AN INTERVIEW WITH JULIAN TULIP'S LICORICE
~by Sonya Brown
Eclectic, like a candy store filled with exotic and brightly colored treats, Julian Tulip has the best confections! His "Licorice" is sweet vocals, spoken word and bizarre poetry intermingled with electronic brilliance. The Umbrella Party, Licorice's latest release, takes you into a world of strange taxi rides where dolls aren't supposed to bite.
Julian Tulip lives a life of bobble-headed dolls, retro-shaded lamps, strings of Christmas lights, and nostalgic movie posters. Alternating shades of darkness with sunshine-bright fields of flowers, Julian brings a flair to spoken word. If Julian were unable to express himself musically, I believe he would be one of those nomadic street souls wandering through eternity, mumbling genius phrases to himself. His moto "we pull up and the freaks arrive" illuminates his side-show persona.
Julian now gives Starvox insight into his
slightly distorted world...
TULIP: I have always been intrigued by spoken word artists who are inspired by, and talk about, life in the real world - the dark and dirty stuff we all feel. You know, like jealousy, scorn, crisis, sorrow, all those not-so-pretty things that we all go through; only some of us are more effected and scarred by it than others. I hate it when it's real, but love it when I write about it. A lot of my music includes a little spoken word, mostly because it works so well with my flow and texture, and that I feel it gets my lyrical story across better than singing sometimes.
SONYA: What usually comes first for you, the poetry or the music?
TULIP: Poetry, almost always.
SONYA: Some of your lyrics are rather eclectic and often fairly bizarre, where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
TULIP: I get my words from my writings and I make my writings out of all the weird stuff happening in my life. I don't think my writing is all that weird, but I also think that 75% of the lyrics out there suck. My words come from a lot of places, but I am mostly inspired by relationships and the ever too common 'circle of friends drama'... the wonderful, wonderful drama that always makes for a good verse.
SONYA: I picture you sitting in a coffee shop somewhere watching people as they come and go. Please tell us what you like to do for fun when you aren't making music?
TULIP: I don't really hang about in cafes. I used to, but not much lately. When I'm not making music, I am usually working on one of my websites, typing my book, with my friends or at a bar. I have also started a multimedia business - www.strangehighway.com. Developing that consumes a lot of my time.
SONYA: Book? Tell us about this book!
TULIP: The book... a week in the life of an outcast, journal stories and twisted experiences. I have boxes of journals, napkins, matchbooks and all the other stuff I've been writing on for the last several years. I decided to make a strange, disconnected book out of it. I also plan on accompanying each story with some photos.
SONYA: What is your favorite place to hang out in Portland, Oregon?
TULIP: Lately it's been my house, but other than that I like Embers on a Wednesday, the Matador and the nickel arcade on Belmont.
SONYA: You recently purchased a new toy... please tell us about it, and the other gear used to bring Licorice to life.
TULIP: Ah my sampler... I got an Emu E5000 ultra, she's a nice toy. It's simply another boy toy that makes cool sounds. I've been using a lot of soft synths lately... HALion, Pro52, Scorpion, Waldorf Attack... stuff like that. I use Cubase to sequence and Soundforge to edit. My studio is pretty small but it's good. I have some decent outboard gear, like my sampler, a Lexicon MPX effects box and a Roland VS880ex multitrack.
SONYA: Where do you most like to perform live... and what future tour plans do you have?
TULIP: I like to perform in other cities, actually. It's a bit more fun for me. I have only done about 15 shows in Portland, and I enjoyed all of them. I think the Tonic was my favorite, hard to say. I have put together a pretty nice band and we are discussing a tour now, but the plans are up in the air until the cellist gets back from Australia. I also need a guitar player if you know anyone.....
SONYA: How does your live performance differ from your recordings?
TULIP: Well, the biggest changes are made on the piano/voice songs... I change lyrics and alter the arrangements sometimes, just to have fun with it. Every song I perform live is a bit different than the recorded version, I make the heavier songs heavier, the darker songs darker, and the pretty songs uglier.
SONYA: Do you ever use samples?
If so, what is the most unusual sample you have ever used?
SONYA: I can imagine you doing a movie soundtrack. What do you consider the best movie you ever saw? What movie would you most like to do the soundtrack for?
TULIP: I would love to score movies and I am sure I would make a classic soundtrack. The best movie I ever watched would probably be "Basquiat", it's one of my favorites, who knows though. I would love to do the soundtrack for a foreign film like "City of the Lost Children", or an offbeat domestic film like "PI" or "Clockwork Orange".
