Littleuniverses is a Montreal, Quebec-based artist who hopes to inspire people through her work and establish connections with a wide range of audiences. She thinks that each person’s relationship to art is special, and that it connects with people in such a profound way that it gives those who experience it life by giving them courage, comfort, empathy, and joy. For littleuniverses to feel complete, art and music are necessities. She always felt she was creating tiny universes when she wrote poetry, made visual art, or composed music. She picked the name littleuniverses because, as a singer-songwriter, she works hard to create engrossing “little universes” that listeners can enter when they are exposed to her music. Her brand is defined by the contrast between dark and ethereal, poetic and cinematic, that these “littleuniverses” produce.
Scott Jacoby and littleuniverses later collaborated on a number of singles in 2019 and an EP in 2020. Littleuniverses enlisted the assistance of producer and musician Randall Dunn, musician Arjan Miranda, and cellist Brent Arnold for her upcoming album, which is scheduled for release in February 2023. Littleuniverses received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts for the creation and release of their album.
On October 26, 2022, she released the first single from her debut album “Sword”. The single has elements of Depeche Mode’s “Violator” and femme fatale gothic. Arjan Miranda (Black Mountain) plays guitar, synth, bass, and beats on the single with littleuniverses, and Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Zola Jesus, Anna von Hausswolf, Myrkur), the album’s producer, plays synth. Littleuniverse makes beats and plays the piano. Littleuniverses’ dark and ethereal, poetic and cinematic dichotomy was brought to life by Randall Dunn, who also reflected the dark folk, dark gentle core, rock, and jazz styles embraced by the album. Check out the song and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how it all got started?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: I’m born in Halifax Nova Scotia but grew up in Montreal Quebec. My artist name littleuniverses came to be when I decided to pursue my music career in 2019. I wanted to have an artist name that best represented what I did. I always felt that I created little universes when I wrote. I chose littleuniverses because as a singer-songwriter my goal is to create immersive “little universes” that listeners enter when experiencing my music. Symbolically, my artist name became 1 word instead of 2.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: I have some formal voice training and have some formal training in saxophone and guitar. I’m self-taught in piano.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘LITTLEUNIVERSES’?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: I think my strongest musical influences are probably PJ Harvey, NIN, Nick Cave, and Beach House. My first musical influences were very eclectic because I played saxophone and did a lot of dance growing up so in a way I think there is always some type of jazz trill or progression influence that appears in my music because of this.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: Storytelling plays a big role in my music. I would personally describe my sound as poetic / cinematic and dark and light.
5. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style, which is known as INDIE?
I think I always admired artists who just did their thing and “owned it”. I never really try to emulate anything except attempting to capture a feeling that I had felt while listening to their music. I like to isolate a feeling that I had when listening to artists that I admire. Like the indescribable feeling of when you listen to a song and somehow feel more in touch with something you have seen or experienced. I aim to reach that level with my music. I find that to be very empowering and inspirational.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative, and entertainment?
I believe that music can serve as a powerful vehicle to deliver a message. It’s a channel that allows for a deeper form of connection. Personally, I am more interested in empowerment through expression. I hope for my music to have the ability to connect with its listeners on a personal level and make them want to come back to the songs.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfillment as the amount of work you are putting into it or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Having started a solo career during the pandemic I believe I’m overcoming some challenges that have helped me understand who I am as an artist. When things get rough, I just keep thinking about how this is my dream and to keep persevering. There is a tremendous amount of fulfillment that comes out of completing a song from start to end (includes the recording process). For example, with my upcoming album that I am releasing in February 2023 I feel it is my best work and knowing that and realizing that I can share it and connect with others through it is very fulfilling.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
My music usually starts from my poetry or a topic that I have churning in my mind. I’ll usually write something and have a flash of how I want to sing it then start to compose it. It can happen at any time of the day. I sometimes get a strange lurking feeling when I’m about to write something that I feel is significant to me. Like a feeling of unrest until it all pours out. I like to experience things, feelings and to question what is happening internally. My inspiration usually stems from life, books, films, people…etc Most of the time I start writing on guitar but with my upcoming album I did a lot of it directly on my piano. I would just hear the music in my mind on piano and start experimenting in Logic Pro.
9. Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own personal way?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: I personally have always liked knowing a little bit about the background behind a song, so I try to provide that bit of explanation with what I write. I approach many topics in my music in a way that is more abstract at times so listeners of any gender can also find a piece of themselves in the music and relate. With the songs on my upcoming album, including Sword, I story tell in a way that I believe immerses the listener in each of its songs and have them feel a part of the music. Ultimately, I want listeners to connect and immerse themselves into this journey and possibly find comfort.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
LITTLEUNIVERSES: Receiving a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts which enabled me to write my album and record it in Brooklyn. This was a real-life changing experience for me. There is nothing like the feeling of receiving full support to execute an artistic idea and to be surrounded by talented artists in a studio setting to help me bring the vision to life. As a general note, my 10-song album encompasses everything that I am, have become and all that I am as an artist. Sword is just a taste of what’s to come. I am incredibly grateful to have had support to make it happen and I can’t wait to perform it and share it.
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Photo credits: Alex Kasyan