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Whisky Kicks

Q&A

Catching Up With A Little Sound

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Catching Up With A Little Sound

It’s been three years since we last had a chat with A Little Sound, but with her musical career continuing to rapidly blossom, it feels like another lifetime entirely. In a relatively short amount of time, she has transitioned from university to a full-time music career, cultivated an impressive live show, which sees her DJ while as performing vocals- playing at some of the biggest shows across the world, as well as releasing incredible tracks such as; ‘Twilight’ with Gray, ‘Weed & Wine’ with Friction, and “Missing You’ with Hedex.

We talk to A Little Sound about the creative process behind her music, reflecting on the impact of her upbringing and early festival experiences, she traces her musical roots and the influences that have shaped her unique style. Following her return from the Australian tour she shares her battles with anxiety and the tools that have helped her navigate through challenging times, emphasising the importance of mental health awareness in the music industry.

A Little Sound’s story is as diverse as her music. Stepping into the limelight after being named a ‘Radio 1 Future Star’ in 2023, she shares her triumphs and tribulations, shedding light on the realities behind her seemingly meteoric rise.

Hi! How are you doing?

I’m good thanks, busy time of year! Loving it all at the moment and feeling super inspired by all that’s going on for me and our scene. 

How was your Australian Tour? 

It’s a big shock coming back to minus two and you’ve been out in 35 degrees. But the tour was so good I enjoyed it. The tour was two and a half weeks. I did five shows. Nice and spread out, so I got to see a lot of Australia this time. Whereas last year, I did 10 shows in the same amount of time. It was crazy.

There was a lot of flying but luckily we managed to have quite a bit of downtime because I only played at the weekends so I had three or days in Perth and four days in Brisbane and I could visit the zoo and lots of fun stuff. 

What have you been up to since you got back?

Constant sessions which are super fun and really exciting. I think this is the first year that I’ve been in them since signing with my new management Insanity and signing to Ministry as well. They’ve been pushing the sessions and the music I’m writing at the minute is just really exciting. The level of stuff that is coming out from these sessions is just nothing that I’ve ever had before. 

I think for me which, I found from doing the sessions when I write on my own. I find it difficult to not listen to the little voice in my head saying “I don’t think that’s the one!”. I’ll sing an idea out loud and these talented writers around me will say “That’s wicked, let’s stick with that.” Whereas when I’m on my own I might think of the same idea but the little voice in my head’s going “You can do better than that” or I just don’t know when to stop. That’s what’s been good I’ve learned so much from all these really, experienced and talented writers. 

That sounds amazing. You’re not only creating music you’re growing from the experience as well…

Yeah, and it’s not necessarily that I’m just letting other writers write for me. I’m very much part of the whole project. It’s just rewarding hearing the people around saying, it seems to be the best stuff that they’ve heard from me and I’m grateful for that.

It is interesting to hear you talking about that voice in your head because I think for a lot of talented people. I think that voice is important because it pushes them further and further.

Definitely. I do think it hinders my writing when I’m on my own. I constantly questioned when to stop and I think a lot of people would have the same issue. It’s helpful to have been working with producers and writers like Brad Ellis who wrote ‘Afterglow’- to have him there and say things like “Lyrically, maybe we could think of something better” or “Yes, that melody sounds wicked”. So that little voice can listen to what an actual person has to say.

Talk to us about your musical upbringing, you were at Glastonbury at five years old right? 

My mum volunteered to work at the festival and she got to take me. I think it must have been Saturday or one of the big days. I got to see Basement Jaxx, The Kaiser Chiefs and Van Morrison who did ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. Moments like that really have changed the way I am and the way I listen to music just to be in a crowd that young and experience that sort of energy.

Festivals were really about just the music then, not so much filming it. I’ve got to thank my mum for that because I’ve just loved festivals ever since and she’s got a wicked taste in music. She wasn’t that into the drum and bass side of it, but I think the dance side and yeah, I just really respect her for taking me I guess.

Did you have a lot of good music around you at home when you were younger?

Yeah, I’d say so I always had the Red Hot Chili Peppers albums around, and then it went to a lot of Basement Jaxx and I had some more dance stuff. I remember all the CDs and I’d always just be listening to music. My mum was the dance queen- she used to dance and do amateur dramatics. So it’s always been quite a dance-y family.

You were a ‘Radio 1 Future Star’ in 2023- that’s quite an Accolade…

It’s amazing. I had just got back from my first New Zealand & Australia tour and I had struggled a lot mentally with it, just because I didn’t know what to expect about the travel. My anxiety levels were somewhere they’d never been before couldn’t explain it. With the logistics of the tour, it was a bit much. So then to come back and hear that news from Danny [Howard] was amazing. I went straight into the Radio 1 studio with my mum she loved it, it was a nice little thing to give back.

It just feels amazing to be honest, just to know that support from Radio 1 is there and Danny’s been a massive part of my journey and has always, wanted to play and support the tunes. He even came to watch one of my sets at a festival last year, I think that’s so nice to have that support from quite a major part of the music industry. It felt crazy, to be honest. I still don’t think it’s sunk in.

