Aidan Tulloch is a spirited, 20-year-old North Yorkshire lad who has just released his debut EP ’Somewhere Without Lights’.
Flirtatious pop, forward-thinking lyricism, cutting-edge musicianship, and poetic recollections of times gone by are the makings of this postmodern sonic conquest.
When we were offered the opportunity to speak with Aidan about his EP, we scooped up the opportunity as quickly as a child scooping up their favourite ice cream.
We hope that you are as taken in by this newcomer as we are. Could you talk us through the overall feel of Somewhere Without Lights? "New, interesting, catchy, danceable, artistic, poignant, urgent, alternative pop music. Made for common rooms, house parties, art galleries, Bluetooth speakers, identity crises, and ring roads." The mash-up of genres is very daring for a first release. Were you trying to make a statement here? Or did it all come about very naturally? "Aha, no it all came about very naturally! I think it would actually be more daring to limit yourself to one particular sound and try to copy what other people do. Listeners want a musical experience that’s much more humane and sincere than that, as long as there’s a consistent aesthetic that people can really throw themselves into." And what is that consistent aesthetic? "I think my main mode of expression is excitement — the excitement of being alive in the night. The excitement of waiting, and of looking back. I really like how excitement is multifaceted — and I think my lyrics and arrangements reflect this. They’re always playful and catchy, but really profound and intricate. This whole record is cinematic, but in a way that roots itself in the beautiful mundanities of life." Being creatively shackled probably takes away from the whole essence of being a creative. "As in shackled by genre?" Yeah, exactly. "For sure. It’s our opportunity, or maybe even our duty as producers and writers to innovate." Do you that find each song has a different situation that it is most relevant too? "Absolutely. I work on a song-to-song basis, compiling loads of influences, and loads of lyrical and aesthetic ideas into each one, so that they can all stand alone as their own work of art with their own individuality." So what would that be for the songs on this EP? "I love it! Milk and Orange Juice is for when you want to feel inspired or galvanised about just how non-stop life can be. Then Goalposts is for when you’re reminiscing about your hometown. Santa Susanna is for the first night in a new city you’ve never visited before. Song for Armageddon is for when you’re on the overnight coach, you’ve just gone through a breakup, you’re worried about the world and just want release, and Somewhere Without Lights is space for peace. But to be honest, now I say that, they all work for all of those situations. So you’re best off just listening to the whole record..." What were some of the most challenging parts to put together? "This whole record has been a really useful learning process. It’s where I properly felt myself coming into some kind of capability as a producer. The drop of Song for Armageddon was possibly the thing that took the most edits and rewrites. The melody has existed since I was about 16, so I wanted to do it justice. I wanted to put it inside the gushing nostalgia of 2010s EDM, but I was relying fully on the production to make this reference clear, so it needed to sound right. It took a lot of edits, until I ended up getting a friend who had a more expensive and more accurate soft synth to run the melody through to get it where I wanted it to be." Is your recording process very organic and free-flowing, or is there a lot of precise chopping and changing? "Well — both. It spans over a few months, and is never too regimented. I try things out, respond a lot to whims and ideas that come on the fly. But actually in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty disciplined, knowing what to get done by when, and how to approach thinking about things. I’d say I’ve got a healthy balance!" Where was your head at when you were writing the EP? "Oh, mate, what a question! All over the place. No — I mean, there was a lot going on at the height of the inspiration stage, and that reflects itself in the record for definite. But I do turn to music production when I want some kind of refuge from all of that, so actually, when I was physically writing it, my head was nowhere but immersed in the sheer joy at the opportunity I had to soundtrack and even create memories." When you listened back to the EP for the first time, what did you feel? "There was never actually one moment when I sat down and got to listen to the full thing on its own terms. Even when we talk about ‘producing’, we just mean sitting there listening to the song over and over again, changing a balance level here, a compressor attack there. By the time anyone else hears it, it’s been through me hundreds and hundreds of times. It was far from being the first time, but I remember a week or two into release when I hadn’t listened properly in a while, one night I actually listened to the EP from start to finish, and I just felt pure satisfaction. That, even with distance, the songs held up, saying exactly what I wanted them to say." How did moving from Yorkshire to Cambridge affect your song writing? "It’s interesting because I haven’t really moved there — I spend half the time there for a degree, I’m not permanent at all, and will be moving on to somewhere else more fixed next summer. One thing, though — doing an English degree has been pretty helpful in exposing me to that many different ways of articulating feelings, images, situations, and ideas. This whole university experience has definitely given a lot to my craft, and the way I write, but not so much to what I write about, and definitely not had any bearing on why I do it or who I do it for." Are you going to be an artist that sticks with what he knows? Or are you going to push out the boat on each release? "There’s some aspects that I’ll keep resolute. I want to be able to give people that consistent identity to understand. But on the whole, I need to keep responding to things as they happen to me, adapting, communicating, and, yes, pushing that musical boat out so that I never stop giving people space to be ecstatically happy, and never stop giving people space to be deeply and honestly and vulnerably themselves."
INTERVIEW BY ALISTER ROSS