Wonderland.

New Noise: Tiggi Hawke

The singer-songwriter chats to us about her new single.

Jumper ANYA HINDMARCH

To say that, thanks to our transatlantic conversation, it’s gone midnight where Tiggi is, she’s remarkably enthusiastic over the phone. In fact, she’s just as perky and upbeat as her latest drop, “Dangerous Behaviour”: a collaboration with electro house extraordinaire, Mike Mago, that’s bound to get your toe tapping.

A master of both the pen and the voice, making floor filling bops comes as natural to Tiggi as breathing does for the rest of us. After her EP “Burn Notice” made waves last year, the effervescent star on the rise acquired a taste for being in the studio and has been writing ever since. “Honestly, you know what, it’s now become such a regular free therapy session, that if I stop, I have no idea what will happen,” she laughs. That’s some incredibly productive therapy.

With her new single out right now (run and get it, folks), and her yellow brick road to stardom neatly laid out, we caught up with pop prodigy to chat puzzle pieces, teamwork and air drum solos.

Can you start by telling us a little bit about how you got into music?

So as with every awkward teenager, you’re always going to need an outlet, and I completely found writing. So I started writing poems and only when I was about fifteen did I start putting them to music, and I’m pretty sure they were awful. I don’t even dare to listen to what I wrote back then, I don’t think I ever will. I think that’s just a Pandora’s box that will just never be opened. Then I started working with a company in London and it just kind of snowballed. I was writing mainly for myself, but I never thought that I would really go into music. But then it got to a point where I literally just couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I know that sounds like a really happy accident, but I can’t imagine doing anything else right now at all.

You started writing at fifteen, how did you get into singing?

I did it at school. I definitely did it in the shower! But no, I took lessons, I actually studied classically. I started singing classical music first, but I just found that I couldn’t quite get the expression that I wanted. I connected with the songs, but I couldn’t kind of make them my own. So then I went from that into more of the pop side of things, which actually took like a year to cross over. We kind of did Broadway stuff and then I realised how much I love that kind of storytelling aspect. That really kind of basically led straight into writing my own stuff and I haven’t really looked back.

Cool. So what’s the creative process like for you?

I’m a really visual person, I need to really connect with the subject, so often I write about stuff that’s happened to me, or that I’ve experienced as a bystander or something like that. That can literally be like a feeling that I had when I was driving through London at night, which I love doing. I love night time in general. It’s strange, there’s really weird stuff that you do where you’re suddenly like, “this feels great,” and then, obviously, conversely, the moments in your life where you’re like, “oh, this is shit.” And then I get a free therapy session when I start writing.

So do you usually do the music after?

Yeah. I can come up with a melody absolutely, but I really like getting subject matter and usually the main hook first, because it really is a solid foundation and, it sounds really odd, but in my head, it’s kind of like a puzzle and those are the four corner pieces. You need those corner pieces; otherwise, you’re just kind of going blind. Literally, where do you start with a puzzle? The first thing you do is find the corner pieces and that’s my corner pieces.

Who would you say your main influences are as an artist?

Well, I grew up with quite eclectic music. My mum loves rock music, so that definitely filtered down into what I listened to as a child and a teenager, and then my dad is a fan of American classics, Don McLean, Marc Cohn and stuff, so I really got a complete blend. Personally, my kind of go to is like Johnny Cash. It’s the storytelling aspect of his music, every song is a story. Also, without wanting to sound like a nerdy musician, some of the rhythmic qualities and just some of … you know when you listen to a song and you have a favourite bit in the song? I suppose it’s like during your air drum solo or whatever, I find that I want to incorporate things like that. I want to look forward to doing a little drop or something in my song. I want to be driving along and then, you know, finger drum on the steering wheel.

What inspired your new song “Dangerous Behaviour”?

So, it’s based very, very heavily on a personal experience of mine. It’s a good experience, it’s a really positive experience, where someone kind of gently takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you to act out positively, like maybe do something you haven’t done before. You know, whether it’s completely going for a relationship or anything. Even something as mundane as, “you know what, I’m going for my dream job, I’m going to do it.” Like, it’s pretty dangerous, but it’s ranging from literally that to, “do I like this person?” In my case, it was, “I like this person, I’m going to do something about it,” which is not something I’d usually do at all. But also then saying, “okay, well I now wave responsibility. Everything that happens now is on you and I really hope you can deal with it.”

So it’s that risky sort of feeling?

Yeah, but definitely in a positive way. He’s going to make me go kill someone – that is not what we’re going for!

