted and unfair expectations lumped on a female musician that deals in stereotypes? How do you deal with a society who in general view rock n roll as a man’s business?
MT: This is a loaded topic. I personally haven’t experienced a lot of sexism in the industry. I’m surrounded by a great group of men and women who are very supportive of each other and work as a big team. I’m a feminist in the traditional sense that I firmly believe in an equal playing field for men and women. There are certainly reviews written about musicians that focus solely on what they’re wearing and how they look – men and women. I’ve seen a few and they just make me feel a bit disappointed… I want to know if they liked or hated the live show/album, and read some constructive criticism. Get an idea about the atmosphere of the show, you know?
On another note, I’ve realised that sexism within the music industry is usually a side effect of the typical asshole with a low IQ. If someone’s an asshole, they’ll be pissed off about a lot of things for no real reason, and sexism is usually one of their favourite pet hates. They’ll be dicks to everyone about everything, not just girls.
Good music supresses the need to identify music by gender. And I’m not sure that we can control what we connect with musically, I think it just happens.
H&W: Belonging to the Australian music community, how do you see your music fitting in with the varied sounds being offered? Who are some of your favourite local bands?
MT: I love The John Steel Singers. We’ve been sharing a practice room and recording studio with them and I’m consistently in a state of wonderment over the sounds they produce. Other Australian bands I’ve had on high rotation recently are Cloud Control, The Drones, PVT, Bearhug, Tame Impala, Pond, Crowded House (shut up NZ, they’re ours), Tinpan Orange, Sarah Blasko, Deep Sea Arcade, Abbe May, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Songs, Kylie Minogue – I find this really difficult and feel a bit anxious because there’s about 150 more I could mention.
H&W: What is bad music to you?
MT: It doesn’t exist. You either connect with it in a positive or negative way. There’s a lot of music I hate that other people love. What can you do?
H&W: What is good music to you?
MT: The shit that takes you on a rollercoaster ride and makes you feel elated, all the while challenging you. Sometimes simple is best, too. I don’t know – if there’s a good connection then great job!
The fantastic new album from Little Scout is called “Are You Life” and is out now in all good record stores and online.
To read our review click here:
By: Dan Newton
Live Photo Courtesy of Alexander Sheko http://www.flickr.com/people/phillipsandwich/