A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to briefly work with Little City's singer Frances Miller. At the time, the band was just starting out and the outright modest Miller tended to downplay her role in the sprawling band.
But listening to their new single, Sperry/Capt. Kendall, the importance of Miller's vocal contributions to the band is clear. Her voice might sound rootsy, there's nothing down-home about her clarity and range. If anything, there's a Karen Carpenter-like warmth and resonance. Also like Carpenter, Miller is singing someone else's lyrics - in this case, band leader Shaun Axani - but makes them sound like her own.
Earlier this week, Miller took a few minutes praise her band mates, contemplate shyness and talk about Little City's 7" vinyl single Sperry/Capt. Kendall, which hits both brick-and-mortar stores and digital retailers today (Tuesday, Jan 24).
Although there are obvious exceptions, it's rare for a band's songwriter to not also be the singer. How was it decided that you would be Little City's singer and not Shaun, the songwriter?
When Shaun originally brought this group together, he pitched it to us as a recording project. We were sort of "recruited" in to what is now Little City based on a particular skill set unique to each member. So, for example, Shaun is an excellent songwriter, Trevor is an insane piano player, I sing okay, and so on.
Personally, I love singing so much it's just nice to not have to worry about the bearing-your-soul aspect of songwriting with this and. I really enjoy the challenge of interpreting someone else's words.
You know how to play a ton of instruments; do you consider yourself primarily a singer or a musician using your voice as an instrument?
My problem is that I've never really taken the time to master one.
I definitely consider myself to be a singer first and foremost. Because I initially learned to play music by ear, I'm always humming out parts before I actually figure them out on whatever instrument I have in my hands. But I suppose the two ideas are so interchangeable it's hard to really say which I relate to more.
The voice is a truly awesome and incredibly flexible instrument. That's why I like to play it ... or whatever.
It's interesting to me when people I perceive as being quite shy open their mouths and belt out a song. You don't seem like an extrovert to me; do you have a routine for going into the studio or getting up on stage?
I'm pretty shy; you are very right about that! At first, singing in front of people was terrifyingly nerve-racking but I've been doing it for so long now that it's pretty much a non-issue. There is no real routine aside from making sure I don't over-indulge at the bar beforehand. The recording studio is a whole different thing for me. I love it.
Since you're releasing a 7", I wonder whether you enjoy the format? If so, do you have any favourites? If so, what are they?
To be completely honest, I am more of an album girl. I was just leafing through my sad vinyl collection and I definitely don't have very much worth mentioning. So, Hey Jude/Revolution. An obvious answer maybe, but a good one I think.
Do you plan to tour anytime soon? And wouldn't that a logistical nightmare with so many band members?
We generally only tour with the six core members of the band, and we have a mini-van and a trailer so it's actually pretty comfortable.