20 Watts

20 Watts Interviews Tiny Masters of Today by 20watts
Tiny Masters of Today may be young, but that's not to say they aren't talented.

Tiny Masters of Today may be young, but that's not to say they aren't talented.

At first glance, Tiny Masters of Today sounds like a typically gimmicky band name.  Then you find out that, at 13 and 15, its two founding members are relatively pretty tiny.  And with their rambunctious, fun-loving brand of punk, they’re well on their way to being masterful, too.

20 Watts’ Jett Wells caught up with Ivan, Ada and Jackson in between sets at the Siren Music Festival in Coney Island on Saturday.  Tiny Masters were one of our most-anticipated sets — and after talking to this hilarious trio, it’s easy to see why.

20W: How long have you guys been playing?

Ivan: Me and (Ada) have been doing this for three or four years, and Jackson has been playing with us for the last two years.

20W: You guys are 13, 15 and 19 years old, respectively. How did you all get to this point?

Ivan: I picked up the guitar when I was 8 or 7 years old.

Ada: I started playing keyboard when I was 8 years old and we just started writing songs and playing music for fun.

20W: Like in your parents’ garage?

Ivan: No, the basement.

20W: At what point did you start playing live shows?

Ivan: The first show we did in 2007 was written up in Newsweek Magazine, and we got a lot of attention from that. And I don’t know. There was the buzz from MySpace too.

20W: How many bands do you know that are like you guys at this level?

Jackson: Not a lot. It’s awesome. I’ve been coming to Siren for the past five or six years. It’s awesome to play here, and especially on such a nice day like today.

20W to Jackson: Are you from Brooklyn like Ada and Ivan? How do you know these guys?

Jackson: These guys? I don’t really know them that well. (He laughs sarcastically). Ivan’s a friend of a friend from another band. They contacted me on MySpace.

Ivan: We just play a lot of the same parties.

20W: Do you guys go to school or not?

Ivan: Jackson graduated already, but Ada and I still go to school. I’m going to be a sophomore in high school and Ada’s in the 8th grade.

20W: How do you guys balance school and work?

Ada: We are pretty careful trying to only perform on school holidays. It’s pretty hard though.

Ivan: Yeah, we try to miss as little school as possible.

20W: Yeah, but it still happens, right?

Ivan: Yeah, but only like five days a year.

20W: In your first album, Bang Bang Boom Cake, you worked with big names like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kimya Dawson. How did that happen?

Ivan: Our former drummer Russell (Simins from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) was just really connected. He was just a New York guy and knew everyone, including Karen.

20W: Well, that’s pretty awesome. What was it like working with her?

Ivan: It was pretty cool. It was like woah!

Jackson: Were you excited? I was excited.

Ivan: Karen’s really nice. She’s my bro.

Ada: Your bro?

Ivan: My bro!

20W: So what do all of your parents think of this band?

Ivan: I mean, they’re supportive.

Jackson: Yeah. I used to play in another band, and they liked that one, because I played with my brother. They also like this one, because they like these two (pointing at Ada and Ivan). They’re parents. My mom isn’t too fond of Ada.

Ada: Your mom loves me!

20W: What’s it like playing big shows like this? Is it daunting at all?

Ivan: Usually we play small shows, but have done some big shows before, like Lollapalooza last summer. We also did a festival with Paramore.

Jackson: That was pretty weird.

20W: What are the pressures of being such a young band playing alongside famous veteran groups?

Ivan: I don’t even really consider myself that skilled of a guitar player. Sometimes it’s really nerve-racking, like when we played with the Raconteurs. Jack White is a pretty good guitar player.

20W: What are your favorite parts of being rock stars?

Jackson: The food.

Ada: I like traveling. I don’t like the actually traveling part, but I like being there.

Jackson: Yeah, so food, traveling and experiencing the cultures.

20W: What’s it like being rock stars and not being able to party like rock stars?

Ivan: In England, Jackson can party. He parties hard there.

Jackson: That’s true, so I don’t even remember it.  It’s pretty much like a big family trip. We just watch movies in the van with the parents. There’s great family loving.

20W: Do kids at your schools know about the band?

Ada: Some of my friends are here, but the rest don’t really care. It’s not like a big deal.

Ivan: Yeah, but 12-year-olds haven’t heard of us.

20W: Where do you guys see yourselves in ten years?

Ivan: It’s hard to tell. It’s so far in the future. I have to finish high school and I’d like to go to college. We’re going to keep it on a day-to-day basis.

— Jett Wells


“Jack White is a pretty good guitar player.” haha
great interview!

Comment by carlywolkoff

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