TiLLie | Faith

by Ryane Gonsalves

TiLLie is a multi-instrumentalist and powerful songwriter that puts out "uplifting tunes with a massive middle finger raised," which you can see in her newest single "Faith," premiering today on Flaunt. Welcome to her world of edgy, girl-power anthems filled with captivating melodies. In 2017, Kevin Lyman (the founder of the Vans Warped Tour) saw the 'anti-pop' singer at a show and invited her to perform select dates of the 2017 Warped Tour, where she played songs from her breakout EP. Her rise to success has earned her some hardcore fans, that she humbly calls her 'Glitter Gang,' who have played her songs over a million streams on Spotify. She is getting ready to head out on a 28 show tour with Cherry Pools starting March 6th, and has plans to release a string of new singles leading up to and during tour. TiLLie is a very hard working and talented musician, and a role model for the current and upcoming generations. Read our interview and stream "Faith" below.

What kind of message are you trying to send to your audience with your lyrics and in your delivery as an artist?

When I was little my mom always used to say to me, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you chose to deal with it,” and I think that message found its way into my music. I think we all forget how strong we are and how much ability we have to transcend some really dark shit. I want my audience to hear my songs and not only know that they aren’t alone in what they're going through, but be reminded that they get to be the narrator of their own lives. My upcoming EP sort of revolves around that - taking back the narrative. Growing up, especially as a woman, there are a lot of things that are seemingly decided for or about you without question. We aren’t supposed to be loud, opinionated. If we’re “too emotional” then were crazy… we endure oppression, assault, and subjugation but are told we’re weak.. and despite all that we not only survive, we thrive. So there’s a message of empowerment too, and this EP especially is about reclaiming the things, the names, the adjectives that people try to use against you, and realizing that they may just be your biggest asset on your way to break past that toxic glass ceiling.


What helps you to think creativity when you are writing a song? What kind of mindset do you have to be in?

I find that when I’m in the midst of going through something really difficult, it’s usually really hard to write about it. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I’ll walk out a situation and lyric vomit all up in my phone. But I’ve found that the best songs come weeks or months after the original experience. It’s really important for me to sort of, emotionally digest things. I need some space, some perspective to really wrap my head around the feeling so that I’m not just responding from a purely reactive place. Triumph and redemption are undertones in a lot of my music, and I think taking the time to process things is a big reason behind that. I am able to reflect and say, “yeah this happened, but this is how I grew from that or this was the bigger message,” even if that message is as simple as “ya, fuck that person they were definitely an asshole but I'm stronger because of it.” The but is very important.

If you could collab with another artist, who would it be and why?

Tommy tutone because “867-5309” is one of my favorites song ever and I think he deserves another hit, maybe we could make it. Call me. But also maybe Lana, Kacey Musgraves, or dreaming big here, Stevie Nicks. The three of them are some of my favorite lyricists and I think it’d be real fun to play a game of mental ping pong with them.

Seeing as you have an array of upcoming shows, what do you enjoy the most about performing?

Finally being able to connect with the fans and hearing the stories about how the songs have been able to help them or just made them feel understood. It’s super crazy how often young girls come up to me after shows and say something along the lines of “it’s so great to finally see a girl up there singing about what i’m going through.” When you think of pop, you obviously think of a lot of female artists, but when you’re starting out, playing smaller gigs, you realize how much entire line ups are all male. It’s not rare for me to be the only working female in the room. That connection is also amazing because the creation part of music can be so isolating at times. You spend so much time in your own head or with one other person perfecting the song and then it’s usually months from that time until you actually get to release it. It’s so rewarding seeing kids know the songs or hearing that they spoke to them because it’s a reminder that it wasn’t all in vain and you didn't drive yourself near crazy for nothin’! For me, the live experience is all about creating a sense of community. I want kids to come to my shows and feel like they have somewhere to belong. So it’s really special for me because suddenly these songs aren’t just about me and my life. You get to see that we’re all actually going through a pretty similar human experience and that we can help one another get through it. It’s so humbling in the best possible way.


What are you most excited about for your tour? Are you excited to see your fans?

Oh hell ya, so excited! This is the first time I’ll get to cover this much of the U.S.. I’ve done a little touring before, but I’ve not yet made it over to the south or east coast at all. It’s been really cool because I’ve been putting music out for a minute now but haven't been able to tour. So now I’m seeing kids tweeting me with screenshots of their local show being like “wait, is this real? are you actually finally coming to nyc?!”, and yeah “it sure fucking is!!!” … the excitement is pretty dang mutual.

How did you find your love for music? Who or what inspired you to want to make music? When did you first realize music was what you wanted to pursue?

I think I’ve always just loved it. According to my mom, when I was a baby, I could sing songs before I could form coherent sentences. It just made more sense than speaking in my brain, and it’s funny now because I always say I can’t date people that aren’t musicians because it feels like a language barrier. Right around the time I started writing my first songs, I was about 14, my older brother gave me this iPod full of 10,000 songs. It was right around when Napster came out… lol. It fucking blew my mind, the ultimate treasure chest. It was like this portal to what felt like the infinite universe. I think that was the point where a love turned into an obsession and consequently an identity. Story telling through music is the way I make sense of the world.

Where do you hope your career takes you? What are your greatest life goals? What are some of the next steps you’re going to take to achieve your goals?

I just wanna make enough money to record, release, and tour records (with enough to spare for me and my cat to eat tacos once I make her immortal) for the rest of my life. One of my favorite things about music is it’s ability to unite people regardless of race, culture, beliefs, so if I could see the world through my music and experience that, it would be a dream come true. I’d also love to get to a point where I can build my own studio and produce other female artists and eventually start a free after school program for kids to learn and create music and art. It’s so sad how much public schooling has let art fall to the wayside - I really believe the world could be a better place if more people had ways of expressing themselves.


What advice do you have for people who want to be a musician like you? What advice do you wish you had before starting?

Strap the fuck in. When I was young and first starting out, I thought everything was going to happen really fast. I didn't understand the value and importance of honing and developing your unique perspective as an artist. And these days, it’s way more than just your music too. So I think figuring out what you wanna say and why is really crucial and helps everything else fall into place. That being said, the best way to figure that out is just by doing it constantly - say yes to everything at first. Every gig, every writing session, whatever, because then it becomes very clear what you DON’T want to do, and I think that can be way more insightful than knowing what you do like.

Photographed by Marc Gabor
Creative Direction by Clemmie Dugdale