One of the most fascinating artists of her generation, Tiffany’s life can be measured in songs. Anyone with even a casual eye on pop culture will remember her breakout in the late-’80s, sparked by the transatlantic #1 smash, “I Think We’re Alone Now.” But the fans who have made the journey with her since know that the best stuff came later, as the singer fought her way to the music she burned to record, from 1993’s restorative ‘Dreams Never Die,’ through the pulsing electrobangers of 2005’s ‘Dust Off And Dance,’ right up to 2018’s highly acclaimed ‘Pieces Of Me.’
Her latest album,’ Shadows,’ is her most ambitious and introspective album yet. The album is best described as a cathartic comeback LP on which Tiffany bares her soul and invites listeners to walk with her into the light. As Tiffany wrote: “Shadows is about the light and dark of my life, the heartbreak that nobody knows about when you’re trying to be fabulous onstage. My life has never been perfect. But maybe all those things are meant to be. And what helps me more than anything is writing songs.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Tiffany remains as driven as ever. With 35 years of life experience fueling her creative fire, she continues to push herself to the limit and painstakingly craft the material that moves her as an artist. The LP includes 11 brand new songs, including the singles, “I Like The Rain” and “You’re My Everything,” as well as a rocking cover of the Rival Sons track “Keep On Swinging.” The songs that Tiffany brought to the Shadows sessions at Rockfield Studios are a candid snapshot of her life as she steps into her fifth decade. But listen a little harder, and you’ll hear everything that has led her here, for better and worse.’ Shadows’ offers an unflinching look at the scars of the past, but most importantly, it showcases her metamorphosis as a uniquely gifted songwriter.
Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tiffany for an in-depth conversation about the making of ‘Shadows’ and the challenges of bringing it to the masses. Additionally, she offers an inside look at everything she has in store for fans in the coming year. From live performances to Tiffany Takeovers to a fantastic new cookbook and beyond, 2023 is shaping up to be The Year of Tiffany!
Before we get started, I truly appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in over the years. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and how you’ve continued to pursue your passions and always bring something new to the table is inspiring.
I truly appreciate that, Jason! I really need to hear that today, so thank you so much! It’s a new world, if you will. I’ve always wanted to do all these different things, and now I have a bunch of different avenues to explore. They are all pieces of me if you will. Covid totally changed everything, so I’ve been on the fast track of learning and taking on each new task with a positive attitude. In life, there have been so many times when you get excited about something, but it gets delayed. That’s exactly what happened with “Shadows.” I’ve really had to learn patience! That’s why I’m so thrilled that the album is finally out. I’m also doing Let’s Zen My Friend, Let’s Food, and all of these different adventures, so it’s a really great time for me right now.
You didn’t get to this point in your career where you have such creative freedom without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Yet, through the years, you’ve showcased your work ethic and creative drive. How did that end up in your DNA?
Everyone around me has always been a hard worker, from my stepdad to my old producers to the artists in country music, where I started. By 9 years old, I had been exposed to many people who were true musicians. There were artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, George Jones on and on and on! It was a life-long commitment for them. From their lives to their songs, they were really living it! There was no on-and-off switch. That is what I took from those artists, that it takes dedication. I wanted to do this, and I got lucky enough to do it, but it’s a wild ride with its share of ups and downs and heartbreaks. It’s never straightforward, but it’s always worth it for a true artist! Especially if you get the opportunity I have had, for which I am very grateful, to expand and grow. I’m very lucky that my fans have been willing to go with me on this journey!
As you’ve said, you’ve always got a few irons in the fire. So what have been the keys for you when it comes to finding a creative balance?
These days it starts with good friends. When I was young, it was always the fact that I could just come home and be a Mom. I wanted to sing, and it’s what I love, but I always had my son. I thought, “Okay if this doesn’t work out, I will just go home and be Elijah’s mom.” That is something that has always comforted me over the years. Now that he is grown up, it’s a little different. As you said, it is all of your blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve poured into it over the years. Success is defined in a lot of different ways. These days, I focus on what I perceive as success, which is people knowing about my projects and having a chance to hear my new music. That’s really my biggest wish!
It’s hard to believe that your debut album came out 35 years ago. You’ve grown exponentially as an artist over time. How about finding your voice as a songwriter. When do you feel you really came into your own?
