Big Little Lions create emotional music to make people feel better
Back in 2010, two successful solo songwriters—Helen Austin from Vancouver, and Paul Otten from Cincinnati, OH—met at a music conference in LAX. By 2013 they had combined their musical skills to create a ferocious duo under the name Big Little Lions. Despite the distance between them, the two managed to stay connected via email and Dropbox to create music that makes you feel nothing short of amazing.
The duo has recently released their third album, Alive and Well, which totes anthems of hope and resistance.
“The album seems to resonate right away with people and it doesn’t seem to need much of a learning curve for people with these songs,” Otten says over speakerphone as he and Austin drive their way through the Canadian prairies on the start of their North American tour.
The optimistic pair delivers a dynamic sound that conveys a hopeful element throughout their songs and they love to know that their music has helped people feel better.
“We had somebody at a show last night who had been waiting three years to see us, which was really cool. And we had another guy that showed up late to the show—and he said that our music gets him through each day and lifts up his mood. So that is always really nice to hear.”
As Otten talks on the phone, Austin says they finally see another town on the horizon after ages of nothing. Many people think it’s just about the music, but for the band it’s about experiencing the towns.
“That fame and fortune would be nice, but we both love the repetitive process of building our following,” Austin says.
“We just want to increase our presence on the road and get to a point where we can hit these towns again and keep increasing our audience,” Otten adds. “Just keep going one town at a time.”
Big Little Lions features Austin on guitar, foot percussion, and vocals, with Otten on drums, keyboards, bass, and vocals. For them, the shows are a real spectacle of skill, joy, and love of the craft. With so much instrumentation going on the pair leave no restraint and like two lions with their backs to the wall they come out roaring.
“It’s hard to stand out from the pack because you can be really good—and we have seen tons of artists that are really good, that are tons of talent above us in terms of local styling-—but how do we stand out from that?” Otten says. “How do we separate ourselves from that? And that thought, just blended in and this is our attempt to do that. And make people walk away and remember it—remember our performance.”
In the end, Big Little Lions are conveying hopefulness with their music and trying to “see the good in everything, to stay in the moment, and to enjoy life,” Otten says.
Fri., Mar. 9 (7:30 pm)
Big Little Lions
New Moon Folk Club (St. Basil’s Cultural Centre)
$25 at doors