Fourth time is a charm for this year's Tiny Desk Contest winner Singer Emma Hardyman and her husband, Nathan Hardyman, who plays bass in the six-person band Little Moon, talk about winning this year's Tiny Desk Contest.

Fourth time is a charm for this year's Tiny Desk Contest winner

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Nearly 6,000 artists entered this year's Tiny Desk contest, and the judges have chosen one winner - a band from Springville, Utah, called Little Moon.


LITTLE MOON: (Singing) Count up on fingers all my days to the minute.

SHAPIRO: Their song "Wonder Eye" starts small and intimate before it bursts wide open.


LITTLE MOON: (Singing) To where we are and where we go, wonder I, wonder I.

SHAPIRO: That voice belongs to Emma Hardyman, who also plays guitar. Her husband, Nathan Hardyman, plays bass in the six-person band. Emma and Nathan, congratulations, and welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

EMMA HARDYMAN: Oh, Ari Shapiro...


E HARDYMAN: ...Thank you.

SHAPIRO: This is your band's fourth time entering the contest. So how did it feel this year to get that call saying, congratulations, Little Moon is the winner?

E HARDYMAN: Ooh. Yeah. I got, like, shivers down my spine again, like it's all happening again when you're saying that. I felt so surprised, honestly. I just felt like I was used to not winning (laughter). So winning came as a really big shock to my system and just - again, just entering this new realm that I've never considered exploring before.

SHAPIRO: What do you mean, this new realm?

E HARDYMAN: Oh, you know, like, attention.



E HARDYMAN: Like, a lot of attention.

N HARDYMAN: Being seen by people.

E HARDYMAN: Specifically being seen by NPR. Like, when you have a group of people that I think are amazing say that you're amazing, it's like (vocalizing) this whole other realm.

N HARDYMAN: It's like your crush likes you back.

E HARDYMAN: Yes. It is like a crush...

SHAPIRO: Like your crush likes you back - that is such a good description.

E HARDYMAN: (Laughter) Yes, it's just really exciting. It's like, you like me? 'Cause I like you, too.

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about the song you submitted, "Wonder Eye."


LITTLE MOON: (Singing) To where we are and where we go, wonder I, wonder I. And when I go, I'll give my all to the sky, to the sky, wonder I...

SHAPIRO: It goes through really distinct phases. Can you tell us about how it took shape?

E HARDYMAN: Yeah. So "Wonder Eye" was started during our time helping my mother-in-law with hospice. Soon after she passed is when Nathan wrote the lyrics. "Wonder Eye" incorporates the idea of multiple deaths. I think it took the physical death to help us realize that, like, death is really happening all the time, be it past versions of ourselves, old-held beliefs, old judgments, even. And to that extent, we're always grieving as well, which was also kind of eye-opening.

SHAPIRO: You talk about multiple kinds of deaths, including old-held beliefs. I know you were both raised in the Mormon Church and both leaving it around the time you wrote this song. How did that factor into the art that you created?

N HARDYMAN: It factored in a huge way. Not only was I processing the death of my mom, but the tools that I'd been taught to use to make sense of death were no longer as relevant to me. So my belief system, which once was very clear about this is what happens when you die, and this is what you can - you know, you can expect to see your family again exactly as they were - like, I was no longer as certain about that.


LITTLE MOON: (Singing) Is it a tale that we make true in the telling? Hmm. Hmm. Is there a knowledge that is found not in knowing? Hmm.

N HARDYMAN: So the lyrics to the song are really a reminder for me to sit with that uncertainty because my instinct is to replace uncertainty with something that doesn't upset us so much. But accepting uncertainty, accepting ambiguity, making peace with the mystery of life and death - I think that can be a really healing thing to do simply because life is so uncertain.

SHAPIRO: It's this lovely lyric - is there a knowledge that is found not in knowing?

N HARDYMAN: Yeah, I mean, I don't know anything. So, I mean, it...

E HARDYMAN: We don't know if we're talking to you right now, Ari.


SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

N HARDYMAN: But, yeah, there's, like, a lot of things that I once, quote-unquote, "knew" I don't know anymore. And I don't know if I will ever know. Knowing that is a step toward finding acceptance and peace with the mystery of life.

SHAPIRO: Is there something paradoxical about taking all of that uncertainty, that not knowing, that grief and channeling it into something that becomes a definitive winner? There's like...


SHAPIRO: You know, like, well, you know you won the Tiny Desk contest with this song about not knowing.

N HARDYMAN: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, 'cause I know I've been taught in my life that, if you want to win, you got to know stuff...


SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

N HARDYMAN: ...You know? And you got to be good at stuff and, like - so, you know, the impostor syndrome is striking hard right now because I don't know things. And I can tell myself, like, well, I'm not even that good at playing bass or playing guitar. Like, I can really get in my head sometimes. But, yeah, making peace with whatever comes my way - that's what I want to do.

E HARDYMAN: Yeah. No. Yeah. It'll get you famous.


SHAPIRO: For past Tiny Desk contest winners, this moment has been a real career turning point. And so if the previous phase of your career was being local and appreciated by a few, what do you want to bring to the wider audience that you are about to reach through the Tiny Desk concert you're going to perform at NPR headquarters, through the Tiny Desk contest on the road tour that you're going to take in June - like, what are you hoping to offer?

E HARDYMAN: I guess, to stick with the theme, I'm hoping to just offer my humanity and my sincerity. I used to be really ashamed, perhaps, of being a little, you know, frazzled or a little messy. And even my hair can be pretty messy. And that's what I want to present to, I guess, the world at large - is simply my humanity and doing my best to celebrate what it means to just simply be human.

N HARDYMAN: If I can bring that sort of acceptance to myself and also project it outward into the world, I would count that as a success.


LITTLE MOON: (Vocalizing).

SHAPIRO: Nathan and Emma Hardyman of the band Little Moon. They're this year's Tiny Desk contest winners. They're going to play their Tiny Desk concert soon, and you can catch them on the road headlining the annual Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour starting in June.

Emma and Nathan, it's been so good talking to you. Thank you.

E HARDYMAN: Thank you, Ari.

N HARDYMAN: Thank you.


LITTLE MOON: (Singing) Like a circle...

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