Small Black Escapes The Bedroom and "Chillwave" Label with Limits of Desire

Categories: Q&A, This Weekend

small black
"Free at Dawn," the opening song of Small Black's second full-length album, is the sound of a band reclaiming itself at the start of a new day.

Gone is much of what characterized the band's eponymous 2008 EP and 2010 debut album New Chain -- the chill synths and preset Casio beats of a band that began as a bedroom project.

While still self-produced, Limits of Desire abandons the occasionally overstuffed sound of home-studio tinkering that guitarist-keyboardist Ryan Heyner and keyboardist-singer Josh Kolenik began with before adding bassist Juan Pieczanski and drummer Jeff Curtin. The full-band approach draws from an expanded palette, making Limits of Desire a surprisingly nimble album, synth-pop that fits itself into unexpected places.

"We kind of stumbled onto a lo-fi sound for the EP, and that was fresh for all of us, so we latched onto it," Pieczanski says. "But as time went on, we wanted to move beyond that, make it more spacious. The more we played live, the more we realized we could take it to different places."

Small Black is scheduled to perform Saturday, June 15 at Last Exit Live.

Living together in a Brooklyn house, the Small Black members take a layered approach to songwriting, adding and stripping elements until a song feels right, no matter how far it's deviated from the original inspiration.

"Josh will have a lyric and it will inspire us to start laying down some parts, [and] we'll end up doing sometimes 10 versions of the song," Pieczanski says, "adjusting the lyrics and the musical structures. [And] sometimes we start from scratch. We have a weird process that sometimes works backwards, but we ping-pong back and forth between lyrics and music.

"We definitely have a kind of assembly line. We each have different skills. Our drummer is really good at mixing, because he does a lot of that on the side, so he gives a great polish to everything afterwards. Everybody has a say and puts their stamp on it, but as a group we decide whether each individual thing works."

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Last Exit Live

717 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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