After an 18-month hiatus the Little Stevies are back, with a brand-new baby, a new lineup, a new album and a whole new approach.
No longer with MGM, Little Stevies have decided to take the independent route, releasing their third album Diamonds For Your Tea just last week. Recorded, rather modestly, in Billy’s home studio… while the baby slept. Her sister Beth talked to The Echo about the journey thus far for this sister act.
‘About 18 months ago my sister had a baby, and this was when we got back from a big Canadian tour, at which point Robin, who we started the band with, decided he wanted to move on to concentrate on his film work as it was his first passion. I took the opportunity to do my Masters; it was a bit of a tiny moment where it could have all fallen apart – we could have just called it quits for a while. I think it is okay to take breaks; being a musician can’t be your number-one priority all the time. You really have to have other things too that you put your life into.’
So the girls set about constructing a recording studio in Billy’s back room. ‘After I’d finished work,’ says Beth, ‘and the baby was sleeping we’d record for a few hours. It was tiring but it was great because in the end it was a relaxed way of doing it.’
The girls used the album to tell the stories of life over the last few years, particularly after returning to the Australian music scene, which they found harder and less embracing of folk music.
‘Folk music over there is a bit more celebrated then over here. I guess it’s because we are small in comparison. When you go to Canada or North America there are so many folk festivals you can play at and you can do these circuits for two or three months at a time. Here we just have our major festivals such as Woodford and Port Fairy and a few smaller ones in between. That’s why it’s so great to have festivals such as Mullum because it gets folk music to a wider audience. Sometimes you do feel a bit daggy doing the folk circuit here!’
For Beth it’s about redefining what it means to be part of a broader ‘folk’ community.
‘In a really simple way, it’s storytelling songs. Folk is about creating songs that tell a deep story. All my favourite folky artists are storytellers.’
And story is what Beth and Billy have told on Diamonds For Your Tea.
‘There are 12 tracks. A lot of them are autobiographical. I am all into over-sharing. I guess a lot of the songs are a reflection about what has been happening. I am growing up! The title track is one Bill wrote and it’s about becoming a new mother and the terror and the fear and the great stuff. I also wrote a song for my nephew, Bill’s baby; it’s a lullaby.’
The girls are now ensconced in marketing and PR, a campaign they have funded through Pozible crowdfunding. That too was a learning curve for the Little Stevies, who no doubt will have stories to tell once they’ve fulfilled their pledge promises!
‘It’s certainly not free money,’ says Beth. ‘You have to think carefully about the message you put across. One of the more unusual things we offered was a song for Valentines Day 2014 for you and your sweetheart. You get to hear these gorgeous love stories between people. So it’s going to be a good challenge for us to write a song to a brief!’
The Little Stevies will be hitting the road soon, with a whole new lineup.
‘We have three other guys we are playing with – the band now has electric guitar, lead guitar, drummer and bass guitar and keyboard – so it will be five-piece. Bill and I played most of the instruments on the album; it’s very different having to play them live.’
The Little Stevies will be playing The Mullum Music Festival 21–24 November. Tix and program www.mullummusicfestival.com.
For a Little Stevies visit: thelittlestevies.com.