We cannot get enough of Little Grim here at Born Music and we just had to Spotlight them to find out more…
Singer Joe Murphy described to us that Little Grim came about when he met guitarist Jeremy Barclay in a secondary school jazz band. They shared a “love for making quirky, off-the-wall tunes” which will become evident in their first releases. “There were a few iterations of the band (with some very questionable band names!) throughout our time,” Joe explains, “but after ripping it up and starting again we finally found something stuck with Roger and Chris. We met them at an audition we’d been hosting for friends to join a new project we were working on. Throughout the whole day no-one was really clicking, but the moment the four of us came together it all suddenly started to work.”
And work it did. Little Grim certainly don’t live up to their band name, as they went on to create some sparkling and, let’s face it, beautifully melodic tracks.
The now foursome debuted in 2017 with ‘Hoodie’, providing the world with a little insight into what Little Grim is all about. Their second release ‘Infectious’, however, was written first. Falsetto vocals, layered melodies and varying guitar textures, infused with a little jazz, of course, coupled with flawless production creates one outstanding first recording. Through the use of out-of-the-box instrumentation and sound design, the quartet created something that is somehow eerie yet soothing.
‘You’re infectious, I can’t believe I ever lived without you’ is the very first line of the song and were also the very first words to come out of Joe’s mouth when improvising melodies over a Glass Animals-inspired drum loop. “From there, everything just seemed to grow organically and we decided to keep the lyrics for the final recording,” Joe revealed. “The rest of the song had just developed from ideas the band and I were layering on top. When we hit the studio, our producer – Brett – brought some really obscure sounds to the song which gave it its eerie atmosphere. I think my favourite moment was when I came to his house to record vocals and he’d been complaining about the issues they’d been having with a leaky boiler. We were brainstorming ideas to give the song the push it needed over the finish line. Suddenly there was a eureka moment and before I knew it he had taken a microphone and started recording this dripping noise coming from the boiler. It made the final cut and you can hear it at the start of the song.”
‘Hoodie’, on the other hand, immediately grasped our intention due to its unique opening guitar line that Joe had been “toying with […] for about a week”. Before any more development, Joe was clear on the song’s message. This time exploring more vocal textures and song structure, this track offered everything ‘Infectious’ provided and more. Plus, its conception demonstrated the extent to which Little Grim successfully work as a team: “‘Hoodie’ took us back to a more traditional form of writing with only live instruments. […] When I first showed Jeremy [the verse guitar line], his eyes lit up and he instantly came back with this call and response styled lead guitar line which took the vocal melody and morphed it into this sweet and beautiful sound that just seemed to be an answer to the melancholy vocal line. Once we were locked in, the band just seemed to take to it so naturally.”
The outfit’s third and most recent single ‘Silence’ delves further into the Little Grim sonic world. While experimenting with vocal melody styles and keys, Joe found inspiration in James Blake’s ‘Limit To Your Love’: “I loved the melody line behind it. It was so effortless, but as the music grows around it, the meaning of the song really grabbed hold of me. With ‘Silence’, I wanted a similar effect with the music building and building whilst the same message was being sung delicately throughout.” What cannot be ignored is the contrasting instrumental lineup in ‘Silence’ compared to its predecessors; an amalgamation of live and synthetic sounds, indicating the band’s progression without straying from their signature sound. “Roger played a hybrid of both real and electric drums which gives the song an added OOMPH when we wanted to bring it to it’s highest point in the crescendo,” Joe pointed out.
The three tracks were all written around the same time as Joe attempted to channel the raw emotions of a breakup. The singer finds his musical inspiration in these negative mental states: “For me personally, music has always been an outlet for all my stress and emotions – i.e. if I’m being a miserable sod it probably means that I’ve got some new songs in the pipeline, ha! But ideas we have usually grow from a simple melody or hook line which we blow up into a song. My phone has LITERALLY THOUSANDS of recordings of me humming new ideas – many of which may not see the light of day. It’s got to the point where I’m actually doing it on public transport and probably getting some pretty perplexed looks from other passengers. Otherwise, each member of the band brings a different taste in the music to the table which span from the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote to Matt Maltese to Pendulum. When it all comes together it just seems to gel.”
‘Silence’ seems particularly poignant as many can relate to its meaning, especially at this time of year. “The idea of ‘Silence’ came from the idea of being overwhelmed by city life and the stresses that it comes with,” Joe explained. “Craving a moment of serenity or tranquility away from the round the clock living culture of London in particular. Feeling anxiety about whether you’re going to be able to afford your rent this month, being constantly surrounded by people in a city of millions, and always being careful about how you present yourself to people who could affect you later in life – it can make you feel lonely. This song is an urge to break free of it all, if just for a moment.” The video accompaniment for ‘Silence’ explores these themes further.
What is clear through Little Grim’s first three tracks is their flair for individuality. Joe stresses the band members push each other to write something unique in every single song. “I think that each song should tell a story in its own way, even if it means adding parts or instruments that aren’t “traditional” to our ensemble or a song structure. Whilst we also take inspiration from music we love, we aim to marry it with a unique twist of our own too.” And it’s these non-traditional and unique twists that not only makes them who they are, but also earned them a sync deal on BBC’s The A List! “It was so exciting when we heard!” Joe exclaimed. “I called Jeremy instantly and was singing the news down the phone to him. It’s a little bit surreal when you hear your music played on a TV program for the first time, but it’s interesting to see how it’s been used in a brand new context. It’s made us want to do more.”
The South Londoners haven’t currently ventured far from their home turf, having predominantly played shows within the capitol. But non-London fans will be pleased that they have announced their first ever tour, heading to new territories such as Brighton, Nottingham and Manchester at the beginning of February. Let’s hope this is the first of many tours to come. The band showed their fans some love at their 2018 Christmas party by giving away presents, so you never know what might happen.
As well as the tour, Little Grim have more news… “We have a brand new single called ‘Play Nice’ coming out on 1st February which is the final instalment before we release our debut EP later this year.”
A tour, new song and an EP? There is no doubt 2019 will be the year of Little Grim.
‘Infectious’, ‘Hoody’ and ‘Silence’ are available to stream and download: http://smarturl.it/littlegrim