Finding Sanctuary In Poetry: Meet Aidan Tulloch

The story of his bold, poetic new EP...

Musician and poet, Aidan Tulloch, hopes to create sanctuary for his listeners with his nostalgic and cinematic collection that documents the suburban, middle-of-nowhere, semi-rural village life that is unique to Britain in his first EP ‘Somewhere Without Lights’.

Everything that the 20-year old, Thirsk native does seems to be considered. Each lyric he’s written or song composed has undergone a rigorous process of thought and evaluation, it’s therefore no surprise to learn that he’s also an English Literature undergrad at Cambridge University.

 In many ways his latest EP ‘Somewhere Without Lights’ is a body of work that documents both the banality and the brilliance of growing up in a suburban, semi-rural environment that is the antithesis of everything many teenagers want. The days are uneventful and the shops still close at 4pm on a Sunday.

However for many of us who look for pastures bright and busy there is a sheen of romantic nostalgia at the thought of the simpler times many of is led as children. These places may have once felt like the land time forgot to our teenage selves but now they occupy a space of wistfulness and, sometimes, envy at what we didn’t realise we had.

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Released earlier this year, ‘Somewhere Without Lights’ captures this feeling and peppers it throughout each of the five tracks on the EP. No track is the same but rather than a catalogue of the genres the singer-songwriter enjoys he instead reflects the sounds the listened to that documented his teenage life. “It’s kind of more referential than just creating a track with that sound. Something like ‘Song for Armageddon’… I didn’t do that because I wanted to make an EDM sound I did it because it’s referencing a moment that happened years ago and that was the music at that time.”

“Someone said in another interview that it’s quite daring to start with a big variety of sounds, and I think its probably more daring to say this is my one genre, this is what I’ll become. I think people liked to be surprised and it makes it more daring and interesting.”

Thirsk, Yorkshire plays a big role in the creation of the EP and each track, from ‘Milk And Orange Juice’ to the eponymous ‘Somewhere Without Lights’ serves as a glimpse into a memory or the memory of a feeling. Music possesses an ability to amplify the emotions we are processing and many tracks serve as soundtracks to a moment we felt, good or bad, happy or melancholic. It’s perhaps because of this that Aidan, like many of us, feels nostalgic towards not just his teenage self but to the village he grew up in.

“Music was a profound part of my life. It wasn’t just for fun it was a place where I went for solace or sanctuary from life when I was 16, and not just sanctuary but to intensify it [daily life]. I think people like to think they live in a film and in order to find that you go for music that is intense and cinematic, I just enjoyed the effects that had on me.”

What Aidan describes resonates. Coined the ‘reminiscence bump’ by psychologists, what we listened to as teenagers has a profound effect on our memory and much more than the memories of music listened to in later life. We’ve all felt that moment of instant elation when our ears pick up the melody of a song we once had on repeat, whether you were in a club or a song appears on one of the, sometimes incredibly random, Spotify daily mixes we find ourselves transported back to a time when we were figuring things out.

“I remember being at school back in the day, and this sounds so wanky I’m sorry, but it was like ‘ohh the system man’ and ‘I have to do homework!’ but people do relate to that in so many ways.”

We cringe at the person we used to be at the ages of 12 – 18 because it was a time of firsts and as a result, many mistakes. Experiencing life’s lessons for the first time means that the emotions tied to these experiences are intensified they are as the Madonna lyric states ‘shiny and new’. The older we become the less these little things become as intensely meaningful, like a first kiss or your first holiday without your parents and we begin to take them for granted.

It’s also perhaps why many people host reunions with old classmates or why we always reminisce on memories with friends we’ve kept in touch with; there is a part of us that is always melancholic about the fact that we’ll never experience emotions with that intensity again.

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Linking this emotional intensity with the music we love picks up on this theme of music providing sanctuary and it’s because of that Aidan was motivated to become a musician and composer. “I would look up to these bands who created that [for him] and I just thought I could offer that back to someone and provide the next people along to encounter music in that way. I hope that I can provide soundtracks to memories and also just memories themselves. To provide that for people would be so cool.”

The final track of the EP is the eponymous instrumental track ‘Somewhere Without Lights’. As well as a lyric in his happy-go-lucky track ‘Goalposts’, the song itself was inspired by the concept of the absence of light creating a visual and metaphorical space and it’s here that Tulloch increases the cinematic feel to his debut EP.

“In ‘Goalposts’ it’s [the lyric somewhere without lights] a lyric and that represents the idea of growing up in a rural, small town England where you get entranced by the idea of city lights, which represent the opportunity and excitement elsewhere. For the last track the idea of a place that doesn’t have the jarring new, harsh electric Britain…it’s a space absent of light and that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. I always think about the iceberg on the cover of the EP…at night the iceberg is still there and there’s no-one there to see it and I think thats such a beautiful contrast of the big and small, the dark and night.”

Initially creating it for a friend’s university play, the sense of satisfaction and cathartic release compelled Aidan to add the song in as the final track. It’s fixture as the instrumental finale of the collection was poignant, creating a meditative, contemplative state after the flurry of elements and sounds from his other tracks.

“The other tracks are songs; they’ve got lyrics in, complex images and busy ideas. So I just wanted a track that provided space… and not too in your face that gave you a chance to put your own meaning in it. I wanted to do something a little bit more than a nice piano strings tune, so I played around with the melody, making it run in groups of fives so you feel as though it’s not conforming to a sound signature. It’s easier to get lost in it because it is more mediative and a bit repetitive.”

Aidan’s talent is promising and so far his catalogue of work boasts an independent spirit determined to cultivate his own artistic style however varied and multi-faceted it may be. ‘Somewhere Without Lights’ serves as a strong piece of sonic storytelling that also encapsulates melancholic nostalgia and hopefully youth that makes the listener think back to their own experiences and their relationship with sound. Though he wants to let this EP breathe a little, Aidan promises much more heartfelt music down the line and we can’t wait.

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Words: Eleanor Forrest

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