Helen Austin and Paul Otten of Big Little Lions might live on opposite sides of the continent – she is from Vancouver Island, while he hails from Ohio – but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing five albums together.
Since the pair met at a songwriting conference in 2011, they’ve been growing closer musically, if not geographically, and are set to take the stage at the upcoming Invermere MusicFest.
“We make it work through the magic of the internet,” Mr. Otten said, adding that Big Little Lions meets up every month or two for tours.
When they aren’t on the road, the pair work on their collaborations by email, flipping their ideas back and forth until they’re both satisfied.
“Even when we got to know each other, it’s just easier via email because you don’t have to look at each other’s faces disapproving of something,” Ms. Austin said. “I think it just cuts out all the unnecessary stuff and we get it done quicker… We do like to be efficient. That’s our thing.”
Both Ms. Austin and Mr. Otten had been the leads in their previous bands before they met, but now they share the spotlight.
“Basically nobody’s the star. We’re both the stars,” Ms. Austin said. “We were both used to kind of taking the lead so we’ve learned to kind of spar off each other.”
They also had to get used to playing all the instruments themselves and performing without a full band backing them up. Mr. Otten sings and plays the drums, keyboards and bass, while Ms. Austin sings, strums the guitar and does foot percussion.
“It’s like two one-man bands in one,” Mr. Otten said. “This is a whole different approach trying to fill up our sound with just two of us. It’s been a good experiment that’s seemed to work.”
Their music carries an underlying message of hope and optimism, so Ms. Austin said their audience at Invermere MusicFest can expect “a mix of fun, jolly stuff” when Big Little Lions take the stage.
“Even when we’re trying to be kind of deep and moody and stuff, a bit of hope always seeps in there. We’re both pretty happy people so I think that comes through in what we do,” Ms. Austin said.
“Expect a really good party”
In addition to jolly music by Big Little Lions, guests at the waterfront festival are in for loads of great listening, said Clarissa Amaro, one of the event organizers.
“The lineup is probably the best that we’ve ever had,” she said. “People can expect a really good party. This year the focus is really on getting people up and dancing. So from the time those gates open, I don’t think people are going to sit down. They’re going to be out of their seats and shaking their toes and their hips pretty much until the early hours of the morning.”
Guests at Invermere MusicFest will have access to plenty of food and beverage options and retail choices to fuel their dancing with a hospitality garden of vendors on site. Vendors will include: Valhalla Lemonade, Fernie Alpine Springs, DC Donuts, Flipping Crepes Maire, Hungry Rooster, Columbia River Catering, Street Avenue Foods, Cashado Designs, Odland Photography, Arrowhead Brewing Co., Taynton Bay Spirits and Tinhorn Creek Winery.
Early-bird tickets are $55 and are available until Thursday, August 15th. After that, tickets will go up to $65, but Ms. Amaro recommends grabbing an early-bird ticket now and spending the cash you’ll be saving on drinks at the festival.
Tickets for the family-oriented festival, which runs on Friday, August 16th and Saturday, August 17th are on sale online at www.invermeremusicfest.com and will be available at the gate.