Small Million Celebrate the Joy of Solitude on 'Lone': Premiere

Kale Chesney
Small Million

Malachi Graham is technically not alone in Small Million; The Portland electro pop duo is, after all, a full-time partnership with Ryan Linder. But Graham is, in fact, singing about the concept in "Lone," which premieres below from the group's upcoming sophomore EP Young Fools.

"I was interested in the idea of solitude and particularly voluntary solitude," Graham tells Billboard. "There's a line in the song that sort of repeats, 'I'm not alone.' I wanted to play with the difference between 'alone' and loneliness and choosing to be alone, like being a lone wolf as a choice to create solitude rather than solitude as something to be avoided. That's really interesting to me."

Small Million created Young Fools in a kind of solitude, in fact. Graham and Linder repaired to a beach house in Oceanside, Ore., owned by Graham's grandmother for weekend retreats to write songs, reveling in how productive they could be away from the city. "We started to take more weekend writing retreats and hole up out in the Oregon coast [to find the] sound we were looking for and just escape from the world," Graham says. "It's harder when you're immersed in life in the city. So getting out of town and getting away from the stresses. And interestingly a lot of lyrics on this EP end up being about distraction and how to create space away from it." The situation offered Graham and Linder an opportunity to re-evaluate and tweak all the material, including "Lone."

"The original instrumentation of the track was kind of melancholy," Graham recalls. "Listening to it more we realized that the tone of the lyrics is really more joyful and upbeat. It was exciting for us to have a song about being in solitude. It's not a bummer, so we didn't want the song to be a bummer so we really picked up the tempo and filled out the arrangement more to bed what it is now."

Coming two years after Small Million's first EP, Young Fools also benefits from the time the two have spent together, as well as additional gear and different collaborators. "It had to do with utilizing the resources around us to really give it our all and make the best music possible," Linder says. "Not that we weren't interested in that on the first EP, but on this one we're taking it a lot more seriously. I got a whole bunch of new gear. The songs were compositionally there, so we took a lot of time to make sure we were happy with the way they sounded." Small Million is accompanying Young Fools with an extensive campaign of videos and social media complements.

"We have this cohesive vision of what we want to put out that's a good representation of where we're coming from," Linder says. "We're so excited that everything met the standards that we weren't able to 100 percent achieve or devote the time to for the first one."

Small Million is already spending some time working on its next release, according to the duo. The productive beach house sessions are continuing -- "We've never actually put our toes in the sand, even once," Graham reports -- and Linder feels confident more music will come quicker than the gap between the group's first two EPs.

"What we've been creating has been coming faster and faster," Linder says. "We get together now and instantly know when we're writing a melody what the other is going to respond to. It's just a lot easier. With the first EP it took us a while to find our footing and figure out exactly what the vision was we both wanted to achieve. We've got it now, so I would say no, we won't have to wait as long for the next (release)."