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Tutlie Through The Looking Glass.

December 17, 2012

TutlieGroupsmallText by Megan Matuzak. Images by Marie Alyse Rodriguez. Make up design by Amber Haze. Make up art by Sarah Kane.

When fans and unassuming spectators experience a Tutlie show, they are dazzled by the flower crowns, the colorful set, the face paint and, most of all, the glitter.

Tutlie has been crowned “that fairy band,” and they’ve been said to have the echoes of “peace, love and glitter” ringing in their ears. They put on quite a show, with a pair of powerful female vocalists, well-written indie pop and unbridled energy.

But in order to grasp the full picture of Tutlie, you must look deeper into the looking glass.

It started as two West Chester University sophomores, Jessie Radlow and Christina Klaproth, jamming, harmonizing and sending Paul McCartney covers to friends from their tiny dorm room.

“Tutlie started very small,” recalls Radlow. “It started with me, Christina, a loop pedal and a tambourine. We had our very first show at a house party. We were so nervous. We were like, ‘They’re going to boo us off stage. We need to be prepared if they hate our music. This music is really girlie. They might hate it.’ We played and we got an encore! Everyone was so excited.”

They had stumbled upon indie pop gold.

Radlow has used the gift of song to express herself since she was 9. Like many great musical artists, she noticed from an early age that words escaped her except in song. When times get dark for Radlow, music is the medicine that saves her.

“One day I came home and I was like, ‘Hey, Christina, I wrote this song,’” Radlow reminisces.  “I was like, ‘I need something to go at the end and I don’t know what it is.’ She starts going, ‘Da da dadada da.’ I said, ‘Ok! Let me find the chords!’”

TutlieSmall01Their recent, post-graduation move to Philly has been the momentum that is turning a flicker into a smoldering flame. Asher Brooks and Drew Taurisano, who own the East Room Recording studio in Fishtown, encouraged the move and now they’re part of the band. Brooks plays a free standing drum, the trumpet and works the loops in Tutlie’s live performances. Taurisano sometimes steps in for the live show to play keyboard and is the mixologist behind the soundboard. Additionally, Tutlie has been able to sample a few backing musicians who have fleshed out their already unusual vibe.

“To me, music has to take me to a certain place to impress me,” Radlow says thoughtfully. “I mean that in a sort of physical sense too. Hearing certain things will take me to a time in my life or an imaginary world that I can escape to, whether it’s a mountain or a field or a haunted house.”

Inspired by an obsession for turtles and Radlow’s dictionary of made up words, Tutlie became the name that ties everything together. There is also a certain alchemy that blends the music with Radlow’s musings. Based upon her observations of animals, for instance, she says it’s the creatures that don’t speak that say the most about those who do.

“I just started writing about animals,” Radlow says. “I couldn’t put myself into perspective to be like, ‘Jessie, what do you feel right now?’ So I was like, ‘What would a turtle feel right now? What would a fish feel right now?’ I wrote about a bird looking out the window, wanting to fly away. I said to myself, ‘Oh, I guess I’m projecting a bit.’ It was weird because I looked over the lyrics and I realized that my feelings were projected into these animal personas.”

Tutlie started an Indie GoGo campaign in January to support the production of their first album, Young Cries.

Before coming into the studio, Young Cries was a collection of song fragments that were lacking cohesion. But with the possibility of making something real, the band’s vision grew larger. In the studio, strings and horns were dropped over the tracking of songs. With a dream of performing with an orchestra someday, Radlow says Tutlie is in no way lo-fi.

While their fundraising campaign fell short, the band has plans to drop new music soon and it is nothing short of grandiose. Tutlie will release “Hush Up,” a B-side of sorts with “Shell Shocked,” a song about a turtle’s tribulations, and “Safe” within the next few weeks.

“David Bowie did it right,” Radlow says confidently. “Of Montreal did it right. As long as we do it right, the girlie glitter and jumping around will align with our music.”

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