Little Bird has essentially been two different bands. One was a duo project between Maryland friends and singer/guitarists Jay Hurtt and James Rubush. They started the band in 2014 when both men were teenagers and aimed toward a pleasant acoustic funk sound in the vein of G. Love & Special Sauce. The new, six-piece version of Little Bird, which only formed about a year ago, is much more polished and atmospheric, mixing R&B music with ambient production on their new EP, Familiar.
They also don’t live in Maryland anymore, though their relocation to Charleston and regrouping was more of a happy accident than a well-thought-out plan.
“It was me going to College of Charleston and Jay going to SCAD,” Rubush says. “So we just thought since we’re only an hour and a half from each other, why not start it back up again. We had different intentions, but we decided to start it up again.”
The band’s new sound was quite intentional, though, even if it was almost entirely different from what they were doing before.
“It was a transformation into a new band,” Rubush says. “Coming into the new version of Little Bird we were thinking a lot more about ambient R&B and people like Hiatus Kaiyote, D’Angelo, and Nick Hakim. We have three harmonic instruments between the two guitars and keyboards so there’s room for someone to play these droning chords and soundscapes while the other two harmonic instruments are covering the rhythm and melody bases. Having a six-piece band changed our songwriting style, so our entire sound has changed.”