New Enemies was formed by former Turning Violet Violet band members from Philadelphia. They combine synths, washed-out guitars, and an energetic rhythm section while exploring themes of life, growing up, and loss. New Enemies performs sincere songs with catchy melodies and swaying guitar lines under the direction of vocalist/songwriter Sarah Gulish and with the assistance of Jeff Scott on guitar, Eric Daelhousen on bass, and Brandon Gulish on drums.
Turning Violet Violet was formed in 2009 after all of the members of New Enemies first met and performed together. They gained popularity as TVV and established themselves as a chamber pop band on the east coast with their 2012 release, “Double Cure.” They never split up as friends when the band disbanded in 2014 to focus on other endeavors. And in 2016, they made a comeback with the two-song EP “BIO” and “Things I’ve Said” under the name “New Enemies.”
The songs are “majestic in a somber, soft way,” according to journalist Julie Miller. “As New Enemies, they’ve added a shiny gloss of atmospheric pop that ties it all together in a Death Cab-meets-CHVRCHES kind of way,” she continued.
When It’s Cold, a new single from New Enemies, was released in 2020. A self-titled EP with four songs will be released in the spring of 2022 as a follow-up to that dream pop release. Check out the exclusive Interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you all come from and how it all got started?
NEW ENEMIES: “New Enemies” is actually a re-imagining of a band that many of us were a part of from 2009-2013, “Turning Violet Violet.” My husband (and drummer) started TVV in our early 20’s and Jeff and Eric joined soon after. The band had some mild regional success and then ultimately disbanded when we all had some big life changes. We came back together a few years ago to start making music again and it just clicked. We’re located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and feel like we have a renewed sense of purpose in this new version of our music.
2. Did you guys have any formal training or are you self-taught?
NEW ENEMIES: It’s funny you should ask this! I have a Ph.D. in music education and my entire dissertation was about the differences between formal and informal training in music. I am formally trained as a classical pianist and all of the guys have some type of musical training in their past. But, most of what we do in the band is self-taught. We all have such different tastes in music (spanning from punk to metal to shoegaze) and all of those influences come out in our sound.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘NEW ENEMIES’?
NEW ENEMIES: Personally, aside from my classical training, I was heavily influenced by the music of my parents- a lot of Brit rock and Motown. As a band, we draw from chamber pop groups and big indie groups like Arcade Fire. The name “New Enemies” was taken from one of the first songs we collaborated on when we started playing again. Jeff wrote a simple melody with the hook, “Let’s make new enemies” and it just stuck. The idea is that we can come together in an “us against the world” mentality. It seemed like the perfect name for a band that has gone through some heavy stuff over the years and ultimately returned to each other.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
NEW ENEMIES: I think our sound is rooted in what each of us bring to the table: creative drum parts, driving bass lines, washy guitar hooks, and vocal melodies that soar over top. Think Arctic Monkeys meets Death Cab meets Suzanne Vega.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
A lot of our songs deal with pain, grief and longing. We are such happy people who write such sad songs J. We’ve never used our music as message music, but see ourselves as storytellers. We hope that folks connect with the themes that we write about and use our music as a form of healing and connection.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
100%. This has changed in our 30’s. Before, our goal was to keep pushing to get to some unknown measure of “success.” It was stressful and rooted in a false idea of “making it.” Now, the goal is just to keep making music together as long as we can and sharing that with others. We’re doing it! I hope we can keep doing it as long as possible.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
Our songs come about in a ton of different ways. Usually Jeff or I will have an idea that we bring to the group to flush out. We never fully write our songs in isolation. I tend to write all of the lyrics and vocal lines and the guys fill in the other pieces. We collaborate to figure out arrangement and some of our writing happens in the studio as we’re experimenting.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
This question would have so many different answers depending on which of the band members you asked. Just in the past two years, we’ve collectively experienced loss of loved ones and relationships, health struggles, job loss, and more. I think that the loss of loved ones has been tough for most of us beyond anything else and that theme comes up again and again in our music.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
NEW ENEMIES: Being here today and making music again after nearly a decade is something I’m so proud of. We are coming back to the thing we love the most with our chosen family and it feels better than the first time around.
Photo credits: Elliott Woolworth (album cover), Donna Ream (photo of Sarah), Haley Harmon (band illustration)