Following in the footsteps of mood-setters Phantogram and Beach House, tiny deaths is poised to be the next breakout act from Minneapolis, a city rich in talent (having birthed the likes of Poliça and Gayngs in the past few years). Sounding simultaneously almost familiar and yet like nothing else, Grant Cutler (Lookbook, Wolflords) and Claire de Lune (The Chalice) have joined forces to create a fresh take on the dark, brooding electropop movement currently dominating indie rock.
After almost crossing paths time and time again, it was a chance meeting three years ago at a show Cutler’s band was playing in an underground art loft in Minneapolis’ warehouse district that began the symbiotic musical relationship that would become tiny deaths. “I stumbled upon the first song of their set and I was completely blown away,” de Lune recalls. “Grant’s style was just the kind of music I’ve been dying to make forever—I just didn’t know there was anyone in this city making it.”
A quick exchange of numbers turned into a series of meetings at Cutler’s home recording studio, which produced demos of the songs that would later become the first tiny deaths EP (a self-titled effort that was released in September of 2014). Fast friends, both artists were taken aback at the ease at which they could create together. “I was comfortable with him instantly,” says de Lune. “As if we’d known each other for years. That enabled me to really push my creative boundaries, and as a result of that, it’s the best work of my career.”
Cutler, having relocated to Brooklyn after making the record and ever the prototypical reclusive producer, prefers to stay behind the scenes, so the pair amassed an all-star band to bring the songs to life. Accompanying de Lune on the vocals at the live shows are Jared Isabella and Aaron Baum of Night Moves (Domino Records) on drums and guitar, respectively, and renowned Twin Cities stalwart Ben Clark of Votel on bass. The result is a sexy, shimmering collage of color and texture, a refreshing blend of the electronic and the analog, the peripheral and the tangible.
In this way, tiny deaths’ live show is a dichotomy. It’s something you can move to, with bass that pulses through your whole body. But lyrically it’s delicate and introspective, and the vocals are so arresting, you could just as easily wind up so awestruck you’re motionless. Challenging yet accessible, veering into experimental with both feet planted firmly in pop sensibility, tiny deaths, though influenced by its Minneapolis roots, has all the makings of something bigger than this little “city of lakes” can contain.