Every once in awhile I do an interview that makes me say, "Wow thanks for being so cool, honest, and open." This is definitely one of those. Readers, this is Tiger Darrow. She has an amazing voice and is also a talented violinist, cellist, guitarist, and pianist. Oh yeah, did I mention she's an actress too? She has done work in the Spy Kids Series, and recently did the musical score for Machete. So read through the interview and learn a little more about Tiger. Scroll to the bottom to check out her musical links and IMDB page.
I see according to IMDB your actual name is Jacqueline. Where'd the Tiger come from?
When I was little, I really wanted to be a veterinarian. When I was looking through a National Geographic magazine (I totally had a subscription, no big deal), I decided that I really loved tigers and thought that it would be really cool if "Tiger" was my name instead of "Jacqueline." I was three years old when I made that decision and it stuck! I’ve used it professionally, and personally, ever since.
How did you get into acting? How did you get into music?
My parents met while working on a play together, and my mom was an acting teacher for several years at the State Theatre in Austin. I was exposed to the acting world REALLY early on. When I was about seven years old, my mom asked me if I would like to try acting. Up to that point, I had been doing a lot of dance (Irish Dance, tap, ballet) and had played violin for a few years. I've always been open to trying out the different areas of the arts (and I still am), so I said yes and signed with her agency, Acclaim Talent. I've gotten to work on tons of great projects and I’ve met some really amazing people through all of the film work I've done.
As far as music goes, I started playing violin when I was about two years old, but I always told my parents that I REALLY wanted to play cello. We decided to hold off on the whole cello thing for a while, which worked out just fine because I didn't really get to work on music as much when I started dancing and acting. My uncle, Allan Hayslip, got me my first guitar when I was about seven. I took a few lessons, but didn't really start songwriting until I was twelve. I moved to Dallas when I was 14, and I had written enough songs for an album, so I sat in my grandparent's living room with my laptop and a condenser mic and tried my best to get good recordings of all of my songs. After I had everything recorded, I released my self-titled, debut album. Since then, I've learned so much about writing, recording, and engineering that I'm a little embarrassed about that first album...
How are acting and music similar, how are they different?
Acting and music are both performance-driven. Just as an actor on stage or film must embody their character, a musician must "sell" his or her songs when he or she performs. In order to connect with your audience, or have an impact, your audience has to believe the story you're telling them. It doesn't matter if you're acting, singing, or playing an instrument. You have to LIVE it for those three and a half minutes. You're in a vulnerable position in both situations because you're putting yourself "out there" in such a way that people can openly criticize you. You really have to be strong for that. Really, their only difference is that you don't particularly need to be able to sing for acting. I think it’s helpful to know a little about acting when performing music.
What is your style of music, and who is/are your musical inspirations?
To be completely honest, I don't think I know what my style is yet. It keeps evolving. I like to think that the songs I write are produced in a way that enhances the story I'm trying to tell. For example, the song "Machines" from my album You Know Who You Are is very slick and borderline "electronica" because I wanted the song to have a mechanical feel. However, my song "Takes Time" is very stripped down and less produced because I wanted it to have the exposed, vulnerable feel of a broken heart. I get musical inspiration from everyone and everything around me, but specific musicians I draw my inspiration from include Danny Elfman, Imogen Heap, U2, Regina Spektor, and MuteMath.
Say you have the chance to share a song with anyone in the world. Who is it and why?
I think I’m already sharing my music with the people who I want to share it with: anyone who listens. Every song I write is about something or someone that/who is important to me, so every story is relatable. What I love more than anything is hearing that my music has, in some way, helped someone or moved someone, so I try to share it with everyone I can.
Tell me a little bit about your new albums, and why people should listen to you?
