After the release of their quite fantastic debut album Celeste the really talented East London based new wave pop band MY TIGER MY TIMING have gone underground for a while to write and record, but NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION had the pleasure to to talk to Anna Vincent about things like touring, recording, about their own label Snakes and Ladders and of course about their previous and upcoming music.
Can you please introduce your band for the ones of our readers who don’t know you so far.
We’re MY TIGER MY TIMING, a five-piece band based in south east London. Last year we released our debut album Celeste through our own Snakes & Ladders label and we’re currently working on new songs for our second album which will be coming out next year.
The music you make is modern and innovative pop. Do you think it is important for a band to try out new musical styles to stand out and was it hard for you to find your own MY TIGER MY TIMING sound? Any influences?
It’s definitely important to try out a range of musical styles – I think we’ve all done different things as musicians, from pop and indie, to electronic, classical, jazz, metal. I think as a musician you shouldn’t put a limit on your creativity, as pretentious as that sounds, otherwise you might be missing out on a whole world of ideas. As a band, however, I guess it is quite useful if you can come together and agree on a sound, or at least a direction, otherwise it can get a little confused. Our sound ended up being the point where all the members met stylistically, so I guess our influences were other things which took a slightly weird approach to pop – which I guess is what happens when rock musicians like us try to do pop music. There are loads of bands who inspire us, although they don’t necessarily come through directly in the sound, and they’re probably all the same bands everyone else likes really!
You have your own record label Snakes & Ladders. What are the main reasons you decided to publish your music under you own label? What are the main disadvantages?
We decided to self-release because, let’s be honest, we couldn’t get signed. I’m not sure if we just don’t tick all the marketing boxes which bands need to tick these days, or we just didn’t get the right breaks, but we’re not really that bothered now, we’re just getting on with it and making music. It has never been about playing the game for us. I think we could spin it, as a lot of bands do (us included), and say we wanted the creative freedom of the DIY scenario (which we do have admittedly), but in truth, life would be a lot easier with a label behind us, or at least someone to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and generally help us out with funding things. That said, we seem to be able to make things happen off our own backs (with a full complement of maxed-out credit cards), and I guess we’re fairly non-traditional in most ways, so it probably suits us to work this way.
If you want to work together effectively it is sometimes really important that someone takes the lead. Who of you is “the boss” and how are you dealing with important decisions?
I think we all have our own areas of responsibility, and generally speaking the process works pretty well (for instance, Jamie is also our tour manager as well as being a baddass guitarist and bassist), but I guess I more or less manage the band, on top of doing quite a bit of songwriting and production work on the records. With the first album I took up the reins quite a bit towards the final stages, as we needed to just get it done, but I actually want to let go a bit for this new record and let a natural creative rhythm and momentum take over, not push so hard.
Anna and James: Do you think it influences the band a lot that you are siblings?
I think it may have done in the beginning – and James and I have certainly always worked together on musical projects, so there’s a long-standing collaboration and communication there – but we’re very tight in the band after the last few years together, and I think that little spark of fraternal telepathy exists between us all.
You are a New Cross (SE London) based band. Do you think that the place influences your music a lot? What do you think are the main things that are different to other parts of London?
The place has definitely been an influence on us as musicians and as a band – not so much stylistically, because there has always been quite a wide range of things happening here – but in terms of seeing bands grow up there and pass through on their way to bigger things, and being inspired to do the same. That said, like any localised scene, there are always a few big fish arseholes who you waste your younger years trying to impress and be in with, and then realise, in retrospect, that it was never really about music for them anyway. Annoyingly, those people often go on to become successful in the music industry, so you meet them (or people like them) again and again throughout your career. There’s no escaping it, you just have to learn to keep your eyes on the horizon and not lose heart.
MY TIGER MY TIMING: “Having a break has been great”
You have gone underground for a while to write and record. What can we expect from the new material and are there any releases planned already? Is it going to be similar to your debut “Celeste”?
We had such a busy time over the last couple of years writing, recording and getting Celeste into the world, and we also ran into the ground financially after funding the whole promotional campaign for the album ourselves, so we had to go away, have a break and remind ourselves what was important – friends, family, health, good music. I think having a break has been great because we got back together and all still realised we want to do this, to make another record and hopefully get out on tour again to see the fans who genuinely make it all worthwhile. The only planned release is the album itself, which will come out sometime in 2014. We’re not signed and we don’t have any targets to hit so we’re taking our time to make a really good second album, rather than the shoddy efforts some bands turn in (this, of course, remains to be seen). We’re so proud of Celeste but a DIY debut album is never going to be everything you want it to be, and we know we can do even better. So far I can say it’s a bit different from the first album – it’s more primitive, more sparse and less produced, but we’re not throwing out melody or going avant garde, it’s just going to be a more upfront and honest sound.
Are there any planned shows around the UK or even a around Europe or the world and if you go on tour, what are you looking forward to the most apart from being on stage?
We have no shows planned or booked, really because we’re focussing on getting the second album together and touring is a whole other ballgame. Plus it’s expensive, and we can’t really afford to do it, much as we’d love to. But we’re hoping once the next album is ready, we might be able to go back and visit some of our favourite places (Germany, Netherlands, France, Austria) as well as make some new friends and visit some new places. Touring in mainland Europe is a lot of fun for more reasons than just the show – you get to travel around in a van with your best friends, partying everywhere you go, meeting new people, seeing new places, trying to get out of sticky situations when you don’t necessarily speak the language. It can be scary and stressful too if you’re doing it on your own, but so far it has always been worth it, and we’ve found mainland Europe to be such a welcoming and exciting place to be as a band. The UK is a bit different, the touring experience for small bands can be quite bleak and unrewarding, and the audiences can be pretty lack lustre (if they even show up)…but maybe that’s just our experience!
Are there any bands you would love to go on tour with and why?
Only our friends really, it’s always more fun playing with bands you know and like – Patrick from ARTIFACTS came with us on tour to play keys last time we were in Europe and we love those guys, so perhaps we’ll get a double-header going sometime next year.
What was the weirdest thing that ever happened to you before, during or after one of your gigs?
So many things…it’s always weird! When we played in Austria some kids had fireworks or flares which they were burning in the front row of the crowd, that was cool and scary, I grabbed one whilst I was singing but afterwards I realised that was probably a bit silly. After gigs is always the weirdest though, that’s generally when the Jaeger-induced horse-play starts and things get bizarre.
What is your favourite venue to play and what is your favourite venue to see a band?
I think Astra Stube in Hamburg or Paradiso in Amsterdam on both counts – we’ve always had a great time playing and seeing bands there.
And what is the last thing you usually do or avoid to do before you go on stage?
I’m not really superstitious but the last thing I do before going onstage is get my setlist off Jamie – he writes them on postcards for each of us, different designs each night – I have so many in my case, I guess they’re like my lucky charms.
What do the things hope and passion mean to you?
Hope and passion is what it all comes down to really, not just in music but in life. Without hope or passion you can’t create anything. Not anything good, anyway.