I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety on tour. It’s really important that people especially dance music keep talking about this kind of thing because it happens a lot more than people would imagine. What helped you get through that time?

I was recommended to do hypnotherapy. I have a family friend who does it back at home and she just let me do it online on a FaceTime call. I had four sessions and I didn’t think it was up working. I thought “This is just silly!” and then by the third one my mindset changed. It’s all about mindset, and it just clicked. 

Before this last Australia tour, even though I was feeling quite good after the summer. I just booked another four sessions just in case and made sure my mindset was in the right place. I think you can get yourself into a negative mindset and you are on a downward spiral from there. Waking up feeling like the same things are going to happen.

I think so much more positively now and I look back at my social media from when I was on tour, you would never have had a clue, which I think is kind of sad because when I look back at that, I think “Blimey I’ve to look behind the photo and remember how I was really feeling.” My mum says it’s just crazy to think that there was a smile on my face at the time.

I think it is super important to talk about it, I’m not gonna make my whole social media about mental health, but if I feel it’s necessary to talk about it, I will.  

Thank you for sharing.

So last time you spoke to us you hadn’t even finished University yet. How has it been finishing and being able to fully focus on your career?

It’s about two and a half years ago now, maybe even close to three that I left. I was one of the lucky ones who got straight into music as work straight from uni. It seems to be a minority that actually gets that opportunity. I feel super grateful for that but the last three years have been a blur. 

It just seems to be a really nice trajectory and it feels like lots of big things are coming, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. My journey always felt quite natural. To look at what’s happened in that time is just mind-blowing.

I can’t forget how much the lockdown did help that Journey. It did have a massive part, my career hasn’t been an overnight thing. People have watched me from Not being able to DJ in lockdown on live streams, to then, playing the biggest sets last year. The stuff that’s coming through booking-wise now, is just… I can’t believe it to be honest.

The narrative that surrounds you is that you broke overnight, but it’s probably a less steep trajectory and there was a lot of work going on behind the social media success. 

Sometimes it does frustrate me when I see comments. I’ve seen one recently on TikTok that said something along the lines of “You only blew up because of Hedex, and TikTok!” as if my release with Hedex which was only last year is the reason for my success rather than the hard work I’ve put in.

When actually I can go all the way back to when I did my first rave, I was still at Uni when I started in the scene. I jumped in with Born On Road in the real underground side of it. It definitely didn’t just come to me like it seems. The whole thing has been amazing though and I feel really lucky that it has all panned out this way. 

I would see an overnight success as maybe going viral on TikTok and then you’re suddenly in the charts or that sort of thing, but I think the real ones would know that I started my first tune when I played acoustic guitar. I recorded it into a voice note, my vocal was not as strong, but I think that’s what’s so raw about it. I put a lot of effort into all my YouTube covers too over the years which helped artists like Technimatic and Kanine find me. 

I can’t ignore the fact that it feels a lot faster than maybe some other people but I have grafted and I think the people around me and the team around me can back that. 

You mentioned that we’ve watched you from before you could DJ and now you’ve got these sick sets where you mix DJing with live vocals. What was the thought process in getting your own set together? 

I mention Katie from Koven in every single interview because she had a massive part in why I started the DJ/vocal sets. I guess the main reason for doing that was because I was getting bookings as a live PA and I would come on and sing maybe three tracks or I’d have a 15-minute set where I would just sing my songs- I felt a little bit out of control. I’d be looking behind the decks to see the next track, it just all felt a little bit unplanned and I like to be in control of everything. So seeing Katie do that to such a scale was the inspiration. 

 I was awful for about half a year and everyone witnessed it which was, I think, the whole fun of it, and why people can respect now that the journey is real doesn’t happen overnight. But I thought if I could curate my own DJ set while singing my own tunes and being on the mic and connecting with the crowd I felt like the A Little Sound show could really come alive. There’s so much more I want to do with it in terms of live instrumentation.

I think it’s really important for upcoming artists as well to see a woman do it all which is another big reason why I want to for it myself. I don’t need a man to have a wicked show. 

You prefer to have the whole set to yourself…

Yeah, because then it’s my fault if anything goes wrong. I don’t have to rely on anyone else and I can spend as much time on it at home as I want. I have very particular ways that I want to transition tunes. The transitions might not be as intricate as the DJs switching in and out every 30 seconds, but I like to have a clean transition. I put time into every single set that I plan and although I do plan my sets, mainly because the keys need to match for me, I do actually change my sets most shows. It is crazy to think that I’ve managed to do that because it’s a lot of time. The other thing people don’t see behind the scenes is how long it takes to prepare the show I’m stressing about four mixes due now and I just want them all to be perfect and different. 

Live streaming was a massive part of your coming up. Do you still think there’s a space for live streaming?

