What's a Tiger Darrow?
This is a Tiger Darrow:
Even more impressive is that fact that Tiger Darrow is eighteen years old.
Even more impressive then the fact that Tiger Darrow is eighteen years old is that she has already released two full length albums, the second one entirely self-produced.
The self-produced album is 2011's You Know Who You Are. On this album, Tiger produced, recorded, mixed, and wrote all fifteen songs, while also singing and playing cello, bass, guitar, keyboards, mandolin, violin, ukulele, and tambourine.
As I said already, impressive.
Who is Tiger Darrow? According to Tiger, she “was raised in the lovely Austin, TX, and was completely spoiled; not in gifts, but in experiences. (She) grew up on film sets and in the back stages of theaters, so this allowed (her) to have experiences other kids (her) age weren’t. (B)eing in such a professional setting made (her) 'grow up' relatively fast, but (she) really wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Tiger moved to Dallas, Texas as a high school freshmen and this is when she began to focus more on music, playing her first live shows. But music had always been part of her life. “I started playing violin when I was about 2 years old, and then later picked up the guitar and cello. I began songwriting when I was 12, and came to find that music was an excellent source of comfort and therapy, and allowed me to say things that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It also allowed me to entertain or even provide comfort for other people.”
Listening to You Know Who You Are, I had a hard time trying to “label” her music. I could make comparisons to other female pop/folk artists, but I'm not well-enough versed in that genre to draw the parallels. There is a calmness to her songs, which is combined with her incredible musical talents. The music kind of washes against you, like gentle waves upon a shoreline. When asked about her musical influences, Tiger sort of obliquely answers, “I’d say my direct influences include Imogen Heap and Danny Elfman for sure. Other influences vary depending on the song I’m writing.”
There is a diversity to her song writing, as if she is still casting about, not content with any one style of music, trying to let the songs speak for themselves.
I asked Tiger who she saw as her target audience. To this, she replied, “I like to think that my audience is 'all inclusive.' I try to write in a way that anyone can relate to my music. I’ve had people of all ages tell me that they’ve felt like they can connect or relate to it, and I think that’s great!”
Then I asked her what she hopes listeners take away from her songs.
“ I hope that, in some way, my listeners can find something they have in common with what I’m writing about. If they’re going through a rough time, I hope it can somehow help them know that they’re not alone and provide comfort. If they’re happy, I hope my music can prolong that happiness. Everyone takes away something different, and hearing that my music has touched someone in some way really means a lot to me.”
It is obvious from our conversation that Tiger is energetic, enthusiastic, sure of her talents, and motivated to succeed. She is amazingly talented, possessing one of those absolutely captivating singing voices and the chops to draw you into her songs. She also seems to have an innate musical sensibility, as if it were almost a second language for her, especially for someone so young.
And it is her youth that is evident in her songwriting.
Most of the songs on You Know Who You Are have to do with relationships gone awry. Tiger is very good at encapsulating the emotions associated with heartbreak. In the song Takes Time for example, she sings: “the words were only skin deep and they'll brush right off / but a broken heart is more complicated / and the pieces are smaller / and so much harder to pick up / it takes time.”
It is this compartmentalizing of emotions that, for Tiger, seems to be the path to healing. Throughout the album there are calls for distance from the intensity of lost love. These negative emotions are to be processed in order to heal. In the song, What Can You Do? she writes, “there's something to be said / for letting it all go / even just for a little while / the pain in your head / and it's hard to forget / but you need some relief.” In the song With Love she uses a beautiful image to say this same thing: “pack all your pain in a brown paper bag / those tears can be recycled in happier times.”
What happens because of this compartmentalization and this perspective that pain is something that must be endured to heal, though, is that it ends up holding Tiger back. There is an intensity of her feelings. This is certainly evident. But her writing focuses on the process and doesn't allow the creativity inherent in the rawness of the emotion to dictate the power of the song.
The closest she comes to letting this happen is on one of the best songs on the album, Make The News (Demo). Here, she channels her frustrations with a relationship and, in this, lets the song rip. “I can't let you do what you wanna do / if everything you're saying is the truth / if I'm gonna lose this all to you / then you better be prepared to make the news.” In this song, Tiger seems most alive. The music is bolder than anywhere else on the album, her singing has more of a snarl – it is a visceral experience, much more so than the rest of the album's understanding and soothing tones.
And it is here, in this song, that Tiger's true potential is revealed. Remember, this enormously talented artist is only 18 years old. She is maturing and developing and learning about herself, her muse, and her talents. There is incredible potential in this artist and, as she develops, she will be an artist who may possibly destroy our notions of the power of music.
At the end of our interview I asked Tiger she thinks the future holds for her. She responded, “Wow! Well the immediate future is attending NYU, which I am currently doing. I’m continuing playing shows, and since I’m a composition and theory major, I’m writing new material all the time. I love New York, because there is inspiration to be found in everything here. As far as long term goes, I guess we’ll have to wait and see!”
I guess we will have to wait and see, but if You Know Who You Are is any indication, we all may be in for something pretty powerful.
You can find out more about Tiger Darrow at her website: http://www.tigerdarrow.com/