Tiny Victories

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Tiny Victories

So here’s where the band name comes from (or so they tell me): Greg and Cason were walking down the street in Brooklyn when they saw this guy scraping graffiti off his front porch. Somebody wrote “F— You” on his house. He had this gleam in his eye, like he was getting even with the universe in a small way. “All right, everybody, today is mine.” And Greg’s brother Doug, who was with them, turned around and said: “So what are the opposite of tiny defeats?”

For me, that’s what this music is about: small moments of redemption, amplified. It’s got the spirit of a marching band at a funeral. It’s a party at the end of the world, and you can’t help but join in.

It’s a big sound for just two guys. In their live show, they play electronic music with an array of samplers and gadgets and live drums—no laptop. They’ll sample crowd noises with a microphone during the set, process it live, and weave it into the songs. Their show has an uncommonly organic, improvisational feel for electronic music. I’ve seen crowds completely change when Tiny Victories takes the stage.

If you ask Greg and Cason about it, they’ll tell you every song is an experiment. Each uses a method they’ve never tried before. It’s a process that’s impossibly complicated—they’ve tried to explain it to me, and I just nod my head and stand back.

Once (after a long night of drinking) Greg put it this way: “We make simple songs out of complex pieces.” Take a melody that works on an acoustic guitar. Then orchestrate it with samples that have been reprocessed beyond recognition—like the sound of trash being thrown into a Manhattan dumpster. They sampled that one afternoon, then ran it through a gazillion effects and turned it into a backbeat you can hear in the ending of Get Lost.

I first found out about these guys last year, back when I had a job booking bands in Brooklyn. I’d scroll through hundreds of bands looking for something new, something that stood out. And then I came across these two. It was suspiciously great music.

They formed the band in 2010 after meeting in Brooklyn. Cason moved there from Athens, GA, and spent his early 20s doing social work with inner city kids. Greg, born in DC, moved to New York after six years as a foreign correspondent, covering a war (Russia-Georgia) and two revolutions (Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan). If you ask them to tell you a story, get ready for a crazy one.

Those Of Us Still Alive is their debut album. But these songs don’t sound like a band’s first effort. They have the confidence and consistency of a mature project. It’s an album about how the outside world might not be as bad as it looks, or maybe it is. And it’s about ghosts that won’t shut up.
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