Broken Glass is available from:
Folk; Soul; Alternative
1st August (download stores)
WITH quite a bit to get through, it is probably best I have a look…
at a young artist with a compelling and exciting sound – one that interests me greatly. Before I come to look at Tiger Lilly and Broken Glass – and her crowd-funding campaign at the moment – I wanted to address a few themes. They will include artists who wear their heart on sleeve; mental health in the music industry and the music coming out from London and the suburbs; building a portfolio and getting reception from radio stations and magazines; artists who let you into their world and songwriters who do not want to be a Pop star – create art that resonates with people. I shall start off, actually, with crowd-funding and why that is becoming a popular route for a lot of musicians. Tiger Lilly is currently running a campaign here for her Broken Glass Tour and is building up the funds. It is exciting seeing something like that unfold and the support she’s getting from fans. Whether it is an album, or E.P. (or a tour) there are more and more artists wanting to engage their fans and involve them in the process. Some would argue crowd-funding might be an easy way of getting money – rather than touring and busking – but it is not a way of avoiding hard work. The fans get something in return and are rewarded – not as though they are donating and get nothing in return. What the fans get is a first-hand look at the creative process and the development of a record/tour. For Tiger Lilly, there is that need to take her work to the people. She has reached over £1,100 at the moment and over one-tenth of the way to her target. The idea behind the tour is to raise awareness for mental health charities (MIND especially) and a very noble cause. I will come onto that subject later but, as Tiger Lilly, herself, states:
“I am Tiger Lilly – a singer songwriter from Slough who started writing music to cope with being bullied at school from a young age. Music literally saved my life and it continues to do so. I am eternally grateful for the love and support my listeners and followers show me. Through crowdfunding my UK tour I hope to meet as many of you as possible and raise awarness about mental health. I believe in the power of music to heal.
My new single means so much to me as it was the first song I wrote after taking 2yrs out to recover from a suicide attempt, a broken marriage, a misscariage and a breakdown. ‘Broken Glass’ was written with much pain but with that pain I created something I am proud of and want the world to hear.
With your help I would like to take my ‘grass roots’ music to the next level whilst educating people about Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety and depression”.
10% of ticket sales from my single launch on Saturday 9th September will be going to the charity MIND
I am always a big supporter of artists who go through crowd-funding routes for various projects. Music is hard and raising capital to finance a record or tour can be a real struggle. It is helpful in that way but, in this case, a chance for patrons to get an idea of what they are supporting. Because of the personal relevance of the tour/funding; it makes funding less optional than one would imagine. If it were a normal tour then you’d be reluctant but Tiger Lilly is raising funds for charity and raising awareness of mental health issues. That is, as I say, something I will get onto but, for now, a continuation of that themes. There are few that would deny how vital it is we get great artists producing and recording material. There is so much press on touring and raising money that way; a lot of times, artists have to push themselves to breaking-point in order to survive. If you had an ambitious musician, their E.P./album might be a little expensive or require a little additional funding. It is great we have these sites where they can set up a campaign and get people involved. There are rewards and perks for that generosity and, in return, the backer has the satisfaction of knowing their money helped make a real difference. Depending on whether you view crowd-funding as a necessary and important way for musicians to get their projects realised or are a little cold on the issue; it is very important and has helped many. I hope Tiger Lilly’s project is successful and she is able to mount something spectacular. I will return to that in my summing-up but, right now, a look at a young writer who puts her heart on sleeve.
When I listen to Tiger Lilly’s Broken Glass; I get the impression of someone who has had a turbulent life – as we can see from her words above – but is coming to terms with things. Music is a cathartic and wonderful way of taking emotions and channelling them into something creative. It may seem like a bromide but music does make a big difference. I see it has a very real and long-lasting effect on so many people – not only as a companion and source of guidance but as a real, healing thing. For Tiger Lilly, I wonder whether her past experiences and trouble have compelled her to take up music as a way of exposing her confusions. By that, I mean she might feel quite misunderstood and lonely having to shoulder the troubles herself. Through music, there is a sense of un-burden but it gives the artist a chance of connecting with their listener and letting them into their heart. We all have to go through struggles – again, I shall come to that – but music provides the chance to connect with people in so many different ways. That is why crowd-funding is such a vital network. I know Tiger Lilly will reach her goal and is getting a lot of love and praise from her fanbase. She is someone who has got to this point because she is honest and open with her work. There is no hiding away and shrouding everything in metaphors and obliqueness. One hears a woman who, yes, has had trials before her but is determined to overcome hard times and find something positive. It can be quite scary and exposing being that honest and real with the listener. Despite how tough things have been for Tiger Lilly; she is keen to go to the next stage of life: one with greater happiness and stability. Broken Glass, as I will explain, reveals its scars and tears but never in a heavy and suffocating manner. It is a beautiful song that reveals hard truths and revelations but keeps the listener invested.