It took many years! I wanted to do that early on in my career, but no one took the time to nurture that. They were like, “We’ve got our songwriters on staff. We’ll pull the songs from there.” It was never really about grooming you as a songwriter. That’s something you do on your own, and I did! for me, it started by working with other musicians and bandmates. I would say, “Hey, I’ve got this melody…” or “Okay, I’ve got this lyric that’s kinda cool. Is there something we could do with it?” I had so much time on the road, hotel room, or on the bus, so I was eager to try something. It took a lot of courage to work that up! Once I did, it became how I song write, which is mostly with my bandmates on the road. There will be moments when you are tired, or you’ve been singing this stupid little jingle and have to get it out of your head! These moments might lead to something really, really cool! You never know!
I came into my own when I was working as just a songwriter here in Nashville. It was before ‘Pieces of Me’ and right after ‘Color of Silence.’ I had lived here in the early 90s and moved back around 2005 or 2006. That’s when I really started plugging myself in the songwriting community and writing for other artists. I wasn’t just writing country songs but also pop songs and commercials. That’s when it dawned on me — I’m a songwriter! [laughs] I was like, “Okay, this is cool!” I started to get more known around town and was accepted by the community as a songwriter. That’s been a big achievement of mine!
How is life in Nashville treating you?
Nashville is an amazing melting pot of creative people. It’s sad because I am not home too often these days, so when I am, I’m out in the country! I love to be in the serenity of all of it. So I don’t go to town too much. It’s funny because I see most of my Nashville friends out on the road as we co-mingle and travel through like the gypsies that we are! [laughs] When I’m home, there is no other place I’d rather be! I just want to relax. Being from LA, I love being out in the country and escaping the rat race and the hype. I like it, but you have to balance and take time out to shut off. That’s what I’m finding out more and more. Now, we have a home studio, which keeps us home more. It’s so much fun to create! Now that ‘Shadows’ is doing its thing, it’s so much fun to start focusing on new adventures. Being around these amazing musicians in the next couple of months, we’re bound to come out with some great songs!
What lessons did you learn early on in your career that continue to resonate?
Here’s a big one — “Listen to your intuition!” I think that is something that applies to everyone. Things that happened to me early in my career serve as learning experiences. Sure, you could sometimes feel bad and say, “Oh, why did that happen?” Everything happens for a reason. You might not always get it, but it makes you stronger and more diligent. It helps you discover who you are! It sucks when you are going through it, especially when you pour your heart into something that doesn’t work out, but you learn from each experience. I’ve been lucky that the things I’ve wanted to work on have happened. Did they happen to the success of what I was hoping for? Maybe not. There have been times that I wanted to work with people that promised me things, and it got watered down, so I’ve had that disappointment. The most important thing to me is to be living the music that I want to do. That’s exactly what ‘Shadows’ is all about. These are my stories, my heartbreaks, and my experiences. I am grateful to have the opportunity to share them with the world! I’m enjoying touring and rocking these songs out. We’re really showing everything we’ve got through these songs!
‘Shadows’ is one of your best albums to date. Tell us about how the ball got rolling for this one.
Thank you! We had just finished the “Pieces of Me” tour, but we were still living and breathing the music. Before ‘Pieces of Me’ was even completely finished, as far as promotional and touring, is when it got started. As I said, being out on the road and being around each other makes it so easy to start creating! You live it. Mark (Alberici) and I started to talk about the next album and the complications of it. I’m completely self-funded, so we started discussing how to make it happen. There were a few moments in between when I had to step back for a minute and do some other things that made sense before I came back to it. ‘Shadows’ was meant to be. It’s the next progression from ‘Pieces of Me.’
How does the writing process for this new album compare and contrast to what you’ve done in the past?
For my early albums, I wasn’t really there during the songwriting process a lot of times, and if I was, I wasn’t really a part of it. I might have been in a different room or walked through and saw it, but I wasn’t a participant. ‘Color of Silence’ was different because it was written together in the studio. Usually, it was me, Tim Feehan, or Joe Brooks. It was written very organically on the guitar, and ‘Shadows’ is written that way as well but with a full band. Mark or I might have a melody or a title. Then we start to figure out what that title means. Here’s a great example! For “Bed of Nails,” he had that title and a little melody. Then he put it down on the piano, and I took it from there. As he started producing the track, it started to take on this form. As a lyricist, I just sat with it for a while. The music sounded so epic and sad. The lyrics speak to how time has gone on, and you’re just stringing this person out, yet there is love, which is confusing. It’s like life! Even if it’s not a relationship we are discussing, it’s like, “Wow! Time has gone on, and I haven’t changed things…” or “I have changed things.” That song really breathes that! So, it wasn’t easy to write lyrics to, but it told its own story! [laughs]
Did you find yourself looking for new challenges vocally?
