By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Move over, Drake.
Capitalizing on pop music’s lower-cased craze, new artist tiger lily recently dropped the video for her new single “best u ever had,” which features Instagram stars Kayla Wilde and Amber Khierella, while the Summer breakup anthem itself was produced by Dempsey Hope’s executive producer, Jake Crocker.
Emergence as a solo artist in the midst of a global pandemic can be a challenge for anybody, but the Seattle and Los Angeles-based musician has risen to the occasion, with spades to show.
In her short time around, she has managed to open for Grammy-nominated duo Social House, gained a following of about 70,000 fans via social media and garnered close to a million streams on Spotify for her debut single “lisbon.”
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with her about “best u ever had” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you decide on the artist name “tiger lily”?
tiger lily – Believe it or not, it’s my real name. Only difference is my real name is “Tigerlily,” but I didn’t want the famous Australian DJ Tigerlily to sue me when I’m famous, so I added a space recently! (Laughs)
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your newest single “best u ever had”?
tiger lily – It’s funny since I mostly write heartbroken songs, but if you meet me in person, I’m very lighthearted and I wanted a song that captured that side of me. I had just moved to LA, so I was spending a lot of time driving and there were so many times I found myself driving after some guy did something terrible, thinking to myself, “Baby, you just liked the chase, I’m the one that got away,” so I turned that into a song lyric. I also am always in a leather jacket, so I added “Leather jacket looking bad, I’m the best you ever had” and I also found myself driving around with a lot of guys with nice cars since this was LA, so I also added, “Riding shotgun going fast, when they’re asking who is that, you know what you got to say, I’m the best you ever had.”
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
tiger lily – Right now, I am super into Latin music since I was just in Mexico City. My friend Johan makes the best undiscovered music in my opinion. If you want a treat, go check out his music video for “Insomnia” or “Desgracia.”
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
tiger lily – I’ve always loved that pop is catchy. To me, catchiness is the holy grail of songwriting. It’s endlessly entertaining writing something catchy, because nobody really knows what catchy means or the formula. I like to think of my songwriting process as channeling. I sit down and give gratitude to the universe for blessing me with this talent, then see what melodies it sends to me. Hopefully, a catchy melody will come and if it doesn’t, I’ll come back another time. I never force it. It’s exciting, because I never know when something brilliant will manifest.
Music Bugle – Did the video for “best u ever had” come out the way you hoped it would?
tiger lily – Surprisingly, yes! Filming was a hot mess. There were car accidents, camera battery issues, last-minute cancellations, wardrobe mishaps – everything you can imagine that could go wrong, did go wrong. I just remember sitting at Krispy Kreme Donuts at 1 a.m. afterwards with a large non-decaf coffee and a box of donuts thinking, “Man, oh man, I’m glad that’s over.” I really thought all the issues were going to shine through in the video, but I love how it turned out. It took hours and hours of effort to get it to this place, but I’m very proud of it.
Music Bugle – What do you find the most challenging aspect of being a solo artist?
tiger lily – The worst part is concerts because I miss performing with my band. I love the music I’m making now, but playing in a rock band is a thousand times more fun than performing as a solo pop artist in my opinion. I miss my guitar solos and distortion pedals! Luckily, I’m hoping I can have the best of both worlds – continue making music as a solo artist, but also playing live shows with my rock band Bleachbear when we are all in town together.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
tiger lily – I am extremely blessed to not have been affected as bad as a lot of people. For me, I think the biggest effect was that it changed my mindset. I graduated during the pandemic and everything was chaos, so it bred a fearlessness in me to do what I wanted since there were much more important things happening in the world than what I was doing, so nobody was going to judge what I did. Instead of following a traditional path post-graduation like most of my friends from business school, I’ve been living all over the country making music.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
tiger lily – I’m from Seattle and I’d say what makes me most proud is the DIY spirit and rock and roll. It’s funny – I love pop music, but I think of myself as a rocker chick. Being in Seattle, I grew up surrounded by rock and roll, so it’s very much a part of who I am and that’s something I’m proud of. I grew up covering The Pixies and Radiohead with my rock band, watching The Who and Queen concerts and learning 90s grunge trivia. My idols were always rockstars like Kurt Cobain and David Bowie. To me, they’re the coolest ever and always will be.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
tiger lily – A lot of artists I meet dread social media. For me, I think it’s the coolest thing ever since I see it as a giant group chat with all my fans and those are my favorite people, so yeah, I spend all day on it. (Laughs) In the past year, people started adding disclaimers to their Instagram DMs to me like, “I bet you won’t read this but…” I’m like, “Oh please, I read every single message!” (Laughs) I’ll never be too cool to say “Thank you” to people who take the time to send me a nice message about my music! I know we’re all busy, so it’s a huge compliment.
Music Bugle – What do you attribute your success to, so far?
tiger lily – This is a great question! I think something a lot of artists struggle with is how slow, for the majority of people, progress happens in music. A lot of artists quit because they get burnt out pouring their heart and soul into their music and seeing very little success in return. Luckily for me, I was in a rock band for years prior to launching my solo project. I took about a four-year break from music since I was discouraged that things were going so slow, but when I decided to come back to it and launch my solo project, I knew what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t even expecting to break 1,000 streams on my debut single and now it’s almost at a million, which blows my mind. Since I had that mindset going into it, I didn’t get discouraged when my music videos only got 200 views and I only got, like, five pre-saves. I just kept going. My manager left and that was really the pinnacle of feeling like nobody in the industry saw any potential in my music. People in LA advised me to pay thousands to hire a team and pay to get features so things would happen faster and I was like, “No, I’m going to figure this out myself.” To this day, I do everything myself. The other night, I stayed up until midnight so I could set the music video to go live and woke up at 6 a.m. to edit clips of it to post on Instagram. Recently, my song landed on Spotify’s Fresh Finds and that was a huge deal for me, because it was a dream come true and it showed me that this approach really works. Just keep going, especially when it feels like nobody else sees any potential in you. When you’re popping off, trust me, they’ll come back around.