Greg Walters and Cason Kelly make for unlikely electronic/dance musicians if you truly knew of their backgrounds. Before fully committing to music as the Brooklyn duo Tiny Victories, Greg was a foreign correspondent covering Russia, while Cason was a social worker for inner city youth in New York. For Cason, who says he had always played in bands, it took him a moment to realize that music was something he wanted to pursue for the long haul.
“One night I went to the practice space that I had at the time and just drummed by myself for two hours,” he told me. “ I had an out of body experience where I was thinking, ‘This is what I want to do for a living.’ But that is not easy to do. I just took a leap… as it turns out Greg was kind of taking a similarly leap himself…”
From listening to their recent EP, Those of Us Still Alive, I’d say the decision for them to ditch their jobs was a definitely risk worth taking. The music recalls New Wave with a sound that is both cinematic and uplifting, as in the case of songs such as “Mr. Bones” and “Lost Weekend.”
Listen to Tiny Victories’ EP, Those of Us Still Alive, on Bandcamp.
“Another thing that brings Greg and I together [is] what we listened to and what we listen to now,” Cason says of their influences. “It’s a wide variety of stuff. To pick out the influences, you have to sit down and just have to decide for yourself. We listen to Tom Petty and we talk about and take apart the pieces that we think that are done so well, and the same goes for listening to New Order or Chuck Berry.”
While nearly every track on the EP is uptempo, there is a good chance Tiny Victories will have a sedate song for their next album. “Greg can write one hell of a sad song,” says Cason. “I think on the full length that will probably have at least one or two. When we both started out practicing, we both agreed that as our calling card or initial statement, we want to be known as being able to get things moving, get your body moving, get that party started. It’s kind of like a statement. We both really look forward to much more down temp–not sad–but melancholy tunes.
Cason, who is from Atlanta, moved to New York after graduating from college. He became friends with Greg’s brother Doug while Greg was in Russia. When Greg returned, both he and Cason started jamming together. “Then eventually we both talked and we’re [like] ‘Yeah, we’re looking to start up a new band,’” says Cason, “and we kind of had the same ideas. We really started experimenting a lot. Greg got his first sampler and I had a sampler, we kind of went nuts with those things.”
As for performing live—which includes a date at Public Assembly this Thursday, April 19–Cason says Tiny Victories puts equal emphasis on their stage show as well as their recordings. “We did know going in that we really didn’t want to have too many things playing on tracks, like a laptop. So Greg has this table of samplers set up that he can hit a loop on one, or he has pads to play like a chord or a note, there’s a lot of options there. He kind of mans that table…it looks crazy, it’s probably about 40-60 buttons right in front of him. We do other stuff with vocal sampling and looping. I have a real drum set…and I play some electronic drum pads too.”
One highlight of Tiny Victories’ shows is when the band samples the crowd noise and uses it as part of the music they’re playing on stage.
“Greg would point to someone in the crowd and have them make noises or whatever and then he loops it … and it will be in the BPM (beats per minute) of the song,” says Cason. “I think we plan on doing it as long as we can. If things were to go really well and for some reason we were not close enough to the crowd, we would have to invent some kind of microphone that we can toss out in to the crowd—we’re gonna have to get creative.”
Those who are hooked on Tiny Victories’ EP will probably have to wait a bit longer for the full-length album, due out sometime in 2013. “We always want to be growing; we don’t want things to stay the same for us,” he says about the upcoming record. “We want to keep things interesting. We might pull some new tricks out of our sleeves. There very well could be a couple of ballady style songs on the record, but I can’t make any promises.”