"I just want to be the voice that lets people know that somebody gets them"
Tigress have just released their debut alum 'Pura Vida' via Humble Angel Records, and it's been a long time coming.
Over the last six years the band have been piecing together exactly who they want to be, and 'Pure Vida' is the sum of their efforts. A mix of classic rock, grunge, pop and a little bit of emo sensibility for good measure, it's their most free-flowing work to date. It's raw and real and everything that they have always wanted Tigress to be.
To chart the path that has led us here, we sat down with vocalist Katy Jackson and rolled back the years on her aim, ambitions and emotions...
How does it feel to be at a point where your debut album is finally out in the world?
"It’s pretty incredible. The thing is, when I look back at where we have been previously, I feel like we didn’t know who we were. With this album, I am so excited for people to hear who we are from top to bottom. I want people to go on the journey and realise where we have ended up. People always go off their first impression of you. Some people may have heard our first EP back in the day, and at the time, you think it is the best thing you have ever done. But we’re a very different band now. I can see our evolution and where we may have gone wrong and where we should have gone instead. It’s all how we have ended here, though. I’m just glad that we took six years to get here to the debut because I feel like we would have released something that we didn’t believe in."
Looking back to that first EP ‘Human’, what do you remember of your aims and ambitions at the time? How did you feel?
"I remember so much of it. We were in the studio with Max [Helyer] from You Me At Six and John Mitchell, and we were writing a whole album for our old band, The Hype Theory. Then we sat down one night chatting, and Max said, ‘Do you like your band name?’ and everything said ‘No!’ That’s when he suggested that we do a rebrand and relaunch as a new version of ourselves. I wanted to, but I didn’t know if anybody would let us do it. He just said, ‘Well, just do what you want’. That’s when we realised we had an album’s worth of songs, but we took out all of the ones that sounded too much like the old project and then stuck with the ones that felt fresher.
"Looking back at that now, the ‘Human’ EP felt like we were chasing what we felt was current at the time. So immediately after releasing that, we shifted to not chasing what everyone else is doing and do exactly what we wanted. You’re never going to be instantly popular with that sound at the time because you’re always going to be a step behind everyone leading the way, and it will always be better than you because they are doing it authentically. That’s when we started to write the music that we like."
And that was the ethos on ‘Like It Is’ and ‘Who Cares’ then?
"Especially on ‘Who Cares’. There’s a song on that EP called ‘Hangman’. When we wrote that song, Sean just started playing something on acoustic. It sounded so sick, and we just built the song around that. It was so quick, but it was a moment where I thought, ‘This is what I want us to sound like’. From that song, we found the rest of our sound.
"Usually, we would listen to loads of stuff, get inspired, and get as many influences as possible from other places. We didn’t do that once on this new album. We just did what we thought was cool. We didn’t look at what was popular at the moment. We just did what we wanted. I believe that what we have ended up with because of that doesn’t feel fake. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything. We’re just saying that guitars, drums, bass and vocals sound fantastic."
In many ways, it’s just about finding that confidence to stick to what feels right to you rather than worry if it’s right for everybody else…
"Absolutely. I listen to a lot of music from the ’70s and ’90s. Full of guitar hooks and honest lyrics, and genuine passion. Those songs feel like a human made them. As social media and technology take over more and more, I want to feel like a part of my life, and my music still feels authentic. So let’s have everything as raw as possible. The thing I crave the most within music is that connection.”
When you’ve been making music overall for more than over a decade, with both Tigress and other projects, the moment you feel like you have the confidence in your vision because it’s what you actually like must feel like a total weight off your shoulders…
"That is the reason that we called the third EP ‘Who Cares’. Every band wants just to blow up and be massive, and at the time, nothing too crazy was happening. That was the point when I said, ‘Well, who cares then, let’s just do whatever we want to do’. If what we had been doing previously wasn’t working, then why bother? Why does it matter? Everything previously had been for other people, and this was now for us.
"Before, I would think, ‘How can I say something that makes me sound poetic or smart’ or something like that. The reality is that why do I even care? Why would I want people to think a certain way about me when the truth is that I’m just a straight talker who says what they want. So I’m just going to write like that. There’s so much of that on ‘Pure Vida’, and I’m so proud of it because of that."
An excellent example of that is ‘F.L.Y’, a gritty and grungy love song written from your perspective of being with someone for absolutely years, rather than the usual instant ‘head over heels’ style of love song you hear everywhere typically. It’s personal to you but also incredibly relatable in a different way….
"Exactly. With that song, usually, I’m not a very romantic person. I don’t think I want to get married. I don’t think I want to have kids. I wouldn’t say I like public displays of affection. But none of that doesn’t mean that I don’t love my partner. And all of the songs that you hear usually are about mushy teenage feelings. We’re all in our 30’s now and living adult lives. I’ve been in a relationship for 14 years, so I will sing about what that’s actually like."
Do you feel like you’ve been inspired to write more music that relates to the people you are now about the subjects that don’t often get sang about?
"I’ve thought like that for a while now. I feel like there are so many age groups that aren’t represented in music. It is aimed at teenagers and young adults, which is great because it’s a very important age group. But there is a whole group of people going through a bunch of personal stuff, us included, and I didn’t want to pretend that I was a teenager in my music. I’m going to write about the realities of what someone in their mid-30’s is going through.
"The first song on ‘Pure Vida’ is called ‘Generation’, and I wrote it after getting a huge tax bill. Being grown-up sucks. This is what it’s like. But unfortunately, time doesn’t pause, and you have to deal with it. There’s another song called ‘New Friends’ about what it’s like to grow up and lose friends, not because you don’t like each other but because you drift apart because you’re so busy. They’ve got kids and jobs and all those things. So didn’t want to write and pretend like I was partying all the time. I wanted to write about the things that are relatable to me. I just want to be the voice that lets people know that somebody gets them."
So when you realised that you had reached the end of the process of making the record, what was your immediate feeling? Something you have been working towards for half a decade is now complete…
"I remember listening to the first mixes and feeling like, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life’. Not because of anything other than the fact that I was saying exactly what I meant. It was so clear. It hit hard and proper. I just felt so happy that we had managed to fulfil everything we wanted in one album completely. I’d been given the freedom to saying everything that I wanted to say, and the guys gave me the perfect music to say it to. It’s a feeling that unless you write music, you can’t comprehend. And it is addictive."
And when you consider your emotions at the beginning of Tigress and where we are now, how do you feel as though they differ?
"When I listen to our first EP, I enjoy what we were doing, but I don’t feel anything. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m singing about on it. At the time, it must have meant something to me, but it’s a weird one. I can’t have felt the same way I do now. Otherwise, I would have remembered. I was making what other people wanted to hear with the emotion I thought they wanted to hear. The problem was they weren’t my emotions. That’s why ‘Power Lines’ and ‘Hangman’ mean so much to me because I know what I was writing about."
And now you have made the debut. What is there next? How does the freedom you have directly translate to the future?
"We’re all itching to do more writing already. This band is like a form of therapy as much as it is a fix. And even if we never even release another album, the process of getting there is all we need because it’s just so much fun. That’s the best part of all of this. It’s genuine therapy, and it’s the best therapy you could ask for. I’ve written so many lyrics during the pandemic, and I may never actually use them. But that doesn’t matter because getting them out has made me feel good. That’s more important than anything."