It’s been a long journey for tiLLie leading up to the release of her sophomore EP, Loud Mouth. Between her crucial role in every step of the music video production, preparing for the tour and recording the EP, she admits that it’s been tiring.
“I’m definitely not complaining,” tiLLie says. “But I don’t think I’ve had a day off since the year started. It’s been crazy.”
The up-and-coming anti-pop star has infused the voice of social outcry into Loud Mouth. She highlights mental health, women’s rights and abusive relationships, among countless other social issues through a deceptive, upbeat tone.
“That’s part of the reason I call myself anti-pop. On first listen, musically it’s upbeat and catchy, and it’s easy to listen to,” she says. “But once you start digging into the lyrics there’s this, not always darker, but deeper meaning and message.”
Her last EP, Lost Boy, came out in 2015. Despite several singles released between then and Loud Mouth, she says those years were full of trials not related to music. Her brother passed away last year, leading her to step back and re-evaluate her creative process.
“That changed my life completely,” she reveals. “I needed that year to reflect on what I was doing and my message. When you lose someone that suddenly and that tragically, the effect it has on you is like, ‘Fuck it, I’m not going to hold back anymore.’”
“faith,” the first single released off the new EP, was also inspired by trials the artist went through in the past few years. Specifically, she cites an abusive relationship, which was a situation that she feels isn’t exclusive to herself.
“Two days after I wrote that song and sent it to my managers, the Harvey Weinstein story broke,” she says. “It was crazy. I already knew this, but this song isn’t just for me and my struggle with my abuser. There’s a lot of women going through this and a lot of other people going through this.”
While recording, tiLLie looks to not only tell her own story, but also tell the stories for her fans who may have gone through similar experiences. “whole wide world,” the final song on Loud Mouth, was one such track that had a lasting mental impression for her.
“The song is about as a girl growing up, you’re taught you’re not as smart, you’re not as strong, you’re not this or that,” she explains. “Being subjected to this oppression and misogyny, abuse and rape. Not only do women survive despite all this, we continue to thrive in those circumstances.
“That song was especially moving to me when I wrote it. It felt like it came through me in a way. When I was listening back to my scratch vocals, it felt like I wasn’t listening to myself. I don’t even know how to describe it. It felt like I was listening to someone else singing the song that I needed to hear. It made me cry. I’ve played it live a couple [of] times live, and I’ve seen girls crying in the crowds, and that means a lot to me. It makes women feel understood.”
Despite her focus on women’s rights and feminism, tiLLie says the EP isn’t just for women. She says her hope is that men can take away a message of their own through her music.
“This EP touches on being a woman and also mental health. Like when you’re called crazy, or you’re too too emotional, and redefining being emotional. Especially this whole movement with women, uncovering all this abuse,” she says. “I think it’s also affected a lot of men. I’ve noticed within a lot of my male friends, they’ve realized, ‘I don’t deal with my emotions,’ or ‘I was never taught to communicate how I feel.’ They were never encouraged to be emotional or to cry. I think that’s a huge part of the problem as well. When people don’t have words or don’t feel safe expressing themselves, that’s when shit gets violent and aggressive.”
With the current political climate and being fully entrenched in the #MeToo movement, tiLLie says now is the perfect time for Loud Mouth to be shared with the world.
“I needed time to process all of that in order to realize which songs I had been sitting on felt the most honest and unapologetic, because that’s what going through all of that made me realize,” she says. “This is who I want to be. I want to be 100-percent real. In a way, it felt like the time is right. People are ready to talk about this stuff now.”