Someone get Warhol on the phone. Lissy Trullie is like Edie Sedgwick + the throaty pipes of Lou Reed/Liz Phair + the charisma of Courtney Love + the looks of Agyness Deyn + the hipster bouncing DJ skills of Sam Ronson. In today’s anti-individual celeb culture, where the spotlight is more about crotch shots than talent, it can be difficult to take a pretty young face seriously. Especially when she’s the belle of the fashion set. And so Flavorwire chatted with our favorite rocker since _____ (we can’t remember when; she’s that damn good) to find out if it all adds up or this emerging musician is really too good to be true.
Our first encounter with Lissy involved dancing hipsters, overpriced cocktails, and the hope of a celebrity sighting at New York’s Beatrice Inn. We had reservations: Lissy was perched behind the DJ booth, rocking a bowler hat atop her pixie cut. While she might have a signature look, Lissy resents being pigeonholed as a fashionista: “I’m into shopping, but it’s not like I’m shopping at Barneys,” Lissy says in a raspy alto, “They could think, ‘Oh my God, she’s like an elitist, super bitch. Too cool for school.”
She actually scored the Beatrice gig (“it helped me to survive”) because she had known one of the owners for a long time. “I hate half of the stuff I play,” she admits, but, like any good DJ (take notes, SamRo), Lissy plays what gets the kids dancing. “What I try to do is play as much of a mix of everything under the sun as possible.” She has a few favorite jams (which she refers to as “gems”) that “run the gamut from super old stuff to stuff that came out last week.” Think Shirley Ellis, lesser known Le Tigre, and, “throwbacks, like weird ’90s rap and dance music.”
“I really love dirty hip-hop,” Lissy continues with a laugh. She also loves electropop, which is how a cover of Hot Chip’s “Ready For The Floor” made the cut onto her debut EP, Self-Taught Learner. “I DJ that song sometimes at Beatrice and the chorus is so catchy, so I picked up my guitar and played it one day.” She and her band have also tackled Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Every time they play a show, they try to a cover a song, she explains. Songs, similar to her DJ set, that are “random” and “go off the beaten path.”
Lissy, currently on tour with The Virgins before arriving back in town for her EP’s release party this Wednesday, explains the band’s tough selection process: “Yesterday in the van, during our 24-hour drive in the snow, we’re all pulling out songs we would love to cover. Putting the iPod in the front of the van and saying ‘Oh my God, I want to play that too!'” Lately she’s been listening to “weird stuff like Scott Walker and Ecstasy,” in addition to “American, good boy music like Bruce Springsteen. Kind of like working class kind of stuff,” she says laughing, before adding again: “Weird stuff.”
Self-Taught Learner boasts up-tempo indie rock with a ’60s girl group feel. At first listen, the title track and first single seems like a happy little ditty, before revealing itself as dark and introspective. As Lissy explains, it describes a relationship with one of her friends in her teenage years who passed away. While many believe the title refers to her music experience (she’s actually been playing the guitar for years), Trullie tells another story: “We were little outcasts, so we kind of coined the term ‘Self-Taught Learner.'”
So, is Lissy intending to bring this old-school rocker chic thing to the masses? “No,” she says with bracing candor. “It’s honestly flattering but it’s not what I’m trying to do. It’s the obvious thing to say.” She says comparisons, especially concerning rock musicians, have become the norm. “But the thing is, most aren’t really playing rock anymore. It’s rock but it’s now mixed with electronic music.” What influences more than other bands of the moment is her home base, New York. “The city influences you even if you don’t know it.”
Who is this Lissy? She’s not so Williamsburg, more downtown New York pre-Giuliani and Pinkberry. She’s not afraid of courting the chic set — in fact she’s playing a Fashion Week show (“Fashion Week in New York is the worst!”) and continues to mesmerize fashionistas (“It could be the hair.”). She’s a bit of an old soul, who seems out of place in this decade (she’s even playing at the Andy Warhol Live! show in San Francisco). We can’t get enough of her. Amy Winehouse, who?
While she says, “all comparisons are awesome and kind of blow my mind,” we’re just going to have to accept that, in the unfortunate “I Kissed a Girl” world we live in, Lissy Trullie is delightfully impossible to define.