When you listen to Tiny Deaths’ new EP, feel free to think about the Casablanca Lily. Or maybe the Evening Primrose, the Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus, or any other flower that blooms in darkness. Those types of flora motivated local singer-songwriter Claire de Lune while she and producer Grant Cutler carved out their new release, Night Flowers.
“I’m inspired by heartache — I think going through tumult and adversity, like a breakup or the death of a friend, can break you,” de Lune says of the four-song EP due out February 19. “So I think the idea of blooming or blossoming in adversity, in a dark time and letting it open you up and let you grow [was] a metaphor that resonated with me.”
De Lune took the horticulture theme a step further when writing “The Gardener." The single's lush bassline underscores de Lune’s perspective, singing from the point of view of a "bad boy" cultivating a relationship despite having “no green thumbs.”
“It’s helpful for me to try to, even beyond songwriting, to try and imagine things from someone else’s perspective,” de Lune says. “I found myself drawn to these people — toxic, narcissistic personality disorder-type of people — in relationships. Writing a song from someone else’s perspective is helpful for me, as far as understanding how their mind works.”
Most of Tiny Deaths’ growth is found in de Lune’s lyricism on Night Flowers, while Cutler’s signature, sparse electronics add the same minimalistic pop sheen to her melancholy softness.
Unlike 2014’s pop-perfect “Ocean” single, the new tunes take more inspiration from de Lune’s experiences improvising music with her Tiny Deaths live bandmates — Aaron Baum, Jared Isabella, and Ben Clark. They met at the now-defunct Belmore/New Skyway Lounge’s “Year of the Horse” improv music night just as Cutler and de Lune began producing the first Tiny Deaths material.
“Pop songs come really naturally to me,” de Lune says. “I love hooks; I love the stuff that grabs you and sticks in your head. But I’m also a songwriting nerd and I love experimental music. I do a lot of experimental improv in my spare time.”
The band will return to their improv roots this Saturday at the Walker Art Center’s Winter of Love event, for which they’ll be playing an entire improvised set after their regular set. The pioneering artists of Joshua Light Show will create psychedelic, liquid lighting on the spot to backdrop Tiny Deaths’ haunting sound. The Winter of Love show is serving as the release party for Night Flowers.
Cutler, who's been based in Brooklyn since Tiny Deaths' debut EP came out in 2014, flew back to Minneapolis to produce de Lune’s vocals on Night Flowers. He won’t be at the Walker show, but de Lune says the distance between the core members doesn't affect their collaboration.
“It’s electronic music, so it lends itself well to a long-distance thing,” de Lune says. “I’m kind of a solitary writer anyway. I feel really connected to Grant’s style, and the music he makes has always spoken to me, so that’s the important thing.”
Winter of Love
What: Celebration of Walker Art Center's Hippie Modernism exhibit
With: Tiny Deaths, Joshua Light Show, planetarium projections, trippy '60s and '70s films, ecosexual walking tour, group meditations, and more
When: 2 p.m.-2 a.m., Feb. 13-14
Where: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Tickets: Free; more info here.