by Laura Stanley
I don’t remember where I first heard Little Kid – it might have been through browsing Bandcamp or maybe someone I follow on Tumblr posted about them – but they have become one of my favourite Toronto bands. Which is not to say that there’s something specifically Toronto about them it’s just that’s where they’re based and where they play lots of shows and that’s where I live and listen to them and where I’ve seen them play. “I really like your band,” I admit to them on the occasions we’ve met.
In 2011, Kenny Boothby released Little Kid’s hushed debut Logic Songs – a record that’s fraught with spiritual unrest. Coverage from the music blog No Fear of Pop helped generate the initial buzz along with 4chan (of all places) which continues to drive listeners to the record. After Logic Songs, Brodie Germain (drums) joined the band and they released River of Blood (2013). Paul Vroom (bass) started playing with them live (the trio went to high school together in Petrolia, Ontario) and eventually became a full-time member. Together they’ve released Flowers (2016) and SUN MILK which came out in August.
SUN MILK feels different than Little Kid’s previous releases. Recorded in their studio in Vroom’s apartment (aka The Pharmacy because it’s located above a pharmacy and it’s also down the street from the album’s namesake, a variety store called Sun Milk) this is the first time the trio recorded the majority of an album in one room. This cohesiveness is apparent on SUN MILK which is their most settled and confident record yet. Boothby, over a cup of chamomile tea one evening, echoes my sentiments and describes SUN MILK to me as “a very comfortable record.”
At times, SUN MILK’s softness (“Fog,” “Like a Movie”) is reminiscence of Logic Songs but elsewhere (“The Forth”, “Slow Death in a Warm Bed”) their songs are spiky experimental-folk. Although there’s more electric guitar than ever here, Boothby, like on their previous two records, warps his classical guitar until it’s a fuzzy, unrecognizable, and warbling mess. “I feel like it’s kind of our thing, in a way,” he says about the guitar style. “I don’t know if other people do it. It seems pretty intuitive to me but I like when we go up [on stage] and people think it’s going to be fucking, I dunno, like Mumford & Sons. I don’t know what you might expect when you see that guitar there, I don’t know the connotations, but we surprise them.”
Where spiritual uncertainties once plagued Boothby’s songwriting, he now has a clearer perspective on things and turns elsewhere for lyrical inspiration and is starting to experiment with storytelling narratives. On “The Forth” Boothby lets out his frustrations with the gender binary and advertising while “Fog” and closer “Like a Movie” each tell respective stories.
“For SUN MILK, I can notice like two things that are kind of religious in it, they’re kind of vague though which is good. There was a time where I didn’t think it would be possible,” he admits. “It just felt like those were the words I went to and the imagery but I had to figure out that there were other things that I could write about and I could still feel good about it. I’m glad that I now have a sense of many things I could write about it. It feels a little more open.”
“I don’t set about to say a particular thing anymore. I think I did before,” Boothby adds. “I think Logic Songs is a bit heavy handed – you can tell what my message is in the songs which I’m not sure if I like very much. Whereas now, I don’t really have a message necessary, it’s more just a feeling.”
With Germain moving to the UK for two years, Little Kid will probably undergo a line-up shift soon but Boothby is hoping to finish up another record with Germain before he leaves which would be released early next year. As Little Kid mature, their family of records will continue to grow.
“I just want to make a bunch of albums. I want to have 10, that’d be cool. I always thought I’m just not that kind of musician but I could be, I think, if I just put more time into it and I have more time now, we’ll see.”
Kenney is playing a solo set to open for Yes We Mystic on October 10th at the Rivoli in Toronto. Click here for more info.