Lizzy McAlpine Taps Berklee Band for Tiny Desk Harmonies
"When Lizzy told us that all she'd need for her Tiny Desk concert were some microphones and a few acoustic guitars, I was surprised," wrote NPR's Tiny Desk concert producer Bob Boilen in the intro to this week's installment, saying he was "curious and eager to hear her rise to the challenge of our intimate setting." Spoiler: McAlpine ’20 rose to that challenge handily. But to hear those harmonies fill up that D.C. office space, it's probably better to describe the performance as a kind of floating. Accompanied by Tiny Habits, a vocal-driven trio that formed at Berklee in early 2022, McAlpine's indie-rock–tinged folk songs take on a cozy-sweater quality that's just right for early November, while the arrangements still carry a level of harmonic complexity you'd expect from Berklee-trained musicians who have grasped the world of possibilities beyond simple thirds and fifths.
Featuring Judah Mayowa and current students Cinya Khan and Maya Rae, Tiny Habits made immediate waves on TikTok early this year with their striking bite-sized covers of artists ranging from Kelly Clarkson to the 1975 to McAlpine herself. These videos regularly rack up hundreds of thousands of views and sometimes more than a million. They've also been featured in Berklee's Two Track video series, and this fall they opened for jazz singer Melody Gardot at the Berklee Performance Center, Berklee's biggest stage.
McAlpine said she met the band over Instagram around a year ago. Since then, they've performed together in a handful of TikToks, including this gorgeous cover of "The Gold" by Manchester Orchestra. When it was time to prepare to play a Tiny Desk set ("literally a dream come true" McAlpine said), she knew the trio could lend a distinctive sound to songs that had received a more full-band treatment on her most recent album, five seconds flat. "I just wanted it to be more intimate, and they definitely help with that," she said. "And they're also very, very talented."
Watch Lizzy McAlpine's full Tiny Desk Concert, featuring Tiny Habits: