Katy Tiz Sticks To Her Guns
Lord knows that over the past five years or so, America has been under a British invasion. Not politically. Not militarily. But, musically.
When we listen over the airwaves, we can't help but hear the female Brits taking over pop music. There's Adele, Luciana, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine), Emilie Sande ...
I could go on and on and on. But I won't, because the Brit I want to speak about is Katy Tiz.
In the fall of 2012, Tiz broke into the U.S. music scene with her single "Famous" which, if nothing else, showed us that her name could have just as well been Katy Spunk, or Katy ’Tude because her bad-ass attitude is definitely written all over the song with it’s raw and non-safe lyrics. If "Famous" is an in-your-face type of song, her second single, "I Don’t Give A" impresses because in it is so minimal: a stripped down acoustic version that really shows off the singing chops and writing skills of this young artist (reminiscent of fellow Brit Jessie J).
As Katy Tiz is putting the finishing touches on her yet to be titled album to be released mid-year, and preparing to do what she loves to do best and perform on stage at 2013’s biggest lesbian gathering, The Dinah in Palm Springs in April, I caught up with her and chatted frankly about her music, growing into her attitude, sticking to what she believes in, the female artists she most respect, and how fucking excited she is about her opportunity to become a pop star. As she puts it, Katy Tiz is in it to win it!
BeBe: Let me say right off the bat, girl! I’m loving your ’Famous’ music video and your new ’I Don’t Give A’ (Acoustic) music video. I’m in love with you!
Katy Tiz: Oh my God!
BeBe: I really like the vibe you got going on. Now, you pronounce your last name spelled T-I-Z as Tease?
Katy Tiz: It’s Tis’
BeBe: OK, because you know over here in America, we might have a little problem if it were pronounced tease.
Katy Tiz: I know! I’ve been called ’Katy Tits,’ and I’ve been called ’Katy Tears.’ I just like ’Katy Tits’. I think its way more like me.
BeBe: But, I really do love your ’Famous’ video, and I know that part of the message in that is how some people sort of feed off of other people’s fame. They only want to have contact with you because they want to name drop and all that (indicative of lyric you only want to fuck me cause I’m famous). Is this song a warning message to those out there who might already be taking a look at your rise to fame, and you’re saying stay away?
Katy Tiz: I wrote the song when I literally first got signed (to a record label), when I first came to America when it was all sort of new and fresh to me. That song is just ironic. It’s not even about fame. It’s kind of a role-play. It’s not a hateful song. It’s just ironic. And the talking part of the song kind of brings that out... that I’m not really famous anyway. That’s what I want people to know about that song.
Feisty young lady
BeBe: You’ve already gained a reputation of being a real feisty young lady. In the introduction portion of the video, you show a feisty and brassy attitude which I love. Have you always been that in your face, or is it an attitude you’ve developed over time?
Katy Tiz: I used to be really quiet, like the goofiest freak in the world. I was like... weird. I don’t know, I wanted to be an actress. And, I just developed... I grew up with boys, so, I know how to defend myself. And I have a decent mouth on me (we both laugh). I can stand my ground. So, I guess I kind of grew into it because I was definitely the quietest geek around. I’m still a geek I just know how to scramble.
BeBe: Your second music video is an acoustic version of your track ’I Don’t Give A.’ And, I want to personally thank you for that song because it has now become my anthem. What I love about the video is that you have a wonderful, wonderful voice, and it’s a great an opportunity to hear your voice with this stripped down version. But, we also really get an opportunity to your phrasing of the lyric. We really get a feeling of what your singing means to you. What I want to know is when you originally wrote the song was it intended to be an acoustic track?
Katy Tiz: Well, the guy in the video is my brother.....
BeBe: (Interrupting) That was my next question, because I know you started out playing gigs with him (brother).
Katy Tiz: Yes. This is like me and him. And, that’s how we wrote it. We were writing on the acoustic guitar, and all the words are real. All the words are definitely from past experiences. That song started with the hook. We were like, ’what should we write about?’ And I was like ’I don’t give a fuck’. (So we decided,) ’You know, let’s do that!’
My brother was like all right let’s do it. And we wrote about it. That’s why like to do it acoustically, because I’m all about the lyrics. There’s always a message, or an experience. And, acoustically, you are absolutely right, that’s when it all comes across. All my songs mean a lot to me, but that these lyrics are definitely something I’ve been through, let’s put it that way. I won’t give you the name of the person though (sly laugh).
Stick to your guns
BeBe: You were speaking about your brother, and I know you started as a teen working with him, writing songs and doing acoustic gigs. And, when he went on to other things, you started writing on your own, dabbling in a lot of different genres and styles of music that, I guess, others were trying to place upon you before you found your niche. Tell me what were the other types and styles of music you were doing, and why those didn’t work for you?
