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Melbourne singer-songwriter Tulliah on using writing to come to terms with her emotions

WORDS BY TINA SUMMERS

Her debut EP explores mental health, dreams and romance.

19-year-old Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Tulliah has just released her debut EP Fre$h Hugs – it’s comprised of six tracks filled with clever and poignant lyrics delivered with incredible vocals and a hint of the artist’s wacky sense of humour.


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Check out the video for her latest single ‘Distant Dreams‘ where she gives a googly-eyed lobster the stink eye dressed like Steve Zissou and you’ll see what I mean. Soon she’ll be on tour and will perform at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory and Melbourne’s Workers Club in May. Until then, get to know Tulliah via this cute Q&A. Enjoy!

How would you describe Fre$h Hugs to someone new to your music?

I would describe it as getting wrapped up in a bunch of emotions stemming from experiences such as mental health issues, love and dreams.

What’s your favourite track on there and why?

My favourite track is probably ‘Take it off Now Boy’ at the moment. I wrote it with my close friend Gio in about 20 minutes. One of our friends was tragically put under a coma after his body became paralysed. Gio came over for rehearsals and he told me that while our friend was in a coma, his partner at the time cheated on him. We were both taken back and really felt for our friend who was already going through a hard enough time. It’s more along the lines of how helpless he was in this situation, and the fact that he still had love for this person despite what happened. It’s not easy to get over someone that you loved.

What’s your writing process?

The process changes a lot, but usually, it starts off as a melody in my head that I quickly capture on voice memos. I then take it to either piano or guitar to find some chords that work with the melody. From there, I jam on it and see what comes out. For lyrics, it’s a whole bunch of mumbling until words start forming and it ends up being something I’ve been thinking about subconsciously. Writing is a way for me to come to terms with my emotions.

Can you tell me a bit about what ‘Distant Dreams’ is about and what inspired it?

Gio gifted me his old beautiful upright piano. It was inspired by a painting which sits above this piano. My mum read out the title ‘Distant Dreams’ while they were moving it (hence the name of the song). The song flowed out of me pretty freely. It’s written from the perspective of being in a dream where all your dreams have been accomplished and your worries/doubts have disappeared.

How does it feel to be performing your first shows?

It feels so surreal. I had my first headline show at The Corner Hotel about a month ago and it sold out! Everyone was sitting down because of COVID restrictions and there were fairy lights running from the back of the room to the stage. It was a beautiful atmosphere. I love playing these new songs and seeing their reactions. Especially because I hadn’t played a live gig for ages.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I kinda just get hyped up. I used to sit by myself and listen to a few of my favourite songs but they were all sad ones, so it didn’t really work because I would start thinking about the performance too much and wouldn’t get into the feels. So now I just hype myself up and have fun.

What are your tips for other young musicians looking to breakthrough?

My tip would be to start performing. I started off busking locally. It’s really scary at first but once you get going you kinda just do your thing. I assure you from there you’ll find yourself getting gigs. You also never know who is walking past. Busking really helped me to become confident in myself and music.

Who’s your all-time music hero?

I think it would have to be The Beatles. I actually only started listening to them about a year ago and I am now in love. I watch all their docos and YouTube videos. Defs obsessed.

Outside of music, what are your passions?

I love walking and at the start of lockdown I took up surfing. I’m not very good at it yet, but I love being in the water. I guess you don’t have to be good at your hobby to enjoy it. I am lucky to live in a very pretty area that is surrounded by trees and beaches, so I love being outside.

What’s something about you that nobody knows?

I used to compete in mountain biking competitions and would come first because there were only two people in the comp, which worked good for me [laughs].

Tulliah’s debut EP ‘Fre$h Hugs’ is out now, and you can keep up with her here.

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