I will move on to ‘cheerier’ asides soon but, until then, wanted to talk about mental health in the music industry. Tiger Lilly is very open about the fact she suffers Borderline Personality Disorder – I know several musicians who do. It is a complex and misunderstood illness that can be frightening and oppressive. Without getting into clinical definitions, it is more finely-woven and different to depression or anxiety. There is an anxiety in both but, in layman’s terms, the sufferer has feelings of abandonment and intense emotions: they can be very up and happy one moment; angry and sad the next. Fluctuation mood is often accompanied by a lack of identity and the inability to retain stable relationships. Suicidal thoughts and self-harming is an aspect as is issues around anger-control and paranoia. There is a lot more than that – it is a rich and unique illness – but that is the basic details. If one does receive that diagnosis, like Tiger Lilly, it can be unsettling but provide a sense of clarity – knowing what is wrong and finding ways to live with it. As someone with Generalised Anxiety Disorder – a wimpy misnomer and is ever there was one! – and severe depression (neurological disorders that have not been ratified yet); I have to live with sadness and suicidality frequently. It can drive ambition and focus the mind in a sense. I work tirelessly but, rather than an avoidance of the issues I face, it is a way of funnelling the complicated swirls of emotion I feel. I think musicians are more susceptible to mental illness or, at least, more vulnerable as a creative. In my case, I became a journalist after receiving a diagnosis at a young age. I found I had that established love of music but was not sure how to realise my ambitions and curiosity. I feel a lot of musicians go into the sector so they can organsie and structure their minds (often haunted or troubled) into song. Whether medicinal or a way of putting their thoughts on something positive, there is a natural bond between musicians and mental illness.
We are hearing more about the scale of the issue: so many young artists carrying such weight and sadness. Mental health is a subject that has stereotypes and taboos. For Tiger Lilly, one feels her struggle is very different to someone else in the industry. Each story is unique and like snowflakes: there might be shared D.N.A. but completely separate on the surface. Music is the popular cocktail in the Paradise Bar. It is an escape for those who find the outside world too unsympathetic but, when in this wonderful space, they find like-minded souls, uplift and purpose. It might be a trite and lazy metaphor but that is the way I see it. Before I carry on with this, there is a lumpenproletariat who feel the issue of mental health is a little overstated and exaggerated. I will continue on but, for now, a little anecdote that shows how deeply psychological issues stick and why one should never patronise those who suffer from it. One of the reasons I am so driven and busy as a journalist is as a result of how I have acted around people I am close to – my family, especially. For all the times I have been a closed-off c*nt and shown little humanity when asked (by my folks) about my writing and day. It is not my fault, I guess, but the way my brain acts – but I regret every time I am cold or distance. There was a time, a few years back, I attended Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park with my parents. We were wandering around the market when we came across a Father Christmas chair – used as a prop people could be photographed on. When asked by my mother, eagerly wielding a camera, I was rather stuffy and refused to sit on it. It was not a big thing but wonder why I said no: it has haunted me a bit and, consequentially, made me more determined to write and suppress that thought. That might seem like an irrelevant discussion but it shows how unpredictable and cruel a mentally unwell mind can be – and the effect it has on people and the sufferer years down the line.
Tiger Lilly, having gone through worse than me, has an equal passion for music and is determined to make a success of things. There is no reason why that cannot happen because, as we can see already, she has a dedicated fanbase and is producing some sensational music. There are a lot of great artists emanating from areas outside the capital. Tiger Lilly is from Slough and lives a short distance from London. That provides the convenience of the city with the chance to detach from it and find some quiet. She has the best of both worlds and easy access to so many great venues. I hope, in future years, the gig demands get even bigger and better. Right now, there is a forthcoming trip to Spain; there will be U.K. dates and quite a busy calendar. I am not sure how influential London is – being near there has meant she’s had the chance to perform here more regularly – but I am seeing more and more artists relocating. The big cities provide a vast array of opportunities and a whole world of music. Maybe the stress and anxiety of the city would be a little bit daunting all-day-long but having it so conveniently placed is a real bonus. I do wonder how much a musician can do when they are located away from the city. Historically, places like London have always provided bright lights and the chance for someone to make something of themselves. It has its downsides but, for musicians, there is nothing like the city. I can see Tiger Lilly, perhaps, moving around in the future and taking her music to other towns and cities. For now, it seems like she is pretty settled and enjoys having that mix of suburbia and the metropolis within an easy commute.
