If hard work is the key to success, then local three-piece Little Destroyer is ready to unlock some doors.
First uniting in 2013 under the name Legs, singer Allie Sheldan and brothers Chris and Michael Weiss connected over a mutual desire to score some festival tickets. After gelling in the rehearsal room, the trio began to craft, in Sheldan’s words, “very experimental, alternative noise music”, and found moderate success pursuing its difficult sound. But when life led the softly spoken frontwoman to move to L.A., the band was forced to shelve the project—until the three friends reconnected in California with a new producer.
Now splitting their time between their hometown and L.A., the Vancouver natives have been creating tracks with a new vigour.
“When we started those sessions in the States, we just thought, ‘We’ll see what we get,’ ” says Sheldan, sitting with her bandmates in a Kitsilano Starbucks. “At that time we didn’t even know what we were doing was going to be Little Destroyer, or even grow into a project. It was just through a series of writing sessions and a couple of months developing content that we stumbled on the fact that we were making something great.”
“Allie would be in California, call us up, and be like, ‘Do you want to do a writing session this week?’ ” multi-instrumentalist Chris Weiss chimes in. “And we’d be like, ‘Okay,’ and head down to L.A. We would do days where Michael and I would land, we’d go over to the studio, work until 8 a.m. the next day, sleep for a few hours, do it again, and then leave. That would allow us to create two or three songs. Whether they were excellent or made the EP wasn’t the point—it was more of an exercise in beating our brains. It was super intense.”
Little Destroyer’s music is, like its band name, both intimate and powerful. Creating a sound that’s achingly bleak and infectiously upbeat, the trio has chosen to maintain key elements of Legs’ dark melodies and blend them with a more electronic pop. With two singles—“Bad Cell” and “Rattlesnakes”—currently in the public domain, the group is fast establishing a signature style based on shifts between aggressive energy and atmospheric, distorted synths.
“We’d all been talking about the kind of music that we wanted to make, but we couldn’t find anyone in Vancouver who had the technical ability to do it,” Sheldan says. “We wanted a crazy sound, or a crazy beat, and we couldn’t find anyone good enough in terms of production. Every time we made a cool song, it would sound like shit on a CD or the radio. Our new producer comes from a really hi-fi production role, and we were coming from a really lo-fi angle, and when we met in the middle we realized our new direction. Each camp drew the other towards a lo-fi/hi-fi hybrid.”
In a number of ways, the project has been an exercise in catharsis for the band. After years of playing together, Little Destroyer is ready to put out a full EP in the spring that, as Weiss puts it, “sounds exactly how we want it to sound”—a self-actualization due in large part to the trio’s lyrics. Peppering the tracks with very personal verses, Sheldan is just as articulate in her songs as she is in person, and offers an intense world-view in her music.
“When I listen to a song, I focus on the words above everything else,” she says. “I’m asking myself what it’s telling me, and whether I get to know that person better as an artist. People are interesting. Everyone’s experienced a whole range of emotions, whether or not they choose to express it. For me, it’s like, ‘Let’s break down that wall.’ We’ve all had shitty times, we’ve all fucked up, so let’s humanize one another.
“On ‘Bad Cell’, for example, the lyrics are about my struggle with health issues,” she continues. “I had bad cells in my body. When you go through that, you start dissociating from yourself. You hate your body, and you want to divorce yourself from your physical form because you realize that there’s shit in you. That feeling of helplessness and frustration is the core of the song.
“Michael wrote this crazy track, Chris had a gnarly synth line, and we started to develop ideas about why evil prevails over good, why nature is so savage, and how a bad cell in your body has the ability to multiply so quickly. We looked at where you might find that in aspects of society, like climbing the corporate ladder, or how society views women, or treats people who are a little different. That song is us saying ‘Fuck this.’ ”
With its aggressive confidence and tireless dedication, Little Destroyer is now set to begin a collection of shows across Vancouver and Canada, sharing stages with the likes of Mother Mother and Gang Signs to bring its forthcoming EP to audiences.
“We’re going to go as far with this as we can,” Sheldan says. “Why not? Life is ridiculous, and any one of us could die tomorrow. Anybody. Why not try as hard as you can, and don’t be afraid of success?”
Little Destroyer plays Studio Vostok on Friday (February 3).