BTD Interviews Little Incursions
Written by Matt Zin on May 20, 2023
BTD Interviews Little Incursions
BTD: Hello Little Incursions band!
I am so excited to interview you and learn more about your music. Before we do that, I am going to provide our BTD listeners with a little background of where you are from. The Little Incursions band is from the land down under, Australia. I like saying that, it reminds me of the band Men at Work who sung about the land down under. Oh sorry, I just got side tracked, lol. I hope it’s ok for me to say the land down under, do Australians get offended by that saying? I don’t know many Australians so correct me now if it’s not the right thing to say.
Peggy: Hello BTD listeners! No it’s not offensive to say down under. I think after Australia won the America’s Cup in 1980 a lot of people heard Men at Work’s song and the association for Aussies stuck, like kangaroos and koalas ha ha.
BTD: Ok, I am back on track now, this fabulous duo band was formed by Peggy van Zalm, singer/guitarist and Mark Jago, bass player and producer. Alright, we now have the basics out the way. I have lots of questions for you, so let’s get started.
So, how did the two of you meet? Was it through some kind of music connection, or have you known each other through school, or something else? Time to spill the beans, inquiring BTD’ers want to know.
Mark: I was working in Post Production in London. On my return to Australia one of the first jobs I did was some work on a clip for a band Peggy used to be in. I kept a copy of the master on a reel which I discovered again in 2018. I couldn’t find the clip on YouTube so I put up a Facebook post asking people if anyone knew of anyone who played in Martha’s Vineyard. Pete Timmerman, a drummer, tagged Peggy who responded with ‘Yes, I know someone who played in that band.’ Peggy now has a broadcast copy of the clip and Pete Timmerman played drums on the album.
Peggy and I started communicating and after behaving like two dogs sniffing each other we accidentally started writing.
BTD: The name of your band is Little Incursions, I got to say, I love the name. When I saw your entry to have your music aired on BTD Radio, I thought… great name! Can you tell us what is behind the name and how did you come up with it?
Mark: Thank you! An incursion is a brief attack. Songs are typically brief and some have the ability to invade our minds. Collectively an album could therefore be seen as a collection of little incursions.
BTD: As a duo band, how do you collaborate and work together to create your music?
Peggy: As we live 500km apart, our writing and recording process for the album was almost completely a ping-ponging process of sending files across the net. We’ve tried to be quite balanced with who starts a song, although sometimes a song will just decide it’s in the mix. This happened with “See” which had a previous incarnation with a totally different adapted melody. We gave it a new title and kept the original lyric and the original melody. We did add a new ending which is a change of chords and tempo that came about spontaneously while we were playing it. It was a stand alone from the rest of the batch in that we were actually in the same town for that one. We were in Tamworth mixing as we thought we had finished all the songs for the album. In the evenings we would wind down by playing guitar and bass together for recreation. We loved how the song came together and ended up including it.
Mark: Typically one of us comes up with an idea.
It may be a piece of music, a lyric, a melody or even an atmosphere. It gets passed back and forth between us until the song is revealed.
BTD: How has your music evolved since you first started making music together?
Mark: It’s really just an exploration of colours which change over time.
Peggy: It continues to be a discovery process. The music is something we’ve enjoyed dipping into. It’s primarily about showing respect to the process of creativity. As a collaboration it’s been an amazing demonstration of how songs can unfold without a sense of an individual trying to consciously direct anything. It’s a lot about giving things space and seeing what each one “catches” and then offering that up to the other. If you’re open the unexpected will come play with you and you have this lovely sense of surprise when it’s done.
BTD: Before we get into your new single, “Home”, who were your musical influences and why? Do you think you sound like your influences? Have you grabbed any traits from your musical influences and used them in your own music?
Peggy: I was happy to diverge into the electronic realm which was different for me and it was practical too, given the physical distance between us and the tools we had access to. As we both have a strong visual arts background it seems natural our approach has been a blend of visual and musical languages. Overall I think it’s healthier to let the listeners find their own references rather than dictate any associations though.
Mark: I don’t think we have any specific influences. The world of music is vast and you just draw from experiences. Australia has vast physical landscapes and they are more a source of inspiration than any musical identity.
BTD: I love your new single, “Home.” It debuted on March 23, 2023. It’s laid back, sensual but also has a dark tone to it as well. Could you tell our BTD listener’s what that song is about and who wrote it?
