You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who is the same today as they were when they were 14. At 14 I was about to enter my My So Called Life/Angela Chase phase which led me to believe the most coveted man was the aloof Jordan Catalano (our generation’s Mr. Darcy???) type. Hideous mistake. And just like us, Tiffany is no longer the 14 year-old mall tour pop star we all grew to love. To prep for her performance at the BYT/Capital Pride Rainbow Resistance Opening Party (GET. THOSE. TIX.) we chatted with Tiffany about the darker side of life and of course denim.
Brightest Young Things: Hi! How are you?
Tiffany: Hello! I’m actually at rehearsal right now, in New York.
BYT: I was just looking at your bio because I’m working from home today, with my dog, and I was reading about your rescue dogs. Should we just devote this entire interview to dogs?
Tiffany: It’s been crazy. I wouldn’t change it. I’m at my max capacity now. I have eight dogs. I never thought I’d be the crazy dog lady but it ended up that way. I love them. After all that I do, being out on the road, it’s nice to come home and be on my property. I’m a nature head. They’re part of that and they really kind of calm me down. It’s a good thing to have in my life.
BYT: My dog Lorraine literally changed my life. I’m going to sound like a monster but I don’t think I knew how to love until I met Lorraine. She’s sitting here right now next to me and normally she hates when I’m on the phone but she can hear that you’re a woman so she’s fine.
Tiffany. Oh my, well hi Lorraine! Hi Lorraine! She knows I’m a dog person.
BYT: This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. So you’re on your way to rehearsal. Is this for the tour or are you recording?
Tiffany: I’m on my way to London and I have a lot of friends here. I know a ton of musicians. I’m doing a mixed band when I arrive in England to do a bunch of retro festivals there. I gotta have my people. I’ve added a few new songs and I have a new single out called Can’t Stop Falling so we needed to squeeze a rehearsal in. We’ve got an early morning flight to London and I don’t like flying at all.
BYT: Your manager told me that! We had a very detailed chat.
Tiffany: Mike is great. I kind of made a decision that the next couple of years would be devoted to music and getting back into touring. I know my fans want to be part of the new music, all over the world. Doing this album made me want to start traveling again. It was what I was created to do. I’m lucky I can still do it. Even though I don’t really like flying I’m gonna suck it up and do it. It really was my fans and my team of people who have been encouraging me to go “Girl look, go share your music to the world.” So many people want to be part of it. How can I say no to that. I was like “You’re right I need to do this.” It’s my dream. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a little girl. Sometimes being uncomfortable helps you grow. I love what I’m doing now. I started producing my music. I’ve been a writer for a long time and I’m writing with some great people, doing music I want to do. I’m growing in a couple of different directions from some of my ballads to doing some more rock kind of stuff that I did for The Color of Silence. Every time I go out and do my live show it’s an experience and I constantly want to see the show grow and change and morph into something new. I want the fans to continually be excited about this show because they don’t really know what they’re gonna get. I always throw out old school songs or songs I haven’t done in 20 years but the cool thing is it’s starting to have this dialogue about the show where my fans connect about what I sang in different cities. I have people flying in from different places so they can catch the other songs. It really is a unique show with audience participation…shakers, tambourines. You are in my living room. I come to a venue but I set it up like my space. We are at a party, hanging out. And I pay attention to what my fans want when they make requests or they Tweet at me.
BYT: Is there some pivotal piece of advice you remember taking from a fan?
Tiffany: A lot of people ask for songs over and over and over that I may be reluctant to sing but I’ve broken down and put them in the show. There are some songs I’ve recorded in the past that I wasn’t crazy about. I’m a darker soul so anything overly happy and kind of giddy and goofy I’m like…really?
BYT: I’m kind of a dark person myself, and I maintain there is a difference between being dark and negative. You have more of a sassy streak.
Tiffany: You have a slanted view.
BYT: I think people have more difficulty digesting that coming from a woman because we’re supposed to be caring and nurturing. We still can be, but what do you find is the reaction to that particular side of you?
