Interview of Tiny Hands by Rose Sejean
What comes to mind when you hear the words “tiny hands”? This was the first question emerging electro-pop artist Jacob Masters (a.k.a. Tiny Hands) asked me when we sat down to a Skype sesh to talk about his new self-titled EP. Let’s just say I was a little nervous giving an honest answer to the evidently gifted young songwriter all the way over in Los Angeles who was propped up on my Melbourne-based computer screen…What would you say?!
Naturally, the band’s quirky name made me think of the same things most people would think of, i.e. tiny shoes (if you catch my drift), babies’ hands, and the inkling that the artist may have a sense of humour. What came up for me most, however, was more than just what the words reminded me of; it was that Jacob Masters is an artist who cares about what his listeners think.
Few artists will take the opportunity to ask their interviewer research questions about their music. I basically became an on-the-spot fan.
Not only is the Tiny Hands musician devoted to producing good music that resonates, he is humble too, insisting that the interview include his collaborators, producer Sean Eads (Triangle Park), and co-writer (and twin sister!) Alix Masters; together a curiously gifted, intelligent, and very likeable bunch of artists.
For the record, Tiny Hands literally refers to Jacob’s very own supposedly “tiny hands,” a physical attribute that has afforded the artist some insecurity over the years. It was his sister Alix who inspired the idea of channelling the so-called hindrance into his most unique asset, and if you’ve scrolled through the band’s very funny Instagram account, you’ll see that having tiny hands is, in fact, super awesome.
The entire EP subtly weaves through themes of hindrances and insecurities while somehow still managing to sound cool as ice with its R&B sensibilities, melded with a funk vibe and electro beats, brought together by Jacob’s breathy, honest vocals. Take the first single, Wherever U R, for example; little would you imagine that this track, with its almost hypnotic, space-age-feel verses and a chorus that suddenly smacks you into an undeniable groove would be a song about impotence…Go ahead, listen to it again now that you know, and it’s even better than your first impression.
Jacob explains, “I guess it plays into the Tiny Hands name, it’s like, ‘this happens sometimes, I don’t feel super great about it, but it’s not your fault and I hope we’re good…’”.
“It just takes a more honest approach to masculinity” adds Alix.
While every track on the EP could be a stand-alone piece in its own right, each more complex and mesmerizing than the last, the stand out tracks (aside from the single) have to include the sophisticated and beautifully layered Wait On Me, the killer toe-tapper (and my personal fave) Mind Games, and the striking 30 second Intro, which by the way, Alix Masters first wrote in the shower! #talent.
Tiny Hands, which was released in early April, has already gained quite a lot of traction and sparked conversation around the online music scene. What makes this body of work so interesting when compared to other electro-pop music is its unique combination of Jacob’s musical-skeleton of raw, narrative-like, sentimental material being married with the production-heavy elements that Eads is most known for–a match made in music heaven. Alix elaborates, “Jacob was writing melody-driven songs on the piano that were acoustic and almost ballad-like, and Sean’s (Eads) influence was really taking those melodies and giving them a certain atmosphere. I think that combination is what allows Tiny Hands to have the ‘singer-songwriter’ feel while also having the soul, funk, atmospheric aspects also.”
This may also explain why the group’s sound has recently been described as having “cinematic scope,” and rightly so; the EP could almost double up as the soundtrack to some Japanese anime set in space (think Cowboy Bebop).
There is no doubt that this is one carefully crafted EP; nothing is in there to “fill time.” It’s as though every last beat, every breath, every nuance is there because Tiny Hands intended it.
I don’t know about you, but if this is the group’s first EP… bring on the album.
On the songwriting process:
Sean: “When I’m writing my own songs it’s usually to get some sort of emotional material out of me, but when Jacob brings a song to me and we start collaborating, my ideas are largely just reactions I’m having to what he’s bringing and what I can do to compliment those things.”
Jacob: “I find I write better if I set myself a deadline, that way I can just go for it, otherwise if you overthink it, you eventually just get bogged down and don’t release it. It’s also important to never think you’re as bad or good as you think you are, in reality we’re usually in the middle, and it’s the middle that makes it all worthwhile”.
Advice on writing with other people:
Jacob: “My advice is to always look to collaborate and constantly work on how you yourself collaborate. While individual work is essential, every big meaningful project I have ever been a part of came as a result of setting ego aside and working together.”
Writing with your twin:
Jacob: “It’s difficult to collaborate with somebody you see all the time because you’re bringing a lot of other stuff in the room with you, especially if you’ve recently had a disagreement. Alix and I have been collaborating forever, but we reached a point early on where she was always on her game and I would come unprepared, it forced me to start treating her not just as my sister, but as my collaborator.”
Alix: “A sibling is always your sibling, so there’s a certain amount of freedom with honesty in that sense because you’re not worried about them going anywhere. I guess it kind of is a double-edged sword, but it also allows for a certain level of intimacy and understanding in the collaborative process.”
Coming soon: Video clip for the single Wherever U R