Sydney electronic indie pop outfit Tigertown are connected by more than just their shared musical talent.
Led by husband and wife Chris and Charlie, the band grew with Chris' brother Alexi on keys and sister Elodie on bass to form what is now a super snug, charismatic familial squad.
After a subconscious change in direction just over a year ago, the band signed with Sydney label Inertia and launched their stunning 'Lonely Cities' EP. Produced by the critically acclaimed Tommy English (BØRNS, Ladyhawke, and Robert DeLong), the five-track release sees the band swap out their previously hushed, organic folk sound in favour of explosive synth lines, and jubilant, stadium-ready choruses.
Best Before's Jordan Munns caught up with bass player Elodie in the midst of the band's adventures in the US to discuss strategies for SXSW, touring with St. Lucia, coping with the feeling of missing loved ones, binging on burgers, and finding comforting bits of home on the other side of the world (namely vegemite and good coffee).
Best Before: Hey Elodie, how are you doing?
Elodie Crowe: I'm doing good!
Where are you hanging out today? What's the plan?
I'm currently in LA. We just finished our tour with St. Lucia about a week-and-a-half ago. That was across the East Coast, so we finished off in Chicago. The day we tried to fly out, there was a massive snow blizzard, but then when we landed in LA, it was so warm and beautiful and sunny.
Was that a bit of a shock to the system?
Yeah. Do you know what? When we first got there, we all felt like crying happy tears. We took the warmth for granted. It felt like coming home, actually. It was really, really nice.
How long do you think you've spent in the air on this tour? How have you been handling the travelling downtime?
Thankfully, the flying hasn't been too bad this time around. After we flew in from Sydney, we've pretty much been getting around in the van. We had a few ten-hour car trips, so that was fun. We'll fly from here to Austin, and then we'll fly home. It's not too bad.
What do you guys do to pass the time on those long-ass car trips?
EC: We feel pretty stuck in the van. We listen to a lot of music. We've gotten really into Jack Garratt's new album, actually. I think one time we listened to it four times in a row. He's playing at SXSW, so now we're really excited to see him. Don't laugh at us, but we've also been throwing around heaps of riddles. We all had good ones, and we ended up on this massive search on the internet for even more. I think there was one riddle we spent three hours on.
Sounds like things got a little desperate there!
Yeah, seriously! Anything to pass the time. I think, in America, it feels like people get really excited that we're from Australia. When we announce that we're from Sydney, the whole room cheers.
I think in America, it feels like people get really excited that we're from Australia. When we announce that we're from Sydney, the whole room cheers.
Are you excited for your triumphant return to SXSW?
*Laughs* Triumphant. I like that. Yeah, we really are quite excited! When we went last year, we didn't have music out. This year, our music is out there in the world, so it's a little bit more fun.
Were there any tricks or hacks you learnt last year about the SXSW experience that you're going to apply this time around?
We definitely learnt where not to stay last year. Last time we stayed above a venue that was right on one of the main streets of SXSW, and it turned into a club from 1am. Lesson learnt. There was no chance of sleeping when the music stopped at 8am.
Are you spending time with St. Lucia at SXSW too?
Yeah, they'll be there! We'll be able to catch up again. Yay!
I've heard you guys call St. Lucia your 'big brother' band. Can you tell me more about your relationship with those guys?
We first heard their song "Elevate" a couple of years ago on Triple J, and we were so in love with it. It inspired us a lot at that stage in terms of the direction we wanted to go and the music we wanted to make. Chris and Charlie actually ended up doing a writing session with their lead singer Jean, and they ended up with a song. That's how they became friends. They're scarily similar to us – we've got a married couple in the band, and Jean is married to the keyboard player Patti. It's not just a similar sound. They're really happy, energetic people to be around, and we're really lucky for that relationship. We still ask them questions about technical things and stage presence.
How do you find Tigertown is received in the US versus Australia? What are the differences between shows over there and shows at home?
