The New UP
'TINY MIRRORS' OUT 11/4
ALLIE LARSON: firstname.lastname@example.org
ERIC SCHAINUCK: email@example.com
The New Up’s Tiny Mirrors came to life in three distinctly charmed spaces: a self-built studio in the group’s “band house” in San Francisco, an intimate Marin home surrounded by redwoods, and a secluded barn in a seaside Mendocino town. In each space (all located in the band’s Northern California home turf), The New Up channeled their DIY spirit and sonic ingenuity into infusing gritty garage rock with lush textures and lavish atmospherics. Equally the result of an exacting, metamorphic songwriting process, Tiny Mirrors reveals itself as a gorgeous paradox: a collection of songs that give a bracing glimpse at the state of the world but still feel fiercely intimate; an album that’s supremely life-affirming despite all its apocalyptic overtones.
Politically charged yet intensely introspective, raw in emotion yet cinematic in scope, Tiny Mirrors explores the notion of overcoming disconnection by “looking at our own reflection first and seeing more than just tiny, disjointed fragments,” according to Pitcher. “It also reflects the fragmentation of our society and how, more and more, our differences are portrayed as a negative thing rather than a symbiosis of these ‘tiny mirrors’—like a mosaic.” Adds Reid: “The album touches on the nature of relationships…everything from individual friendships to the relationships between different countries or cultures, and the fact that they all stem from the relationship that we have with ourselves.” Pitcher continues: “The music that we love—the music that really speaks to us—takes risks and makes an impact, and there seems to be less of that in this day and age. We wanted to bring back that punk-rock edge with a message of equality and peace reminiscent of Bob Marley and U2, but with our own unique sound.”
For The New Up, creating their most uncompromising work to date meant removing all time constraints and entirely revamping their songwriting approach. “We didn’t hold back or limit ourselves to our individual instruments in any way,” says Pitcher. “We wrote almost 40 song ‘sketches’ (including creating all the beats) and eventually narrowed them down to the 12 songs that spoke to us individually, and that we felt would convey the collective message, mood, and feel we wanted to spread—an actual album! We wanted to make a musical journey that was with you from beginning to end, like a series of short stories that are all connected.” Reid notes: “It’s like we were painting on a canvas for the first time, instead of splatter-painting on a wall. We were able to lay out the landscape and choose the colors and bring more intention to what we wanted to say. It was a way more analytical process, but it also allowed us to get so much more creative than anything we’ve done in the past.”
With its buzzing synths and serpentine riffs, indelible melodies and sprawling arrangements, Tiny Mirrors also marks The New Up’s first collaboration with an outside producer: Jack Frost, a DJ and longtime musical cohort whom the band credits with encouraging their move into more electronically crafted terrain. Throughout the album, Pitcher’s sultry vocals cut through that richly layered sound to capture endless dimensions of feeling. On “Future Is Now,” the song’s hazy soundscape and graceful melody meet with an unnerving narrative about “people not being willing to stick with what they know is right when everyone else is trying to influence them otherwise,” as Reid explains. Stark yet shimmering, “Black Swan” gives a boldly detailed portrait of what Pitcher refers to as “being young in the city and in a place where your loneliness and lack of self-love are so obvious—but you’re just rebelling against it and doing everything to forget that you’re alone.” And on “Almost Human,” with its snarling guitar tones and jagged beats, The New Up deliver a powerful meditation on the longing for connection. “Imagine a view of Earth and then the lens zooms in on individual people in different places, people who are alone and trying to find connection with something that is bigger than they are,” says Pitcher of the song’s lyrics. “We forget how much we’re truly connected, and how on a bare-bones level we’re all the same.”
Forming soon after Reid and Pitcher serendipitously met in the parking lot of a music festival, The New Up have turned out three self-released EPs (Gold, Better Off, Broken Machine) and one full-length (Palace of Industrial Hope). When it came time to start working on Tiny Mirrors, the band decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign to obtain the gear needed to create their own recording studio, which was essential to realizing their creative vision. After surpassing their crowdfunding goal, The New Up used those funds to construct the studio at their home, the “Pleasure Pad” (which included converting a closet into an isolation booth and executing some innovative microphone placement), as well as to transform the aforementioned barn in Gualala, California, into a state-of-the-art recording facility and finish up the producing and mixing process at engineer Sean Beresford’s redwood-ensconced home in Woodacre, California. “The crowdfunding campaign was a defining moment for us,” Reid recalls. “It forced us to ask ourselves ‘What are we really trying to say?’ and made us clarify what we were trying to do and who we were trying to talk to with this album.” Reid also points out that, in carrying out the campaign, “we realized how, more than anything, we want people to feel empowered to fight fear with truth—and not do it with flowers and rainbows, but do it with some grit.”
That renewed sense of purpose brought its share of daunting moments to the making of Tiny Mirrors, according to Pitcher. “We were working on the album day and night, for days on end, sleeping on couches, making meals and working into the wee hours of the morning to get each song to sound exactly how we wanted it to sound,” she says. “We all pushed ourselves mentally, spiritually, and physically to make it happen and experimented with various techniques, software, and hardware, while researching and listening to songs we love for inspiration.” What’s more, the band endured many personal shakeups in the last year and a half of working on the album, including the death of several friends and the birth of Pitcher and Reid’s daughter. “Having these heavy and contrasting experiences really allowed us to go deeper into the process of this album—to make music that’s a little more meaningful in a world that can sometimes feel very surfaced or superficial,” says Pitcher.
But as a result of their determined perseverance, The New Up ultimately gave life to an album that wholly embodies their mission as a band. “It touches on what it truly means to be human, and looks at where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in a way that most people can relate to, but often don’t,” says Reid. “The emotions in the music convey much more than words often can—there’s a simultaneous feeling of hope and desperation that is difficult to balance in a way that is tangible, but we feel these songs manage to do that,” he continues. “And that’s the most important aspect of everything we’re going for with this band: embracing the absolute truth and living with it and really making the most of it, no matter how painful or ugly—or beautiful—it might be.”