Local five-piece Little Bird is an amalgam of soul, funk and rock influences from G Love & the Special Sauce and Hiatus Kaiyote to Stevie Wonder. | Photo by Rūta Smith

Local indie quintet Little Bird started with groovy rock reverberations on their debut 2018 album Familiar, and then took their music took a different turn.

“It wasn’t planned to become more experimental,” said bassist Ben Mossman. “It was just a collaborative gathering of us seeing what we could do. There was no overarching ‘we wanna do this.’ It just happened to come out that way.”  

Along with Mossman, Little Bird consists of guitarist/vocalist Jay Hurtt, guitarist/vocalist James Rubush, keyboardist Noah Jones and drummer Oleg Terentiev. The follow-up project was the three part EP, Proxima, a chronology pieced together throughout 2020 that captured Little Bird’s technical prowess as the band sonically interpreted an imaginative theme. 

“We set out to do this really intense kind of Dark Side of the Moon style record,” Terentiev said. “There’s a lot of message and subliminal content.”

“It’s the story of us coming together,” Jones said. “If you listen to that album from start to finish, you really can get a glimpse into how we came to be a creative body as Little Bird.” 

Little Bird pivoted once again with the material compiled for their upcoming album, Sweet Happy Life. The band has a loose grip on the approach to the new album, producing alternate styles of songs with varied vocal takes and instrumental versions. The new songs are created from a space where their direction could change at any moment, with a focus on emotion more than storytelling. 

“This time around we’re making fun songs that are a good time,” Terentiev said. “I’m not really trying to overthink everything too much because like we had so much time during the pandemic. I remember I did so many drum takes and I was obsessed with nitpicking things. This time around it’s more relaxed.” 

While Familiar was a nostalgic body of work exploring the roots of identity and Proxima harnessed a futuristic tale of uncertainty, Sweet Happy Life will exist with little contextual restraints. 

“Really it’s almost no thought at all — from introspective to outerspective to no thought at all,” Hurtt said. “There’s no grand master plan. 

“We’re doing without doing — we’re becoming pure essence,” Rubush said with a laugh. 

Hurtt concurred: “We’re done searching. We know what we need to do and we’re just gonna do it.”

Another outlet during the COVID-related shutdown, besides crafting Proxima, was producing for other music acts in the band’s home studio, Mega Hot Records. “There were no gigs, so that was our gig,” Terentiev said. 

Mega Hot Records has currently relocated to the house next to Wolfgang Zimmerman’s Montford Avenue studio, The Space, marking a new chapter for the band. Current collaborations for the upcoming album feature powerhouse Doom Flamingo vocalist Kanika Moore and Tennessee-based synth rock outfit Okey Dokey

The new track “It Be Like That” started from a demo on which Jones’ was playing organ on his cellphone and the yet unnamed track with Moore on vocals sprang from an organic live session, reflecting Little Bird’s unconfined and collaborative songwriting method. 

“You find fulfillment in your art through the community, becoming a part of building a community around yourself,” Rubush said.

The idea behind the band’s ongoing production of the new album is that meaning is derived from working together and strengthening and deepening relationships. Before Little Bird heads out on a national tour in August, the guys play a May 20 show at the newly reopened Music Farm with pop band Cry Baby and Brooklyn-based alt rockers Tennis Courts. 

Sweet Happy Life, what it’s turning into, is more of a current view of oneself,” Jones said. ”We’ve had the past and we’ve had the future and now we’re looking at it as the present and how can you make this life that we all are experiencing a sweet happy life, because everyone wants that. We have a lot more power in our own lives than we think we do. To me [the new music is] turning into this concept of that and embracing your truest self and being unapologetic about it and applying that — just thinking about the little things: complimenting someone on their shoes. Just being the good you want to see in the world.”


Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.