IT has been great speaking with Joel (Tiny Eyes)…
about his incredible new single, Just Saying, and its memorable, vivid video. He discusses the hot weather and how it is impacting him; whether there is more material coming down the line; some of the artists/sounds that has inspired him – he shares a fond memory involving Scott Matthews.
I ask Joel whether he has advice for artists coming through and how his music has changed since the start; if he chills away from music and has time to unwind – he recommends an artist we should invest some more time in.
Hi, Tiny Eyes. How are you? How has your week been?
Hot! With all the crazy heatwave temperatures my week has mostly been spent melting.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Er, hi. I’m Joel, A.K.A. Tiny Eyes. I write songs on my piano and I make noises with things I find around my house and I put it all together on my laptop. It’s proper, old-fashioned songwriting stitched together into a collage of acoustic instruments, lo-fi synths and home-made samples.
How are you taking to all this hot weather? Is it compelling songwriting and energy – or is it a bit draining?!
Well. It’s so hot that my piano’s gone out of tune - so I’m on an enforced songwriting break at the moment. I don’t mind, though - I’ve got a stockpile of songs which I stashed away last winter like some kind of crazy squirrel. I can wait until the weather is cold and dark again before I write some more. In the meantime, I can enjoy the sunshine and tell people about my new tune…
Just Saying is out. What is the inspiration behind the song?
Erm. It’s kind of a day-to-day love song. So many songs are written about the beginning or the end of relationships. I decided to write about what happens in the middle: the 99% of everyday life that just gets ignored. So, it’s like randomly-chosen slice through my life…waking up with a hangover, then a bit of existential angst; saying things to wind up your partner…a typical day without any high drama.
Is there more material coming down the tracks? What are you working on?
Shhh! It’s all secret! Yes. I’ve got a queue of songs that I’m waiting to record, for a debut album that’ll be out next year. I’m pretty excited about the way it’s taking shape, although there’s a fair bit of work still to be done before I can let it out into the wild. There will be another single or two out before the album, too, so plenty to look forward to in the next few months.
Do you think your music has evolved and shifted since you first started? What are the main lessons you have learned?
I suppose it’s always evolving and shifting in subtle ways but, really, that’s something I don’t try to think about too much. If you worry about that, there’s a danger you’ll end up trying too hard to be clever and different and you forget about making something that’s actually good.
As far as learning lessons; I try not to learn too much. Nothing feeds the creative process better than stumbling around like an idiot, making mistakes; playing the wrong notes, saying the wrong words. Try to look at it all with a kind of wide-eyed wonder. That’s where all of the best new ideas come from - and I never want to cut myself off from that.
Which musicians did you grow up around? Did your parents introduce you to a lot of different artists?
Yeah. My parents have great taste in music. They introduced me to loads of good stuff when I was growing up from The Beatles to Tom Waits to Bowie to Radiohead. I’ve always had a very musical circle of friends - we were always in bands, trying to write our own songs; learning how to record, often failing spectacularly but having a lot of fun.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Anything else is a bonus…but, recording the rest of the album should probably figure in there somewhere.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
This sounds like we should be in an awards ceremony, for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or something, with me looking back across a long and illustrious career: “Well; I suppose there was that time when Jagger and Richards covered that tune, you know; the one off my third album”…but, to be honest, some of the best fun I’ve had so far was shooting this latest video, wandering around the neighbourhood in a monster costume. Some of the looks from passers-by were priceless.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Well. That’s a bit of a moot point because Tiny Eyes isn’t a live project. Not for the time being, at least. I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to meet your idols anyway. What if you really hate them when you meet them in person?! Sometimes it’s better not to have that illusion shattered! Having said that; Martha (Bean) and I did get the chance to support Scott Matthews once. An utterly captivating performer and a genuinely great guy. Seriously tall, too - I’m about six-foot-one and I felt like a proper short-arse talking to him.
With riders, I’ve come from a background where any kind of gig rider is a bonus. The idea of charging in and demanding loads of awkward stuff just feels plain wrong. Food? Anything that isn’t sandwiches or crisps. Oh, and as many cups of tea as I can drink. I’ll take that bottle of whisky, though, if you’re offering.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
How about making some great music?
Don’t just settle for being a half-decent copy of an artist you like. Make a record that’s so good people crash their cars when it comes on the radio. Be wary of most advice, too…even if something worked for somebody else; it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. If your gut says to do something and other people tell you to do the opposite, ignore them and follow your gut. Have the courage and the patience to make your own mistakes. It always pays off.
Is it important getting on stage and putting your music to the people? What kind of buzz do you get?
I don’t perform my music live but I do massively enjoy sharing the songs with the world.
What kind of buzz do I get? Picture a raging hive of killer bees being attacked simultaneously with a blowtorch and a chainsaw - something like that.
IN THIS PHOTO: Andy Shauf/PHOTO CREDIT: Geoff Fitzgerald
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
It’s a couple of years old now, but I’ve recently discovered Andy Shauf’s album, The Party, and it’s definitely my go-to album at the moment.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Yeah. What’s that saying 'action drives out thought'? So; I try not to be too busy. I play a few five-a-side football matches every week. Sometimes, I go to foreign countries. I drink Mezcal. I add fresh chillies to everything. I set up troll accounts on Instagram - and I have a very comfortable hammock strung up in my back garden.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Well. As I mentioned him earlier; how about Virginia by Scott Matthews? One of my favourite-ever songs - devastatingly good
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