I think in America, it feels like people get really excited that we're from Australia. When we announce that we're from Sydney, the whole room cheers. They wouldn't do that at home, obviously. I don't know whether they're stoked that we've come so far to play, or they just love Australians. We've also been lucky enough to support really great bands, so the crowds here are are quite loud – in the best way possible. They're not talking-over-the-top-of-us loud, so that's a plus. Everyone's probably a bit more chilled out in Australia.
Are there things you miss about Australia when you're on the road overseas for so long?
We've all been a little homesick here and there, actually. You miss your friends, you miss vegemite, and you miss that epic summer. You know what? I actually found vegemite in a cafe here last week! We went to an Australian-run coffee shop, so we all chowed down on vegemite toast. We always have to search on Yelp for good coffee, and when we get there, it's always run by Aussies.
I don't think I had one good coffee when I was in New York!
Yeah! You feel our pain! You definitely have to search for it.
What's the first thing that you're going to do when you come back home?
I definitely can't wait to get into the ocean. We can go in LA, but it's a bit of a drive away and we don't have our own car.
Is there a restaurant or a fast food joint that you wish you could bring back to Australia?
Everyone else in the band would say In-n-Out, but I'm a fan of so many burger places here, so it probably wouldn't be my pick. I love Shake Shack. I'd take that back. Even the bad diners over here have the best burgers. I think when we first got here, we had a burger everyday. It was out of control! We had to cut back.
"Make It Real" is about being tired of writing and churning out track after track, and losing the passion of what and why you're doing music in the first place.
I wanted to delve into the meaning and themes behind the 'Lonely Cities' EP. What's the story behind the title?
The song "Lonely Cities" came from a writing trip here in LA, and I think Charlie and Chris were sort of losing a bit of inspiration because they were doing so much. They were writing with a friend, and he was telling them how he was struggling because he'd left his girlfriend back in New York to chase his career, and that really impacted both of them. They wrote "Lonely Cities" that day. I think it's just about that idea of being away from the person or people you love.
Does that cross over into other songs on the EP, or do they all have their own individual story?
I think there are three other songs on the EP that were written in LA, so they definitely have that 'LA vibe', and they all came out of those feelings we were having at the time. "Make It Real" is about being tired of writing and churning out track after track, and losing the passion of what and why you're doing music in the first place.
So you guys wrote a song about being tired of writing songs. Genius!
Yeah, exactly! That song is also all about letting go of what people think, and finding yourself again. It's about remembering who you are.
What about a track like "These Hands"?
That's a song we wrote back in Sydney, and it's about the whole idea of working as a barista by day to pay the bills, and then feeding your passion for music at night. Each song was written in its own little stage.
So it's basically an ode to all the broke musicians out there.
I wanted to touch base on your connection with Tommy English, the producer you worked with on 'Lonely Cities'. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
It's funny you say that, because we were actually with Tommy the other day – he's based in LA. It's amazing, because he and Chris literally finish each other's sentences. They are so in sync. We knew from the first time we ever met him that it was a perfect fit. We've become really good friends with Tommy, and making music with him is just so easy.
How does he challenge you as a band, and as musicians in your own right?
It's just inspiring to watch him work, and we learnt a lot just from the way his brilliant mind works. He keeps it simple, and he doesn't overthink it, and that was the main thing that we took away from working with Tommy. If it's good, run with it, and don't get stuck on all the little things.
And he obviously fits in really well with the family dynamic of the band?
Yeah! He's definitely a family member now.
I know that cooking and food is a big part of Tigertown's culture, and I heard that Tommy makes a mean pizza.
He is a great cook! We all bonded over that so much. Sorry to come back to burgers, but he actually makes the best burgers I think I've ever had. He has a professional mincer and everything. He's become a great friend, and we're so lucky that we found him, and that it all fell into place. Those burgers, though...
Tigertown's 'Lonely Cities' EP is out now – get it here.
The band are currently on a national tour – for tickets and dates click here.