In the mid-‘90s, Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins fame developed an intense relationship with singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. The two were in love with each other’s voices and that naturally led to the recording of the never-released duet “All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun.”
Meanwhile in 2017, Erik Carlson—the synth pop mastermind behind the long-running DoublePlusGood—“had just watched a documentary on Jeff Buckley that mentioned the collaboration between Buckley and Liz Fraser, and how it wasn't ever officially released,” he tells. Already in talks with the moody electropop duo Small Million about a joint tour, “I instantly thought of [Small Million singer] Malachi Graham's voice, and thought it would be fun to work on a cover song that didn't have a definitive version to be compared to. I really love the lyrical content too; it's such a compassionate song.”
"Erik brought the track to us, and I loved it immediately,” Graham says. “The way that Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals fit together on the original is unexpected and transcendent, and I could instantly hear how it would work with Erik and my voices. We were really excited about taking this beautiful, unfinished song and making it our own, channeling it through our lens and polishing the production until it shone.”
Plus, “a collaborative track would be way fun to perform together on the road,” Carlson continues. The suggestion was well received by all parties, so the three met at Small Million soundscape producer Ryan Linder’s house to record vocals and workshop the demos they’d developed individually.
As Small Million’s “first cover and collaboration with someone outside the group,” Linder reveals, the track came together very naturally and “a lot faster than I expected. Plus it was definitely inspiring to work off and incorporate Erik's musical aesthetic. Another first was working with Brock Grenfell (of Gold Casio) on the final polish and input in the process. The man is a wizard of an engineer!”
The two groups will kick off their West Coast tour together on Tuesday, September 5 at Mississippi Studios (where they’ll also celebrate the release of Small Skies’ sophomore record Build), and if you follow along on Instagram, you can likely hear some of Graham’s other countrified, Americana side.
“I’ve been pushing for lots of acoustic country duets on tour,” Carlson laughs. Yet, Graham affirms: “I can’t wait to sing some country duets with Erik on our downtime on tour!"