Anyone who listened to pop music in the late ’80s remembers Tiffany doing shopping mall tours, and hitting it HUGE with her cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now”. She was only 15 then and was on top of the world. She was always a very outspoken ally, even when it caused her problems in her career. She never backed down for her support for the community, being close by for Pride events, or just being adored by her LGBTQ fans. I got to talk to her about her career, share some personal stories, and banter with her about her new album ‘Shadows’ that is out now, and it really is the album she should be known for. She was a gem to talk to, even with a storm killing our call several times.
Jeremy Hinks: So, I’m in Salt Lake City, where you have quite a history.
TIFFANY: I DO, yes all my early videos, “I Think We’re Alone Now” also was at the “Let’s See A College” tour as well.
JH: I don’t expect you to remember this, because it was so long ago that I had hair, BUT… I met you at the Chicago Airport. I was coming back from Oslo and I just bumped into you, and I asked, “Are you Tiffany (and I said your last name) and you looked at me and you gave me the big smile, the real authentic smile, and said, “I am.” We talked for maybe 30 seconds, but when you smiled, you were so “REAL” and that was when I realized you were the real deal.
TIFF: Well, thank you, yes, and thank you for that. That was a great memory. Yeah, I still don’t expect people to recognize me so, “Yeah, that’s me.”
JH: I also knew you by your last name, you were a bit shocked about that. But I told you I was a music historian.
TIFF: Yeah, my last name is not very catchy, so I picked “Tiffany.”
JH: I remember you said you were sworn to secrecy in some interviews ages ago.
TIFF: Yeah, so much for Google and Wikipedia these days, you find all of it.
JH: SO, you filmed the “I Think We’re Alone Now” video just around the corner, I live on 41st street, and you filmed it at the 49th Street Galleria, and the Ogden City Mall. That mall is no longer there, and the Galleria is a school now.
TIFF: Yeah, they tore it down, I made it a point to go back to the Ogden City Mall and shop there. That “Mall Tour” gave me a mean shopping habit.
JH: Well, I had just moved here to Salt Lake right when that video came out, and I knew people who were IN that video, they thought it was so cool.
TIFF: That was so old school back then, before people had to sign releases, we just went to the mall or even the beach, and said, “Do you want to be in this video?” and we shot it.
JH: And you got away with it, back then you could use guerrilla filming tactics.
TIFF: That was my first exposure to making videos, you had the idea and would just go for it. Now you can’t, it’s a lot more difficult. We just did a video a couple of weeks ago for the new single going to be coming out right now, we have the new single from ‘Shadows’, my new album called “I Like the Rain”, it’s getting some traction, and meanwhile you’re behind the scenes winding up for the next one. I have to say, making videos aren’t my favorite thing anymore.
JH: I saw the new Adele video for “I Drink Wine” and I wonder how they did it, with the huge set, with her, sitting in a raft in a huge pool that they built the set into.
TIFF: I LOVE that, I love what you can do these days, they are just promotional tools anymore. But there is so much other techie stuff to them. My favorite videos are a form of art. This one is “Your Everything” which is a timeless song, but ‘Shadows’, the album is about the light and the dark in our lives. When you see this video like you said there was no concept or story. For the song “Could Have Been” I had this idea for the video, but we ended up doing just a live performance for it, because it means something different to so many people.
JH: Yeah, it was also in that PIZZA shop scene in that show “Roomies.”
TIFF: I remember that, yeah, that one had so many different life forms, and there are so many do’s, and don’ts that I don’t want to do again, to having fun stuff to do. But then it gets all techie, and for me, this Zoom call, that’s me at my max technically.
JH: AH, but put you on stage with a mic, and you can make the world happen.
TIFF: Oh yeah, I’m a “Doer”, and a live performer.
