Tiffany, the Former Teen Superstar, Follows Her Own Musical Muse [HNGN CELEBRITY QUICK CHAT]
Originally discovered by songwriter Hoyt Axton and his mother, Mae, Tiffany Renee Darwish made her career at just 15 years old on a cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells' hit, "I Think We're Alone Now." Girls fell in love with her for her voice and fashion sense while boys loved her for her beauty and sex appeal. It wasn't long before the junior "Star Search" winner went from performing at shopping malls to sold-out stadiums, fashioning herself into an '80s pop icon who only needed a first name.
These days, the still-sexy (remember her best-selling 2002 Playboy issue?), still-talented 43-year-old singer-songwriter has branched out beyond pop. Her music can be heard in numerous television and feature film sound tracks, including "The Good Wife," "Ted" and "The Young and the Restless." Given her early fashion sense, it's perhaps not surprising to note that she also owns a vintage-inspired fashion retail store - Tiffany's Boutique - that's located in trendy East Nashville and specializes in "Boho chic." Tiffany personally selects pieces for sale from her travels around the world.
HNGN: What are you up to with your music?
TIFFANY: I'm actually doing a new project right now. More like a jazz thing - songs that have really touched my heart over the years that happen to be a little bit more in the jazz realm. I did Jazz Fest in Orlando this year, so I was really excited about that.
On your website you've posted different arrangements of your signature pop hit "I Think We're Alone Now," with one as done more as a ballad.
There's something about that song. It's a great song, and I'm lucky to have had it as part of my life. And it's great that it can take on all these different forms. I don't get tired of singing the song, and I really do love it. It makes people feel good. I'm picky how we do it, but we've done a ska version and more of the acoustic thing, an extended dance mix - it's fun for me to have a bit of a different life with it.
I like the version on your "Rose Tattoo" album
I'm a big fan of putting out singles; that's what I'm doing now. I've got so many different people calling me wanting to work with me in different genres, and I'm like, "You know, why not? Why do I have to be a specific thing. Why can't I just do good music?" Different clubs and different places sound fun and make it work for me.
A good friend of mine, Patrick Dollaghan, had one of his songs recorded by you, "It's The Lover (Not The Love)." Tell me about it.
I love that song! It was very funny to be 15, 16, 17 years old out there and singing this mature song to teenage girls who are like "We just want to see you dance!" I'm an old soul and love melancholy thoughtful ballads and all that heartbreak stuff. I was like, "Oh, great song. I can sing that. I can feel that!" I was always ahead of my time!
Well, you're getting back into that with the torch songs and the jazz - right?
Yes, we just recorded "Autumn Leaves," which is one of my favorites. It speaks a lot about family issues for me ... a couple family members passing away. We're all Libras born in October, so it's got a sad message to it. But every song I do on this project is going to tell a little bit of an inside story about my thoughts or my past or people I'm involved with. More intimate than maybe the norm.
Are you open to more songs by other songwriters now?
I'm always looking for songs or to collaborate. It's great that now I can call myself a songwriter. I worked really hard on that for many years. Being in Nashville helped me develop my craft. It's great to be here among such amazing songwriters. Yes, I'm always looking for new material.
What's your favorite thing to do now?
I still go out and do "Rose Tattoo," and I think writing great songs that can take on a couple different forms. I love stripping those songs down as well and doing them acoustically, which is probably one of my favorite shows that I do... A kind of "intimate evening with Tiffany." I tell all the behind-the-scenes stories of writing the songs and what the songs mean to me. We kind of play it by ear and do a really fun show.
Which female artists have inspired you?
Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks all influenced me when I was a little girl. Later on, it was Bonnie Raitt when I was an adult woman and I loved the blues. I think as an artist you're constantly looking at new people and going, "Oh, yeah, I have a connection with that person and love that style of music."
Which artists are influencing you right now?
There's a lot people up and coming. Being in Nashville, seeing all these young people, I go to showcases and watch them. They are very inspiring. I love how they're working their careers. They are social media-savvy, the energy is there, and I love being around that energy again. There's a lot of people in the dance realm - I love Ellie Goulding. I'm a big Adele fan. I love vocalists. People who can really bring it, who can stand there and blow your face off with their voice are amazing.
Your torch songs - where are you at with releasing your new work?
They're already mixed and ready to go! My thoughts are to release one probably every four to six weeks. I'm really excited about it.
Is there a special story behind these songs?
Some of the standards I've picked are songs I related to for many different reasons. It could be my divorce, my cousin passing away from drugs and alcohol...It's a deeper album. It's going to show more of a life side of me that's very personal.
I'm sorry for your loss...your mom passing away. How heavy of an influence was she on your career and music?
Very much. She knew I wanted to be a singer. She was there making my outfits, helping me - she was my best supporter.
What about jazz music for you?
It's another avenue to allow me to start doing some of these intimate venues that I really want to do and think I do really well. I enjoy being in those types of environments. This is going to be something that builds that base.
When you write music, is there a particular process for you?
Sometimes it's just a word, sometimes a really cool title. Most times it comes in a melody, like yesterday I was on the treadmill at the gym and I got my phone out and sang into the phone like a nutcase (laughing). When it comes, it comes! You need to be flexible. If someone comes in with something and they seem really passionate about it, you're like "OK." If you can incorporate and blend the two, that's great. I love being challenged as a writer and sitting down with people from true country to pop music to folk music. I write in a lot of different genres.
Was there any embarrassing event or significantly difficult situation or panic when doing any of your live concerts?
There's been a ton of those moments! There have been times like, "Oh my gosh, I'm about to do the national anthem and it's televised and I'm in front of all these people and I have no voice!" There's the panic modes that happen when you have to get on the phone and work with a vocal coach behind the scenes and drink all kinds of nasty teas and herbs and stuff, and make it happen and rise to the occasion. Hopefully it comes out OK and you're just exhausted and like, "What just happened?!" I've had band members fall off the stage...and you're like, "OK, wow let's keep going and maybe you can crawl back up here" (laughing).
Marina Anderson is an established actress, published author ("David Carradine: The Eye Of My Tornado"), publicist, personal manager (The Media Hound PR) and freelance writer specializing in entertainment. She was wife and personal manager to David Carradine, and responsible for resurrecting his career, which culminated in the Tarantino film, Kill Bill. Her diverse roles include starring and supporting roles in television shows, features films, webisodes and national commercials such as "The Mentalist," "Dexter," "Law & Order LA," "Seinfeld" and more. Learn more at www.MarinaAnderson.net or www.IMDB.com. Marina's passion is helping animals and she is an advocate for domestic and wildlife protection. Look for her next book (for children), "Adventures of Lulu the Collie," which stars her beloved dog, Lulu, daughter of Lassie VIII. Contact Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter at marinaanderson@flyinggoddess or visit her website.