[pullquote quote="Playing shows at night kind of makes you come alive...So it's all worth it in the end." credit="Tully James Wilkinson"]Celebrating its 11th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicks off on January 3rd with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2012 OC Music Awards, March 3 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
Meeting Tully James Wilkinson at a coffee shop for his interview seems àpropos considering the young, good-looking English major (his favorite author is C.S. Lewis), singer-songwriter, and college student got his musical start playing in coffee shops.
Even though he has naught but a demo out, with a nod from the OC Music Awards and a House of Blues show under his belt, “discovering” Wilkinson at a coffee shop certainly paid off in more than caffeinated highs for the performer–regardless of how “taxing” playing “two hour sets for not that much feedback” might understandably become.
But not so “taxing” that the struggle of being a full-time student, “working two or three jobs to pay for stuff,” and being “pretty busy” doesn’t make Wilkinson feel energized by a sense of accomplishment.
“Playing shows at night kind of makes you come alive,” said Wilkinson, sincerely. “So it’s all worth it in the end.”
At Wilkinson’s interview, the singer-songwriter brought his bandmate Jared Campbell.
[pullquote quote="I think that if he were to play with no music and just say the lyrics, it's a story...It's powerful enough. And then you put music behind that and it's incredible."]Although Wilkinson goes by his full name when he performs, he is often joined by Campbell, Paul Allen, Jason Valverde, and “whoever wants to come along” according to his Facebook page.
Wilkinson, with a rich, intimate baritone that glistens bravely, even emotionally over the anchoring plateau of instrumentation is a born storyteller according to Campbell.
“I think that if he were to play with no music and just say the lyrics, it’s a story,” gushed Campbell. “It’s powerful enough. And then you put music behind that and it’s incredible.“
“So, just the lyrics alone could be like poetry; they could tell a story,” continued Campbell. “It’s not just a couple of phrases that are rhyming that are about a girl. It’s about this whole story and he kind of walks you through it…For the most part, Tully does lyrics and he does a great job. We can’t even do half of what he does on a bad day.”
Campbell said that his favorite example of Wilkinson’s lyrics in action is the song “Empire.”
“It’s about his family and just the hardships they’ve gone through,” elucidated Campbell, “how at one point they were an empire and then things started to crumble…I think that’s a great story and it just goes through everything. It’s kind of emotional at times.”
[pullquote quote="We always laugh because a lot of my songs can have a depressing kind of angle on it...But they always kind of conclude on a happy note. You kind of have to wait until that last thing. "]Wilkinson, who admits to writing music “poorly” when he started playing music in high school and couldn’t “play anybody else’s stuff,” met Campbell his sophomore year of college and was inspired to play shows shortly after. Especially the emotional kind that Campbell referenced.
“We always laugh because a lot of my songs can have a depressing kind of angle on it,” said Wilkinson, laughing. “But they always kind of conclude on a happy note. You kind of have to wait until that last thing.”
Even though Wilkinson has a “few tunes that are directly from my life,” the literate songwriter said that he likes writing “songs about other people.”
“Kind of a third person writing in a story; almost just as a novelist would write a story about somebody. I’ll write it just through a song,” concluded Wilkinson. “Do the same process and same structure, but just in a more poetic musical way.”