From Suicide Girl to 'Hunger Games' Composer to Electro-pop Artist: Meet Tying Tiffany
Plus here's the premiere of her latest track "A Lone Boy."
Tying Tiffany doesn’t do conventional—the Italian singer has been all over the map straddling a range of careers. She’s gone from Suicide Girl (something she likes to leave in the past) to an electro-pop singer who’s toured with Iggy Pop and The Buzzcocks. As one half of T.T.L. (Through The Lens), alongside producer Lorenzo Montanà, Tiffany’s composed music that’s appeared on TV shows, video games, and The Hunger Games.
Her latest, fourth LP, Drop, is a foray into a more electronic side, embracing influences including Taylor Deupree, Authechre, Plastik Man, as well as the ambient output of Biosphere, Banco de Gaia, The Orb, and FSOL. Below is the premiere of “A Lone Boy.” Inspired by a stranger she met on a flight, the song is an icy cool take on synth-pop focusing on the darker side of being alone. We talked to Tiffany about how writing for film has affected her approach to music, her personal lyrics, and her time as a Suicide Girl.
Noisey: How did you get involved with The Hunger Games?
Tiffany: It all started thanks to the collaboration with my licensing sync label ZerOKilled Music, through which I was able to have some of my songs featured on several TV Shows including CSI. Then, I decided to start a side project called "T.T.L.”with my long-time music producer Lorenzo Montanà, focusing on writing music for film and trailers.
Our goal is to create powerful, evocative music and to bring the emotions out of the picture so people around the world could be touched and inspired by it! Composing music for film is a great opportunity for me to learn more about music. It has been a great privilege to be part of such successful movies: the T.T.L. song "Deep Shadow"—featured on The Hunger Games trailer and "Beyond Fire" for Catching Fire—are probably the most rewarding tracks I’ve ever composed.
How did you come up with "A Lone Boy?"
Actually when I think of this song, it always touches my heart. I met a guy during a flight from Milan to Berlin. We started to talk, and we had same vibe on everything. It was like we had known each other a long time. He told me how difficult it was to live and deal with his homosexuality around his family so, he decided to move to Berlin, and after so many years, he had failed to tell to his father how much he loved him. I felt very touched and connected to his story, because I felt we were both solitary people in the same way.
And how did that filter into your lyrics?
"A Lone Boy” is about family bonds and boundaries that we all have at the end: no matter what our family structure is. Family members are the ones who've seen us at our best and worst, love us consistently and are unconditionally there for you. But, when that bond gets broken, there’s a multitude of strong and torn emotions that can last forever.
How have you been able to keep your music super DIY?
It’s been very hard because when no one helps you, and many doors are closed, your mood can go deeply down. My music project has grown mainly thanks to all the people who followed me via the internet after all these years. I've always managed myself, and I still dedicate a lot of time to stay in contact with my fans. I think that’s really powerful.
Where do you live now? How has your cultural background influenced your music?
I live in a nice city in the North of Italy, but I travel a lot and that definitely influences what I do, including my music. I'm a very curious person and my inspiration is not only music. All major events around me shape my sensitivity. I think I have many sides that at times I cannot even understand completely. That aspect is certainly present in my songs. I’ve always tried to create my own sound, which is influenced by the music that I’ve been listening to all my life: from the roots to what I listen to nowadays. It’s hard to specify a single thing that influences it the most. Everything that I write and sing comes coming from a real experience.
What is it like hearing your music in video games and in movies?
Being part of FIFA was very exciting and totally unexpected! I am a big fan of video games in general, from arcade to fantasy. I like the way they choose the music; they really don’t care if you are a big artist or an independent act. If the music works for them, then you are on board. This is why in the video games soundtracks you can find cool artists from every part of the world, and that’s great. By the way, it makes me smile all the time when I play it, because they used the clean version!
How did T.T.L. start? Does it continue to be a side-project for you?
Lorenzo Montanà and I are both movie buffs. When we started to compose several instrumental orchestrated tracks in a more "cinematic" way, we immediately realized that we could seriously work and grow with this project. The sound of T.T.L. (Through The Lens) is a blend of avant-classical and industrial, so it’s very different from the Tying Tiffany productions. I honestly don't consider T.T.L. as a side project. We dedicate all of our time to it. We are also working on a full T.T.L. album for ZerOKilled Music, and we are constantly experimenting different genres. Composing music to movies makes it all very exciting!
Does Lorenzo make an appearance on Drop?
Lorenzo comes from the ambient, electronic scene that gravitated towards Pete Namlook (Fax Records). He is the producer of all my albums, and he’s the only person with whom I've always worked with in a total harmony. We have the same point of view about music, and we come from the same music background: from grunge, to post-punk to the electronic scene. It’s very difficult to find people with whom you can talk about everything from Leonard Cohen to Terre Thaemlitz. That is another reason why we decided to start our T.T.L. project.
How did you go from Suicide Girl to musician?
The Suicide Girl experience happened long time ago, about 10 years ago. It was a fun period, but it belongs to my past now. It has never been related to my music anyway: they were always two separate things. I have several interests: photography, painting, contemporary theater, and all forms of art expression, but music is and will remain my main passion.
Your third album from 2010 was based around "People's Temple,” the murderous cult led by Jim James. From then until now, how has your music changed?
Many personal events have happened during my career, and for my personal growth every new album is a full new experience for me. But surely Drop carries on the sense of loneliness and melancholy that was the main theme in People’s Temple. I guess the experience of writing for the visual media with T.T.L, influences me a lot on my new album: I found my sound to be more dynamic, cinematic, and I've learned to associate every song that I write to an image. Basically, Drop sounds much more electronic, but the people that have been followed me through all the years know that record after record, my music always develops into something new. I never liked musicians that repeat themselves with the same patterns on every album.
Do you still stick with an overall theme for your latest album, or have you strayed from that overarching theme/storytelling?
My last two albums People’s Temple and Dark Days White Nights talked about the night, religions, personal uneasiness, and fake cults. The songs are about a lack of communication, existential unease and the crisis of modernity. With Drop, I preferred to look inside myself instead, and the element of water is a constant thread in each track on the album. I’ve always liked giving something unexpected and different in every album: trying to redefine the genre patterns under a new form.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences in general? And who are your influences on Drop?
I'm inspired by Instinct Ambient Europe and KK records from the 90s where the music goes from acid and sharp sounds to the most organic and ethereal atmospheres. While working on the album, I spent many days walking by the sea, I felt so connected to nature. The feelings that nature leaves inside of me helped me find the mood for the new album. I was inspired by the depth and power of the sea, and Drop for me is a small part of an immense ocean or an infinite universe. I like the idea that everyone can find their own meaning in it.
Drop is out 3.11
Tying Tiffany Tour Dates
3.10 March - Glasslands, Brooklyn NY
3.12 March - Valhalla @SXSW, Austin TX
3.15 March - Complex, Los Angeles CA