my first exposure to little kid was actually through a local channel; lo-fi heroes wisconsin built covered his 2011 single “should you want to leave” on their album maps ii. fast-forward about a year and wisconsin built’s drummer, thom, tweets something about little kid and how great their new album is. i’ll usually bite on thom’s musical suggestions as they generally yield good results, and this one surely didn’t disappoint. river of blood is a fantastically-crafted album, and multiple listens have only instilled in me just how heavy the subject matter is. i was fortunate enough to get a response from kenny boothby, the guy who holes up in london, ontario and churns out songs as little kid. i asked him questions about recording methods, religion, and future releases, and boy did he deliver. check out the transcript below.
what initially sparked your interest in recording with four-track machines straight to cassette? is this something you still stick with, or has your growth as a songwriter required more sophisticated tracking equipment?
it can probably be traced to phil elverum’s albums as the microphones and mount eerie, as well as godspeed you! black emperor’s (and their various side projects’) use of field recordings, which i was really enjoying a few years ago. i think it was around the winter and spring of 2009, and i had a somewhat strange period in my life where i was digging up all sorts of weird tape recordings and photos from my childhood, buying half-functional tape machines, postcards, books, etc. at second hand stores, and essentially starting to assemble a big project without realizing it. logic songs grew out of that eventually – that album is pretty strongly tied to the medium i used to record it.
my method of writing songs has changed quite a bit, mostly due to playing the songs live with a band. i still like to demo the songs while writing them, using the four-track (mostly because it’s the only recording technology i somewhat know how to operate), but playing with a band has let the songs grow a bit more before recording the final versions. it’s also allowed me to play with some sounds that i really enjoy but would be impossible to capture without enlisting other musicians (i’m a terrible drummer, for instance), and make use of the flexibility digital recording affords. i really love the way brodie produced the new record – it’s very simple, in comparison to logic songs, and i think it lets the songs speak for themselves a little more than the lo-fi aesthetic would allow.
little kid started out as a solo project but seems to have shifted to more of a collaboration, with members of your live band contributing to your latest record river of blood. do you think this shift will continue on future releases?
i’m hoping to record an ep or short album on my own some time in the next couple months, just for a change of pace. right now, it’s just ideas and scraps, but i’m hoping to strike a balance between the 4-track sounds and the benefits of recording digitally. i’d definitely like to do another album on the scale of river of blood again, though – recording with a band is a lot of fun. there are plans for a new band with brodie and jessiah (who both played on the latest record) – more of a collaborative project – that will hopefully come to fruition later this year. i’m really looking forward to that. i imagine little kid will continue in various forms for the foreseeable future – i have friends who are great musicians that i’d love to continue to enlist for albums in the future, but i also enjoy the freedom of working alone from time to time.
many of your songs across your discography reference religion either explicitly or indirectly. in another interview with you that i read, you seemed to think about religion in a more intellectual, theologically-based manner than in a strictly spiritual one. do you see this self-awareness as a centerpiece to your lyrical structure?
yeah, it’s pretty difficult for me to write without some form of religious imagery sneaking in somewhere. it’s the type of songwriting i’ve always connected with the most, and it definitely comes the most natural to me. i’m planning to try to challenge myself to avoid religious references when writing songs for the aforementioned new band, but i imagine my songs for little kid will always focus on religion in some way.
religion plays a large part in your lyrical work, but who do you count among the most significant musical figures to impact you as an artist?
david bazan is definitely the first person to come to mind. i grew up listening to a lot of christian rock (the majority of which was pretty terrible in hindsight), and his work with pedro the lion really changed the way i thought about religious lyricism. he talked about some things on those pedro records that i had never heard discussed so candidly in christian music previously – sex, hypocrisy, doubting god. i’m still a huge fan of pretty much everything he’s released.
leonard cohen’s also someone i’ve always admired for his mix of religious and secular (or sexual) subject matter, and he’s probably the most consistently flawless lyricist of all time. at the time of writing the last record, i was listening to a lot of late ‘90s and early 2000s indie rock – modest mouse, built to spill, early death cab for cutie – and some more folk and country-type stuff like neil young, bob dylan, and gillian welch.
what are you listening to as of late that constitutes more of a guilty pleasure than anything else?
i guess the new kanye west album would fall into that category. the guy is such an asshole, but he makes some pretty interesting records.
to date, river of blood has been released on a limited run of cassettes and cds. are there any plans of future rounds of releases or a vinyl pressing?
yeah, we are still hammering out the details, but the wheels are in motion to get river of blood out on vinyl, hopefully sometime in the fall. there’ll be an official announcement once we have more info.
with the addition of musicians and the larger sound on river of blood, little kid is starting to seem less like a recording project and more like a full band. do you have any plans of touring as a live act?
unfortunately, a band tour is really unlikely; we all have a lot of different commitments. i have been talking to a friend about a potential solo tour in the fall – just a few cities in canada and the states. i’m hoping that will work out; it would be my first tour, so i’m definitely excited about the possibility.
full band or not, little kid would be an act i would love to see on tour. eau claire might be a bit of a hike from ontario, but i can always hope. in the meantime, make sure to listen to river of blood in its entirety if you enjoyed the snippets above, and check out the rest of little kid’s discography, which is stashed away in the bandcamp link below. the possibility of a vinyl pressing is also something i’m excited about; i’ll be sure to pass along the details on that when they surface.