Performing @ 10:30am on Monday 27 June, and Tuesday 28 June entirely free - come on down to South Beach Reserve, St Kilda!
Creativity has always been at the heart of the Teeny Tiny Stevies.
That’s not just in that what they do is so insanely creative - it’s a rare band indeed that can write catchy, memorably songs about dealing with a new sibling, or body autonomy - but in that the existence of the Teenies was itself a creative response to how sisters Byll and Beth Stephen could maintain a career in music.
“I feel like we have had to be so creative in our career,” explains Beth. “I feel incredibly lucky, but we’ve been doing this a long time now and Teeny Tinys are only a relatively new offshoot of our original band,” she says of their band, The Little Stevies. “And Teeny Tiny Stevies itself was us being creative so we could keep being musicians.”
The latest fruit of that decision is ‘How to be Creative’, the duo’s fourth album: a ten song masterclass not just in embracing the creative urge but also overcoming self-doubt, trying new things, learning from mistakes, working with others, and the superpower that is perseverance.
“There’s so much emphasis put on natural talent, but to also realise that success comes from practice and hard work,” says Beth. “So much is achievable if you put in the hours.”
While the album is unmistakably TTS, the new album explores new ground both musically and lyrically. From the layered harmonies of ‘Imagination’ to the stop-start time signatures of ‘Bored’ and the slinky groove of ‘Dance’, the band apply the lessons in their songs to the songs themselves.
“We knew that we didn’t want to do exactly the same thing,” says Byll of the creative process that produced Useful Songs for Little People (2015), Helpful Songs for Little People (2018) and Thoughtful Songs for Little People (2020). “We thought ‘well, there’s a good number, let’s make it interesting for us and do something a little differently this time.’”
It was almost very different indeed. “At first we wrote a comedy album about parenting!” Byll laughs. “There are so many funny topics!”
That project may yet see the light of day - “Maybe it’s a future Melbourne Comedy Festival show?” Beth adds - but along the way the band’s manager semi-seriously suggested writing an album about how to be creative. “And we were like bang, that’s it!”
It’s also an album perfect for the uncertain times in which it was made, when the Teenies own career required a lot of extra creativity just to keep moving. The last two years have provided plenty of ups and down, from the pandemic striking just as the band were about to start touring behind their Thoughtful Songs… to that album winning an ARIA. “It was the biggest rollercoaster!” Byll says.
“We had to be creative in every single way during lockdowns, to keep things interesting and keep jobs going when there were so many limitations put on the ways in which we could do things,” Beth continues, “whether that was being creative with exercise in a small space or being creative in creating stuff to put out.”
And the album’s message isn’t exclusive to kids either.
“I feel like there’s also a generation of adults our age who maybe weren’t as encouraged to be as creative as they could be,” says Byll. “So I like the idea of a mum or dad listening to these songs and going ‘you know, I should do that too!’”