My new albums are pretty different from each other. Hello was co-written with and produced by Cary Pierce. I did everything on You Know Who You Are completely on my own (writing, recording, engineering, etc). While Hello is more easily classified as "pop," I'm not sure about the genre of You Know Who You Are because it's a crazy meshing of different styles. Some people have referred to it as my "experimental" album because I played around with all sorts of different genres. What I'm really proud of in my music is that what I write is genuinely from my heart. The idea behind You Know Who You Are is that every song was written about someone in my life, and if they were to listen to the album with that in mind, they could figure out which song is about them. Because of this, I like to think that my music is easy for people to relate to. I would love for people to be able to use my music as a source of inspiration to help them get through difficult times or celebrate happy times.
How do you know Mason Taylor of A'tris and what was the experience like of working on a song with him?
I met Mason in 2008 at a songwriting workshop at Berklee College of Music and got to see A'tris perform as a part of the program. After that, we became friends on Facebook and emailed back and forth. I made a silly little video of a cover I did of "Automatic Doors" and Mason sent back a cover of the song I wrote for Born Free Foundation, "Beautiful Release." After exchanging a few more covers, we decided we should collaborate, so he sent me an A'tris's "song a week" song, "Letter From Home" for me to play cello and sing harmony on. After that, we collaborated on the cover A'tris released called "A Million Hungry Eyes" by Jonathan Seet. I love collaborating with other artists because you never know how your ideas will mesh with the other musician's. While you can hear each musician's influence in a collaborative effort, the sound as a whole is new. On top of that, A’tris has been very supportive of my music and gave me a lot of artistic freedom when recording my parts of the songs we worked on. I love having that freedom within collaborations.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
Hopefully, in five years I will have finished my undergrad work, and maybe I’ll be playing shows all around the country or scoring films. I’m going to NYU's Steinhardt School for music composition and theory in hopes of having a focus on film scoring. The scoring that I got to do for Machete was such an awesome experience, I would love to work on more projects like that.
If you had to live without being involved in movies or being involved in music, which would it be?
That's a really tough question. I'm going to New York University for music composition and theory with a focus on film scoring, so I can't really imagine not being involved with both music and film in some sort of way.
What is your coolest film experience, and what does your acting future hold?
I've gotten to work on a lot of really cool films, so I'm not sure I can choose one particular experience that especially stands out. I’ve been involved with Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series since I was eight years old. He’s a huge inspiration for me and I’ve learned a lot about the film industry and the hard work and drive it takes to accomplish your dreams from him. He, his crew, and the studios created a great environment to grow up in. It allowed me to learn from an early age how to be professional, but it also encouraged my creativity. I give Robert Rodriguez and Troublemaker Studios a lot of credit for who I am today as a professional.
Now I do whatever acting comes my way, but I'm not necessarily "pursuing" acting work as much as I am my music.
What's been your biggest rock star moment as a musician so far, and what's a goal/dream of yours?
Recently, I got to open for Erykah Badu at a fundraiser for my high school, Booker T. Washington HSPVA. The concert was set up in our brand new theater and her engineer ran sound for me, so it sounded so full and rich. The audience was amazingly responsive. That night, it was just me with my guitar, so I was a little bit nervous, but once I started playing, I was so comfortable with everyone in the auditorium, even though I couldn’t see them. I’ve had some awesome shows, but this was especially memorable.
As far as dreams and goals go, at some point, I would LOVE to collaborate with U2. I really appreciate the thought they put into their music and I love their sound, not to mention how powerful Bono’s voice is. They’re a band I really look up to. I wore my “stand up to rock stars” tank top until the letters faded. I need a new one!
If you could give one piece of advice to young people interested in the arts, what would it be?
Being successful in the arts takes a lot of patience and a lot of hard work. I've learned that one really has to be open to taking criticism and experimenting. I've also learned that it's good to try to go out of your comfort zone in your art to see where it takes you. But most of all, it really all takes time. Success doesn’t come over night. Just like everything else, you get out of it what you put in to it, so if you’re willing to work hard and give it your all and understand that success is not an instant thing, you’ll probably be happy with your results.
Anything else you want to ad or talk about?
Yes! I'm really excited to announce that I have a gig in New York at The Bitter End on June 16th at 8 PM. It'll be my New York debut, so I'm really looking forward to it! You can find information about tickets here: http://www.bitterend.
com/ or call (212) 673-7030.