premiere: lissy trullie returns with an infectious new solo single, 'here'
The New York City musician shares the first song from the long-awaited follow-up to her 2012 debut LP. It’s inspired by Arthur Russell, Tom Tom Club, and a catchy-as-hell cowbell.
Photography Austin Sandhaus, Styling Kindall Almond
It’s been a solid six years since Lissy Trullie released a record under her own name. This prolonged absence wasn’t a choice, but the result of the business side of making music. Not being able to play took a serious personal toll too, but, Lissy kept plenty busy — working with Opening Ceremony, walking for Gucci, making new wave-inspired tunes as one half of Zipper Club, and spinning at parties like Pat. After years of being stuck in a creative limbo, Lissy is finally free. We’re proud to debut the outstanding first single off her forthcoming solo record, “Here.”
“For me, ‘Here’ is an ode to surrender. Wanting to turn off, relinquish control, and check out,” Lissy explains. Lyrically, things begin in bed. Sonically, this bop is anything but sluggish. It’s sharp, focused, and packed with propulsive rhythms. Looking to NYC dancefloor iconoclasts like ESG and Arthur Russell to guide her newly bass-driven approach, Lissy’s developed a seriously infectious sound. Below, she explains why writing a great hook is like a satisfying sneeze.
How’d you go about crafting “Here”?
It happened surprisingly fast. I’m working with Vlad Holiday, who is a solo artist and a producer. He’s worked with my friends The Virgins and Donald Cummings, as well as Public Access TV and The Britanys. “Here” was one of the first songs we worked on together. We were just messing around with this synth sound and I heard two different melodies, the verse and the chorus. We drafted a rough song structure, and within a couple hours, had something not too far from the finished song. Usually I come in with a song already written, or with an idea that would be a good a co-write. But this was 100% pure collaboration from start to finish.
I love its directness. Sounds begin as distinctive elements, then build to full, strong rhythms. Was directness something you were thinking about consciously?
Definitely. In the studio, being deliberate and specific is something I’m always thinking about. It’s really lame, but I even have a name for that process; I give songs the ‘bonsai treatment.’ However, I’m a glutton for tracking. I want to try every idea, track upon track upon track, annoying everyone I work with, including myself. Then sift and weed through the tracks carefully finding the right elements, editing things down, like pruning a bonsai tree. This new material is rhythm-driven, focusing on the drums, bass, synth, and vocal. I also want to give some love to the cowbell.
The cowbell on “Here” is so good !
Never in my life did I expect to write a song where not only does the main hook have a prominent cowbell part, but there’s an epic cowbell solo, too! I’ve been writing mostly with a bass, which has taken me somewhere a guitar or piano hasn’t. Looking towards artists like Tom Tom Club, ESG, Suicide, Grace Jones, Delta 5, and Arthur Russell. In the studio, we only use a guitar if it really calls for it. That’s new for me — to be so deliberate with my references and how I want an album to sound as a whole. On my other records I’ve been far more relaxed about where the sound was going. That includes my vocal, too. I don’t have a typical singing voice for a girl and I want to push that and play with it. Like in the intro to “Here,” I tease you and hold myself back, then switch the script and fuck with you.
You made music solo for years before your previous band, Zipper Club. I'm curious how your creative process has evolved after working collaboratively.
I started my solo career with only writing my own songs. It wasn’t until my second record that I started writing with other artists. I’ve collaborated with Bjorn Yetting of Peter Bjorn and John, as well as Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio. He produced my last record along with John Hill. It felt sort of sacrilegious to write with other people when I was about to do it for the first time, but I quickly changed my tune. When I take my ego out of the equation, it’s an opportunity to make the work more dynamic. I want the best for my music and if I feel like I’m not getting as much as I can out of a certain song, I’ll want to tap into another brain. Of course it depends on the person, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. But if you find your people, like what I’m doing now with Vlad, it just takes everything to another level. It’s worth it, so I shut the ego up and do what’s best for the music. The album will have both songs written only by me and co-writes. As for my previous band: I’m proud of the music that came out of Zipper Club, but I had very serious differences with my bandmate and manager that prevented me from being true to myself as an artist, woman, and out lesbian.
Your music has always been super hook-oriented, and you've got another great one on “Here.” How did that sensibility develop?
To be totally honest, I believe a large portion of my writing process is subconscious. I didn’t study music in school, or grow up in a musical house. My parents were divorced and I lived with my mother for the most part, but spent my summers with my father. He was a music fanatic. My father is 100% responsible for igniting my obsession with music and songwriting. From the age of 14 on, he feverishly collected R&B, soul, and rock records. He shared that with me; that was our thing. We’d listen for hours on end, and he would make me mixtapes of the ones I loved and essentials he’d school me on. I listened to those tapes on my little Walkman religiously, over and over, for years. That stuff sealed the deal for me. I wanted to be those artists and make people feel the way they made me feel. I really think that’s why I write like I do — that stuff has seeped into my brain. How that era of music approached songwriting, it was all about the hooks. That’s why almost anyone can recite oldies without really knowing much about that period. Those melodies stick like super glue. My father passed away on October 12. There really isn’t anything better than having his influence reflect in my music.
The other part of how I write is how much I wrote. When I first started with guitar as a little kid and got the basics down, I immediately began writing songs. I wasn’t interested in learning famous solos or how to play what was popular on the radio. It was just a tool I needed in order to write music. Long before I had boobs, or my first kiss, or even before I had braces, I was writing songs. Not good songs, obviously. I’m sure they were pretty gnarly! But I was writing something, and I still am. It’s second nature.
How do you know when a hook is right?
It’s so guttural that it’s hard for me to put into words. It’s like finally getting to sneeze, or finding that thing you misplaced but you know isn’t totally lost, or remembering a word that’s on the tip of your tongue. It’s a specific release, like deciphering a code. It’s the thing that makes everything make sense. It’s satisfying and thrilling.
Listen to "Here" by Lissy Truelle below: