After conquering TikTok, the American trio Tiny Habits is now defending its first album on a North American tour. The band will be at the Montreal International Jazz Festival on June 30.
A meeting worthy of a sitcom, a bond worthy of a love song and a journey worthy of a fabulous novel: this is how we could sum up Tiny Habits in a few words.
But that would be to forget its main attribute: voices. Voices so sublime that they are charming the whole world. Tiny Habits is still in its infancy, but thanks to social networks, we know its name (and its voices) everywhere.
So much so that the trio took part in singer Lizzie Macalpine’s Tiny Desk session, opened for Gracie Abrams, just released a six-song EP, Tiny Things, and are now starting their own tour. “None of that seems real,” Judah Mayowa, seated to the left of his bandmates, Maya Rae and Cinya Khan, said in a videoconference interview. “We can’t quite believe we’re going to play in these venues, that it’s going to be our own shows. »
And yet, there is no doubt that their sweet pop-folk has already touched many hearts. There is something very comforting, easy to approach and soft in their refined style, focused on harmonies, their great strength. Each wrote their own songs on the disc, which the others appropriated. Tiny Habits sings with one voice.
When asked how they would describe their sound, everyone does their part to get a picture that is as wacky as it is accurate. “It’s like you’re wearing a soft onesie, sitting by the fire,” Cinya said. “And there’s a disco ball on the ceiling,” Judah adds. As well as hot cookies. “Oh and your favorite animals surround you,” Maya continues. ” Yes ! Furry friends. A bunny or two, probably,” Judah chimed in again.
Everyone burst out laughing. Something in the energy they give off makes it immediately clear how tightly woven the trio is. It hasn’t been that long, about two years, that they’ve been friends. But to see them, seated against each other on an armchair, dressed in the same sweater, and to hear them talk about each other, we suspect that beyond the bond created by the music, their friendship is deep.
When Judah, Maya and Cinya first met in a dorm room at Berklee University in Boston, they sang together for hours. It was the spring of 2021. Cinya posted an Instagram story asking Berklee students how to operate the dorm’s malfunctioning toilet roll holder. Maya wrote back, and the two women met. She had already planned a meeting with Judah, also a student at the time, to sing together and ended up inviting Cinya to join them.
Once they found each other, they never let go. Their voices mesh and complement each other in a way they call “magical.” And as long as they spent their time singing together, they started a band: Tiny Habits.
“I played music with a lot of people,” says Maya, who is originally from Vancouver. But with those two, the first time I sang with them, I was like, “Oh my God, they’re amazing!” I’m a fan of them as a vocalist. And by dint of singing together, we were able to be more and more creative, we have so much fun. It’s hard to explain, but every time we sing together, I feel this feeling of comfort. »
Her friends stick to her a little more, Judah hugs her. Cinya adds, “There is also the fact that the music school experience can be very competitive. But with them, it’s for fun. We collaborate, we like to do that together. »
Once Tiny Habits formed, the trio recorded themselves and shared their videos where they covered popular songs. Without expecting too much, it receives many positive comments.
Today, his most popular cover videos on TikTok are 4.4 million (Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, featured on his EP), 1.3 million (The 1975’s Somebody Else), and 1.2 million (Paper Kites Bloom) likes.
This rise, which took place very quickly (as often on social networks), raised some pressure. “It can feel like an obligation to post because you know there are people waiting — which in itself is wonderful,” Cinya says.
The trio, although in their twenties, has a very rich musical experience. Cinya and Judah have already graduated from Berklee, while Maya is finishing her degree.
All three have a passion, but also a predestination for music. When they recount their childhood memories, everyone remembers having listened to music forever. Judah’s mother, aunts and uncles are musicians. He thought for a while about a career in basketball, but his passion for music largely won out. Maya started in jazz singing. She performed in jazz clubs, sang in the streets with her cousin, studied music in high school. “I wasn’t planning on going to school next if it wasn’t Berklee,” she smiles. As for Cinya, she remembers that there was always music playing in the background at home when she was a child. “It’s become my way of expressing myself,” she said simply.
As talented as they are determined, the three companions pursue this dream born so long ago. They hadn’t planned it, but rather than living it alone, they now share this life with their closest friends. “I couldn’t do it without them,” Judah says, as Cinya and Maya hug again. I have two people with me who are going through the same thing and on whom I can count. It makes it all so much easier, so much better. »