The Australian electronic music scene has fallen in love with Tigerlily, the electrically-blue haired DJ, not only for her music but also for being a role-model for younger women. Eden Tokatly got the chance to speak to her ahead of her upcoming Sterosonic show.
You have recently released Paradise. What was the recording process like?
Oh my goodness, it was a very hectic day. We had my first makeup call at 4am and we didn’t finish shooting until 8pm. So it was a full day of filming, but it was really rewarding. We worked closely with the directors and photographers and the creative team. I feel like the video really embodied me as a person and an artist and a musician. It was all about being reborn through nature and exploring nature. I think it related well to the track, the concept of “paradise” and also had the vibe that I like. It was great! I was really, really happy with the finished product, and although the day was long and tiring it was extremely fun.
Your new single, Feel the Love, is being released tomorrow, can you tell us a bit about it?
Yeah, so I wrote Feel the Love in L.A., almost a year ago now and it was written about, I suppose the connection that you can have with music. So, although it’s saying that “feel the love” can be taking in the romantic sense of the word, it’s definitely not just about that. It’s about sharing that connection through music. One of the lines in the song, “feel the love of our electric shine” and I think it’s just that electricity that bonds people together. The power of music bringing people together. That’s what the song was about, I had a blast writing it. I worked really closely with the vocalist, Nat Dunn, she’s a Brissy girl, but we actually worked on the track together in L.A. We have a really beautiful music connection and have become very close friends now. She is incredible to work with so we’ve actually written quite a few songs together now. Feel the Love is just the first of what we’ve done together, it was a beautiful process.
How did it feel to be Australia’s #5 DJ, and #1 overall female DJ for the inthemix Awards in 2014?
Yeah, it’s great. It’s a massive achievement, I have my fans to thank for that. I have the most beautiful, dedicated, awesome supportive network and I’m very appreciative of the, I don’t ever forget that. It’s great, I’ve held the number 1 for DJ’s for the last three years. I think for me, over everything, I hope from being the number 1 female DJ, I hope to encourage other young girls to get involved because it is definitely a male-dominated industry and it can be quite intimidating and nerve-racking for young girls, to get involved especially when theres such a boys club element to it.
It seems that for many female DJs they are seen as just that, a female first, and a DJ second. What is it like to be in such a male-dominated industry?
It’s definitely difficult and it’s definitely been a work in progress. It’s a constant process and I think it’s just a matter of for me, what I try and focus is on is just being organic and pushing out the message that I feel that is most real and natural. I think where people get caught up is, especially the girls, pushing out messages that aren’t true. But I am very involved in everything, whether it’s writing lyrics or writing music or creating content for my social media platforms or whether its doing meet and greets at shows. I’m really hands on and I think, we’ll I like to hope, that people can see that. I like to think that I inspire and bring people together (laughs) I’m not sure if it’s working but yeah I think that’s kind of my aim and my focus. Hopefully I can continue to develop that so people follow me for my music and all the positive stuff that I am trying to do and not just necessarily because I’m a female DJ.
You studied at university whilst simultaneously touring and writing music. What did you study and how did you manage such a complicated lifestyle?
So I studied a Bachelor of Media & Communications at Sydney Uni, with majors in marketing and sociology, it was great but really difficult. I studied full time, I didn’t even do a half time or a part time course. It was challenging definitely at times, not so much as mentally but both physically and emotionally. I remember one week I had three shows in Melbourne, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday mornings I had 9am tutorials. So I was catching 6am flights to go to class and then down again at about 3pm for the next show and I did that three days consecutively. It’s was like, alright, we need to readjust my schedule around my uni and make uni the focus. So, it was definitely the focus for awhile and I think it’s important, for me having an education. It was really, really important and I’m glad I did that but I’m also really happy that it’s out of the way now and I can make music my focus.
“Kiss My Tigerlily” took us on a journey through your life and emotions. How important do you feel it is to put your own personality into a set?
