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An eclectic mish-mash love story
Phillip Hong
22 April, 2009
It's a very romantic feeling whenever I go abroad, and I continue to feed this complete addiction with the silliest of experiences. But you have to wonder, if you suddenly fell in love in such a faraway place, what will keep that flame burning?
Strong feelings and a constant bond are the answer for the dandy indie pop with dance duo Sugarbeach, comprised of Marlee and Tully, two women who fell in love in Sydney, Australia. As much as I want to assume that music was the factor that brought them together, that'd be the most incorrect statement one could assume. You could say their relationship enriches the music they produce, which will probably explain the eclectic mish-mash of normally separate genres.
So, what do I know about Australia from my adventures? Well, "XXXX" is a beer, you could commute by ferry to work in Brisbane and Sydney, and... well, this stuff is for another time.
PHIL: You're an Australian/Canadian duo. How did you two meet with the Pacific Ocean in the middle of everything?
MARLEE: I moved to Sydney, Australia to be in another relationship. Tully and her husband were among some of the first people I met there. I felt an instant connection with her and five years later when our respective relationships had ended we realized we had strong feelings for each other. Within a year we'd moved back to my hometown, Vancouver, wrote "I Just Love Girls", started Sugarbeach and then got married.
PHIL: What got you into music in general?
MARLEE: My brother and sister were already in the music business in a big way... albums, a TV series in Canada and touring, so when I was 14, I joined them. They were also great songwriters so while we were performing I learned what made songs work by watching the crowds reactions. Our house was always filled with musicians. I have great memories of David Foster sitting at our old upright playing something new he'd written. I wrote my first song at about 8 years old... I think I borrowed the chord progression to "MacArthur Park" and made up some "love" lyrics about a relationship I was at least ten years too young to experience.
TULLY: My family are all musicians and we loved to jam. My dad preferred to entertain at parties on the piano rather than socialize. I wanted to play as well as him so I taught myself the music he was playing by practicing three hours a day after class... picking up one piece of music after the other, struggling through it and then moving on through the pile.
PHIL: What kind of obstacles have you encountered in your career so far?
MARLEE: In the early part of my career my biggest obstacle was myself and my decision to pretend that I was straight. The fear of being found out to be gay held me back from taking many opportunities that may have placed me and my personal life under scrutiny.
As Sugarbeach we certainly have alternative content in our songs which can be an advantage as we are unique but also an obstacle because not everyone is comfortable with women singing to women "yet". Until Katy Perry revealed that "she kissed a girl and liked it" the lesbian lyric references on radio were mostly covert.
We discovered there was some opposition to our music when a mother in Charlotte, North Carolina told us after we performed, that our website was blocked in her son's school in Erie, Pennsylvania! Hey we're just out there promoting love... it doesn't make much sense to us.
PHIL: How is your music created? Who writes and who composes the music?
TULLY: Well one of gets an idea about a topic. We talk about it, write notes. Marlee gets a lot of her lyric ideas while driving, so she brings back a dictaphone full of barely audible lines and barely readable scribbles on the insides of fruit bar wrappers. It somehow all comes together after exchanging ideas on melodies, how soon we get to the hook and does this one need a bridge.
PHIL: Do you both seriously "Just Love Girls"? I kind of agree to that statement.
MARLEE: Hmmm... well I have been open to loving both sexes throughout the early part of my life but there came a point when I had to stop denying that my emotional and physical connection with women was so much stronger. People often refer to that feeling as "coming home"... it's a sense of everything finally being right so... yep you could say "I Just Love Girls".
TULLY: I had only been in relationships with men until I met Marlee, so that's a "No" for me. I only love Marlee.
MARLEE: ...what can I say... when you've got it...
Phillip Hong is a presenter on Centre Street, our current affairs programme featuring alternative stories and interviews.
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