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Almost A Dirty Dozen with ASHLEIGH SEMKIW and COLIN PARRISH from TULIP – August 2019

| 13 August 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Hot off the heels of their debut self-titled EP release, female-fronted Symphonic groove metal band,TULIP, have announced a North American summer tour with Swedish melodic-metal band EVERGREY. TULIP will kick off the tour on August 23rd in Los Angeles, Ca at The Satellite. Stay tuned for news on further tour dates and full-length release coming Fall 2019.” We get Ashleigh and Colin to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Colin: The TULIP EP will be a year old this September. It was our first take on a metal collaboration together so it took a few iterations of writing and recording to get each track to where it needed to be and define our sound as band. Probably the most tedious part of building TULIP’s sound is orchestrating the songs around an already dense arrangement, and Ashleigh’s vocals. Each orchestral instrument has to be played one note at a time using a keyboard – strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion – but the breadth of the orchestra really helps to tie the arrangements together and bring forward the harmonic landscape of the guitars, keyboard and vocals. One of our favorite orchestral instruments are the Wagner Tubens which create that Hollywood-movie-trailer “BWAAAAA” type sound.

Ashleigh: So, for those who are unfamiliar with our backstory, TULIP is an acronym representing the tenets of the Calvinist movement within evangelicalism that we left behind. I think because of our background being so heavily influenced by “church music”, even though we are no longer a part of it, we still have those major influences, so for me, lyrically, I pulled a lot of texts from puritan prayers and hymns, which, when chopped and screwed, are frankly pretty terrifying and work perfectly for metal.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Ashleigh: Since always. There are videos of me belting Robert Palmer’s entire Addictions Vol 1 record from memory at 6/7 years old. I would create entire performances in my bedroom from the Original Cast recording of Les Mis. I was that kid. As soon as I figured out that I could only take music and humanities classes, to get on track to apply for music schools, I made that choice.

Colin: I grew up playing guitar but didn’t really discover music until I was in my late teens. A friend of mine had a bootlegged copy of a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in which the band goes off on a 10-minute impromptu improvised jam in the middle of “Californication.” It blew my mind that they were playing together, in time, in tune, but with no script – just the key of the song as a road map – and that flipped a switch in me to understand how this was possible (since I was used to playing guitar as written from sheet music). I spent the next several years learning how to play guitar modally and improvise, which in turn vastly enhanced my understanding and love of composition and songwriting.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Colin: As a guitarist certainly my early guitar experience leaned more towards improvised rock and funk players like John Frusciante, but as my tastes evolved I started to gravitate more towards well written and recorded albums. I really appreciate being able to listen to entire records especially in today’s age of “singles”. That includes everything from Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway to Angra’s Temple Of Shadows and Periphery’s Periphery II. I also have a real love for contemporary film score – there would be too many to name here but many of the iconic Hans Zimmer scores would be on my short list.

Ashleigh: American Jazz and Musical Theatre meant everything to me growing up. I model a lot of my vocals after Sarah Vaughan, Patti Lupone, and Pat Benatar. The quiet moments of restraint and beauty vs the raw power. That’s what vocal training affords you to be able to do. I was very lucky to be able to see a lot of broadway growing up, but I didn’t realize how Olympic performing in Opera is until I had to do it. It’s probably the most difficult and disciplined art form in the world.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Ashleigh: Ani Difranco, Fiona Apple, Maria Callas, David Byrne and Jill Scott.

Colin: Masato Nakamura, Kiko Loureiro, Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer and Carter Beauford.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Colin: Sonny “Skrillex” Moore. I think EDM gets a bad rap among traditional musicians but I think Skrillex in particular is a wizard with sonic elements. I’m always looking for ways to create new sounds and feel like I would learn a lot looking over the shoulder of someone who has a real mastery of the digital domain.

Ashleigh: Devin Townsend. In my opinion, he embodies what it means to be an artist right now. He makes phenomenal sounding, exciting, weird, gorgeous music that can also rip your face off. I am floored by his authenticity and commitment to making what he wants to make. And my god, what a voice.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We would describe it like a 90’s video game soundtrack brought to life with bone crushing drums, guitar, a 90 piece orchestra and soaring female vocals. We tend to get compared to Evanescence because of Ashleigh’s vocal and the heavy guitars. It’s just a lazy comparison. While we do think Amy Lee is supremely talented, we feel like our music is more towards the progressive end of the spectrum.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Asheligh: Being on stage.

Colin: The endless inspiration that comes with writing music. There’s always something new to get excited about and look forward to.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Colin: Since we’re married, that’s everyday. Ashleigh is the greatest cook to ever have lived. I will always drive to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to pickup. We have a barebones recording setup in our bedroom.

Ashleigh: Ha! Hardly – but thank you. When we’re all together, the boys are seemingly always right on the verge of jamming, but they were all raised right so it’s a “many hands make light work” policy. We’re a family.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Colin: Waking up every day next to Ashleigh.

Ashleigh: Well now my answer seems much less romantic! I was in the security line at the airport with Donnie Wahlberg who was my favorite New Kid on the Block. He handed me a tray and I completely froze and said nothing! Biggest regret of my life right there.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Ashleigh: On the first day of opera school one of our professors said to us “If you can imagine yourself being happy doing anything other than singing, then you should leave and go and do that, because this life is not for the faint of heart”. She was right, but in my opinion there is nothing better than this.

Colin: Astrophysicist. Doesn’t pay much more than being a musician unless you’re a tenured PhD.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

We should’ve started TULIP years ago. We’re still hopeful that with our full-length release this fall, TULIP will continue to grow and capture a broader audience but we spent years in the dark waiting to do this together. That was a mistake – we should’ve done it much sooner.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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