Like the two sides of a coin, TÜLIPS' two singers Taleen Kali and Angie Bloom are on different musical wavelengths merged together through their band. It used to be the case that two creative geniuses with their own musical tendencies would work begrudgingly towards a middleground, but Taleen and Angie's union seems more harmonious and organic than a compromise. Their's is an effective collaboration that marries their spirits in the creation of something newer and greater, a genre they call "riotgaze."
Taleen, founder of the venerable Dum Dum Zine, is an avid riot grrrl while Angie finds herself more entrenched in doo wop and pop, hence their nicknames "Doom" and "Bloom," respectively. Their recent cassingle release of the two songs "Hotspur," and "Wait," now out on I Love You Just The Way You Were records, is the biggest exemplifier of their varied sensibilities: each one sings vocals and plays guitar or bass on a different song against layers of pop punk, shoegaze, and indie rock that altogether form a sweet homage to the heyday of '90s alt rock and Brit pop. Blazing through the Pacific Northwest, TÜLIPS hit the road earlier this week to promote their two-song EP release, and they'll be hitting Orange County this Sunday at Downtown Santa Ana's vintage store/ independent performance space Can U Not Vintage right before their homecoming show in LA.
The genesis of TÜLIPS began sometime ago when Taleen and Angie had been sending one another mixtapes through snail mail between Chicago and Los Angeles; through the process, Taleen had shared some of her personal demos, planting the seeds for her future songwriting project with Angie, so by the time Taleen moved back to her native Echo Park, the two were ready to form a band. As time went on, Miles Marsico would join in as bass player and Travis Barnes on drums, fulfilling the lineup and solidifying the overall synergy between the group.
On Taleen, Angie tells the Weekly, "I love how when I first met her she only really knew power chords, but [after] teaching her a variety of chord changes she's stepped up her lead game…and I'm way pickier about my songs that she is with hers and I love how she nails it all now, and takes it to a new level."
"I love Angie's mad skills on the guitar fret…lately we've been adding more lead parts to each of or songs since we have a 4th member miles who plays bass with us. During rehearsals Angie will bust out with the perfect lead line in one goddamn try, it's like a present for my songs. As for Miles, I love how he started out sub drumming for us when Travis was out of town, and he became part of the family so quickly. Now he's like the gel, everything feels so unified and right," says Taleen.
Angie adds, "I like how Travis gives attitude to each of our songs, he just knows the right puncture and really takes our vocal cues into consideration instinctually [sic]."
The group also had the privilege to work with musician Brad Laner of shoegaze outfit MEDICINE, and made quite an impact on the group and the album's overall sound. "We went to Brad's gorgeous Eichler-designed house in Granada Hills to record our very first demos before we headed to SXSW in March of 2013. He really encouraged us to record them punk style, as is, zero changes or finessing," says Taleen.
"I remember all the crazy overdubs he also encouraged us to do… It was so gorgeous how he ended up layering them. It filled up the songs so much more. Some songs had three solos or extra riffs. He really helped us hone in our sound," says Angie.
Of the two tracks on the TÜLIPS cassingle, "Hotspur" has reached some next-level praise for the accompanying music video that perhaps encapsulates the fun, light-hearted atmosphere of their music: a sweet, romantic dance party gradually turns into a hot mess of writhing bodies and kissing strangers.
Upon interviewing the band, I fished for some interesting stories from their first tour and was not disappointed. "We all stripped down to our underwear in the goth bar we played in Olympia last night called Cryptatropa…in honor of Kathleen Hanna. Also there was a gold antique Satan statue we all took selfies with at the end," Taleen says.
Here's hoping this Sunday's show at Can U Not matches the craziness and spontaneity of THAT show.
TÜLIPS cassingle release show this Sunday, Sept. 7 @ 8pm with Let's Drive to Alaska, Palm Reader and My Beautiful Leah.