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Music Chats: Tulliah

Emerging onto the music scene in 2019 with the release of her debut single Company; rising singer-songwriter Tulliah is back with her brand new single, and first release of the year, Distant Dreams. The latest example of her sound and artistry, Distant Dreams brings us further into her sonic world with gentle up-tempo pop-led melodies, and honest song-writing and lyricism. And Alongside the new single, Tulliah also announced the forthcoming release of her debut EP Fre$h Hugs, set to drop later this year. Hailing from Victoria, Australia, Tulliah has been firmly placing her mark on the industry; balancing a blend of intimacy and richness through her powerful pop music. Ahead of the new release, we caught up with Tulliah to chat about Distant Dreams, the past year, and her musical journey so far.

TSU: Let’s start by talking about your brand new single Distant Dreams. Where did that record come from, and what was the creative process like?

TULLIAH: I started writing Distant Dreams on the piano around a year and a half ago. Like most of my songs at that time, it started as a piano ballad with a big climatic bridge. Pretty much all of the songs that I loved were guitar based, so we tried switching the piano. Dean Tuza (producer), my friend Sean and I jammed it out in the recording room with just guitar, piano and light percussion on the drums. It felt like we were heading in the right direction from the start. Seems we had the basics down like the tempo, key, structure and main instruments, it was just a matter of building it from there. But making sure we don’t lose the feeling it had when we were jamming it in the studio.

TSU: Such a stunning name for the record; how did you settle on Distant Dreams as the track title?

TULLIAH: I was given an old upright piano from my beautiful friend and my parents were moving one of their paintings to the top of the piano. My Mum read out the title that was on the back of it, which was “Distant Dreams”. It was the first word I sang when writing the song and was the word that sparked the idea, so it felt fitting 🙂

TSU: Can you tell us a bit about the key themes behind the record?

TULLIAH: The main theme is pretty much ‘dreams’. At the time I wrote it, I had been doing a lot of local gigs and busking for a while. I was feeling a bit lost because I really wanted to pursue music but had no clue how to further my career and also started to believe it was something I couldn’t do – a dream/goal that is too big to reach. This song flowed out of me pretty easy. It was clear as soon as I started, that I was drawing emotion from that feeling of doubt. 

TSU: What were you wanting to achieve and say as an artist with this record?

TULLIAH: I wish there was a special message behind the song but I’m just saying what was on my mind haha. The song is pretty much sung from a perspective as if I’m in a dream, where everything is good, my goals are achieved and all my problems are solved. At the time when I wrote it I thought that my goals weren’t achievable but then I realised if you put your mind to it, anyone can do anything. I guess that’s the message actually, just go for it.

TSU: How does Distant Dreams compare to your previous release Just My Type (A Little Bit Lonely).

TULLIAH: Dean and I were conscious not to be constricted in songwriting / production and style throughout the entire process. Instead focusing on the ethos that ‘a good song can transcend genre’. 

To make sure we maintained continuity between songs we made sure that the vocals were leading the listener – letting them be the tour guide. When the vocals weren’t leading, something else would take its place. Dean had a beautiful mic called a Vintage RCA77, which had a lovely warm tone to it. Artists like Etta James and Frank Sinatra used to use it. It was all processed through a vintage chain which consisted of a Neve / Universal Audio. I feel like both tracks are pretty different individually but when they are put next to each other, the resemblance shines through.

TSU: Tell us a bit about your experience as an emerging artist, especially during these crazy and unprecedented times?

TULLIAH: So far my experience as an emerging artist has been really good. My manager Damien Platt has always made sure I’m set up to work with genuine people and I feel like without that my experience would have been a whole lot different. Obviously there have been some difficulties but I think if I make sure I am surrounded by good people, it’s the key to making this journey heaps easier. I had a few support tours lined up so I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t do them but I am also lucky. Seems I am just starting out in the industry, it wasn’t something I relied on financially. I feel bad for all the musos and crew who rely on tours for their financial income and had that snapped away so quickly and unexpectedly. Last year was pretty rough for the music industry. On the upside though, I was able to have lots of time to write and record my EP in the studio. 

TSU: How has this past year impacted and influenced you as an artist; either creatively and the music you’re making, in terms of your artistic journey, or where you see yourself within the industry?

TULLIAH: Last year has been a massive turning point for me creatively. Having recorded my EP with Dean Tuza, I was opened up into a whole new world of music and artists that I had never heard of or listened to before. Artists like Nick Drake, Beach House, The Flaming Lips, Broadcast and so many more. My appreciation for art has developed massively and I feel like these influences are starting to seep through my own writing. I still see myself as an artist that’s finding who they are artistically but I guess artists are constantly evolving and experimenting with different sounds. If I just keep an open mind and continue to be eager to learn and explore, I think I’ll be heading the right way. Whichever way that’s gonna be.

TSU: Being from Victoria, Australia; how has the local culture and music scene influenced your own music, artistic journey and the style and themes that we hear throughout your music. 

TULLIAH: I’m from the Mornington Peninsula which is about an hour South from Melbourne. I live about a 10 minute walk to the beach and a 20 minute drive to the surf. It’s such a good place to live and grow up. There’s a really supportive music community here too. Lots of buskers and people working hard to achieve their creative goals. It’s very inspiring. There’s also lots of opportunity to perform so it’s definitely helped me become more confident, especially when the community is very supportive. I have been meeting heaps more people recently who appreciate music just as much as I do and more. It’s nice to be able to rant to people about how good a song is. 

TSU: Where do you see your artistic journey heading over the next year?

TULLIAH: I honestly have no clue. I’m just gonna experiment and take inspiration from all the new artists I have grown to love over the past 6 months. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes when I’m in the studio 🙂

TSU: What can we expect from you next, and throughout 2021?

TULLIAH: Next I am going to be releasing my debut EP on the 12th March and then hopefully back in the studio to start the next project. I will be having my first headline show in about a week on 31st of Jan at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne and then a small tour around Australia if Covid doesn’t ruin it. We will see what happens haha. 

Such a pleasure to catch up with Tulliah, make sure to keep up with her, and her incredible musical journey, on all her socials: @tul_liah

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