“I could get inspired by a teaspoon”
WORDS BY ROBBIE DADOMO-EDGINGTON
You may remember a few months ago, a feature about NO PARKING, the exciting and difficult to define musical alias of Parker Liam Harris. One of the highlights of the feature was NP’s track Tearjerker which displayed his ability to write catchy earworms without compromising his artistic sensibilities, and featured a captivating lead vocal feature from Casper Rose. Blossoming from that creative partnership, is their new band LITTLE UNIVERSE, a transpacific collaboration that seamlessly melds a whole host of influences and styles, and redefines what it even means to be in a band (you don’t even have to be on the same continent anymore!).
They’ve just released debut EP WE ALL GOT OUR NAME ON A BULLET, a musically maximalist project in spite of its 3-track length, with the highlight being the closing track THERE WILL COME SOFT RAINS, that does justice to its literary inspiration. In the spirit of the virtual nature of the band, we sat down virtually for a chat about the EP, the band, and their plans for the future.
Could you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Casper Rose: Hey mates, we are LITTLE UNIVERSE. Two kids from opposite sides of the Earth, sharing the same space in the virtual world, and making art and shit.
Parker Liam Harris: Yup. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I live in North Carolina & Casper lives in Brisbane, Australia.
How would you describe this project, and how does it differ from your solo work?
Casper: I’ve had so many projects over the years, in every niche genre you could imagine. Seapunk? Remember that? 80’s synth pop, witch-house? But what I wanted more than anything was to find someone else to bounce off; someone who could balance experimental electronic elements with alt-rock, but with the willingness to go “too far”. And who could really bloody shred.
Parker: For a long time with my solo project, I would try to make every show the loudest noise possible. I would blow out speakers at house shows and blow out subs at studio spaces. L*U* really was a blessing for me because it very naturally came into my life after I discovered a newfound love for pop music. This project really pushed me to chase after those perfect sounding songs and vibes that No Parking simply can’t. L*U* is way more anthemic, way more cheeky, and really dance-y.
What are the influences and inspirations for Little Universe?
Casper: I am inspired by monsters and science. Genius and madness. Dimensional rifts, old gods, and pulse rifles. That static smell to the air before a storm, and the ominous calm before chaos. The Freudian monsters that stalk the backroom of our minds… yeah, shit like that. I could get inspired by a teaspoon, though. I saw a lonely slice of bread hanging off the side of a building in a dingy, secluded alley that looked just so damn out of place. Even that got my gears turning.
Parker: I am inspired by the 13 year old in me who always dreamed of being a rockstar, who wanted to “combine drum machines and guitars with a girl singer”, and had no idea what that actually meant until I formed this band. I’m also inspired by old video game soundtracks, trip hop experimentation from the 90’s, and the vitality of the punk spirit from the 70’s which I feel has never truly died, but always needs a torchbearer.
You first collaborated on the track Tearjerker off Darker (No Parking album), how did that come about?
Casper: That’s a bloody good question… dude I honestly can’t remember. Hey, I think we were messing around and wanted to see how my vocals would fit on it. And they did. Guess that was Little Uni’s genesis, huh?
Parker: Yeah! I was in a trio called Sanctuary of Sound and I was writing songs for the project after our singer quit the band. I brought Tearjerker to them and they rejected it immediately, before I’d even finished playing it through for them at practice. I was fairly butthurt about it because I felt like the song had pop potential, and randomly during a convo with Cas over Facebook messenger I was like: “Hey you wanna maybe feature on this track?”. I went to sleep and woke up the next day with a very amazing and fleshed out demo that not only brought my original idea to life, but made it better. Me as a boy singing the phrase “tearjerker” in an American accent just doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Cas with her foreign flavour haha…
So, you’re a two-person band made up of one person in the US, and one person in Australia. How does that work?
Casper: The time difference is silly. As an Aussie, I’m an entire day ahead, but we work around it. I’ll produce a track, bounce the stems to him and he will shred and mix and master it till it gleams. Alternatively, Parker will send me tracks he’s produced/bounced, and I whack on synths, vocals and do a little mix around. We both have the same DAW (Ableton 10), but even if we were using different software; bounce the stems and you’re good to go. Working on the same project save file is a different can of beans, but it works so long as you have the same version and program as each other.
Parker: Casper literally lives in the future and it shows. I don’t truly believe in time (it’s a human construct) so I’m always awake at night smoking blunts and hanging out with my friend Insomnia. In some ways, I can work better with Casper than anyone else due to the time differences. Almost all my friends are fairly normal, they go to bed when it hits midnight. This leaves me alone in the early hours every day, and so through the power of the internet I very smoothly became friends with Cas and eventually bandmates. After we made Tearjerker she sent me a folder of seven songs as stems and I’ve spent a lot of time this year sculpting them into otherworldly shit. We now have too many tracks, to be honest.
What are your plans for Little Universe? Can you see live performances in the pipeline?
Casper: Parker is the plan man. The man with the plan. I don’t plan far enough ahead for dinner, so I’m lucky to have him. Virtual and physical performances are all on the table for the future
Parker: I’m a bit of an overthinker so trying to answer this question is like trying to pin down a thundercloud… Everything is the plan for L*U*. I’ve done two to three solo shows a month for the last several years, so I’m excited to transition all of my experience into Lil Uni shows when C*VID is over. I wanna build a live setup that has a stressful looking pile of tangled video game controllers all set up to our laptops, and Cas will be playing a keytar while I shred in the ancient ways of the guitar. There’s also a plan to roll out music videos for every song, and we have lots of ideas for merch (shirts, hoodies, one of one thrifted pieces by me, computer chip earrings by Casper). We also have so much music to release in the next year, I foresee at least three things coming out in 2021. EP02 is already nearly complete with four songs, and we have a sort of nice chunk of songs that could be considered an album. That one is made of mostly extremely heavy hard hitting songs that really are a progression from this first EP. Casper called me up recently and said “I kinda wanna go a more Death Grips route,” and I just about SHAT my pants.
What have you been into recently? Have you got any recommendations for our readers?
Casper: Hell yeah. I tend to devour mostly sci-fi/horror multimedia. Check out the short story There Will Come Soft Rains (Ray Bradbury). I based a track from our EP off that short story. And that short story was based off a poem (by Sara Teasdale). And that poem was based off a war. It’s gorgeous, dystopian and unnerving. I’ve been reading through the Alien comic series too, and goddamn is it fun. I’ve been listening to Aphex Twin and Oneohtrix Point Never pretty religiously. And I’ve been playing a shitload of brilliant 2000s point and shoots, Half Life and Borderlands 1 in particular.
Parker: Musically, I’ve been obsessed with Viper and his extremely dense output of music (F**k Earth I’m Gon Wage An Interstella War is the best song ever). Bring Me The Horizon was a big influence on this project forming too, I spent the first half of the year listening to Music To Listen To every day. Ocean Grove has also been an obsession, and they’re also Aussies so I’m like… extra keen. Aphex Twin is always on rotation as well, I try to summon some of his godlike energy for our band. As far as TV shows, when I find the energy I’ve been watching Batman Beyond and Criss Angel Mindfreak… as well as always rerunning Seinfeld. As for gaming, I have recently shook an addiction to Apex Legends. Normally, I’m a JRPG nerd and early into quarantine I hacked my Wii and loaded it up with a bunch of games like Xenoblade and Pandora’s Tower (which is so underrated, you have to obtain monster flesh to prevent your girlfriend from murdering you omg). I wish I found more time to read but uh… I got music to make buddy!
So, now you’ve got to know them, check out their music (and their recommendations) below: