It seems fitting that when alt rock outfit Little India comes to Whistler this week, they'll be playing in front of a room full of film and TV executives.
After all, it was one much-lauded film soundtrack that ultimately pushed the band onto its current path.
"Hands down the reason I started getting into electronic music and incorporating it (into our sound) was because of Cliff Martinez's score to Drive," says lead singer Conan Karpinksi of the Palme d'Or nominated flick that stars Ryan Gosling.
Little India is one of 10 B.C. acts taking part in the Whistler Film Festival's (WFF) Music Café, where they will play a 20-minute set of their most cinematic offerings for an audience of TV, film and music professionals looking for the next big hit.
But where the neo-noir trappings of 2011's Drive manifested in a faux-retro score heavily indebted to '80s synth-pop, Little India's cosmopolitan vibe, infused with elements of electronica, indie rock, funk and world music, is a clear reflection of the hodgepodge listening habits of a generation raised on iPods.
"One of our favourite things about playing music is the fact that we are a little explorative," says bassist Andrew Dixon. "We don't consciously try to do different genres, but we've always thought it boring when all of your songs sound the exact same. So we like to dabble and try different things while still keeping the Little India experience."
Since playing their first gig only two years ago, the Langley band, which includes drummer Dallyn Hunt and newest member Tim Morrison on guitar and keys, has enjoyed a whirlwind of momentum that has brought them to some of the country's biggest stages. This year alone they came off a successful tour with Irish rockers Kodaline, played in front of thousands at the Squamish Valley Music Festival and took part in the intensive music boot camp known as the Peak Performance Project — all off the strength of a four-track EP. And while they didn't bring home the $102,700 grand prize, the five weeks they spent honing their craft surrounded by some of the biggest names in Canadian music was an invaluable education.
"It was a wild ride," Dixon says. "You absolutely have to excel to a point musically because you're surrounded by all these talented people who understand so much more than you do about music. It's almost intimidating, but it sets a precedent for yourself and your band for how you should perform and write your music."
Beyond the creative aspect, the experience also helped the young band — both Karpinksi and Dixon are just 22 years old — delve into the less glamorous side of the industry. "We always thought we were pretty business-minded, but this process affirmed certain things we were doing right and it really gave us a kick in the butt for some other things," says Dixon. For the mop-headed Karpinksi, there was another invaluable lesson to be learned: how to dress like a rockstar.
"Before the Peak (Performance Project), I used to wear whatever onstage; I'd wear like pink flamingo shorts and maybe a tank top or something," he says. "I was just having fun playing music like we love to do, but they told us to have a viable dress code when we put on shows just to look a bit more professional. I guess that's common sense, but we never took it as seriously as we did until after that."
The WFF Music Café hits Garf's on Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. For a list of the other performers, visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com/films-and-events/music-café.