JH: Well, Imma quote Nick Duerdon he is a music writer in the UK. Just take this, ’cause it’s going to flow into the rest of the story. When I told him I was interviewing Tiffany, he said, “Tiffany! Ha! There is absolutely no way I’m going to admit to you that, back in 1987, at the height of my Echo and the Bunnymen/New Order fixation, I also had an incredibly soft spot for ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ – no way! And I’m certainly not going to admit to turning up to one of those free shopping mall gigs she did, this one in London, for which I had to take the afternoon off college. No, I was always, um, far too cool to like Tiffany.”
TIFF: I love it for the admission of guilt, and, I’m in great company with Echo & The Bunnymen, and New Order, I’ll take it, they are on my playlist right now.
JH: Well, I’m going to tell you a story, It’s called “The Tale of Two Jerks.”
TIFF: (Laughing) I think I know them.
JH: Yeah, it was us, OK, so, you hit the scene and got radio play, and I was listening to New Order and Echo & The Bunnymen. It was a guilty pleasure that I liked your stuff, but I was too cool to admit it. You weren’t U2, you weren’t, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, or Depeche Mode, you were… “TIFFANY”. That was ’87, fast forward to 1992, with my buddy Shad, we were two jerks, DJ-ing at a club. We played anything we wanted. One night I played the extended dance remix of “The Neverending Story” and packed the floor. We would do Mash-ups of stuff, I don’t know if you listen to Industrial Music… but…
TIFF: Uh huh, yes I do.
JH: So Shad played a mix of “Beers, Steers, and Queers” by the Revolting Cocks, mashed up with “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” from Winnie The Pooh.
TIFF: Ok, VERY COOL.
JH: Now, the Extended Dance Remix of “I Think We’re Alone Now” was written in G, at 132 beats per minute.
TIFF: Ohh… ok…
JH: Skinny Puppy’s “Assimilate” is 137 Beats per minute and written in “E” so I dropped it to 132 BPM and mixed them.
TIFF: AND IT WAS FLAWLESS?? (Hahaha)
JH: YES IT WAS AWESOME!!!! That was perfect, and the floor was packed.
TIFF: Is there a “But” in this story, I sense one coming.
JH: Yeah, it gets heavier, this girl comes up to me the next week, punk rock chick, you know mohawk, tied into a ponytail. Blonde, nose-ring, just this cute little punk kid. She asked me to do it again, so I did, and we packed the floor again.
JH: Then the next week she showed up early and asked if I could record that mix for her. And I said “What is this to you, I mean, I can see that you like Skinny Puppy now, and Tiffany for nostalgia for when you were a kid, but, why now?” and she said I STILL LOVE TIFFANY.
TIFF: It’s “ANGRY” Tiffany, that’s why she liked it. (Laughing)
JH: She said, “I love her message.” Now, for me, musicians with a message were U2, and R.E.M. She said, “When I was 13, that’s when I knew I was gay, and I hated myself for it. And everyone at church told me it was bad, and it was a choice, and all that I knew was that it was wrong. And I tried to like boys, and it just didn’t work, I tried and did everything I could to not be gay. Nothing worked, and I just wanted it to stop. I didn’t pick a date, but I had a bottle of sleeping pills.
TIFF: OH NO, I HATE THIS!!! Now you’re making me cry.
JH: Well, then she said, “And then Tiffany said in this interview ,’There is nothing wrong with being gay, it’s part of what makes you beautiful, it is so important that you love yourself.'”
TIFF: YES!!! A hundred percent, I still say that today.
JH: She said, that was the first time anyone said anything positive about being gay in her entire life.
TIFF: YES, she IS BEAUTIFUL!!!! THAT’S RIGHT GIRL!!! Be proud of who you are, you don’t get a choice really of how you get to come into this world, born a certain race, location… You have to be proud of your family, and where you weren’t proud, you have to make adjustments. You don’t get a choice and I think it’s the worst thing to feel like you’re a misfit like you don’t belong, or you don’t have a home, or you haven’t found your tribe. There is always someone out there waiting for you in a tribe. I grew up, I got successful, and I got lucky that I got to have a number one record, but you keep going and you will find where your place is.
