(Later, in the bedroom of The Park)
CJW: So we talked about the beginning. How’s it changed over the years?
TLC: I think, because they say when you start out that you’re not married to your audience. People don’t know – promoters don’t know what you’re like. The audience doesn’t know what to expect. You end up having to sort of suit yourself to fit them. Eventually you sort of establish a pattern and it becomes like you’re sort of dating your audience. Artists like Michael Jackson – he’s married to his audience now, because they know exactly what to expect. That’s what they get every time, they’re not going to be disappointed. I’m getting to where I’m dating my audience now. People come to shows knowing what to expect. Venues ask me to come play and sort of know what they’re getting. Occasionally I’ll get the “Can you come play for our youth group? Our junior high,” and I’m like, I’m not that kind of musician. I may do it if I feel like I’m supposed to do it. It gets easier because I sort of get to sit where I fit, and that’s cool.
CJW: In your words, not mine, who do you fit?
TLC: I would say the people who tend to relate to the music the most would be 18 – 35. People who are in sort of the stages of life where they are sort of exploring what life has – relationship-wise, job-wise, faith-wise. They are just looking to grow. I’ll be 27 in May – you can’t say that! But I think a lot of people, college-age, career-age people, just tend to find something worth latching on, maybe because we’re sort of in the same place mentally.
CJW: I can relate to that. But the interview’s not about me, so…
TLC: Oh, your Kate Spade purse. I saw that at lunch and I was just admiring it.
CJW: It’s Alisa’s. She got it at a consignment shop – that’s the best part. And it’s so spacious, I can fit all my geeky journalism stuff in it. I carry my camera with me, I can carry my recorder, everything. It’s just a good little purse.
TLC: It really is cool, too.
CJW: It’s cute. I like the shape of it. So how did you get to the point where you actually started recording your music?
TLC: I went to this thing called AGMA seminars – it’s the Academy of Gospel Music Arts. Everybody just sort of brings their stuff. I had friends that recorded me in his basement singing and playing some stuff. I took it down and they review your stuff. When this one A&R guy listened to my stuff, he said, “I think you should go work with this producer. He can sort of develop your sound for you.” So I went and saved up money I got from touring, playing my shows, fifty bucks here, $100 there, selling t-shirts, anything that I could. I took that and went and recorded my first album. Then toured that album, recorded the second. Between the first and the second album is when I feel like I really started to be able to express myself in what I wanted in the studio and what I wanted in the sound of the song. As opposed to before, when I was so green I didn’t know how to describe things. Also, the synesthesia came into play here. I would say things like, “This guitar is too green, can you make it more brown?” People would be like, “Oookay…” and they’d go tweak some knobs and I’d be like, “I said brown, not purple.” They’d be like, “Mmmm, sure. Can you lay off the crack?” I really didn’t know how to express myself because I didn’t know that I was the only one that had these pictures in my head.
CJW: See, I do it light and dark. I don’t have the colors, I have light and dark.
TLC: I have colors and textures and shapes. I told Don the other day, “In my head, this song is like when you haven’t shaved your legs or your face for a long time and you’ve got stubble – that’s what it looks like.” Or, “This song sounds like a barbed wire fence.” That’s all I know what to say. After a while, I learned, okay, that means that we need to crank up the mids a little bit or bring up the bass and drop out some of the guitars or whatever. I’m learning how to articulate that, so I end up getting what I want instead of getting what they think that I’m trying to tell them that I want. I also started listening to good music between the first and second album. Didn’t so much listen to anything good before the first album.