Photographed by Collier Schorr
Sitting with a cup of coffee at Norwood, an unmarked social club on West 14th Street in Manhattan, Lissy Trullie contemplates what might be her greatest artistic struggle, before settling on one specific problem. “Focus,” she says. But focus isn’t a problem for anyone sitting across from the 27-year-old Trullie.
Her Edie Sedgwick bob is parted from the left, covering her arresting gaze, and she’s wearing a marigold sweater under a thick navy cloak, skin-tight black leggings, and gothic heels. In fact, it would be difficult not to focus on her. Sure, there are the looks -- after all, Trullie worked as a model in New York after relocating from D.C. -- but what’s worth paying attention to is her sound. In 2009, Trullie released an EP, Self-Taught Learner, a collection of guitar-driven songs that landed her gigs at nightclubs and parties. Now she’s dropping her self-titled debut album.
Trullie spent the last few years hunkering down to craft the record, a shift from Learner. On that record, her axe drove the backing trio’s frame forward. Now she’s got a simmering, orchestrated rock vibe and does dour, Nico-esque vocals, matching her pulpy singing with cleverly stacked instrumentation. The result is a record oriented around a rhythm section thick with drums and grounded by sculpted guitar tones. Trullie was granted the time to fully indulge her vision, including ballsy horn stabs and moody metaphor. The challenge was paring things back.
“In this world of such speed and volume of communication, I have anything at my fingertips,” she says. “When you realize you have a blank palette, it becomes endless.”
Trying to slap a label on Trullie isn’t something that sits well with her, though.
“Being an artist from New York, everybody’s going to talk about being an artist from New York,” she says. “I do feel as if people are trying to project that on me. People are always trying to recreate that nostalgic New York from the 1960s and ’70s. But that’s not the world we live in today.”
She’s right, especially when you contemplate our modern struggles with distraction. Considering that, Trullie says, “You could wake up 20 years from now having done nothing.”
Lissy Trullie (Downtown Records) comes out March 6.