Oh, definitely! I’m standing in front of the piano that Freddie Mercury played and wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” on, so you’re immediately feeling inspired! [laughs] I tapped into that for sure! For some reason, being at Rockfield Studios takes a weight off of me, and I can tell my life. It’s not that it’s easy, but it is! Sitting in that pasture, having time by myself, and hearing the band next door as they create is so beautiful. Sometimes I get tears in my eyes, and I have to leave the room. I’m really taken aback by the beauty of what musicians can do. I’m so proud to be a part of that family. As musicians, we have a very special gift, and when that music moves people, it’s overwhelming! I will watch the guys start to create, and you can see everything starts to click. It’s like seeing a painting come to life in front of my very own eyes. Sometimes I will be filming because of the social media aspect of things, and my eyes well up with tears. I have to put the camera down because I have to see this and take this in firsthand. This is my music, these are my people, and these are the threads of my music being woven together. It only happens once, so I have to be a part of it because it is so magical! With this album, I’m very fortunate to be around very interesting, wonderful people who have committed their lives to music. I couldn’t be happier to benefit from that and learn from them. They are learning from me as well. The product of that is all of this great music that is happening!
With so many distractions in our world today, it’s challenging for so many of us to be in the moment. However, seeing you using that as fuel for your creative fires. Truly inspiring! Before we move on to some of these other endeavors, I would like to ask you about the amazing 3d pop-up vinyl package you’ve created for ‘Shadows.’
It’s just amazing, isn’t it?! Stuart Semple is a major artist in the UK. He has art galleries and has been a part of the community for a long time. He’s such a cool guy and a real people lover. He wants to influence and inspire people; he’s got that good mojo! I’m lucky enough to know him now, in my life, through mutual friends. We’re actually working on some other projects together now, but this is the first one where the stars aligned. Stuart has his own line of paints, and I’ve been designing one-of-a-kind jackets for charity, and it’s been getting more elaborate. As I was working with other artists, Stuart came along. We started chatting about new music, pop art, and how my new album was going to be pop-funk fun. Everything kept building, and finally, we were like, “Why don’t we design this vinyl together!” [laughs] It’s really fun pop art and like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s so artsy and cool with the different pictures you can choose. The more he designed it, the giddier I got! It looks fantastic and is a truly one-of-a-kind collector’s item in TIFF WORLD because it’s limited edition. It’s something I want to continue to do, but we won’t replicate this one. The next one will be different. Having that specialty on vinyl is something we can really have fun with.
I dig vinyl! I used to have a collection, and I got rid of it like an idiot! [laughs] I gave away some of it and garage sale’d the rest of it! [laughs] I’m starting to build again now, but I only have a little space in my home, and I’m not home as often as I’d like. I want to change that with the home studio. So, it’s a slow rebuild, but there is just something so amazing about the sound of vinyl. I’m still a big fan of the liner notes and the experience of taking it all in. This particular design for ‘Shadows’ is so cool. Once you have it popped up, it looks really cool if you backlight it. It’s a piece of art!
Your passion for the culinary arts knows no bounds. “Let’s Food With Tiffany” is an amazing outlet for fans to get to know you on a whole new level. So what’s happening in that realm?
“Let’s Food With Tiffany” is growing, and I’m beaming about it. I couldn’t be more thrilled! We have a joint venture cookbook with my friend Tom Vrem coming out in the first part of January. He is an engineer and producer for Blackbird Studio here in Nashville. Tom is a foodie, and we bonded over that! We met before Covid and became good friends over the past few years. My boyfriend was living with him before we moved in together. We quarantined together a little bit when I was having some work done on my house. It was just another one of those things! I was renovating my house during the first part of Covid because I thought I was going on tour! [laughs] We were all just stuffed together at some point, having to deal. As I said, everything happens for a reason.
