Alaskan born singer songwriter Rebekah Pulley's music is captivating. Pulley now a Saint Petersburg, Florida resident, began writing when she was eight and received her first guitar at age 15 from a generous family friend while visiting Oregon. Her raw talent has fans flocking to purchase her albums on iTunes.
Two of her fan favorites include "I'm Not Your Girlfriend Anymore" and "Morning Came Too Soon" both reminiscent of our own lives.
Pulley was raised in a musical household and developed an ear for music while listening to her father play during her childhood.
Pulley's lyrical short stories invite inquisitive listeners to ask what those words mean to her. I had the opportunity to interview Pulley and learn more about her magnetic talent and the stories behind her music.
Laura: "What came first being a musician or a singer/song writer, and when did you develop the confidence to play in front of an audience?"
Pulley: "I started writing when I was very young, around eight or nine, as soon as was able to express my thoughts in journals. I wrote a lot of poetry during that time but didn’t attach a poem to music until I was fifteen.
"It was around that time that I starting teaching myself to play the guitar; and interestingly, my first guitar was given to me by a family friend in Oregon while we were visiting. It was hanging on a wall, I expressed interest in it and the kind man took it off the wall and gave it to me.
"The first time I gathered the courage to perform in front of an audience was at an open mic night at the age of 24. I was a late bloomer in that respect, very shy back then and still am to some degree."
Laura: "You play the guitar, Wurlitzer, piano, Hammond B3, snare, accordion and ukulele, are there any more instruments that you play and are there any you want to try?"
Pulley: "I would love to learn to play the cello. Even if I’m not going to be great at it, I think it has a beautifully soothing sound and would love to feel the vibrations of it against my body."
Laura: "What influenced you to try so many instruments?"
Pulley: "My main instrument is guitar but I write a lot on the piano too, it’s just not as portable. I do enjoy picking up odd instruments and learning the basics of them as a writing tool or for recording purposes. Every instrument has a unique sound and helps to channel different ideas and feelings when writing."
Laura: "With so many musical artists to choose from how did you develop your own unique sound?"
Pulley: "I think that may have happened as a side effect of not having any proper music lessons. Teaching yourself an instrument creates your own unique sound naturally.
"I never figured out that singing was just making vowel sounds until I was almost thirty by watching a PBS special on Tibetan monks chanting vowel sounds.
"I’ve also been shaped by the music I’ve heard growing up. My parents listened to country-western and gospel and I find that a bit of those styles subconsciously bleed into my songwriting and singing."
Laura: "You tell a great story within your songs. How long have you been writing your own songs and have you written anything other than songs?"
Pulley: "I wrote my first song at the age of 15 and have written hundreds of songs since then. I write a lot of poetry, most of my journal entries are in the form of a poem although I’ve never published any of them."
Laura: "How much has your life influenced your lyric messages?"
Pulley: "Quite a lot. I write best about what I know and feel. I would like to try to write from another person’s perspective more often, although I think that is more difficult and requires some sort or research or personal observation."
Laura: "What is the biggest heartbreak for you in the musical field?"
Pulley: "There are a lot of great songwriters and performers who nobody will ever know about, at least not regionally or nationally. Commercial radio plays a lot of crap and I live in constant amazement that there are so many people willing to spend their money and time on it.
"It is also pretty disheartening to think about the people with great taste in music who don’t go out and support it.
"Netflix, Hulu, and the Internet have tied us all to our couches and going out to a live show seems to be becoming more of a rarity every day."
Laura: "A lot of women can relate to your song “I’m Not Your Girlfriend Anymore”, and they will be glad you wrote it. What spurred that song?"
Pulley: "This was a song written after a long, unhealthy relationship and bad break up that I went through several years ago. I was sure a split was the right thing to do (for both of us) but unfortunately he didn’t feel the same way."
Laura: "On your album Back to Boogaloo, is the song Jack. Is “Jack” a portrayal of a person in your life?"
Pulley: "Well Jack is a good example of writing from another person’s perspective. That song is actually about a couple I observed in a bar one night. It was a long 4-hour gig and the place was dead. But this couple was in the corner, drunk, fighting, making up and fighting again. They were there for a couple hours and I actually felt like I was the audience and they were the entertainers. I wrote the song later that night when I got home."
