Because of COVID-19, the four members of the local band Small Wood House haven’t been able to record and perform together. As a result, two band members — singer Emma Shepard and multi-instrumentalist Chris Corsi, both of whom have quarantined together — started to write new material as Suitor
“Chris and I started experimenting with song ideas we had,” says Shepard in a recent conference call with Corsi. The group has just released a handful of songs on Bandcamp and plans to issue an EP next month. “We wrote one song without any plans. It got the ball rolling for us.”
During quarantine, Corsi built a studio in his one-bedroom apartment, and that enabled the duo to form Suitor and begin recording.
“We just write and record in the studio, and I mold the song a bit and then Emma molds her vocals to what I’m doing in real-time,” says Corsi. “It’s just a quick collaborative thing.”
While Small Wood House features a psychedelic, slightly ambient sound, Corsi and Shepard say they rely on a different set of musical influences for Suitor.
“Suitor is more inspired by post-punk acts like Wire,” says Shepard. “We’re just channeling a different sound that we also love. When we started Small Wood House, our main source of inspiration was dreamier bands such as Cocteau Twins and Beach House. We love that, and I love music in that vein. But we wanted to try something completely different with angular guitar riffs and angstier vocals.”
A case in point, “Not Now” features Sonic Youth-like guitars and hushed vocals.
“I think of that as our Sonic Youth track as well,” says Corsi when we make the comparison to the New York post-punk act. “What’s been fun is that since it’s just us and writing off the top of our head, we can be less shy about our inspirations. We still want to write original music, but we are less timid about leaning into our influences.”
“A Picture with a Hole Inside” features vocals that alternate between spoken word, high-pitched cooing and fervent exclamations.
“It was fun changing lanes at every verse with the vocals,” says Shepard of her approach on the tune. “It felt like it’d be more fun if it was kind of chaotic.”
At the moment, Suitor is simply a studio project. But Shepard and Corsi say they’re not opposed to finding a way to bring them to life in a live setting once live shows start regularly happening again.
“Chris is playing all the instruments, and I don’t know how to do the vocal layering on stage,” says Shepard. “I would love to play live and see how it goes, but that would be contingent on finding new band members.”
“Right now, we just want to layer things in the studio and figure out how to do it live later,” says Corsi. “We could maybe do some live sampling or hook Emma up with a vocal processor that she could manipulate on stage.”
Small Wood House remains active too, and Corsi and Shepard say that group is working on new material as well.
“We have some songs in our back pocket that we’ll release soon — it’s just been harder to meet with the whole group,” says Shepard when asked about Small Wood House, “but we’ll resume that as soon as we can.”
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