Cirrus. Emmett. Hannah. Lukas. Sam. Xander. Those six individuals make up Tiny Planet, a Seattle-based sextet that fuses jazz harmony and metal rhythm to create an exciting sound full of contradictions and surprises. Surprises, just like the band’s reaction to learning they’d be performing in Sound Off! 2020.
“I was the one who got the phone call and I was like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on?’” says Emmett. “I was not expecting to get in.”
Says Lukas: “I feel like it flew super under the radar for a lot of us because you applied a second time without us knowing.”
Adds Xander: “I forgot we even applied in the first place, actually. I was like, ‘oh, we did that again? Cool.’”
Tiny Planet’s inspiration to enter Sound Off! 2020 came from watching other young artists go through the museum's annual music showcase.
“I know people who have gone through Sound Off! and benefited greatly, made a lot of great connections and everything,” Emmett says. “I've seen a lot of fellow musicians grow up through this process and it seemed really cool. We’ve applied the past couple of years. This year we finally got in. Very excited.”
For Xander, i///u’s first place finish in last year’s Sound Off! competition made him think about how Tiny Planet might be able to fare against other 21-and-under talent from the Pacific Northwest.
“When I heard (i///u’s) KEXP recordings after they won last year I was like, ‘damn, this band sounds really, really good,’ and I think we could sound that good too, you know?” he says.
Before performing at the Sound Off! semifinals on Saturday, February 15, we caught up with members of Tiny Planet to hear what they had to say:
How does it feel to be part of the Sound Off! 2020 community of artists?
Emmett: It’s so cool. There are so many cool people. I’m friends with all of them now.
Lukas: I haven’t talked to a single bad person in this building.
Hannah: I think one of the best parts has been meeting everyone. I’m genuinely so stoked to be playing with all these people.
Cirrus: Everyone’s really refreshingly genuine.
Sam: Everyone has been like the sweetest person imaginable and they're all crazy talented. It’s definitely quite an honor to just even be among all these other people.
How would you describe your sound?
Hannah: All over the place. A surprise.
Lukas: I feel like Panzerballett is a good description, even though we’re not Panzerballett. But it’s a ballet of takes.
Emmett: Well, what we put in our bio is an amalgamation of jazz, metal, funk, whatever else you want to throw in. Definitely chaotic at times, but also pretty chill at other times.
Lukas: Wild energy.
Hannah: Organized chaos.
Why do you make music?
Xander: This is really the band for me that I've enjoyed playing with most so far as a musician. I feel like I've been playing music with so many different people for, I don't know, over 10 years. But every time I come back to Seattle— now I'm San Francisco — I come back here and I play with these guys and it's just the best experience because it's a very free place. We make really fun music and these guys are like my best friends. Very comfortable in music with them.
Lukas: I feel like also all of us agree that it's very satisfying to produce something. I think I know a lot of people where making things isn't necessarily part of their daily life. They find joy in other things, but I get a lot of joy out of being able to say I started with nothing and now I have this whole project that just came out of here.
What are you hoping to achieve through Sound Off! 2020?
Emmett: I feel like we've already done a lot of it. Just make buddies. Personally, I don't really care if we make it any point past here. It’d be cool to expose our weird, crazy music to a wider range of people. But other than that, I just want to grow up with the musicians of now.
Cirrus: The connection is where it’s at.
Sam: Definitely. If I just managed to maybe get some gig opportunities to meet some local musicians, I’d be more than satisfied with what I’ve got out of this program.
Hannah: For me, the mentorship of this program has been one of the most valuable things. Getting to meet even the photographers and videographers and people who I relate to as an artist, people who are in the industry and people who are going to be judging us. All those kinds of people have been really, really valuable to hear things from.
Cirrus: I think especially getting to talk with people who make their living off of this, figuring out what they want and what makes life easier for everyone to help each other grow.
Lukas: I really value the production that we have here. Like yes, we do play other shows, but the stages are nothing like this one where we have all these lights and all this control over the sound and all of this production stuff. These cameras are not cheap; I know trying to do it myself, it doesn't work that well. This is a form that none of my other bands have been able to have this opportunity to get us out there and have someone bolster us like that. So I think that's really cool.
If you could describe your sound or your music as an animal, what would it be and why?