SONYA: Please tell us about your work with Single Cell Orchestra...
TULIP: We met through a mutual friend several years ago, and we became close friends in the following years. He's a very talented guy. We have done tons of work together, including 'We Should Hang Out More Often' on the SULK record. We even recorded an entire album of electronic chaos together in San Francisco. He has all the other music we recorded, mainly because the material was more his type of music and I would rather him put it out than me.
SONYA: What other side projects or collaborations with other artists do you have in the works?
TULIP: I am working with Form/Alkaline again, they sent me a CD of about 20 songs to talk/sing on and I did my thing. I am waiting for them to finish it. It is amazing material and I am lucky to be the vocalist. I may record a bit more with 16volt, depending on their schedule, and I am recording with a few local bands. One called Z0xx, he helps me on live shows and he wrote that little Xebox sounding segue at the end of 'You'll Probably Die Young'. As far a side projects I have too many to list... One is a spoken word, cello and noise project that I have been putting together for years... it's a lot of fun and I hope to release some of the material.
SONYA: Do you have any other releases pending?
TULIP: I have finished recording
another record called Ice Cream for Freaks. I'm touching it
up now and I plan on releasing it soon, maybe next spring. Some of
the tracks are at www.mp3.com/licorice.
It's a weird and beautiful record, like all my stuff. I am
enjoying messing around with it, making it perfect. I am also recording
a 2 cd record called Upstairs, Downstairs, I hope to finish it by
TULIP: That's so kind. I have no thoughts on fashion except: girls clothing is far cooler than guys clothing (and it fits better) and Satan is khaki and some sandals. My favorite piece of clothing is my Gary Numan t-shirt.
SONYA: The track "Juliet Loves Me" is my favorite SULK track. Please tell me a bit about Juliet.... is this a real person?
TULIP: She is a real person, we were friends a few years back. We were real close friends, she had a real strong inside to the dark scene and she took me out to some real weird places. I loved it. I wrote all of it down and made a song out of it. I miss her, she had a slow way about her.
SONYA: What can you tell readers
about the recording differences in your newest release The Umbrella
Party, and your debut CD, SULK?
SONYA: When and where will The Umbrella Party be available to the public?
TULIP: when: I plan on releasing it this summer, depends on if I can get some help. Where: hopefully everywhere, I have two good records to distribute and a third one I need to get mastered... and a fourth one being recorded. I have the goods.
SONYA: I notice versions of the track "oh" are on both SULK and The Umbrella Party... After the release of The Umbrella Party, will SULK still be available? Why did you decide to include "oh" on both cd's?
TULIP: 'Oh' is quite a bit different on The Umbrella Party, It's a more subtle, creepy version. The SULK version of 'Oh' is like a shattered, twisted Carnival ride. SULK will definitely be available after I release The Umbrella Party, I tagged it on to the end of The Umbrella Party because people really liked the new version and since it's such a short song I figured It wouldn't hurt.
SONYA: The Cinderella Theory seems to be a running theme in the Umbrella Party. What is the Cinderella Theory?
TULIP: The Cinderella Theory applies to girls. The concept that Cinderella is now a perfect, happy girl in every way, a real role model. Beauty paid off and now everything is perfect. A lot of my lyrics are about girls who want so hard to be accepted and fit in somewhere, but they can't and never will. sorry.
SONYA: You mention taxis in both SULK and The Umbrella Party... what is the importance of taxis to Julian Tulip?
TULIP: Taxis are best after the party. A lot of weird things have happened to me in the back of a cab. There's something about being chauffeured by a total stranger that I love. Maybe I have a cab fetish.
SONYA: The track "you'll probably die young" on The Umbrella Party cd is hauntingly beautiful and I love the keyboards. How long have you been playing keyboards? Have you had any formal training on keyboards?
TULIP: I have been playing keyboards for about 7 years, and I have never had a lesson in my life. There is going to be a longer, more emmersive version of that song on my next record by the way.
SONYA: Please tell us about
your contribution to the compilation A Cage Went In Search of a Bird.
SONYA: How long has recording music been a part of your life?
TULIP: I have been recording music for about 5 years, on and off. Now that I have my own studio, I record pretty much every day.
SONYA: Where does Julian Tulips' Licorice go from here?
TULIP: I want to look around for a decent label to put out my records (something I have been putting off until I was certain of my musical direction), keep recording, and hopefully go on some tours... keep myself busy... the basic stuff we all want. I am working on a music video now, which I will post on my website as soon as I finish it.