(LEFT) Jumper VINTAGE STUSSY from ROKIT
(RIGHT) Jumper UNIQLO, trousers DIOR, socks FALKE and shoes STELLA MCARTNEY.

That’s a relief! What was it like collaborating with Mike Mago? How did that come about?

It came kind of out of the blue. I wrote the top line of the lyrics and the melody, he came back with a couple of versions, and it just sounded really great. It just had a really positive and energetic vibe to it, which is exactly what we wanted. I mean, obviously, when you work with a team, everyone has their own vision in mind, but it fit very, very well with the vision that I had for the song, which is great because that mean’s we’re both happy! And he was great to work with as well, just really open-minded and we were definitely on the same page with where the song was going. It’s just great when people are really open to collaboration. It makes it so much more fun, because he took it somewhere that I would have never been able to go by myself. So that’s what it is about collaboration, I love it. You know, coming up with something that you’d never have done by yourself – like honestly, trust me, I’m a bit of a technophobe, there’s no way I could have done that!

Yeah, when you listen to all the synths it sounds so complicated and you think, “how do people do that?!”

Yeah, seriously, like I think producers’ brains are all wired up differently because I certainly couldn’t handle that. I do very little producing. It’s something I’d love to have a look at actually and really get to know, because I worked with a female producer recently and she was so inspiring. You don’t get many female producers; actually, it’s a pretty male-dominated game. And she was awesome, so I was really inspired.

That’s so interesting, there’s not really many female producers around, is there?

Yeah, but one of the best mix engineers in the world is a woman, I believe. There’s definitely room for women to step out of their shell and step out of the shadows. But, you know what, I think the thing about the music industry is that music is so cutting edge and so on the frontier, you’re never going to get people who will reject the change really. If you do, it’s going to be one or two, but they’re just going to have to deal with it. Music is one of those amazing things that have a quality that inspires people and I’ve been writing for a long time now and I’ve just got inspired to start learning to produce properly.

You released your first EP “Burn Notice” almost a year ago now, how did that EP come about and would you say that your sound has evolved since then?

Yeah, definitely. That EP was actually the result of a more time working on it than I thought it would be. Like everyone, you want to get your stuff out there, and you think, “why is it taking so long? I have the songs already, what are we doing? Why can’t I just post it? I just want to put it out there.” But obviously, there’s a lot more behind the scenes work and that was completely new, but I was just unaware of the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes as well. It’s completely beyond me. But musically, I’ve definitely evolved since then. I think I’ve grown as a person. A year doesn’t sound very long, but you know when you just look back and you’re like, “wow, I feel like I’m a different person,” in a really good way? I feel much more comfortable with myself. A lot of the songs on my EP were kind of, I call them half and half, I really hesitate to use the words sad and depressing, but some of the songs are not so happy. But they often have an uplifting theme to them and I feel like this [“Dangerous Behaviour”] has moved on from that. We’ve taken the uplifting theme because that was definitely mirrored in my life. It was definitely an interesting time, but I was hopeful and then the hopefulness has really come through.

Aw, good! So what’s the next big thing you’re working on at the moment?

The next single. That’s how it is. You’ve got one out; everyone’s asking when the next one is. So working towards that, which is going to be super fun because I love the creative process that goes on outside of the writing. Once you’ve got the song, you sit down, people are like, “where did you see this song going? Okay, so what did you see for the imagery?” And then you put your thoughts out there and people completely grow on them, and you end up with this incredible project that just comes from one song. And it’s actually credit to other people, it’s really not a credit to me at all. The whole package, trust me, those guys are amazing at their job. I just write the songs. It’s very much a team process. I love my team around me, they’re all fantastic… And more writing. The songs that I write, I always write with the intention to release them. I care about all of them. I think sometimes if you’re writing and you’ve got a really close time limit, you’re like, “oh god, well I guess we’ve only got a couple of hours left, let’s just shove that in,” and I hate doing that, I really do. But then often you’ll go back and revisit it and you’re like, “oh yeah, we can definitely find something better for that.” I like to revisit songs, because, you know, when you live with something for a bit and you go back and you’re like, “oh actually, you know, yeah I like that bit, but that bit could probably be a bit better.” It’s just a process and that’s what I’m doing for the rest of this year, which just sounds like heaven to me, so I’m a happy bunny.

Tiggi Hawke’s new single with Mike Mago, ‘Dangerous Behaviour’, is available to stream and buy now here via Armada Deep.

Photography
Clara Nebeling
Fashion
Jessica Gardener
Words
Olive Pometsey
Grooming
Siobhan Mcbride
New Noise: Tiggi Hawke

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