So, I met Tom, and we’ve been working on this cookbook together which has opened up a lot of doors for me. “Let’s Food With Tiffany” is growing. That is everything that is going on behind the scenes in my kitchen, to being on the road and feeding the band, as well as cooking adventures and some music. It’s a day in my life, really, especially when I’m on the road because I still do Zooms. You have a cooking class which is a Zoom with me and all my recipes. You’ll only find my recipes in the cooking club. The members get some free stuff like the cookbook, gifts, and whatnot for being a part of my foodie world. They are my people! I get to see and connect with them all the time on a personal level. Most of us are on there together, so I’m in the hot seat, and I have to bring it! [laughs]
The cookbook is titled “Breakfast With Tiffany: Adventures In Cooking Breakfast and Brunch – International Recipes Inspired Through Travels.” Will this be a cooking club exclusive, or will we be able to get our hands on it as well?
We will definitely have some copies of the cookbook up on the website, and you will also be able to get it at the pop-up signings. We will start doing our pop-up signings, Tom and I together, and then separately in the New Year. Those will be at little bookstores and TIFF TAKEOVERS peppered throughout the year! So you can look for those to start happening around February or March here in the United States, with more in April and May, and then we will take them to the UK!
I’ve always thought that putting together a cookbook would be one of the most challenging projects you could take on, next to writing an autobiography. Any plans for telling your story in book form?
Actually, that is something that is being worked on right now! That’s all being gathered together. It’s in the works, and I’ve been working with a ghostwriter and a staff writer to get it all together so we can start pitching. There is a lot of interest, so I’ve been given the go-ahead to collect all the stories. As I’m traveling or feel like I remember something, I will get out the recorder on my phone and start telling my stories! That’s what I’ve been doing. Books take a lot of time. So, it won’t be next year but the following year.
It’s so much fun to revisit the different points in my career. Ya know, I still have a lot of the original jackets and jewelry. I even have a lot of the things that fans have given me through the years that they probably don’t know that I kept! [laughs] I have scrapbooks for days! My dad used to drive me nuts at the time because the coffee table would always be filled with magazines, articles, and cutouts. My parents would always be arguing about the mess of it all! [laughs] My dad was constantly making scrapbooks of all these memories and all of these things I was achieving. It’s pretty cool now because I can flip back all the way to the beginning and see how it grew. That’s pretty priceless! I get a really good chuckle out of it!
The holiday season is in full swing. So what is one of your go-to recipes to help make your holiday outings bright?
As a kid, I was not too fond of cranberries and thought they were gross. [laughs] That was because they came from the can most of the time, and it just wasn’t my jam. As an adult, they are fine, and if they are from a can, I will not reject them. I’m not snooty like that! [laughs] With that said, fresh cranberries are one of my favorite things. There is a difference! One day, I took it upon myself to buy cranberries. I thought, “Okay. I don’t know anything about this, but I’m going to make it!” It’s pretty simple, really. On the bag, it just says, “Boil and add sugar.” I did, and my first couple of batches were very tart. They could have been better. So, from there, I added different things that I felt were interesting. A friend of mine brought Ice Wine, a sweet wine, and I added that to the recipe. Let me tell you, that really upped my cranberry game significantly! [laughs] That’s a little secret weapon I’m giving away here! That’s probably one of my favorite holiday recipes, but I now eat fresh cranberries throughout the year. It doesn’t have to be a holiday! That’s usually what I choose to bring if I’m going somewhere. I love them! I’m not afraid to say that my cranberries rock! [laughs]
You’re such an inspiration to so many people. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?
As an artist, it’s important to commit to yourself. I love singing, and it’s like breathing to me. I decided I was at peace no matter if I was going to perform in front of ten people or ten thousand people! Of course, you always aim for more, but I still get a lot of joy out of it. I’m making music that I like! That is the key to keeping my sanity, for sure, but also to a way to keep it fresh, fun, and real! I’m doing it for the fans, but most importantly, I’m doing it for myself!
You’re doing a wonderful job, and I speak for all of the fans when I say that we appreciate being a part of your journey.
Thank you, Jason! I really appreciate that. I look forward to the next time we cross paths! Happy Holidays!
‘Shadows’ is available now! For the latest news on Tiffany, visit her official website at www.tiffanytunes.com. Follow the continuing adventures via social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.