With their signature “crunchy” sound and rich vocals that seamlessly blend together before branching into purposefully dissonant harmonies, Tiny Habits has gained a strong following on TikTok, with over 278,000 followers and 3 million likes since the group posted its first cover video in February 2021.
A collaboration between musicians and Berklee College of Music students Cinya Khan, Maya Rae and Judah Mayowa, the band officially formed in early 2022. Their repertoire spans genres, from contemporary indie and R&B to ’90s and 2000s pop and rock.
The band typically films their videos in their dorm building, often from one of their rooms or in a stairwell, gathered close to the camera propped up on the floor with just their three voices and a guitar. This stripped-down acoustic sound and intimate, cozy vibe has become their central aesthetic. But within the stripped-down sound, the group consistently weaves intricate harmonies in an arrangement process that comes easily to the group, Mayowa told The Herald.
“We naturally fall into our parts,” he said. “Most of the time Cinya is gonna sing the melody because she’s playing guitar, then Maya will take the higher part and I’ll take the lower.”
Once the base harmonies have been established, the band circles back to add complexity and their signature “crunch,” Mayowa said.
“There's a lot of arrangements that we put a lot of work into,” Rae added, noting that her favorite of the band’s covers is still the first one they posted, of “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson.
In a short span of time — the group celebrated their one-year “hab-iversary” in early February — Tiny Habits has garnered high-profile attention and collaborations. Last May, David Crosby – famous for the success of his own trio Crosby, Stills and Nash – tweeted that the band was “the best new singing group” he had heard. They were recently tapped by former Berklee student Lizzy McAlpine to perform at her Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music, and opened for Ingrid Michaelson on several of her tour dates in the fall.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the group’s success is their work-school balance: On top of the band’s rising stardom, Rae and Khan are still students at Berklee. Both are majoring in professional music with concentrations in songwriting — as well as a second concentration in music business and music production, respectively.
While the band has previously performed on a smaller scale, their tour with Gracie Abrams beginning next month will be their biggest yet and the most time they’ve ever spent away from school.
“Berklee has been super helpful and our professors are all aware that we’re going,” Rae told The Herald. “They're all just gonna help us figure it out while we’re on the road.”
Khan explained that her coursework and band experiences have significant overlap. “I think it's definitely valuable to be in school and still doing (professional music),” she said. “I think there’s always more to learn.”
When asked about their future aspirations, Rae said the band is not thinking too far ahead. “Obviously (we are) making sure we graduate, but I think ideally we’re just making records and touring, and collabing with people we want to collab with,” she told The Herald.
Currently, Tiny Habits has four original songs released on streaming platforms. Their first single, “pennies (voice memo),” showcases the band in their most natural setting: acoustic guitar with tight three-part vocals. Their second single, “hemenway,” is more heavily produced while still maintaining the same familiar and cozy vibes.
Alongside the beloved dissonance and skillfully crafted group harmonies, “pennies (voice memo)” and “hemenway” offer something especially exceptional: All three voices are highlighted individually, giving fans a chance to hear each member’s talent — not only as a group but as artists in their own right.
The band’s most recent release, “Embers,” comes from the soundtrack of the new Netflix film “Your Place or Mine.” Two versions of the track — one as heard in the movie as well as an acoustic rendition — were released a week ahead of the film’s Feb. 10 release.
The director of the film reached out to the band last spring with the track, asking them to sing it after seeing their videos on TikTok, Rae told the Herald. “We flew to L.A. in May, recorded it in a quick little trip and the rest is history.”
And the band has plans to release more music, with a new EP —which has yet to be formally announced — coming soon.
“We just went to L.A. for three weeks and we whipped out an EP, so that’s gonna be coming pretty soon,” Mayowa told The Herald, adding that the EP is his favorite accomplishment for the band so far. “We’re very proud of it.”
Campbell Loi, a contributing writer and copy editor for The Herald, is a sophomore from Syracuse, NY studying public health. Loi considers herself "a major music nerd" and enjoys performing, arranging and listening to all kinds of songs in her free time.