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Artist Spotlight: The Colourist

clock August 22, 2013
Artist Spotlight: The Colourist

We know that two members of The Colourist, Adam Castilla and Maya Tuttle, used to play together in another band called Paper Thin Walls. So how did you actually become a group after that situation was over?

Maya: We actually couldn’t find a singer at first, so out of necessity, we laid down our own vocals over the new song ideas. Neither of us ever sang in our old group (I played drums, Adam played guitar), so it was exciting but semi-scary new territory. With Justin: he’s been a friend for a while and helped out our old group. Apparently, he didn’t play any instruments before The Colourist, but we never would have known because he is a lightning fast learner with an extreme passion for music. As for Kollin: Adam knew him through another local indie band in which Kollin clearly had the longest and best hair. When we first met, Adam brought Kollin to our Colourist practice and trickily told me that Kollin came from a Van Halen cover band called “Von Holland” and that we should probably add 2 minute guitar tapping solos to every song from now on. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately!) that Von Holland story wasn’t true, but that’s how our The Colourist came to be. Each of us in carries an equally heavy load of creative weight in this band — we’re all songwriters, key musicians, equal players in everything we do.

When a lot of music fans see the spelling of your name? Specifically the “u” in Colourist, they assume you are a British band. Why did you choose that name?

Maya: A friend making a student film mentioned that she “needed the colourist to work on it.” We were intrigued by the idea of a colourist: someone whose job is solely to add and manipulate the color of film, art, etc — and, by doing so, controls the mood of the work. As for the foreign spelling, it was an aesthetic choice…it just looked cool. Sometimes bands take vowels out of their names. We decided to add an extra one.

The other thing that a lot of people first notice about your band is that you only have one female Maya in the band, but she’s the drummer! Was that done intentionally when the band was first put together to stir things up, or is that just how things worked out?

Maya: I guess my role is non-traditional, which is rad, but it’s also something all of us were more or less oblivious to at the start. I mean, I’m playing drums because I love them. I’ve played them since I was a kid, marching band and all! I’m not playing drums because anyone told me it’d attract attention. One time this guy came up to us and said, “it’s great you guys are trying the girl drummer thing because they tried the girl bassist thing in the 80s and it didn’t work!” I heard that and realized that because I’m not a dude (the “norm” for rock musicians, it seems), that some people will wrongly assume I’m playing my instrument for novelty’s sake. Not me. I do what I do because I love it and feel it and, honestly, I hope more and more women continue to pick up instruments and express themselves through music. This year, Lorde amazed us all and rose up to become the first female in 17 years to top the alternative rock chart. She made us so proud, yet it shocked us to realize it had been so long since a woman had done that. The alt/rock scene needs more ladies.

To the guys in The Colourist, Adam, Justin Wagner, and Kollin Johannsen, do you ever get jealous of all the attention that Maya receives from fans, the press, etc.? Or are you protective of her when it comes to all the attention she gets?

Justin: Definitely not jealous of all the attention she gets (although we do love to tease her). She’s an amazing drummer with a beautiful voice and deserves every bit of attention. You can’t not praise talent. As far as being protective: you’re damn right we look out for her. Not that she needs it. She’s a tough cookie. But sometimes you gotta call in the back up when people cross over into creeper mode. ;)

You’ve described your sound as “majestic rock” in the past. What exactly does that mean?

Kollin: I’m sure we said the word “majestic” because it sounded or looked cool, along the same lines of why we put the “u” in our name. Looking back, we probably sound super conceited, it’s not like we think our sound reflects the image of an eagle soaring over the grand canyon or anything. We are really excited.

You got the opportunity to play at Coachella for the first time earlier this year. What was that experience like for you? How did it help the band?

Maya: Coachella was amazing. All our lives, we’d only ever been there as spectators. To go as an artist was an incredible feeling. We even had to drive through the night to get to our set (we had a late show in San Francisco the night before), but the near exhaustion was worth it. The Coachella stage is like a world stage in many ways. The audience is such a diverse sampling of music fans. In our months of touring since then, we’ve run into so many people that discovered us at Coachella! Even as far away as Toronto. The impact was huge for us.

Your single, “Little Games,” has really taken off over the course of the last few months. Why do you think the song is connecting with so many people?

Kollin: Well the commercial helped, that’s for damn sure. We were super lucky to get that opportunity. I think people are connecting with it because, sonically, it’s an immediate and concise song. It’s pretty low-fat so people don’t feel bored or unhealthy while they are jogging with it playing through their minidisc player. We are adding the fat to our live show. Lyrically, I think a lot of people can relate to the relationship aspect of it. Even though it gives off the romantic break up vibe at first listen, it’s not necessarily just that: there’s a broader message to it. I think everyone has been strung along until they finally say “it’s time to move on,” whether it be your gf/bf, your boss, a stranger, a car salesman, a teacher, tryouts for Step Up 8, yourself, your friends, anything that involves another personality that you are done dealing with. That’s what we hope people connect with.

What is it like to hear “Little Games” on the new AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 commercial that’s in heavy rotation right now? Can you believe that this song that you created is being played every day on TV?

Maya: It’s surreal. I remember us all huddled on the floor of our small bedroom studio in the heat of last summer, sipping home-made, slightly-alcoholic fruity drinks while writing and recording our demo of “Little Games.” To go from that to seeing our creation on TV…it’s like an out-of-body experience.

Even though you’ve enjoyed a lot of success this year, you’ve actually been touring the country for a few years now. How important has touring and putting on a solid live show been to your success?

Adam: We’ve had a great year so far playing with some of our favorite acts. There’s something magical about touring and putting on a great live show that really keeps us excited. Playing cozy intimate settings to massive crowds creates an environment that lets us express ourselves. From the moment we walk on stage and see a bunch of unfamiliar faces to the moment we can see mouths moving to the lyrics on song that hasn’t hit the shelves yet makes us feel like we are doing something right :)

What can people expect from your EP Lido, which drops on August 20? What other things are on the horizon for the band?

Adam: We wrote and rehearsed most of the EP in an old nearly empty building on Lido Island, so we felt the name would be appropriate. As far as expectations, we felt that the songs picked for the Lido EP are a handful of some of our favorite songs written together and it expresses all ends of what we do best. It will include songs such as Little Games and Yes Yes as well as some new ones. We are currently preparing for our upcoming national tour with The Naked and Famous and we are super excited to share the stage with them!

Click here to get your copy of Lido.

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