Tiger Lilly is not someone who releases a song and sits back. She is always out there campaigning and promoting. Recently, there have been radio interviews – including one with a Bradford station – and some great exposure. Many artists have to face the reality that music is a constant series of promotional duties and gigs. If one has a love of their craft they will bear that but it can be quite exhausting. Too many people are getting burnt-out by the demands of music but it is possible to have a balance. I have discussed mental health and how important it is – I will come back to that in the conclusion – but wanted to have a look at how vital it is building up that portfolio. Tiger Lilly has a string of great reviews under her belt and has been lauded because of her incredible vocals and emotional, personal songwriting. It is no surprise she gets gig demands from around the world and is establishing herself as one of the most promising new artists in the country. Green Eyed Monster, her previous single, gathered praise from the BBC: her new track is starting to get a lot of love and resonating with D.J.s across the country. Throughout her career, she has been on/promoted by seven BBC stations and featured on international lifestyle magazine. Fantastic D.J.s, including David Durrant, have noted the exceptional range and depth in her voice; the power of those lyrics and the nuance of her music. These are songs you keep coming back to and want to get to the bottom of. In order to help spread her music as far as possible, Tiger Lilly has been doing as much as she can. Ensuring there are interviews available and reviews are forthcoming; being visible and talking about her latest work. It is a tireless and impressive effort that is sure to reap rewards. I know Tiger Lilly will get the success she deserves because she puts the effort in and is always looking to spread the good word. Few artists are as proactive which is very encouraging to see.
I shall come to the song in a second but wanted to finish with a couple of things. I have been looking at some old blog posts by Tiger Lilly where she explains how Pop stardom was never on the agenda. She never wanted to be that traditional Pop star – a chart act that is made to look and sing in a certain way – and always wanted that autonomy. I know how important expression and freedom are to her. Were she to be a mainstream act, one feels the pressures would be too high and she’d have less say over her music and life. It is good Tiger Lilly has eschewed the lure and shine of the Pop world. Instead, she is doing things her own way and seems all the better for it. I think the reality of being a Pop star is not fully understood by a lot of acts. Many assume it will all be easy and money will roll in: they can sit back and have other people do all the hard lifting for them. When you think about it, it will be no different from being a regular artist – except you have your face put in every magazine and barely get any time to yourself. It is not a lifestyle that should be desire and, I feel, many new artists are realising that. In creative terms, there are a few artists who write their own stuff but so many with a list of co-writers and producers. There is little point calling yourself a songwriter if you share that duty with so many others. That is one of the reasons I dislike the charts/Pop scene so much: songs are made by committee and everything is planned and manipulated to gain commercialism and profit. That is not what music is about so it is encouraging hearing so many artists rebel against that and do things honestly. Tiger Lilly has that ethic and morals and will continue to produce music her own way.
Looking through old blog posts from Tiger Lilly, she (a couple of years back) explained how tough she had things in 2014-2015. Smoke and Mirrors, her previous E.P., was recorded and Green Eyed Monster came out. That led to some airplay from BBC and there was a chance to shoot a couple of music videos. A lot of creative positives were arriving from a quite negative past. She has relationship problems and personal tragedies that would have stopped most people in their tracks. It seems like a lot of things were all happening at once and threatened to destabilise Tiger Lilly. It was a really harrowing time but she was opening up to people and taking the stigma out of it. Many keep their personal problems inside and it can be quite hard moving on. Instead, Tiger Lilly let her fans and followers into her life and explained what was happening with her – and why the last couple of years had been so tough. From those bad times came a lot of music ambitions and success there. Not that the balance was now tipped the other way but some good was coming from the horrors. Still having to cope with the daily burden of ill mental health; things are not perfect and right but, one suspects, they are a lot better than they were. It is encouraging seeing artists open up to their fans and providing them with a space in your heart. Music today has become synonymous with digital marketing and we barely get to see the person behind the music. Every now and then, we need something honest and person from a musician. It can be quite tough given the fact most of our music/promotion is online but that does not mean you cannot offer the listener a window into your life – it gives them a chance to learn about the person behind the music.
