Big Words is a R&B/Soul band out of Melbourne, Australia that first caught my attention with their infectious track “The Answer”.
The song puts vocalists Will Scullin and Kieren Lee at the forefront, both trading melodies and harmonies with a smooth, riding rhythm at the song’s backdrop.
Big Words’ simplicity make them unique. Whether it’s trading lyrics back and forth or simply relying on isolated vocals, Big Words should be a band on your radar.
Since my discovery of “The Answer”, the band released another track “Soul Jam” with another single set to release titled “Miss Your Mind”. I had the pleasure of speaking with Will Scullin and Kieren Lee about the creation of their upcoming EP, Soul and its growth in Melbourne and more about “Miss Your Mind” and the rest of the record due out later this year.
The Indie Sound: Did you expect “The Answer” to become as popular as it did locally before it started gaining traction online?
Will Scullin: To be really honest, not really. That was the last song that we wrote on the record and it was a battle we had between all of us if it was gonna make it onto the record or not. The reason that we chose it to be the first single was because it showcases the band at its truest at the moment. Everyone’s performance in that song was just the first thing we wanted people to hear from us. The rest of the record delves down some very different avenues musically and lyrically and it’s very different.
TIS: So you guys completely finished recording the record then, right?
WS: Yeah, we finished doing that last year actually. It has been a slow process … we’ve been testing the waters with everything and just taking our time and making sure everything feels good before we do it. It has definitely been a good year.
TIS: I’d describe Big Words to be a fusion of soul, R&B and Hip-Hop. What are the band’s influences when it comes to that sound? I know when you guys first started you probably had a ton of influences from all over the spectrum, but is there any one artist that directly influenced what you’re doing now?
WS: The cool thing about Big Words is that everyone’s inspirations are actually very different and I suppose that contributes to the kind of sound that we have. I grew up listening to a lot of Hip-Hop and later on in my teen years and actually just into my early 20s I really started to discover Soul music. D’Angelo and Amy Winehouse were some massive influences … Frank Ocean and still a lot of Rap stuff, but just kind of everything. All of us listen to a lot of different music.
TIS: What inspired the recording process of the new record?
WS: I kind of realized that everything that has happened in the past five or six years that we’ve been hanging out and playing music together … everything that has happened and everyone that we’ve met and the people that have come into the band and the songs we’ve written has been one big, beautiful coincidence.
TIS: You guys have been around for five or six years right? Have you guys been staying relatively off the radar or it it just because I’m over here in the states?
WS: We pretty much grew up together as musicians and none of us had ever really done anything of that kind of seriousness before, so we really took our time playing shows and getting to know each other and just having fun. We always knew that the time would be right when we were putting something out, we never really wanted to rush that. As I said, “The Answer” came along and it turned out to be the perfect first single. It took a while for us to get off the ground, but it was just the right time for us. Before that it was never really quite right.
Everyone that we’ve met and the people that have come into the band and the songs we’ve written has been one big, beautiful coincidence.
TIS: Not rushing the project like that probably give it more of an organic feel too.
WS: Totally, man. I suppose a lot of people these days start bands and projects with a definite end goal and a definite thing they want to achieve in three different records that they’ve already thought of … ours was literally as organic as it could be. Kieren [Lee] and I have lived together for almost three years. It’s good because we’re so tight that nothing’s really a problem.
TIS: I would think that would affect everyone’s relationship with each other too … everything is chill and relaxed…
WS: It’s both ways, man. It’s like a family so the same way that you fight with your brother and sister is the same way that we fight because we know each other so well. It’s funny at times, but it’s always all good.
TIS: What’s that creative process like when you guys are in the studio or songwriting?
WS: We all work full-time and we all live in our own houses, so we’re all really busy. All of us would really like to be playing five or six nights a week together, but we’re not. In the earlier days we played a lot because we were in school and just finding jobs. Kieren is always writing and he busks all over Melbourne. He draws a lot of inspiration from that and that’s a big form of his creativity. Music is very solitary for me. I’ve kind of trained myself to write music when I’m alone, but a lot of our songs are a collective effort mainly between Kieren and myself and ideas that we bounce. We come up with an idea and we take it to the band and it’s always better after you take it to the band. That’s what makes us know that we’re playing in a good band with musicians that we trust and love. There’s always ideas, but when we take them to the band and the studio they become bigger and better.
TIS: I know you guys are gearing up for the release of a new single titled “Miss Your Mind”. Can you tell me a little more about that song?
WS: “Miss Your Mind” is actually the first song that we wrote off of this record, so it’s pretty old to us now. It’s the first song that I sung in. Before that I was just always rapping and mucking around. It was a change in the band and a new direction. We were definitely very Hip-Hop before that song and the Soul really started to come through.
The song’s about a time … it’s actually kind of funny. I went away for a weekend to the beach and Kieren couldn’t go because he was working, and he got really pissed off and was really jealous that I was away. Then he wrote this super emotional song about your best friend leaving you and going away, but it wasn’t really that much of a big deal. Really it’s just a testament to our friendship.
