Emerging: Turning violet Violet
By Juliet DeRosse
Photo by Mike Dillon
Turning violet Violet is really into their food. "We're really just a food club that knows how to play music," says drummer Brandon Gulish at a pre-practice meal. Tonight's menu includes the ultimate array of culinary comfort: chili, cornbread and pumpkin pie. The band (Brandon and Sarah Gulish, Steve Wittig, Jeff Scott and Sarah Pisano) and Jeff's wife, Rachel, their unofficial manager, relax with wine and playful conversation.
Sarah G, lead vocalist, contributes to most of the songwriting, which is slowly becoming more of a collaborative effort. But in college, when songwriting was more of an experimental art form than a passion, her songs were sort of awful. "Every song sounded like a musical theater scene between a good guy and a bad guy," she admits. Brandon fervently nods his head in agreement.
Although they didn't know it at the time, TvV began as a blueprint when Sarah G (at the time, Sarah Allen), Sarah Pisano and Brandon met at Temple University. The Sarahs had a few classes together and eventually were introduced to Brandon, a friend of a friend. After graduation (and Sarah and Brandon's wedding), they collaborated with bass-player, Steve in 2008. A series of arduous and unsuccessful attempts to secure a guitarist eventually led them to Jeff in late 2009. A show at the North Star Bar in January sealed the deal.
On August 6 they released their first EP, Fierce Remains on CheapO Records. They were one of the many artists featured at the annual Dewey Beach Music Conference back in October. "We're big fans of community-oriented [events]. There's something gratifying about other musicians we respect enjoying our music," Brandon says.
Later that month, they recorded a live studio session with Radio 104.5, performing an original song and a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "99 Red Balloons." After the session, in a symbolic attempt to personify the song, they planned to release a red balloon together outside. But Brandon had his own plan. As they counted down to take off, he popped the balloon and their dreams of making a poetic statement.
TvV has a dark comical approach to music with their name (it's a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory reference, natch) and the sinister cartoon album artwork, done by Philly artists, Donna Collis, Dean Harris and Dustin Ream.
The instrumentation on Fierce Remains builds in layers and aggressively complements the vocal variations. The combination of Sarah G's whimsical voice and the dramatic effect of Sarah P on viola gives TvV that little something extra that can't quite be explained. To hear Sarah G put it, "The combination of all of us doesn't sound like anyone else."
Later this month, they'll play their first college show at Gordon College in Boston and then head back to the North Star Bar where everything began. Along with working on an LP and continuing touring, TvV is looking for new ways to improve their sound like recording their practices and finding new influences. "I can't remember not doing this so much. I just want to build a melody," Sarah G says as the rest of the band collectively make their way to practice.