Katy Tiz: The one thing I realized, and the real key to becoming successful, or to have the opportunity to become successful, is to stick to your guns. I can do anything. I can do acoustic. I can be a rock singer. I can do this and that, and everyone has a different opinion on what they think you should be. They are all the Simon Cowells of ’X-Factor,’ and I’ll do that. And I did a lot of dance music. And there was something missing for me. The day I turned around and said to my brother, ’You know what, just fuck it. I’m just going to do what I want to do’. That’s when all this shit changed for me. Now, I couldn’t be happier. I live and breathe this music every day. If I don’t believe in it, no one else is going to believe in it.
BeBe: And that’s exactly it. You are a singer’s singer. You sing with feeling. It would be easy to see you faking it...
Katy Tiz: Exactly. That is so true. It is all about passion. My passion is either ’I fucking hate you,’ or ’I fucking love you.’ That’s how it works. And, that comes across in the song (laughs).
BeBe: Well, you have definitely used words in describing yourself such as ’real,’ ’not fake.’ Are those descriptions point to the things you see going on in the music industry, like the overuse of auto-tune or the major fabrication of pop stars? It isn’t always necessarily about the talent, but other factors.
Katy Tiz: You know it’s not so much about that at all because everybody, whether the public knows about it or not, has help in the studio when they are recording. That’s just the way it is. The reason that I say I’m real is because the same road you go up on is the same road you come down on. At the end of the day, this is my career, but it’s also about making good friends and meeting good people. It’s all about karma for me. I’m so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity that I want everybody to have a good impression of me. The person I meet on the street today will have that experience with me, and they will have that impression of me until I give them another. So, I’m going to make sure that I’m fucking me! I don’t have shit against anyone. Everyone does their own thing. And, I want everyone to know me! I want them to know how excited I am about this. Some people are cool, and keep their calm like ’yeah, I’m going to be a star, or whatever.’ If I ever get to that status, I’m going to freak, because I’m so excited about this! And, I want everyone to know that.
BeBe: Being real and sticking to your guns is definitely the right road to take, as you say. Because you know this business called show business can chew you up and spit you out. You have the right attitude going into it.
Katy Tiz: Oh, yeah!
BeBe: Tell me who have been some of your musical influences that you may have drawn from?
Katy Tiz: Really young, I fell in love with Alicia Keys. When I first heard ’Fallin’,’ I was like, shit, this is ridiculous! She is one of my idols. Whether she does a song I like or don’t like, as a singer, as a performer, as a writer, I respect her. She is always dignified. There ain’t shit about her in the press. I love what she does. India Arie is another girl that I like. I can listen to one of her songs, and it will take me back to that moment I first heard it. There songs about feelings. People like Alicia Keys, India Arie, Lauryn Hill... I want my music to have the same kind of feeling that I get from their music. There is a memory attached to each song, you know? That’s what I want people to get out of my music.
BeBe: It’s interesting that the women you just mention have common threads. Number one, they are all major lyricists. Number two, they all three use their voice as an instrument to say certain things. It’s not so much that they have a perfect pitch or a perfect tone, but it’s how they use their voice that draws meaning. I totally see these things coming through you. It’s amazing that you chose these three women. I can see how they have affected how you sing.
Katy Tiz: They are my idols, and I’ll always look up to them. And you are so right about the lyrics thing. I’m so passionate about my lyrics. I’m constantly writing lyrics down.
An Englishwoman abroad
BeBe: You know I interviewed a few of your compatriots, the female Brits who have come our way and are making major waves in the States, and many of them have the same thing. They are great writers when it comes to lyrics. It’s almost poetic in a lot of the things that say. The things they talk about in their songs we all can relate to. They say it terms that we understand. There’s no bullshit. No play on words. They come out and just tell you how it is. I like and appreciate that. So with all of these women from the U.K. coming over here and having some success, are you at all concerned that you will get lost in the shuffle here in America. In other words, that people will say, ’she’s just another Brit coming over here’, and, at that point, will not pay that much attention to you?
Katy Tiz: You know, that never entered my mind! I see it as I’m joining these people. These people are setting the path for me to be able to do my thing. The reaction the Brits have gotten from Americans these days in terms of music is incredible! All of them are doing so well over here. I’m just going to do my own thing. Everybody different. If I stick at it enough, I’m going to get a reaction. When I first signed and came over to America, I was in it to win it. I fucking love it here. I love being in New York. I love being the one with the stupid British accent and talk about ’Harry Potter,’ or whatever (we laugh). I don’t feel a threat from anyone else because I aspire to do what these other English artists are doing over here.
BeBe: Speaking of your future here, I know the singles we spoke about earlier are planned to be apart of an album collection, and I want to know how the completion of the album is coming along and when can we expect it to drop?
Katy Tiz: The album will be out somewhere around May of this year. Definitely spring time. I don’t yet have a name for it. I have a million names going through my head. That will be the last thing I do (name it). I want it to be something attached to this whole fucking thing that I’ve been doing for the last year. I’m very excited to give this to people. I’ve got some really great fucking stuff coming your way.
Katy Tiz will be performing songs from her upcoming album at The Dinah in Palm Springs April 3-7, 2013. For more information visit the Dinah website.
For updates on her debut album release and performing dates, visit visit Katy Tiz’s website.
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.