Tiffany: First of all you’re dealing with the whole Tiffany image. I think from being a pop star, young, to maybe people not really knowing who I am but they know the mall tour or the songs…but now I’m grown up and they’re like “She’s a trip.” I’m very honest. I find life very funny. We try our best. We screw up. I’ll laugh at something a little messed up and people question that, asking if I should laugh at that. And I’m like “Yeah, I think we should.” I think celebrities aren’t usually very forthcoming. They’re usually a little guarded. I think people are surprised by what they usually get from me. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I grew up in the entertainment business and I had to find my way. I’ve made that be my life and made it work for me. I think sometimes people become famous and they become really guarded and their life becomes very small in a weird way, in a personal way. They might have a lot of wonderful things but emotionally their life becomes very small. I didn’t really subscribe to that. I wanted my life to be big and full of fun people, crazy people.
BYT: The songs that you’re reluctant to sing, which songs are those? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not grateful they got you to where you are. Sometimes you just don’t want to sing them again.
Tiffany: It’s the songs like Mr. Mambo or Radio Romance that were a little too tongue-in-cheek for me, a little too goofy for me. I hated the videos I made for those because I didn’t think I was cool in them. I was 15, 16, 17…I wanted to be pretty or fashionable, a little more cutting edge. They were like “You’re doing Radio Romance we’re gonna put this big bow on your head.” and I was like “That’s so not cool. That’s so not who I wanna be. I wanna be Stevie Nicks.” I started in country but I started to be a bit more edgy like Rosanne Cash or Lacy J. Dalton, a little more bluesy. I always loved that and as I got older and put my own setlist together I was putting more stuff from Fleetwood Mac in there. My parents were pretty open to growing in that direction because my mom was a fan of Stevie Nicks so it was okay. Once I met my producer who took me pop that’s what I thought we were gonna be recording but it was too much too soon. I always thought I would make that transition but the industry is hard. I think we’re better now at making those transitions but at the time nobody really knew how to do that, especially with a young person. I got put into a category that, although I was very grateful…I spent a lot of years showing a different side of myself while still celebrating being Tiffany. I love pop music. I love the 80’s, but me as an adult now, this is my new music. It’s got more of an edge to it. I write about being uncomfortable.
BYT: You could maybe do an updated darker version of I Think We’re Alone Now and call it I Think We’re Alone Forever. That’s a fun darker twist on an old fave!
Tiffany: Ha ha ha ha, I like it.
BYT: Maybe no one would notice! We’ll inject a little of The Cure into that.
Tiffany: I dig it. That’s very cool.
BYT: I’m 37 which means I remember…now I don’t want to talk about the mall tour but I did weirdly have this thought. The youth of today really missed out on mall culture. There was really something special about going to the mall. As someone who basically spent a great deal of time in malls, a lot of malls, do you have any favorite mall-related memories? Even if it’s just the food court. Do you think something is missing for the kids today?
Tiffany: The mall is where you went. You met boys there. You looked at fashion, at things you couldn’t afford. You people watched. You went to the record store and listened to records there. It wasn’t about the money. It was a destination. The mall for me, and probably a lot of other kids, was a destination. You kind of dressed up and flashed yourself around. It was where you got checked out and checked out people. Charlotte Russe was my favorite store. I couldn’t afford half the stuff there and my mom would never let me buy it but that didn’t stop me from going into the dressing room, trying things on, and laughing with my friends. I learned something about myself there. It was an all day thing.
BYT: You really did spend 6 hours at the mall. In retrospect…what was I doing??? You really don’t spend 6 hours doing anything anymore, except work. God that’s depressing.
Tiffany: I think life got to be more fast-paced as well. Obviously as you’re growing up you have less time to just go hang out. I still see teenagers at malls now but they’re not as cool.
BYT: Yeah they look miserable.
Tiffany: The malls are not as cool and so they go in and they’re there for a couple of hours then they want to go somewhere else. There was something magical about the destination of a mall and that was your Saturday afternoon or your summer. It was kind of like going to the beach. It really was a destination.
BYT: I agree, and I won’t lie to you, perhaps as I got a little older I brought a Slurpee and maybe I snuck a little vodka into it and THATS how I was able to spend 6 hours at the mall.
Tiffany: Ha ha ha ha, that’s funny.
BYT: I can’t let you go without asking one thing…do you still own any distressed denim jackets?
Tiffany: I own all of my stuff, all my goodies.