It’s absolutely imperative, without it I don’t think you have a very successful show. It’s all about emotion and bringing people together and if you can’t put yourself into your show, or performance or music then what are people actually getting? Everyone wants something real, they all want something they can engage with that’s honest. Yeah, it’s really important and my vibe and also reflects the stuff that I write in the studio as well. I think also for me it’s really important to be an engaging performer so I like to try and be really inclusive and fun. Big energy, big vibes. It’s been a really great response from that so far, I think I’ll continue with that cause it seems like it’s working for me and people seem to always have fun. For me that’s the most important thing it’s that people can come to my show and have a kick-ass time.
You have played at Hakkasan, Echostage, Octagon. What has been your favourite place so far and what is your dream festival to play?
This is always such a difficult question! My favourite place to play. Probably Hakkasan in Vegas, was my favourite place to play. Obviously the club is incredible and amazing but also because the crowd is their to party in Vegas, to have a good time. You can tell that from the vibe in the crowd and for me that’s the most important thing that people are having fun and getting in to it, it just makes an incredible show. Oh gosh, dream festival. I would really love to play EMC, getting to play on the main stage would be amazing, next level. I think for a similar reason as well, people go there in a likeminded headspace, there they to have fun and enjoy themselves.
What can the crowd expect from you at Stereosonic?
I’m very excited for Stereosonic. We have a couple of special things up our sleeve which will be very very cool. I’ll be playing some unreleased music and testing it out, so that’s for sure. It’s a little bit more difficult at festivals because you only have an hour, where as at a concert you have one and a half to two hours. You really need to construct it carefully and think about what people want.
You were Tiesto’s Support Act, what is it like touring the world and working with big name artists?
Incredible. I’m very, very blessed and very lucky to have his support. He’s been a really great friend and mentor throughout the past two years of my career which is awesome. So, yeah, I’m very lucky to have him involved, he’s taught me a lot about music and to be honest about life as well. It’s great touring on the road, I don’t know how he does it. He tours a lot, I don’t know if I could do it to that extent. His touring schedule is crazy but touring is pretty fun, I won’t lie. It has it’s pros and cons. It is exhausting and tiring and I do get very homesick but at the same time I get to travel to all these beautiful places that I wouldn’t normally go. I get to meet and work and engage and create with people that I would never in my life of thought I would be able to meet. For me to be able to go and write music and perform and meet new people and eat great food in places all around the world is a pretty sweet deal.
Was there anything from your travels, throughout the US and your other ventures, that have influenced your creative direction?
People often look for the really key pivotal moments but for me it’s been more of a gradual process and I like to think I gain inspiration and insight and develop myself as a person and an artist from every interaction that I have with people or the world or whatever it may be, every single experience. I think if anything going overseas and putting myself in these new environments which I may not be so familiar with has definitely pushed my personal, musical, creative and professional limits. It’s really made me grow as an artist and as a person. I don’t really know if theres one time when I feel like I’ve been like, “Yes, I’ve made it!” because for me I still don’t think I’ve made it. I feel like theres a lot more things I need to do and I would like to do and achieve in the next few years. There hasn’t been an “Aha! I’ve made it!” moment as of yet. I’ll keep you posted if it happens but for me it’s always been a matter of staying present. When your on stage, being so grateful for the opportunities your given, especially when I’m in Vegas or playing for huge crowds.
What piece of advice would you give aspiring female DJs?
This is a tricky one because I could talk for hours about it. I think you should follow your gut instincts, follow the course you wanted and push yourself to things that you might find scary or nerve-racking. It is a difficult industry to work in and I think it is a bit of a boy’s club. It can be quite intimidating, especially for young women in the industry. My advice would be to follow your passions, follow your dream. If your passionate about something and you love what you do that’s going to shine through. There isn’t enough of that true, heartfelt, organic love in this industry. If you are in love with what you do and you put your heart and soul in to it.
You can spot a rare glimpse of the mermaid in her natural habitat at Sterosonic, full tour dates at: http://www.djtigerlily.com.au/#shows