I would hope so. I think it had such a massive impact in lockdown and it would be sad to lose that feeling. I know it’s not the same as going to a live show. I’m really loving what DnB Allstars 360s are bringing at the minute, just watching that energy and hearing the crowds. Not everyone can go to a rave, we talked about anxiety and stuff and I think it’s so important to make sure that everyone can be a part of the scene whether they’re able to go out or not. I watch live streams if I’m getting ready or I just wanna get in the vibe before set or something. There’s always a place for them, so long as they’re done well.

What’s your go-to livestream?

 It’s really difficult- to be fair any of the Born On Road ones I’m always here for.  Kelvin 373 did a wicked 360 as well. I don’t get to see those guys as much anymore and I used to be on nearly every show with them, so I find it rewarding seeing how well they’re doing and reliving one of their sets. 

You’ve worked with some great people and had some great songs out, do you have any releases that stand out to you? 

The most exciting release has been ‘Twilight’ with Gray just because it was put out independently Born On Road, which feels super underground, it took about a year to get any traction. We didn’t put loads of spend into it like you get with the majors.

It didn’t get playlisted, and it didn’t get radio support but since I’ve been performing it live and since Gray has been playing in his sets, people just seem to love it for what it is. Every time it goes off in the Rave the streams just go up and up regardless of whether it got playlist support. So long as the music connects the people, it will do well and I think it’s just so interesting to look back because over the years. It’s gone up to nearly about 30,000 streams a day.

Because it’s from Gray and he and I grew up in the scene together having a similar journey, it’s just so rewarding to see that quite a raw track that we both really love has been received in that same way. 

Talk to us about your recent single ‘Escape The Lights’…

Another exciting one. Again, it keeps coming back to Born On Road, but Disrupta also released one of his first EPs with them, it was a proper jump-up EP ‘The Night”. So to see, his journey of how far his production has come is amazing. This one is really melodically beautiful and showcases his talent. I love that we’ve finally got into work together because he’s another one that we have had that same journey from the underground to having a foot in the door of the major, which is exciting. 

We wrote it literally in the last 15 minutes of a whole six-hour session because we’d written one track for that whole five hours. But Disrutpa said, let’s just try a little idea on the end, he played a little progression and straight away I said “God, that’s Lush”. This one just fell into place the words, the melody and it just felt right. It wasn’t until we showed our management and the label that the excitement really started building. Originally it was called ‘Escape The Lies’ but we changed it to ‘Escape The Lights’ because it felt like when you can’t find yourself in the scene underneath the lights in the dance or a festival and you just can’t help but be there. Or it could also be a little bit deeper rooted and the lights could symbolise anything, something you can’t escape and you keep coming back to. 

So your lyrics are open to everyone else’s interpretation. When you’re writing them are you considering multiple meanings or have you got your own connection to them?

When writing, especially recently I wanted to have that broad meaning but with ‘Back To Back (B2B)’ my last single I wanted to write using all of the DJ symbolism- I used words which link to going back to back with somebody but then going back to back with someone through life.

How do you feed your creativity as a songwriter, reading, poetry or listening to music?

I wish it was something more intellectual like reading a book, but I find it’s more from listening to music. I tried to branch out of just drum and bass. I try to go back to my roots, when I used to write acoustically I listened to more singers. I find it important to branch out and go back to listening to multiple genres when it comes to writing music because drum and bass is still quite a niche and you find a lot of writers do fall into the same patterns.

When I first started writing over drum and bass I was told I had an almost a kind of country twist on it, which made it stand out a little bit more. And I think you’ve got to have that variety, the people I’m writing with have come from a different side of the music industry so it seems fresh. When I’m at festivals, especially Glastonbury, I will go to every band, I literally ban bass music for the weekend.

So, last question- what should we be talking about in the scene that we’re not currently talking about?

So apart from the equality of women and not making a massive deal and having that performative energy behind it- I think from what I’m seeing on TikTok at the minute, there are a lot of opinions going around just about the scene in general. So I think we need to talk less about certain things honestly, I think a lot of artists are getting stick for being a TikTok D&B raver and it is just unnecessary. 

I saw Brian Gee talking about something on a podcast and he said “I think we should bring back just doing our thing. The scene used to be fun and I think because there were no rules, there were no rules about what you had to do, the scene was just a nice place to be and there wasn’t as much judgment.”

Every single time I’m on my ‘for you’ page on TikTok which is where sadly I spend a lot of my time. It just seems to be people that are very in the scene just constantly sharing unwanted opinions about everything and anything, and I think that’s where it’s turning quite toxic actually and I just think we need to talk less about our dislikes. 

Let’s just enjoy it because it’s about music and whether someone wants to film a set on their phone, I know it might kill the vibe at times but is it that important to make a deal of? I don’t know. I just want there to be positivity in the scene, spread that peace love and unity that we always talk about. it does seem to be getting a little bit left behind at times.  

I will always be an advocate for women in drum and bass that will be something I’ll always talk about and making sure it’s a safe environment. But other than that let’s just leave the unpopular opinions behind. I guess the most important thing is that we keep inspiring the younger generations. We need to be a little bit more open-minded and make sure that we appreciate the fact that it’s still doing so well and it’s having such a big moment at the minute.

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