Erika Simonian, like me, grew up in Little Silver, NJ. We’re both products of the fine, suburban Little Silver School system; and we both graduated, just two years apart, from Red Bank Regional High School. I eventually came back to Little Silver. Erika and her husband Steve Curtis live in Brooklyn and named their band after the town. They officially became coolparents in 2011 with the arrival of the beautiful Hazel.
Little Silver‘s debut EP, 2010’s The Stolen Souvenir, is a collection of quietly evocative and subtly dark songs on which the voices of Simonian and Curtis intertwine to create an atmosphere and a sense of intimacy. On 2012’s Dress Up EP of covers, the duo apply that same approach to some of their favorite songs.
I had a chance to see Little Silver in their full-band configuration last month at Glasslands. At that show, the Little Silver sound definitely took a turn toward rock and roll.
Erika was kind enough to answer some questions for me via email. Read on to see what she had to say about where Little Silver are taking their sound, what it’s like to be musician coolparents, a new Little Silver release, and a new release and tour from Steve’s other band, Hem.
How did you choose the name Little Silver? Was it simply the fact that Erika is from that town? Or, maybe, that was just the starting point and it has some deep, secret meaning to you.
Well, Steve liked it, and it’s always been an evocative name to me. As a matter of fact when I was a kid, I asked my mother why we moved to Little Silver. She plainly said, “I liked the name.”
Little Silver songs seem to be all about the shared vocals and the intertwining of your guitar playing. Do you share songwriting duties equally as well? What about arranging?
We share all of it. Of course, that works in different ways song to song, i.e.: we each have an idea, the other continues with it. Or edits it, or writes the third verse to it, etc. I think we both trust each other’s sensibilities enough to listen.
On the two Little Silver EP’s, the two of you sing almost all of the parts together. The one deviation from that formula I can think of is Erika’s performance on The Cure’s “Pictures of You.” What made you decide to eschew the lead singer approach on most of your songs, except for that one?
Actually, we never performed that song live before we recorded it, and the “lead singer” decision came as a way of building a sparse, same-y song that has many verses or a-sections, then one b-section, or whatever you might call it – only to go back to the original a-section. So it really came as a production tool to not have everything in every verse be the same. An attempt to ‘build’. All the songs on that album were recorded in one take, and since it was just the two of us on that song, it left no opportunities to add another instrument, layer vocals, etc.
Another trademark of Little Silver’s work so far is that it’s pretty, I don’t know, quiet, I guess. The full band show you did at Glasslands in February, though, featured a much more rock and roll sound than I’d come to expect from Little Silver. Is that something we can look forward to on future Little Silver recordings?
Heck yes! That’s where we’re going.
Has becoming parents affected your songwriting?
Becoming parents has affected our songwriting in the sense that it’s harder to find flexible time to do it, the way we did when we were childless. Pre-baby, if an idea struck, you could pick up a guitar right then and there and start working. Now it’s about quickly recording a semblance of the idea that floated through your head, and waiting for nap time or bed time. Actually, one morning Steve woke up saying, “I just dreamed the coolest lyric,” and he related to me this confusing and enigmatic line. I responded with, “I just woke from a dream that we washed Hazel’s winter coat, and I was so sad to wake up and realize it’s not true.”
Has becoming parents affected your ability or desire to tour / play live?
Not the desire, but it just takes so much more to arrange with a child. Last summer we did about 7 dates on the west coast with her… and she goes with us everywhere we go. So it’s just a lot more logistics and one of us is usually running back to relieve the babysitter, etc. It’s hardly glamorous, that’s for sure.
Is your daughter old enough to appreciate your music on some level?
She really loves it. When she was a small baby, it was our main trick in getting her to sleep, playing live for her. Or singing together to her. She’s pretty into music – though I think all kids are. It’s vibrational, so they’re gonna respond.
You did an EP of covers, and it was evident that you really loved the songs you did on that record. Have you already started to introduce your daughter to the music you love, just by, say, having it on around the house? Is it important to you that she share some of your musical taste?
Oh man. It seems to me that battle is best won by not ever being fought. I mean, we play her music that we love, because we play what we love on our stereo. My hope is that she can appreciate music and get the pleasure, catharsis, quiet answers that I have gotten from listening all my life, no matter what her tastes.
Will there be a new Little Silver recording sometime soon?
Yep! We’re thinking the full length will be released likely in the fall or early next year, latest. Steve’s other project, Hem, is releasing their first album in 6 years, and will be touring in support of that through the spring and part of summer, so once he’s back, we’ll hop into the studio.
Any plans to come and play any shows here in Erika’s old home of Monmouth County?
Are we invited?
I think we may be able to make something happen!
You can stream / purchase both Little Silver EP’s over at the band’s Bandcamp page.