Checking in with Little Victories, the ‘one Stop Shop for all your emotional needs’!
“If we were to boil it down to a blanket statement; we try to fuse organic instruments with modern electronic elements with a whole bunch of dancing guitars”.Little Victories
I don’t know about you guys, but life has been a bit of a nuisance around here at the moment, causing unnecessary havoc and poking into places it has no business messing about with. And when things get unpredictably irritating, like so many others, I turn to old faithful, music, to cheer me up. Or at the very least it provides a solid outlet for all those sticky annoyances clogging up my days. And while a lot of my playlists are populated by songs that have been with me for years that feeling of finding something new, that uplifts you in the same way that those tried and true classics can, is something that will lighten almost any mood. So with that mildly emotional pre amble said, let me introduce you to a band with an immensely relevant name, Little Victories. So named to remind us all to not take the small things for granted, and to celebrate the little wins as much as we can. I think their Spotify bio says it best, but if you really want to get a feel for what these guys are about, I’d recommend a scroll through their Tik Tok, or if you’re not that way inclined, their Instagram is just as wholesome.
Formed officially back in 2019 this trio of mixed musical influences have come together to release two melancholically upbeat singles in 2021 titled “Set in Stone” and “Love gets me down”, as well as a whole EP titled “One” which was released earlier this year. I hesitate to categorise the sound of these tunes as anything less than oxymoronic, and I mean that in the best way possible. I say this because while the beat beneath the watery flow of synth-y pulses pushes you forward through the track, the emotionally salient subject matter and misty vocals launch you backwards into a nostalgic haze. Tracks like their first single “Set in Stone” and the newer release “Another Rush” (2022) can only be described as the kind of track you listen to while driving home on the cusp of darkness.
It sends you to that slice of the day where the sky is an odd mix of purple and orange and your brain is full of nothing but the noise trickling out of the car’s tinny speakers. As you can tell by my attempt at visual poetry, the music made by Little Victories is the kind of thing that lets the mind wander. Tracks like “Fool” from their 2022 EP tiptoe into your memory to find a scenario where the lyrics match up perfectly, and most importantly it serves as a reminder that you made it through, or, if you’re not quite there yet, that soon you will be. “One” in particular is a collection of tracks that bolsters the idea that you’re not alone, that you will make it, and it reminds you that there’s no joy in keeping quiet when you’re struggling.
As for what this intrepid trio have in store for us, their upcoming single is set to be released on June 10th and is titled “Summer”. Much like its namesake the tune is set to be an anthem that’s totally perfect for festival season, so download it asap in preparation for those evenings sat in fields with a bottle of something cold watching the sun set with good company. Also, for reasons that will come apparent when you read the last question on this interview, when this track drops please help the band get to around 1.25 billion streams by listening to it a lot, thank you in advance. It was a genuine pleasure to read through the following responses, as it was one of those instances that goes to show that no matter where you find yourself, music really is a uniting factor! Yes, I am very aware of how cliché that sentence sounds, we’re rolling with it. Now then, with all that said, I will leave you to read a very wholesome interview that includes a fun fact about a coffee shop I used to go to, as well as some mega insightful info about the internal workings of Little Victories.
Hello, hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today we really appreciate it. We will start this off super simple, would you both mind introducing yourselves for our audience? And perhaps saying a little about how you guys all came to write music together?
Hello! Thank you for having us here today! My name is Marcus, I am one of the singers and bass player for Little Victories. We all met at music uni together, but it wasn’t until we graduated that we decided to form a band and write all together. Nay and Sam lived in their student house and Sam and I played in another band for a couple of years. I called Sam up in very late 2017 to begin writing a new project which would eventually become this. It wasn’t until 2019 that we finally got in the same room at the same time!
So firstly, I’ve got to ask, this absolutely incredible 6-stringed bass, where did the idea come from, like what inspired this totally wicked idea? Also, it’s “homemade”? Have you always enjoyed DIY when it comes to music or is this a new approach? Also, your music for sure has some serious depth to it, but I suppose I’m wondering what you reckon these extra 2 strings add to your guys’ sound?
Ah thank you! I built this in 2015 with my late father and step-brother as a way to loop bass lines and ‘lead guitar’ lines on top when I was doing a lot of session work for other artists. It started life as a standard short scale 4 string bass and then with a bit of tweaking it’s now a six string! It’s tuned E-E just like a guitar but an octave lower so it still functions and acts just like a normal bass does.
I first got the idea from bands that use Bass-Vi instruments which are more like baritone guitars, but I wanted something far more bass aligned. I’ve always been a fan of ‘bass chords’ because there’s something lovely about the sound of a traditionally low rumbling, almost boisterous instrument playing soft, delicate lines. I wanted something that gave me easier access to the higher notes rather than living up past the 12th fret all the time. It turns out, some brilliant wizards on youtube have converted short scale basses to Bass-Vi like instruments. Also, Robert Smith from The Cure, Peter Hook from Joy Division/New Order and Hank from TTNG (who plays a very similar build) were all instrumental in inspiring and planting the seed for the instrument.
It was kinda built out of necessity as there wasn’t an instrument like this on the market. Everything else was (and still is) more like a guitar that doesn’t fulfil the role of a traditional bass guitar in my opinion. I have always been a ‘plug in and play’ kind of player with minimal gear and not many pedals and as such I’ve learnt to adapt with what tools I have available and what I can make work. This really is no different!
What that means for the music we make is that we can use the bass as a more chordal instrument and support the guitars and synths in brand new ways. Whilst some people use extended range basses for virtuosic playing, I’m proud that the instrument is a part of our sound but doesn’t detract from the songs. It’s a lovely new sonic thing we can explore and hope people love what they hear and get excited about the music as much as we do.
In the interview with “Our Sound” they mentioned you guys had struggled with being signed to a label, as they kind of messed you around. However, out of this you guys decided to make a go of it on your own, how did it feel to have full control? What was the process of releasing on your own like?
Ah yes, this was a particularly trying time for the band…kind of there from the start. Unfortunately the situation we were in saw us delaying the release of these songs from June 2020 all the way to October 2021. There is a lot more we won’t go into but we are super thankful to be shot of them to be honest and finally be able to play shows and release our songs! We have always owned our Master Files which means all our hard work was in our hands, so we’re putting them out via some wonderful people at Kerry On The Cake and The Orchard.
It’s a lot of hard work when you’re going alone! So much goes into releasing music that people just don’t realise or even consider. Hours pitching on playlists, planning videos, queuing up socials, release strategy and synergy…and I’ve barely scratched the surface. When other people are in charge of your release you kind of trust them to get it out in the right way and it alleviates a lot of the stress, especially when those people are specialised in their field and we are not.
We joke that we spend more time doing admin than actually writing and playing together, but I think that’s the reality of many upcoming artists in this day and age. But then when you put the effort in, it’ll attract like minded individuals who also share the love for your music and can see the effort you are putting in: this is how we met Kerry On The Cake! Then the efforts are compounded and everyone pitches in. It’s tough, but we do it because we love it and want to see the project succeed.
“Sticking to what we believe and not being confined to any box gives us the freedom to write anything we like and not feel as if what we are writing isn’t ‘LV enough’.”Little Victories
Since you guys started there is certainly a cohesive line running through your sound, very dreamy, and has some serious forward movement to it. It’s the kind of music that you listen to on a long night drive, wistful but with a solid bassline I reckon, or at least that’s the image it evokes in my brain! I won’s ask about genre specifically as those definitions are a little arbitrary, but I was wondering if you guys could maybe share a few words describing your sound?
I’m glad you think so, that’s been our goal from the start haha! Our mantra has always been ‘A One Stop Shop for all your emotional needs’. We do flip genres a whole bunch (especially with these upcoming songs…!) so it’s very important to us that when people listen to a Little Victories song, it’s very ‘us’. Sticking to what we believe and not being confined to any box gives us the freedom to write anything we like and not feel as if what we are writing isn’t ‘LV enough’.