For me personally, that song was a real significant change in the step of the band – the other motive was just to write something fun and something to dance to and I really do want to carry that on to the next record. It’s definitely the most dance-y song on the record … we never really wrote anything quite like that again.
That’s what makes us know that we’re playing in a good band with musicians that we trust and love. There’s always ideas, but when we take them to the band and the studio they become bigger and better.
TIS: Since I’m over here and I don’t know much about the music scene over there in Melbourne, how has the local scene contributed to the band’s growth?
WS: The Melbourne music scene is incredible. A lot of friends of mine say that it’s the Soul capital and there’s so much amazing Soul and R&B music going on here that a lot of people haven’t heard yet. It has contributed a lot, man. Recently, there’s a lot of people that we’ve met that have changed the way I see and write music and people that we’re definitely planning on collaborating with like Nasty Mars … he’s definitely one to watch, he’s incredible. ESESE … they’re also friends of ours. Yeah, it’s just like this nice little pocket in Melbourne at the moment and we’re all doing similar stuff and it’s been really cool to contribute to each other’s lives and careers and shows. The scene is really alive here. There are places you can go every night of the week and see any genre of music you want to see.
TIS: Do you ever find “competition” factoring in at all?
WS: I think that definitely exists everywhere, but I think it just comes down to how you want to see it. The way that I look at it … it’s way easier to be jealous of someone or something they have or something they can do, but I think it’s much more powerful and beneficial to be inspired and remove the jealousy. People do their thing and it may be amazing, but don’t let that make you think that you’re not as good as them because you’re not. You’re not as good as them, you’re as good as you. You’re different, and bands just need to remember that and continue to do the best that they can and be inspired. Jealousy is just really ugly and just sets you back in your career, it’s never really gonna repel you forward. Just share music and keep being inspired.
TIS: Once the secret show is over and the single is released, what’s next?
WS: We have this record coming out hopefully in August. I don’t see why not, it’s all ready to go and everything is done. That’s good for you guys ’cause it’ll still be nice and warm and there will definitely be a couple of Summer jams in there. The plan is to put that out and tour Australia. I’m a really firm believer in trying to capitalize in your own country and get that sorted before you really do try and do anything overseas. A lot of people that do go overseas too early come back home and no one gives a shit. I’d really love to give Australia a good crack first. In terms of this record, if the interest was there we would love nothing more than to come to the states and do some shows there and hangout and hopefully record some stuff for the next record in America.
TIS: Who have you been jamming out to lately?
WS: I’ll give you five and Kieren can give you a couple. I’ve been listening to Daniel Caesar, I’ve been losing my fucking mind over that dude ever since I discovered him, but especially these two new songs he put out. They blew me out of the water – they’re so gentle and so beautiful and so perfect … it’s not overdone at all, it’s just amazing.
I’m always jamming out to Amy Winehouse, she’s probably my favorite artist that has ever existed. I’ve been listening a lot to this dude called Nick Hakim, people describe him as Psychedelic Soul … I’d definitely recommend checking that dude out he inspired the shit out of me.
I’ve been listening to Steve Lacy quite a bit, really big fan of that dude. Also, Lianne La Havas, that tiny desk concert is by far the best one, she’s unbelievable. The control she has over her voice is just amazing.
And I’ll give you one more, a guy called Rex Orange County. He’s fucking awesome, his record Apricot Princess is really fucking cool. It inspired the shit out of me, too.
People do their thing and it may be amazing, but don’t let that make you think that you’re not as good as them because you’re not. You’re not as good as them, you’re as good as you. You’re different, and bands just need to remember that and continue to do the best that they can and be inspired.
KL: I’ve been listening to a few of my childhood favorites the last few months. So I’ve been going back and revisiting 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Trying, even The Eminem Show … I’ve just been obsessed with watching all the older greats and seeing what they’re doing. I listen to a lot of Dr. Dre beats, just getting inspiration from those different rap styles. Obviously, a lot of Kendrick Lamar. Basically the people that absolutely murder it and absolutely kill it I’ve just been really inspired by what they’re doing.
TIS: What’d you think of Kendrick’s new record?
KL: I loved it. I thought it was incredible and I’m excited for his next record. I’m excited for Kanye’s next record too.
TIS: I hope we get that soon.
WS: It’ll come out of nowhere.
KL: The water has been a bit quiet in the rap world for a few months. We had Drake’s album that blew everything out of the water, but then Kendrick’s album just blew that out of the water, so I think everyone’s just kind of sitting around waiting for something to happen.
I was sifting through a lot of rapper’s lately just seeing what’s on the table, but it all seems very … it all seems the same at the moment. There’s not really too much that is new at all. It all sounds very similar and people are taking inspiration off of each other, which is good, but it all sounds pretty similar to me. I’m kind of waiting for the next thing to happen. I watch Rap very closely, kind of like sports, and I’m excited to see what the next movement is.
WS: One more, we’re always jamming to Nasty Mars. I just want you to put that in there. You watch this guy, he’s going to do some incredible things.
Keep an eye out for Big Words’ debut this summer, and follow them through social media on Facebook and Soundcloud. Want to check out more Indie Sound features? We did a Q&A with Christo Bowman of Bad Suns a while back. Give it a read.