Mark: Peggy and I were talking about childhood days when you were allowed to do anything after coming home from school as long as you were home before dark. Darkness was threatening and ‘bad’ things could happen. In reality darkness is fine and comforting and real threats were never discussed.
Peggy: I loved how the phrase “be home before dark” set the scene and lyrically I just embellished the idea. It can of course have a much wider application personally and universally if you take it to be about humanity as a whole and where we are socially, politically and spiritually.
BTD: Is there a favorite lyric in that song that resonates with you more than the rest?
Peggy: “Now I see your light always shining, shining on what’s really going on.”
BTD: I watched the music video for “Home” it’s very intriguing, can you tell us more about this video?
Peggy: Mark spearheads the video side of things and he had the inspiration to do the shoot. There’s a lot of intrigue and mystique and I love that about it. Lots of childhood symbols and esoteric references as well. I also like that it’s predominantly about the natural world and ultimately that’s our common source as much as we as a civilization tend to put ourselves apart from it.
Mark: I shot the video in Barrington Tops, which is a World Heritage National Park 3.5 hours from Sydney. I had a small farm there and the locations we used were places I’d walk through or swim. A stunning natural environment that holds a special place in my heart.
BTD: It sounds like “Home” is the debut single for a new album that is coming out. Well, you know our BTD listeners want to know more about this album. What can we expect to hear from this album? How many tracks are going to be on it. Can BTD listeners be one of the first to hear it when it comes out?
Mark: It’s an 11 track album that we hope to release in July or August. I’m in the process of selling my house, so it’s all about juggling at the moment!
Peggy: At one point the debut was going to be a double album as we had seventeen songs at the end of our songwriting stint. However after much consideration we’ve honed it down to one album so we could get more of a distilled mood for the first release. It could be considered dark but it’s high energy and as a single album it’s now easier to digest than the whole banquet would have been. We will definitely be sharing it with you all once it comes out, thanks for asking.
BTD: Walk me through what I would see or hear during a Little Incursions recording session? Would it be more like, let’s get a few songs done and go home or is there a sense of no rush, if we only get one song done today, that’s cool?
Peggy: The recording process was something that got refined over time, same as the songwriting. It was another part of the discovery for me and we’d start to see what were best practices the further we went along. I recorded all my keys and vocals at my place. Mark took on the production role early and was experimenting with rough mixes then he would send what he’d done across to me to see how I liked it. He was already consolidating the sound of Little Incursions right from the beginning; we just didn’t realise it till later.
Mark: Yes, the recording process is a slow burn really. I’ll start by recording bass and drums and add Peggy’s vocals to it. I’ll then add any of my backing vocals, Peggy’s keyboards and once we finalise the structure we’ll then start adding guitars. The live drums are the last thing we record which is the complete opposite to what typically occurs in the recording process.
BTD: Ok work with me on this one, let’s go on an imaginary journey… it’s about release time for your new album and it’s time to tell the world about it…which up to this point… it’s probably not to imaginary. Anyway, there’s this guy he’s a death metal fan and he approaches you and say’s hey, Little Incursions “what’s your music about?” Now over to you , Little Incursions what would you tell this death metal rocker fan about your music? Your goal is to win him over, and get him to listen to your music.
Mark: Well he’s probably going to hate it which is fine! There’s always the possibility he or she comes home after a gig and sits down in a blurred state of mind that’s open to other sounds and landscapes.
Peggy: Ha ha. I agree I wouldn’t expect it would be something of a mainstay for a diehard metal fan. Maybe if they had another side to them they could sit and chill and be taken to some other place listening to some of the tracks.
BTD: Other than working on your new album release which I know is a lot, what are your plans for the future for Little Incursions?
Mark: Lots more songwriting and recording!
Possible live work if there is any interest in us doing that.
BTD: If you could collaborate with any musician or band, who would it be and why?
Mark: Steve Marriott, but that won’t be happening any time soon. He just had an incredible voice. And Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl.
BTD: Finally, where can fans find your music and keep up with your latest updates and releases?
Mark and Peggy: At the moment the best place is www.facebook.com/littleincursions our Little Incursions Facebook page, We also have a YouTube https://youtube.com/@littleincursions and Little Incursions Bandcamp page https://littleincursions.bandcamp.com/track/home Plus the usual streamers are the best places.
BTD: We are at the end of our interview, any last words to share with us?
Peggy: Thanks Dawn and BTD it’s been fun and thanks to the BTD listeners! See you soon.