Each of us are into wildly different bands and artists but there’s a real nice overlap in the “Little Victories Venn Diagram of Taste” so to speak. A few of the crossovers include The 1975, Oh Wonder, Ben Howard, Phoebe Bridgers, Fleetwood Mac and Bon Iver. I think these artists have a really diverse palette when it comes to their sound and what they explore with each release but each song is still THEIR song. You can tell it’s the same artist but a different sound. That’s something which we really admire and is something that we definitely strive to achieve ourselves.
Of course, we have to make it our own! So that’s where the individual influences come in and make it a Little Victories song. If we were to boil it down to a blanket statement; we try to fuse organic instruments with modern electronic elements with a whole bunch of dancing guitars. Even though we’ve got synths, vocal chops and a strong electronic thread present, we are first and foremost a guitar band at the core.
My usual intrigue when I come across new bands that is the origin of the band name! I don’t know why but I love the stories behind them, whether they’re complicated, meaningful or just the name chosen just because it sounded cool. With regards yours my brain instantly went to this cute little coffee shop I used to go to in Bristol which shares the same name, but on further inspection I found the story behind your chosen name is most wholesome. The fact it is focussed on how it’s the little things in life that get us all through is a fact often forgotten but certainly relevant in today’s day and age. I suppose my question would be, what is it for each of you that embodies the little wins at the moment? What is it that is getting you all through? And do you have any advice for those out there who are struggling a little at the moment?
We got sent some of that coffee! We know the place haha! One of Nay’s friends sent us some to congratulate us on our first gig being sold out. A very small world indeed…
People often forget about the little things in life, all the great and wonderful things that might go unnoticed because we take everything for granted. There’s a whole lot of instant gratification in today’s society and more so with the dangerous ‘grindset’ (grind mindset) that’s being adopted. It’s worth savouring whatever makes you happy; seize that joy!
At the moment, I am very thankful that I’m even getting the chance to reply to this interview right now, that someone genuinely is intrigued about this project and not just asking very blanket questions that we get asked all the time! We’re connecting. Something I’ve sat and made in my room thinking it wouldn’t reach past the four walls of said room has landed in your inbox and you like it. That’s pretty cool. That’s worth a little fist bump to myself. I also have the capacity and the means for an endless supply of cups of tea. Literally cannot start the day properly without one.
For anyone struggling at the moment try to remember that help is always available. You are not alone, you aren’t going through this by yourself and someone does understand. Please don’t suffer in silence and let it take over everything. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and it will get better.
I was reading an interview with “Lost in the Manor”, and the section about influences caught my eye. When asked about them, or what music you listened to when you were growing up, there was a seriously broad spectrum! Everything from The Carpenters, to Hendrix, to Blink-182, a real melting pot! How do you feel these childhood influences have affected your current sound?
All three of us have our own melting pots so when they collide the result can be super fun and ridiculous haha! I do think the music you listen to as a child, or more so that first song/band that sticks with you, still influences the creative process even if you don’t listen to them now. There are always elements peaking through.
For me personally my musical journey started with listening to Counting Crows in the car, learning to play guitar along to Green Day, and learning to write songs through City and Colour. Each one of these bands still influences the way I write to this day, even if I don’t listen to them as much as I used to. But when the influences collide within the band something special happens.
For example, Sam is really influenced by Steely Dan and the harmony that band employs is a far cry from the school of power chord driven punk rock I grew up with. But there are definitely moments where the right thing to do for the song is to remove some of the harmony and ‘keep it simple’ with a more rock influenced approach. Other times some jazz harmony is the perfect lift to make things interesting or feel a certain way. Nay listens to a large pop palette, so when a song is getting too experimental, that’s the thread that keeps everything together. We can fuse some of the nicher genres we are into like DnB, Emo or Math Rock with a pop approach, which combined with everything else we listen to, really gives the songs their own identity. I think the three of us have learnt each other’s musical toolkit so we can adjust, vibe with and take on all the different viewpoints. There’s merit to all music and it’s worth finding out WHY people like certain songs so you can understand it better.