The opening moments of Broken Glass employ hand claps/finger clicks and a rousing piano line. It is stirring and emotional start that builds images and gets the listener engrossed. Quite an instant and effective start that puts me in mind of modern-day Electro.-Pop/Soul artists like James Blake. There is a majesty and emotional sound that comes from the introduction. It has strength and dignity but, definitely, reveals a certain unhappiness and vulnerability. The opening lines convey a troubled time where the heroine has had her heartbroken: “I don’t understand how you loved me last week/But you take take take and you leave me here alone”. That portrays a love that seemed strong but has been fractured for no good reason. Maybe the guy was not tough and sensitive enough to understand Tiger Lilly’s struggle and found things a bit too real. He saw things unfold and her laying heart on the table and, perhaps, couldn’t handle that. All she’s ever knows, as it is told, is “the sound of a broken heart playing through a microphone”. It is a striking image and confession from someone who has had more than her share of disappointment and let-down. A lot of her peers might wallow and look for sympathy but Tiger Lilly is searching for answers. She is confused why things have turned sour so quickly and why a relationship that seemed so strong has ended like this. Maybe things are still going but there are strains and divisions appearing. The anti-hero was someone who took and used but never gave anything back. We have all encountered people like that: those who look out for themselves and do not concern themselves with other people. Maybe there was a chain of events that led to this moment.
The two have a long past and, yes, if one looks at it from the point of view of marriage, it seemed solid and unbreakable – Tiger Lilly has revealed the song talks about her past struggles. The man has a dark soul – the heroine is breaking her hands on broken glass – and there seems to be little sympathy and compassion from him. That seems cruel given the only fault Tiger Lilly has is being herself and human. That is not something that is punishable but, as we see, it has resulted in an explosion. The piano remains light and austere but carries a lot of potency and compassion – like a supporting hand on the shoulder. Tiger Lilly asks whether there is anyone who can save her when things break down. If someone walks out and cannot handle the pressure; what does that leave for her?! Tension is in the air and a love has gone cold. It is a harrowing realisation and one that has come at the worst time. Having experienced the cessation of a marriage; she now has to deal with the sadness and anxiety that follows. Tiger Lilly’s voice remains dignified and strong but starts to show the strains. There are quivering emotional moments and more soulful highs. It is a detailed and varied vocal performance that conveys all the emotions running through her mind. Rather than, like many would, produce a simple and one-dimensional vocal; she has created something vivid and physical. You immerse yourself in the song and see the bond break up – the man walking out and our heroine having to shoulder the fall-out. The composition rises in the chorus as the vocals heighten and layer. It provides a spirited and evocative lift but one that only emphasises the pain and struggles that Tiger Lilly is facing. She is cutting her hands on that broken glass and looking around for comfort. In terms of instrumentation; that piano line remains crucial but there are suggestions of percussive and electronic input – shades and sounds working underneath to enforce the emotional turmoil and myriad feelings.
The lyrics will relate to anyone who has gone through the same sort of experiences. Many would have seen their marriage breakdown: many more would have experienced a relationship end and had to cope with the aftermath. For Tiger Lilly, it is more serious than that. She has been in this love for a long time and must have planned a future – one that could have been so different had things not ended. The warning signs were all there. Friends saw the signs so there might have been a chance to make a clean break or mediate. The heroine as so invested in the relationship and trusting, maybe that cast shadows over a light that was there for some time. It is not the fault of Tiger Lilly she was trusting and pure. She wanted to believe the best but, in hindsight, there were signs things were not as they seemed. Whether the man walked out because he could not cope with her struggle or there was another party involved, I am not sure. Whatever the reality and truth of the matter; it has led to this moment where Broken Glass was created. One feels sympathy and sorrow for the heroine and hopes things work for the better. By the final notes, you have a lot to take in and reflect on. Putting the song together must have been a really hard thing and full credit to Tiger Lilly for doing so. Broken Glass is not only a personal confession and exploration but something that can be extrapolated by others and make them reflect. It is a powerful and stunning work from one of our best new talents. The gorgeous and heartfelt vocals fuse with intense/romantic compositional balances and lyrics that come straight from the heart.
I shall finish things off shortly but, before coming to that, I wanted to look ahead for Tiger Lilly and where she might head. So far, Broken Glass has received plays from a host of radio stations and there are more developments coming. The promotional photo shoot for the single is just around the corner and that crowd-funding campaign is still going strong (make sure you donate). In terms of touring, there is a jaunt to Spain and when she is back in the U.K., surely ambitions to perform throughout the summer. It is going to be a hot time – not only in terms of weather – so a great change for Tiger Lilly to capitalise on the attention and love her music is receiving. I feel she will get some chances to play the biggest London venues around and take full advantage of the capital. She has already played in London but there are so many wonderful spaces that would love to host her music. I feel things will get better than they ever have been this year and continue to grow in 2018. Whether there is an E.P. around the corner and other songs formulating, I am not too sure. What I do know is that Tiger Lilly is determined to grow and prove herself one of the best young songwriters we have. The love she is getting from radio proves there is a definite demand. People are connecting with her story and really getting behind her. Long may this continue and may she be (relatively) free from troubles and woes this year – all positive and upwards from here! I will finish things off shortly but wanted to return to a few themes from earlier: crowd-funding and its merits; mental health in the music industry and building a portfolio; artists who wear their heart on their sleeve and produce personal and revealing work. On that last point, Broken Glass is a song that recalls hard times and is a very harrowing recollection.
