It’s difficult to describe Little India without noting the youth brimming at their seams. The three-piece indie-rock band, consisting of Conan Karpinski (vocals/guitar), Andrew Dixon (bass), and Dallyn Hunt (drums), have just wrapped a short photo shoot in conjunction with this article; one that consisted of spur-of-the-moment jumping shots with passersby, and casually sitting in trees. Graduating from high school in 2011, the trio have a lot to celebrate as of late: their debut EP, Up All Night, was released in November—almost to the date of their one-year anniversary as a band. It is barely a minute into our chat on the outskirts of the Metrotown SkyTrain station and the band has already made ample use of their charismatic laughs—and the word “fun.” But as the group divulges into their band’s origin, it becomes evident that, although the term youth relates to the group in some aspects, life experience is not one of them.
“I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember,” recounts Karpinski. The frontman moved to Canada from South Africa six years ago, meeting Dixon and Hunt at a Langley high school. Though friends, the three never considered forming a band. “We did jam one time, or a couple times. But made nothing of it,” Karpinski explains.
Hunt reiterates the statement, adding “We were just playing covers for fun.”
Two years after graduation, Karpinski had the urge to play music with other people. Calling up the only bassist he knew in town, along with a drummer who was soaking up the sun on an Australian beach at the time, proved to be a good fit; after a couple months of jamming together in Hunt’s basement, the trio realized there may be some good chemistry in the mix after all. In the end, all it took was a little push to get the ball rolling. “Some friends [fellow Langley indie-rockers Derrival] asked us to open for them at a show, so we did,” Karpinski says. “[We put] ourselves out there. After that, we liked it.”
When discussing their debut EP, Up All Night, Little India can’t help but express relief at the fact that it’s now available and in the hands of the public. “We’ve never recorded or released anything together, so the entire thing was a learning process,” notes Karpinski. “The first time Dallyn [Hunt] and I ever played on a stage was last January,” Dixon chimes in. “So in the studio process I was like, ‘What?’”
Self-described as “indie-rock, with a tint of electronic-ness,” the group started with several demos and electronic songs written by Karpinski, and converted them into the band-friendly, indie-rock tracks they were aiming for.
On top of the process being their first, there were numerous setbacks to the release. The band wasn’t completely happy with the outcome of where the EP was first mixed. Instead of settling for the subpar product, they kept their options open and looked elsewhere. “You only get to release [a debut album] once,” Karpinski noted. “We decided we might as well just dig deep into the pockets, and go where we should go.”
Where Little India should go turned out to be Michael Brauer, a New York mix engineer who has worked with artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Coldplay. “When we decided who we wanted to get [the EP] mixed by, we decided that we should listen to what we already listen to,” explains Dixon. After stumbling across Brauer through an Atlas Genius album, the band decided to shoot him an email. As the old saying goes, it never hurts to ask; Brauer, along with his assistant, Will Hensely, enjoyed their tracks and wanted to work with them. “It was the coolest news ever,” Dixon says with a smile. “We were like, ‘Oh, [the EP] will sound good!’”
Even so, it takes more than a mix engineer to make an album sound good. Up All Night is an impressive compilation of tracks from a band that only had one to their name (the demo “Oola”) prior to the release. Opener “Sleep” is an upbeat, guitar-driven number that one can’t help but dance along to. “Carry On,” though equally as catchy, is slightly more solemn with Karpinski reciting lines like “This is not my sin / to sink till you can swim.”
“The way I constructed the lyrics is that they mean something personally to me, but the listener can find what they like inside the songs as well,” says Karpinski. Sound-wise, it was more of a group collaboration, inspired by music the trio have listened to all throughout their lives. “You’ll have a lot of my electronic influence, but then you’ll have a lot of Andrew’s ‘funky,’ and Dallyn’s old school rock,” Karpinski explains. “It’s all new age stuff too, so we like it.”
With the first release under their belt, Little India shows no signs of slowing down; they’re already working on new material. “We’ve been working on these songs for a long time,” Karpinski explains. “We have a lot of new ideas that we want to get out there as well that we’re really excited about.”
The trio also express their gratitude at being part of such a tight-knit, flourishing arts community as Vancouver. “Everyone is so friendly,” gushes Hunt. “It’s like having a really awesome hobby,” Dixon agrees. “’because at the end of the day, everyone’s doing it for fun.”
If the trio’s debut release is any indication as to how much they enjoy making music together, listeners have a lot to look forward to.