Looking back it’s nice to see the chain of discovery that it has led me on though from the age of 12 or so. Without Green Day I wouldn’t have discovered Jimmy Eat World, which led to The Promise Ring, which led to American Football who I listen to all the time and are one of my favourite bands which definitely bleeds into our sound.
In this particular interview the part that really stuck with me was Marcus’s comment about how Counting Crows got you into writing lyrics, and how it showed you that expressing a full range of emotions as a man is entirely normal. This I felt really connected to something that I certainly picked up on when listening to your lyrics and scrolling through your social media, which was a focus on mental health, self-esteem, and connecting with those who can provide support. Showing an audience how everyone has their own individual trials, and that bottling it up is never a good plan. Was this a subject that you guys aimed for from the beginning? Or was it something that kind of came about as you started writing?
I don’t think it was a conscious choice to do so. I’ve gravitated to confessional lyrics my whole life, heart on your sleeve type stuff. I felt super connected to songwriters bearing their souls in such an honest way and it showed me that as a man it’s completely fine to feel sad, to be vulnerable and embrace that emotional side of me. Keeping this locked away and suppressing what we feel can only do harm. We should all do our best to normalise showing emotions, discussing them with family and friends and eradicate the toxic masculinity that impedes this from societal norms. Men need feminism too, you know? This certainly isn’t the primary message of the band but it’s really important to see the knock on effects and recognise the issue at hand.
We all go through the highs and lows in life and all struggle with our own battles. So many people struggle without having an outlet to vent or have that means of consoling. We’re very lucky that we have Little Victories as a creative outlet that allows us to express our emotions and process our individual trials that otherwise might end up becoming bottled up or highly pressurised.
We want to be the band that people listen to to party and celebrate the wins with friends on your best days, and also be there for those days you just want to hug a pillow and cry. We want to connect with people on a common ground through all our shared experiences in a very real way. In the end, the hope is that people find our music, our shows and ultimately our online presence as a space to be who they are and feel protected. At the end of the day, if someone comes up to me and tells me they’ve started writing songs because of what I’ve been doing, or started to be more vulnerable and open about their emotions because of the band then that’s all I could ask for.
Alongside your Instagram and Facebook, you guys also have a TikTok account which is a super wholesome documentation of your writing processes, rehearsals, and kind of just provides a super cool insight into how you guys are as a band. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, which are very good for notifying people about upcoming releases and tour dates, this platform seems much more personal. What sparked the decision to use TikTok? How has it, if at all, helped you guys to connect more to your audience? Or find new listeners?
Thank you! TikTok is a weird and wonderful landscape that is still pretty alien to us. Lots of people are on the platform which makes it difficult to ignore and just as important as the others in this day and age. I think it does give people a good insight into us goofing around and having fun whilst we write and do our band admin stuff. Band life isn’t all playing shows! Whilst we haven’t hopped on too many trends or collaborations, the potential is there, and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.
You never know what might happen even just uploading everyday life. One of our videos did actually go viral. Nothing to do with the band but that was fun to see haha!
Alright, now down to what we are all here for, your first single “Set in Stone” was released last year (2021), it is a super spacey and very liquid tune that I reckon is absolutely perfect for upcoming summer playlists! The video for this track was released on the 13th of April this year, and for all of you who haven’t seen it yet it is available on Youtube I would encourage a watch. You described the clip as a “visualiser” on your Facebook page and sadly I am not totally clued up on digital videography, would you mind describing what the difference between a music video and a visualiser is for our audience (me mainly)? The sequence itself is all hand drawn by @cgfx_visuals, which is honestly absolutely incredible, how did you guys come up with this idea? And what do you think having a video done in such an analogue way adds to the tune?
Honestly, there is very little difference! We just called it a visualiser as it’s more a ‘lyric video’ than a performance or narrative music video like ‘Love Gets Me Down’ is. But I’m glad you enjoy it!
We actually got approached by one of the videographers working at CGFX during a chance meeting at one of our real world jobs. We got along great, and he proposed working together. I fired over a rough outline of what we thought would work and because the three of us in Little Victories are notoriously difficult to pin down in the same room together, an animated video was put forward. The team came up with all the imagery so huge props to them.
Digital drawing and manipulation is absolutely fantastic and the technology is incredible but having it hand drawn instead of digitally adds that extra special layer of effort and commitment and gives the video a little something else to set it apart from other animated videos out there. We really love the result and are VERY grateful for their time!!
Your latest release has been an EP called ‘One’ which came out in March of this year, big congratulations to you all! The EP itself includes two new songs, “Fool” and “Another Rush” alongside your 2021 singles “Set in Stone” and “Love Gets You Down”. Since you started Little Victories, how do you guys feel that your music, lyrics and sound-wise, has developed?
In terms of these songs we have coming up, we’ve tried to package them up in certain themes. The next release we have is more Summer oriented and definitely more festival ready than ‘One’, which was more an all encompassing showcase of all the various things we do.
All of the songs we have written for ‘One’, the next release (and the one after…!) were all written over Zoom from remote locations before it was the trend. We started this process in 2019 when Nay was living in Taiwan; long before the pandemic forced remote writing sessions haha! What has been refreshing is finally being able to write together in one room where we don’t have to send stems or files around. Now that we are further along with the project we are far more comfortable showing different sides of our writing and different musical pallets. This means the writing has been a touch more organic and flows a lot easier with immediate feedback and changes.
Being in the room at the same time also means we can also be more vulnerable and honest with each other without the fear of hiding behind a screen. I do hope that when people hear them that the honesty and excitement is reflected in the music.
As for catching all these solid tracks in action, you recently had a gig on the 20th of May at SignatureBrew in Haggerston, for FREE I might add. How have you found performing live since venues are back up and running? And can you perhaps give us a taster of what we might expect from Little Victories live?
It is so so good to finally be playing these songs live! We’ve all toured and gigged in previous projects so we have missed being on stage. We actually managed to sell out our first and only show so far. We really wanted to make a statement that we’re here, we mean business and that we’re a bloody brilliant band! The show on the 20th was a support slot with the wonderful WYSE, who we’ve known about for a while. It’s fantastic to finally share the stage together! Some of our songs have a lot of guitar layers which we have to distil live, as well as some synth bass we play on the bass guitar instead. That immediately makes the live shows a little more organic and ‘band-esque’ than some of the more polished studio versions, but that gives the live shows their edge!
As there’s only three of us in the band, there are three extra musicians on stage with us who we trust and have known for a long time. We try to play with the dynamics and structure so the live show is definitely its own thing that (we hope) people shout about and come to see us for these reimaginings.
Right then, that’s pretty much it I think, all that’s left to ask is what can we expect from Little Victories in the future? Have you guys got any new videos in the works, merch on the way, or other live shows that you’re particularly stoked about? Here is the opportunity to shamelessly plug it so as Sam can save up for his yacht!
Thank you so much for your time for the interview. We really really appreciate it. We have a new song coming out called ‘Summer’ on June 10th, which is a very, very different sound to what has come before but something we are very excited about showcasing! It’s still very much Little Victories, just honing in on a few elements explored before and kicking them up a couple notches! Keep an eye out for more songs this year, and more videos. We have a few July shows pencilled in around the UK which we can shout about soon but in the meantime, grab some T-shirts over at Bandcamp (https://ourlittlevictories.bandcamp.com/merch) alongside our EP which is pay what you want!
Sam is still saving for his yacht! We’re trying to convince him that a kayak or a rowing boat might be more realistic, but he’s worryingly confident that Summer will get the 1.25 billion streams he needs for the deposit!