Tullis, a young artist with a timeless sound is Arizona’s most exciting up-and-coming musician. A phenomenon on the stage and an innovator in the studio, Tullis’ work combines poetic introspection and stark social observation with infectious beats to create a sound that is both honest and familiar.
His latest Roddy-produced track, ‘Careless‘ tackles a more serious topic. The Arizona-bred artist emerges as a sharpshooter as he fires off social commentary and his personal frustrations against the current social climate. Tullis is firmly grounded in reality and fully aware of his surroundings. He is also timely in his subject matter– two components that have proven to be efficient and effective in his artistic calling. ‘Careless‘ laments over the past and present of the Black American experience with the police. ‘Careless‘ puffs its chest out as a reminder to our collective adversaries that he has not lost focus. Alongside the video release, we had talked to Tullis about the record and how it came together. Check out the brief Q&A in relation to the video down below.
What do you think the biggest surprise to an outsider would be?
I think one thing that would surprise an outsider if they were to come to the studio is that each new track really takes its own journey. You never know much work goes on behind the scenes when working on new music.
My producer Roddy and I have a really harmonious workflow relationship that keeps us productive but ultimately everything we work on has a life of its own. For example, with ‘Careless,’ I wrote and recorded it all the way back on May 10. George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis 15 days later. When we first started working on the song, I wasn’t thinking about the future or whether or not the lyrics would still be relevant in a few months. But ‘Carless‘ is a song that I had in mind for a while and initially, I wrote it just for me to work through some ideas. I was really focused on how I could write about the difficulty of having to care about my identity as a black man, something I don’t feel I should have to care about at all. So sometimes I write songs that I have no intention of sharing and sometimes that music ends up being too good not to share.
Can you describe the creative process from conceptualization to the final product?
As far as the conceptualization, everything I work on moves through the filter of who I am, how I grew up, and just the surreal experience of a black man in Gilbert, AZ. Even now I’ll see about Black Lives Matter and on the same day see a truck with a bumper sticker that says “Black Smoke Matters.” Like I said before, I want to express to people what it’s like to care about something that I don’t think I should care about while also not feeling cared about at all. And that’s a really depressing idea that I wanted to stand out against the backdrop of a bright and catchy beat.
The start of my creative process really just involves me creating a lot of music at once to give myself some kind of momentum. I indulge all of my ideas and worry about filtering them later. Or my producer Roddy filters them since he plays a big part in the development of a new track. For ‘Careless,’ and really anything we work on, Roddy and I work in sync but we also tend to work around each other. Especially when it comes to developing the beat, it’s really a relationship of giving and take. I was sitting and writing ‘Careless‘ as Roddy worked on the beat and I could just hear the way he was developing the beat with my vocals and style in mind. And once I record my part it’s up to Roddy to make it sound as good as it does. So there’s a level of trust necessary for our creative process to be a fruitful one.
What would you say were your biggest influences while working on the video?
The director Lucas and I were really inspired by the visual grandeur and even the decadence that artists like Frank Ocean or Kanye West incorporate into their videos but we also took cues from the surreal imagery of Donald Glover’s Atlanta. Since the track is in some ways about racism in America, which is subtle and nuanced in its absurdity and cruelty, we wanted to visually convey the surreal experience of being black in this country. For me, that’s where the trippy, surreal nature of some of the visuals come into play. I wanted to express the sense of madness and obsession that comes from my identity and the house in the video really represents my mind. A lot of weird shit just happens there and I wanted people to feel like they were spending a moment in my mind, in my bare soul. As an actor being in the video, I was watching a lot of things that focus on subjects in isolation, people that are really comfortable being in their own thoughts. I don’t know that that would describe me but I was trying to access those parts of myself as well.