JH: Well, after she told me that, I was humbled I was this tall (1”).
TIFF: Well, I am too now that you told me that.
JH: Then she said, “NOW CAN I HAVE THE FUCKING RECORDING?” and I did it for her.
TIFF: You never know when you’re going to influence somebody like that, just being honest and telling people how you feel. I have had so many of these interactions, and a couple of them were places I didn’t want to be that day. It was hot, or the show didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Then I’m sitting with a fan at a meet-n-greet, and they say, “I heard there was a concert, and I’m influenced by you, and I wanted to hear some music before I left this planet. I’m in a bad state, but you just gave me hope, and a few ideas I hadn’t thought about. Just somebody listening to me.” And then it goes full circle, and I have to realize it wasn’t just about me today, it wasn’t about the music, it was about being at the right place at the right time, and connecting with people.
JH: Well, you reached this girl, I was just the “Jerk DJ” at the club. But that story ripped my guts out, I had already been dealing with 3 suicides then. So I think about her now, and I have no idea where she is, but, she is about 47 years old. I hope she is married to the woman of her dreams. Probably thinking, “How am I going to pay the light bill this month”, and needs to get the transmission fixed on her Toyota, and has a dog. WHATEVER she is doing, it doesn’t matter, just living a boring life. But the point is she is still here living that boring life.
TIFF: Thank you, life is a beautiful thing, and it might take a while to find your tribe, and find people who love you and accept you, but they are out there. Believing in yourself during the process and again the biggest thing is to like yourself for who you are, because there is only one of you, and you’re needed.
JH: I ask every artist this at the end of every interview, “What would you say to that young gay kid who is afraid, and in the closet, in that vulnerable state?” But I already know what you would say, because you said it 30 years ago, and God bless you for saving that kid’s life Tiffany.
TIFF: Thank you, I love that she was punk, and fun, I hope that she is living her best life. Thank you, I have had a lot of addiction and suicide on my end, I wish I could have said something to help them, but to say anything to reach them, and know, it’s just magical.
JH: Well, it seems so hokey to say “It’s important that you love yourself” but that was what SHE needed to hear.
TIFF: It’s not easy to love yourself, it takes adjusting, like my song “I Like the Rain” from my ‘Shadows’ album. It’s about chaos, and it’s about being in a very rebellious place, it’s about embracing and learning from the chaos, the bad, and the good.
JH: Well, let’s jump into that then, the new record. Let’s talk about that song. I’ve been listening to this album for a few weeks now (a few months before release). The line “I come undone with my thoughts on the run, I see the time but I clear my mind, c’mon touch me, you don’t even matter now”, and “Words mean nothing today.” What was going on in that song, you are attacking from two different angles there.
TIFF: I am, I’m telling people that don’t know a story about you, the way that I got into a relationship, tangled love, bits, and pieces all mixed, and you are trying to move on with this relationship, and people talking shit. You don’t even matter, you’re not worth the time in my head. The words mean nothing, they are just words, and they’re dead. You don’t know, and really? Should you be judging people? I see people “Talking the Talk” but I see “Well, you seem to have made a lot of mistakes in your life. Who can cast the first stone? So, after a while, I think you get tired, and you can say “I would do that differently” or ” I didn’t know everything at the time”, but I am not going to be saying “I’m sorry” about my life every five minutes. I’ve felt that way about a lot of things, my career, being “Tiffany”, moving on with my life, new relationships, and being a celebrity. But I think in today’s society, really more than anything, people like to have an opinion. They like to talk, they like to judge.
JH: Hey, it took me having to mix your music with Skinny Puppy, for me to be humbled, and to be called out, and someone to say, “What you think about this person and her music is TOTALLY WRONG”. So, the song “Hey Baby” has a great Rockabilly vibe, a great way to start the record. So you took this all in a new direction. (We had a lot of technical issues, and the call dropped a couple of times here).
