Sound is everything when it comes to music. Any artist can put together a compelling group of lyrics, designed to change the way we view life, but if it’s not sung with appealing instrumentals, nobody will listen to it. For example, if you’re singing KISS’s “I Wanna Rock N Roll All Night,” you can’t pair it with polka. Every song has its sound, and it’s up to the musician to figure out what kind of sound will draw audiences in. That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever heard as strange of sounds as the ones heard on “Tiny Ocean,” a debut EP by Dia.
A native of New England, Dia, also known as Danielle Birrittella, is a new artist who plays a mix of experimental indie folk and Baroque pop. She grew up on a Hindu ashram, a type of monastery, singing ceremonial notes and songs. Because of this, she was trained to become an classical opera singer and performed in places throughout Europe and the U.S. She also learned to play the ukulele, an instrument given to her by her brother, and started learning to write her own music. Later, she graduated from New York University and the California Institute of the Arts, throwing herself into what is likely to become a long career in music.
As you can imagine, Dia’s blended background and chosen genres produces some strange sounds. After all, she not only uses the ukulele in her songs, but also electric guitar, the tiple, cellos, drones, and other organic percussion. However, after listening to the three songs on “Tiny Ocean,” I noticed each song has similar styles with different sounds. These sounds were hard to place at first, but over time, I gained a better handle on them.
The EP opens with “Covered In Light,” an interesting, slow-paced song with mystical sounds. I say mystical because it feels so mysterious, like it could accompany a movie trailer where a number of action scenes are going on, but the slower, high-pitched vocals and instrumentals cause things to become more dramatic. Honestly, this song would really work well with breath-taking visuals, especially when the narrator sings about stars, the sky, and the light. Even now, I wonder what inspired this song’s sound—her classical training or her childhood at the ashram? I feel it’s a mix of both, holding such grace and mysticism with each tone.
As the songs change, so do the sounds and the origins of said tones. “Synchronized Swimming” takes full advantage of the ukulele and percussion, creating a melody I can only call Hawaiian. It opens with drum beats that soon mix with the smooth ukulele, bringing my mind straight to an island beach. The narrator sings, “Summertime is coming,” and palm trees sway to the breeze as ocean waves splash against the sand. These visuals are further enhanced by the use of “sea” and “waves” throughout the song, reminding me of Lilo and Stitch. This song is probably my favorite of the three, with peaceful sounds that can lull anyone into a wonderful slumber.
Finally, we move on to the last song, “Tiny Ocean,” which starts with sounds reminiscent of an orchestra preparing their instruments just before a concert. The preparation shifts into what seems to be throat singing, or a drone. As the narrator starts to sing, what we hear is a mixture of Hawaiian and classical music. The vocals and melodies are beautiful, but they also have a depressed tone to them. The drones throughout the song add to these sad sounds. The song talks about love and the narrator talks about surrendering herself to her lover’s embrace, saying, “burn me with your brightness.” This one is the strangest of the three, but it showcases all of Dia’s talents in one song, ending her debut EP swimmingly.
As I said before, sound is everything when it comes to music. It can make you imagine a whole new world with just a few simple tones. At the same time, not everyone will hear the same exact sounds when listening to a song. Dia’s “Tiny Ocean” EP is the perfect example of this. I heard so many unique sounds, but not everyone will hear the same things I did, or imagine the same images. It all depends on who’s listening and what these songs make them feel.