Laura: "That's pretty comical."
Laura: "I love listening to your song “Morning Came Too Soon” I can picture the sun breaking through windows and the song playing in the background, it is such a perfect song for starting a day. Where were you when you wrote that song and what part of your life is it about?"
Pulley: "Thanks. I was in the living room of my apartment, sitting on the floor one morning. It was pretty early and I had played very late the night before. This was when my daughter was in grade school, so I had to get up early every morning with her. A lot of days I would return home and go back to bed, but that morning I stayed up and wrote that song. I remember it was beautiful outside and I could see and hear the birds in the trees through my living room window."
Laura: "While most albums have some songs from other albums, you put out a 2013 album Tralala with a new collection of songs. How did you choose this set of songs?"
Pulley: "Tralala is my fifth recording and I’ve actually only re-recorded one song, 'Lesser of Two Evils' (an acoustic version on 'Brand New Day' and a full band arrangement on 'Here in the Real World'). It’s always a delicate situation selecting what songs will end up on a CD. Feedback from fans at live performances and band member input will always influence my final decision, but basically I just gather up the songs that I feel are the best and record them.
Laura: "Can you tell me about your song Totem?"
Pulley: "Totem was written about my brother who passed away a few years ago.
"He was much older than me and we weren’t as close as my other siblings (I have 9 brothers and sisters). My last conversation with him was on the phone, late at night, and several months after that conversation he killed himself.
"For a long time I felt like I should have sensed something was wrong and tried to help in some way. Musically, it was the first song I wrote on my loop pedal. When I play it solo I loop (or record) a muted strum for a drum beat, then add a simple A minor progression, and finally a single note bass line on the A string of my guitar.
"On Tralala, the musicians expanded on that idea and moved it in a beautiful direction. I really like how the song turned out and added it to the CD in memory of my brother."
Laura: "Is the song Sister Sally about anyone particular?"
Pulley: "This is a made up story about a couple that have a simple life and love each other deeply. It isn’t about anyone in particular, but the title was inspired by a conversation with a friend who has a sister named Sally and a trend when I was a kid. When I was young, my parents were regular churchgoers and of course brought us kids along. Everyone in the church called each other Brother or Sister-so-and-so. As a kid I thought that was kind of funny. That gave birth to the title Sister Sally.
Laura: "Were there any area groups or people that pushed you to turn away from singing other people’s songs versus writing your own lyrics and music?"
Pulley: "No one ever suggested I stop singing covers, but I started out singing original music at open mic nights.
"When I found out that I could earn money playing covers I learned enough songs to get me by and did that for about 4 years. I’d always throw in my originals and people seemed to like them, which was encouraging.
"I began recording my own music and it was well received by local radio and press. Eventually, I established a bit a following and stopped playing the covers all together.
"It’s a lot more rewarding and empowering to play your own music. You’re not just a performer anymore, you become an artist and people take you a bit more seriously and you become more serious about what you are doing."
Laura: "Have you won any music awards?"
Pulley: "Here in Tampa Bay, we have an arts and entertainment publication called Creative Loafing. I’ve won 4 ‘Best Singer-Songwriter’ awards as well as a ‘Best Of’ award for my CD, Back To Boogaloo.
"The Austin, Tex. publication, 3rd Coast Music named that same CD as ‘Debut Album of the Year’. My last two CDs have also landed on may top ten CDs of the year from numerous college and community radio stations across the county."
Laura: "Who are your favorite musicians?"
Pulley: "I grew up loving all those classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Kinks, The Beatles, and of course Elvis.
"Now I’m really interested in great songs and great songwriters like Ray Lamontagne, Neko Case, Kathleen Edwards, Connor Oberst, M. Ward, Gillian Welch, and Jenny Lewis.
"Other styles intrigue me as well, such as The Black Keys, Otis Redding, LeadBelly, The Velvet Underground, Etta James, Jack White, and Gram Parsons. I could go on and on. I really love anything if it’s good."