TIFF: Yeah, “Hey Baby” is the front runner, it was released from the new album “Shadows” early because of COVID, and the ups and downs, tour, etc. I wanted to get it out there for my fans to listen to, and to get in the game. I don’t wait very well, we were ready to release the album, then had to pull it for a while. So the single came out, it did well in the UK, people loved it, and now we’re rocking it at shows. It has everything that the uptempo side of the album has, a little Punk, a little pop, modern, back to the retro (I call it Rockabilly). So it was a good starting platform.
JH: So, the song “I’ll Meet You Anywhere”, had that apocalyptic opening and then the great climb into it with the strings. Well done, I wouldn’t say it was MEGADEATH’S “Symphony Of Destruction” but for a good string-based apocalyptic number it was great.
TIFF: You know that’s the thing, as a songwriter, my band is in the studio creating these beautiful songs, and they are a lot of fun to write to, just come in with the ideas for these ballads, or the uptempo songs.
JH: Well, “I’ll Meet You Anywhere” was not a fun uptempo song, “Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the pain, if you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll be around, my heart still knows where to start.” You were putting yourself out there. Were you trying to resolve something?
TIFF: Yeah, I think people will understand, this is where we are at now, but I do remember the beginning, and then that’s kind of what that song is about.
JH: You mentioned “You’re My Everything” a few minutes ago (before the power spike), if we had gotten that on the record in ’87, that would have been your multi-platinum one right there. The lyrics, “Once again I’m here telling you honestly, I can’t take the strain. There are no words to pull you through. In a world full of sadness, love is a foolish thing.”
TIFF: Yeah, that’s kind of what happens, in a world full of sadness, you’re indeed taking a chance to love somebody. If you really want to be in love, you have to be vulnerable, it’s a lot of compromises.
JH: This is also the song that I noticed how well your voice has aged. You started young enough, and you could have burned your voice out early, that song shows how well you took care of your voice.
TIFF: Thank you, right now I am singing better than I ever have, and I’m just enjoying it. And the songs I’ve written that are “Mine” are my therapy, and it comes out so naturally. It’s a cool place to be.
JH: So, listening to this, I feel like I am getting the “REAL” Tiffany, this stuff crushes like “Old Friends hand” (one of her albums in the 80s), and this is the one that the young blond chick in the club I was Djing at was connecting with.
TIFF: She had the insight, I love it. Amazingly, I connected with her that way. The true Tiffany fan has been with me for a while. Not just in that pop, or pop culture, but the folk, the creative creatures. But seeing the stories of other celebrities, I got to see how they were like me.
JH: Well, you have a huge following in the LGBTQ Community, you know your booking agent, Stephen Ford, over at Divas and DJs.
TIFF: I LOVE STEPHEN, he’s one of my dearest friends.
JH: Yes, he is a total sweetheart, I cannot say enough awesome about him. He always comes through for me. But I think, without amazing queer people like that, our jobs would be very boring, and the music industry would be rather flat. Guys like Stephen Ford, make it happen.
TIFF: Oh yeah, he knows how to make a star feel great, it’s a great experience with him. He LOVES the record ‘Shadows’ and he gets it. And he knows where my heart is, that is performing live.
JH: Right, I think that anyone who has to do some introspection “I have had a shitty relationship” needs this album. Tiffany, thank you so much for your time. I apologize for being “Too Cool” to like you in the early days but…
TIFF: Hey, I’m fine with you having to stand me next to Skinny Puppy to become cool. Thank you so much. I want that mash-up.
JH: Thank you so much. I’ll try to get it for ya, all the best.
The full audio and tangents can be heard here
Should you want to book her for PRIDE she is represented by Stephen Ford at divasanddjs.com
1 thought on “Coming Full Circle with Tiffany And Her New Album ‘Shadows’”
I feel like Tiffany has been a gay icon since the 80s. Love her.