Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Catching up with the band formerly known as Dry River Caravan

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Little Suns on the problem with band names 

In the last little while, members of the band known as Dry River Caravan upped and moved to Montreal, changed their name to Little Suns and got a deal with a True North Records subsidiary. When the band participated in the 2008 folk festival up-and-comer competition called Springboard, people took to their jumbled sound that seemed to riff off of the band Beirut. The festival’s artistic director Chris White said, at the time, that the band had two styles: “like something you might hear from Eastern Europe and something that sounds more like Fred Eaglesmith.” These days their sound is lusher and less married to a folk form. You can hear four tracks from the band’s forthcoming album, Normal Human Feelings, to be released October 8, right here. SOUND SEEKERS caught up with the band’s John Aaron Cockburn to talk about the highlights.

Little Suns. Photo by Jamie Kronick

SOUND SEEKERS: Why the name change? Dry River Caravan sounded pretty cool.
I was never really satisfied with the name Dry River Caravan — even from the beginning. I wanted a name that wouldn’t bring any genres to mind and wouldn’t be limiting at all in terms of moving forward and evolving. To me, Little Suns does not come attached with a particular genre or sound. It could be anything, and that’s what I wanted for the band.

SS: Did a name change coincide with a change in sound?
We got all we could out of Dry River Caravan and with the ever-evolving nature of the band, it no longer suited us. I never really liked the name Dry River Caravan and it was something we settled on right before our first show back in 2008. For lack of effort or indecisiveness, we kept it until last year. Little Suns represents a conscious choice for us and something we can get behind. Hopefully people will continue to support us regardless of our name.

SS: You left us. We know Montreal is pretty cool and all….
I had lived in Ottawa for 20 years and it was as much an artistic decision as it was a personal decision to move. I needed a place where I could be more culturally inspired and Montreal is providing that for me and the band. More opportunities are popping up that would not have happened had we stayed in Ottawa. There is so much cultural variety here; so for a band like us that is cross-cultural and cross-genre, there are way more chances to, say, meet a Bulgarian flute player of have a chance to score a circus show. I can’t say I’ll never come back to Ottawa, but Montreal is proving to be the right step for us as people and as a band. I feel a strong connection to Ottawa as many of my friends and family are there. Moving to Montreal has also helped me to look back and realize all the things I love about Ottawa.

SS: What is your deal with True North Records? How did it come about?
We have signed a three-album deal with Divergent Recordings, which is an offshoot of True North. The deal came about by word of mouth, really. We got on the label’s radar and they came to see us play when we did a tour of Southern Ontario in 2011. They liked what they saw and heard and we began discussing options.

Little Suns play Pressed Café Saturday, Aug. 3. With The Night Watch. 8 p.m., $10.