Many would feel overwhelmed having to put those words to paper but it seems like a release for Tiger Lilly. She has faced romantic breakdown and had to cope with her life taking that turn. Many would forgive her for retreating and spending some time contemplating and recovering. She put her all into music and was determined to not be cowed and defeated by circumstance and tragedy. That is impressive in itself but producing music like Broken Glass goes beyond expectations. It is a song that shows its pain and confusion and does not hide behind clever language and subterfuge – it is direct and gets to the point. That means the words stick and get into the head a lot more quickly; the track makes you think and empathise with the heroine. Let’s hope the coming months are a lot smoother for Tiger Lilly but full marks for her. There are not many who can take all she has and come out the other side a more determined and pragmatic person. It is always tough having to deal with issues like poor mental health and it affects a lot more people than you’d realise. Tiger Lilly’s current crowd-founding campaign is to fund her mental health awareness tour and raise money to help those with mental health struggles. I myself have to go through the scourge and many others face a daily reality that offers no stability and comfort. It can be very difficult but, unlike a lot of illnesses, it is invisible and often overlooked. There are so many misconceptions and ignorance around mental health that need to be addressed. Many still think it’s something you can ‘shake out of’ and it is a matter of mind over body. Mental health affects every part of a human and it is impossible to silence something so pressing, insistent and complex.
PHOTO CREDIT: Raymond Pugh
Those people who feel mental health is simple and easy to cure have clearly never been through it. Tiger Lilly’s experience differs from mine and millions of others. She has been open about his Borderline Personality Disorder and revealed her struggles in the past. It is something that pushes her as a songwriter but affects her as a person. In essence, mental health issues can force a person to be more creative and determined but can limit their personal happiness and potential. I feel the only way musicians (and others) are going to get the credibility and acceptance they need is if we discuss mental health problems more freely and candidly. There is no good hiding from the facts and dumbing things down. Making the true realities as clear as possible are the only way changes can happen. The figures concerning suicides are shocking and it affects the music community as much as any other. It is a credit to artists like Tiger Lilly who not only talk about their struggles but go about making changes. That is taking shape in the form of the crowd-funding tour. You have the chance to help make a difference. 10% of ticket sales from the single launch (on 9th September) will go to the charity, Mind, and help improve the lives of those who go through mental health struggles. It is something we all need to be involved with so makes me think there are huge benefits in the crowd-funding route. Some are rather imperious when it comes to that side of things. They claim, for artists, it is a cheap way of raising money and an unfair advantage – there are those who gig all the time and earn their money that way. As I explained earlier; there is not the sense musicians are bilking the public and funding a jolly overseas. They are raising money for their art and allowing the public a chance to become a part of that. When you fund something, you are an integral cog in the machine and help realise something great.
Musicians start these campaigns so they can let their fans in and, yes, occasionally, it would not be possible for them to raise the funds any other way. People have the choice to donate and they can give as much as they feel fit. There are no pressures or expectations: do what you can or not at all. For me, I like to get involved now and then and help see a project take shape and be realised. It is rewarding for a backer but even more so for the creator. For Tiger Lilly, there is a real personal relevance to her campaign. Having come back from a broken marriage, miscarriage and suicide attempt; she is determined to ensure those going through similar things do not have to suffer and given the help they need. There are scant resources and more and more people have to tackle mental health problems. It is a hard reality but one we are facing. In order to help redress this flood, donating to mental health charities is a great first step. It is, therefore, really important Tiger Lilly’s Broken Glass Tour campaign is funded and realised. I am sure it will be but, already, so many people have thrown their weight behind it. Without that platform, it is debatable whether artists like Tiger Lilly could do these things and have the chance to realise their ambitions. I’ll take this down now, a bit early, and congratulate Tiger Lilly on her endless hard work and the campaigning she is doing. So many radio interviews and lots of promotion for her new single is occurring. She has to do all the P.R. herself which is no easy thing. This impassioned focus is starting to reap rewards but she will not let up now. It is heartening see a young artist with the spirit and determination to get her music out there and heard. To her, and any others like her, I would say it is vital you keep your head up, look forward…
KEEP going and do not lose sight.
Follow Tiger Lilly