Having already made waves in the band Girlyman, Tylan is far from stopping. With an amazing solo single and solo album coming out on June 18th, she’s a force to be reckoned with – in all the best ways. We got the chance to ask Tylan about a number of things: from music to ties to the future, giving us insight to this musician we just know you’re dying to fall in love with.
Check it out!
NewNowNext (NNN): Super generic question, but we have to ask – what inspired you to get into music?
Tylan (T): From a very young age I was moved by songs – I can remember being 4 or 5 years old and listening to the radio in my mom’s Plymouth Horizon. My mom would sing along and I was transfixed by the emotions in the lyrics and by my mom’s strong vibrato. She and my dad, a bluegrass musician, would always have records playing around the house – the Beatles’ Abbey Road for one was on heavy rotation. As I got older and learned the guitar I was driven to emulate the songwriters that fascinated me, like Paul Simon and the Indigo Girls. For whatever reason, by the time I was 14 or so, I knew I wanted to write songs and sing them and play them onstage. I never really doubted this, even before I had any clue how to do it!
NNN: Are there any other artists that have been a big influence on you? How have they made a big impact on your music?
T: Yes, many. Really strong creative songwriters like Ani Difranco and Patty Griffin have influenced me to be bold in my lyrics and simple in my melodies. Emily Saliers is so authentic and literate in her songs, while Amy Ray has a raw passion that blows my mind. Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan could write a million verses and you never got sick of hearing the same melody over and over – which taught me the power of storytelling, images, and metaphor. Dar Williams uses words you don’t usually hear in songs, and is really funny and candid. Lots of my peers inspire me as well – there are so many amazing songwriters out there under the radar, like Antje Duvekot, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Kris Delmhorst, Brian Gundersdorf.
NNN: Your band, Girlyman, played some pretty amazing shows with some big names like Indigo Girls. As a solo artist is there anybody you dream about getting the chance to tour with?
T: I’d really love to tour with Ani and with Patty Griffin. I’ve never met either of them in all my years doing this, and like I said they’re two of my biggest influences.
NNN: Is there anything you can say really distinguishes your work as Tylan compared to your work as a member of Girlyman?
T: Above all, Girlyman was really all about tight, inventive three-part harmonies. The songs were important, but the songs were really in the service of the blend. As a solo artist, my task is to stick out, to grab you with the song and the performance, and in my case, especially the lyrics. It’s an entirely different way to approach writing and performing. My solo work is therefore more personal, more intimate, but also more expressive, in my opinion. If I want you to really hear a particular line, I can growl that line, or I can get really quiet, or change the melody on a whim. It’s a moment-to-moment engagement with what the song is saying. When there are three parts always at relatively the same volume and working in tight harmony with each other, you have a lot less freedom. So this has been really fun for me. I’m learning a ton about writing and singing and performing. It’s all new.
NNN: Your kickstarter for your debut album One True Thing managed to earn more than double your intended goal – that must have been pretty amazing. What can we expect from the album?
T: Yes, it was completely amazing! I was stunned. I met my goal of $20,000 in a day and a half, and then more than doubled it by the time the campaign ended. My project was the second highest grossing Kickstarter in the folk/country category, ever. And the thing that I’m really proud of is that I spent all of that money the way I said I would. I went the extra mile with recording and mixing, I got the musicians I wanted, we took our time. And I think that you can hear all those extra hours in the record – it’s a lush, orchestral, sweeping CD. The artwork is beautiful, there’s even a 12-page lyric booklet, which nobody does anymore! But I like giving people a whole package, an album, something different from what you get if you buy the iTunes download. I also promised my backers I’d buy a tour vehicle so that they could hear the songs on the road, and I’d hire publicity so that more people would know about it. I did all of that, and I feel very good karmically that the money did what it was intended to do. I also feel extremely lucky and humbled by the outpouring of support, and it helps me to keep the faith when I have doubts.
NNN: You’re going to do a few shows to support it, correct? Where can we see you play?
T: Yes, I have CD release tours scheduled through May, and you can find the dates here: www.tylanmusic.com/gig
NNN: What are three albums you think everyone should have in their collection?
T: Oh gosh. Just three? Well, Nina Simone – The Blues. And The Beatles – Abbey Road. And Van Morrison – Astral Weeks. Those are pretty important. But there are so many!
NNN: Fashion wise, you seem to have your own sense of style – how would you describe it? You really seem to rock the vest and tie look.
T: Yeah, I’ve always been a very boyish girl. Earlier in my career I did more of a boy band look, with t-shirts and jeans, but these days I enjoy dressing up. I generally wear jackets and ties, even if it’s a small show – it helps me to remember that every show matters. And actually over the past several years dressing boyish has become less of a big deal than it used to be. It’s more acceptable to dress the way you want to, even if that pushes gender boundaries. I remember when we first started out back in 2001 I really felt like an anomaly, but not anymore. Things are changing really fast.
NNN: Anything you want to say to aspiring musicians?
T: You have to be a little bit crazy to do this, but if it’s your calling, it’s totally worth all the late nights, crappy road food, long drives, unstable finances, and grunt work. Also, my first fiction writing professor at Sarah Lawrence College, Linsey Abrams, gave me this advice and I never forgot it: do the writing first. If you have a list of things to do, always prioritize your creative work. Otherwise that part gets lost.
NNN: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
T: Gosh, I have no idea! None at all. My entire life has changed in the span of the past two years. Even the things I considered the most stable practically evaporated overnight. So I feel like it’s pretty ridiculous to think I know what’s coming. I think the best I can do is be present and just take the next step. Right now it feels pretty clear that the next step is to keep touring and writing songs, because that’s what makes me feel most alive. And to try to enjoy every moment, because as it turns out, things go by very fast, and everything changes.
Tylan’s CD One True Thing can be pre-ordered on her website. And don’t forget to check her out on her spring tour in the city nearest you! Or, you know, take a road trip – that works too.
If you need any more convincing (which you shouldn’t, because really) her single, Already Fine, can be found right here. Happy listening!