How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
They’re usually thematic, so for the TULIP EP I wrote based on the events that had taken place during our deconstruction of evangelicalism and subsequent excommunication from our faith community.
We drew inspiration from everything from 17th century puritan poems and prayers, to the Robert Eggers film, The Witch. I keep a journal that I’m often scribbling ideas in, and for our next record, our full length due Fall 2019, the theme and title is “High Strangeness“, which explores all of the supernatural questions we all ask. Coast to Coast am is on almost every night these days…
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
The greatest songs ever written are the ones that tell the truth. When Roy Orbison wrote “Crying” or “Blue Bayou”, he was opening his life to the rest of us so that we could relate. Bruce Springsteen then sang “Roy Orbison singing for the lonely” in “Thunder Road”, and that rang true for Bruce, and that then rings true for those of us who feel a punch in the gut when we hear his lyric. The classics, the long lasting ones, are the songs that shine a light on the human condition and expose us – happy, sad, furious, wild – whatever. Just let it be true.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
Of course, but you gotta do it, otherwise what’s the point of making art?
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
I don’t know about the “best”, but for sure the lyric from Limited that I still wince when I sing because of the pain associated with the memory is “this calloused skin is sore” – calloused skin can’t really be sore because it’s so tough, it’s been worn strong over time, but these last two years are like the callous has been removed, so I’m raw and vulnerable again. I think that lyric still really gets me every time.
What inspired “Total”, part of your latest EP?
Total is the first song Colin and I ever wrote together, so it means a lot to us. The way we write is that Colin composes the musical landscape of a song and then gives it to me in semi complete instrumental form, so that I can write melodies and lyrics over top.
For Total, the words came fairly easily because our world really was on fire – it’s a song that hopefully conveys the desperation we were in and how bleak our situation was. It makes me feel strong today.
‘Irresistible’ is a tough one to talk about even now, nearly two years later. The beginning lyrics “lower your head, submit to be saved” are literal quotes from the pastors and elders from our former community, who maintained that line in the sand and tried desperately to keep us from being together and free.
“If you see me…I weep to you, do not look away” I wrote as a plea to my family who have disconnected from me, and it is very emotional to get those words out on stage.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Limited”?
I don’t remember the exact day, but I know that I needed something to crack the energy of it while I was writing, so I started thinking about the eucharist and took a dark twist on that. Colin remarkably put this beautiful major chorus in it, so I needed to lighten it up lyrically a little, which led me to consider all those who had lifted us up in our darkest time, hence the “so they will carry me away…I hear inside me such a voice… the sound of wings”. Those friends were that to us.
Is there a link/a common theme among the songs of the new EP?
Definitely – the EP is all about our deconstruction/excommunication from evangelicalism, and the questions and fears that live inside us. For the Fall 2019 full length we continue to expand on that theme, going deeper into even darker queries about our existence.
What is the best suggestion your producer gave you?
Colin is our producer for this first EP, so his advice is always for me to sing as vulnerably but as powerfully as I can. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
What are your plans for 2019?
We’ve just spent the last few months writing the full length, but we are also about to go on tour with Evergrey and Shattered Sun in a week or so. We have a few more tours to announce, which we can’t reveal just yet, but 2019 into 2020 is going to be very busy and exciting for TULIP. We can’t wait.
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your song “ Total”: Compelling.
- The best show you ever played: We haven’t played enough shows as TULIP to have a “best of” yet, but I would say that when I was an opera singer, I did a benefit at the Kennedy Center, accompanied by Marvin Hamlisch. That was life changing for sure.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: My husband, Colin. He keeps me centered.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on?” , Tom Waits’ “Rain Dogs”, and Van Morrison’s “Hymns to the Silence”.
- Your favourite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: Cy Coleman’s jazz standard – “Why try to change me now” – I sing this to my son almost every night. It’s perfect.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: Without being too racy, I would say “check in physically”, at least once a day.