Small Circle is the new indie-pop band from three members of Sorority Noise – singer/guitarist Cam Boucher, guitarist Adam Ackerman and drummer Charlie Singer – and first-time frontwoman Marissa D’elia.
The Philadelphia foursome release their debut album this Friday, 8th September via Flower Girl Records (preorder here: Physical / Digital) – but you don’t have to wait until then to hear it; check out the release in full, first on Upset.
It’s a charming coming-of-age record that tackles everything day-to-day, from friendship and family to mental illness and hardships. “Everything I write is just my stream of conscious,” says Marissa. “As I am going through something, that’s when I write.”
Listen to ‘Cyclical’ below, and read more from Marissa after the jump.
Hey Marissa, how’re you doing? Are we interrupting anything fun?
I’m great! No fun here – just testing the limits of procrastination with some packing I have to do before our short tour with Remo Drive and McCafferty!
So tell us about Small Circle – how do you guys know each other, and what made you decide to get together?
Cam and I met about five years ago and became really good friends! It wasn’t until the last year or so that the idea of being in a band together came to be. Cam had asked if it was something I was interested in and I laughed because he had never heard me sing or seen anything that I had written. But after I had heard what he was writing I loved the songs, and I was really into jumping into something that was totally out of my comfort zone. A few months after the idea came to be we were recording the ‘Melatonin’ EP in my roommate’s bedroom. After seeing how we worked together, I think we both saw a cool future in making music together.
When did you first realise you wanted to make music? Did you have a musical upbringing?
Not… technically. My parents are not musicians, but I was pushed into band (clarinet!) when I was in elementary school like most kids were and stuck with it until tenth grade. I really did enjoy learning how to play music and playing in ensembles, but my interest was lacking when it was time to get serious. When I became involved in my local DIY scene and then soon after, Philly’s, I definitely was thinking how much I would enjoy making music again. I ended up getting involved with booking shows at a record store close to home – Siren Records and found that I was passionate about that to the point where it became my main focus.
I didn’t realize I wanted to make music until we were literally recording ‘Melatonin’. Up until that point, I was very sceptical about what I was doing or if this was something I would enjoy. I just had never thought it would be something I would get into, but once we started, I was really excited about the prospect of continuing to write and create.
What are your favourite topics to write or sing about?
Everything I write is just my stream of conscious. So as I am going through something – coping, feeling, etc. that’s when I write. A few of the first songs I had written were about my best friends. I love the idea of writing about platonic love and how important that is – to just change the emphasis we put on those relationships in our lives. But something I always come back to, and when I feel most sincere, is when I’m writing about living with mental illness. When I look back on how ‘Cyclical’ came out to be, it is the one constant even in the seemingly uplifting songs. Finding new ways to talk about my experiences and all of the ways that I have been changed will always be what I lean into. I think it’s important to represent that narrative in its entire spectrum too – how it impacts people I love and the way it changes my perspective about everything.
How do you go about writing music for Small Circle? Is everything a group effort?
I would say so! Everyone has their hands in the writing process. Cam is usually conceptualizing the instrumentation of things and then with Adam and Charlie, making those ideas come to life. On the other side, I am always writing with or without knowing how the songs are coming together musically. As they demo those, Cam will send them over, and we talk about what it sounds like, and I go to back to my own ideas and become more inspired now that I have this reference point. There are also times when Cam has entire songs done that we both love and want to include. But throughout, there is always an open dialogue!
Did you go into Small Circle knowing you were going to make an album together?
No! Everything we have done has been so touch and go. There were truly no expectations involved in starting Small Circle or recording the EP. Cam and I really liked the songs and just put it out there! The positive response was encouraging, and in September of 2016 we recorded ‘Sameness’ and started to talk about writing an album. I think that going into everything without having a goal or wanting to elicit any kind of response really allowed us to just write the kind of songs we wanted to play and have fun with that process. Everything that we have worked on so far has been like that, and it’s awesome.
How would you describe the album’s vibe?
I don’t know if there is a single vibe or feeling that this album gives off but I think that is the point. From a lyrical standpoint, the arc of this album follows growing pains and confronting myself and some of the experiences that have shaped me in the last few years from lacklustre friendships to irreplaceable ones, and the ebb and flows of relationships while coping with mental illness. I think the music backing those themes meets that same arc – there are songs that feel shimmery and others that feel more solemn. Because it varies so much, it feels more sincere and whole to me.
Where did you write and record? Did you have a good time in the studio?
The album was written and recorded at the Metal Shop in Philadelphia during the end of winter. I definitely enjoyed my time in the studio this time around. It was a very relaxed process as it was with Melatonin but a lot more focused as we worked through each song and watched things come together. There was a lot of back and forth as a band on how things sounded and what could be added or changed. I think this being our first album together made everyone feel at ease to just throw any ideas out there and what came of that ended up being really cool. A lot of times it felt like we were hanging out and also just happened to be making music.
What was the best thing you learnt during the creation of the record?
Patience! With myself and my own process. Writing can feel so daunting to me. Cam and I had a lot of conversations about how to navigate that which was important. I walked away at the end feeling like I knew a lot more about myself and what how I want to grow and the stories I want to tell. And again, learning that sometimes the best version of what I’m thinking about may come with more time and not rushing myself to get there.
What’s next for you guys?
The future is pretty wide open! With the record just now coming out I think we are just excited to play it when we can and hopefully have a busy next year.
Small Circle’s debut album ‘Cyclical’ is out 8th September.