DJ Tigerlily on how to be a successful musician

If you spray a bottle of champagne on someone, you are a tosser – or an exception to that rule. If you are the exception, you are Tigerlily.

Are you recognisable by just your first name? Do you have blue hair? Do you spray alcohol on people?

If yes, you are either a class A tosser – or an exception to that rule. If the latter, you are either Kylie Jenner or Tigerlily.

Meet-Exception-To-The-Rule-Tigerlily. She told us how she ‘turned the tables’ in her own life and made a name for herself as a DJ. (Now, while I see myself out for making that joke, have a read of her advice). 

FN: You have a background studying Media and Communications, was this your window into DJ’ing?

T: They actually had nothing to do with one another funnily enough. I learnt to DJ in my bedroom; one of my friends was a DJ and I was able to borrow a setup. I just popped it in my room with my shitty little speakers and I practiced and practiced and practiced and practiced.

I then went on to do a competition called Your Shot in 2011, which is an organisation and competition that gives young people the chance to learn how to mix and DJ. At the end of the six weeks training, I came second overall, which I was really proud about. The rest is history.

Music was always what I wanted to do from a young age as a child but I come from a family of academics, and went to a selective girls high school in Sydney, so I was always going to go to uni- there was no option not to. It was just what you did.

FN: What’s the difference between a DJ and music producer?

T: A DJ is someone who plays music and performs, whether it be in a live setting or creating mix tapes for playback later or on the radio. So, you’ll likely see DJs playing in nightclubs, whereas music producers are the guys who just write music.

Most DJs are also music producers in their own right because they write their own music to play. These days it comes hand in hand; you almost need to be a producer to be a DJ. If you look at the top tier DJs like Hardwell, Tiesto and David Guetta, they’re all producers as well as DJs, which definitely is part of the reason they’re so successful.

A photo posted by Tigerlily (@djtigerlily) on

FN: How important is having a strong personal brand? Has this had an impact on your success?

T: 100 per cent. It’s fundamental and more important that anything else.

These days the market is oversaturated with DJs, artists, and musicians. It’s so important to be able to stand out from the crowd and for people to be able to recognise you and your brand. They need to go onto your Instagram or Facebook page, come to your show and understand/be aware of what they’re going to get. People like to know that.

I didn’t necessarily plan all the branding around Tigerlily. It came really naturally and I think that’s why it’s been successful. It was all really organic. I would encourage people to maintain that kind of organic line with whatever they’re doing,

People are a lot smarter than what they’re given credit for. They can sniff out if something isn’t organic straight away. If someone’s pretending to be something they’re not, they can tell.

FN: What challenges come with touring internationally?

T: I’ve just toured internationally this whole year and it’s been really difficult. It’s really tiring and it’s not very healthy for your mind or body. People think the DJ life is super glamourous but it’s actually not glamourous at all – unless you’re in the top tier of DJs and you’re flying private jets and all that jazz.

A photo posted by Tigerlily (@djtigerlily) on

FN: What would be some career highlights?

T: I toured with Tiesto in Asia and we played festivals with 30,000 people. So, that and playing my first headline show in Vegas at Hakasans. And Tomorrowland – that was pretty awesome as well.

For me, it’s more the relationships I’ve made, the beautiful people that I’ve met, the places I’ve been able to experience, the cultures I’ve been able to indulge in and the foods I’ve been able to try as a result of my work. I feel very grateful for those opportunities. They’re the big wins.

FN: What have been the hardest parts of your career. Are there any misconceptions you’ve had to face?

T: So many misconceptions. People think DJs don’t do anything. They think we just party and press buttons. And it’s the complete opposite. It’s actually a really difficult, tiring job.

People often say, “Is it a boys club?”and I think it’s just something the media likes to talk about and focus on because it’s a good story. I like to see everyone as human and equal and I think that makes interactions easier and more honest, organic and successful.

This year has definitely been the most challenging. I’ve figured out some things about my career that I’m happy to have figured out but, I need to implement some changes. For example, I’ve toured heavily this year overseas. I’ve been to a heap of countries and have only been in Australia for around two months. Which isn’t really enough.

Having that kind of tour life has been the most challenging thing; the jetlag, being super tired, not having any schedule, being away from my family, friends and boyfriend. As well as missing out on small things like my sisters’ graduation or birthday. Other DJs I know love that element but for me, it’s been the most challenging.

FN: For someone who can’t afford all the bells and whistles, what tools can someone use to get started?

T: Most of the programs you need to be a music producer are quite expensive; you’re looking at about $1000 for an Ableton package and buying decks to learn to DJ are quite expensive as well. So that’s why I think competitions like Your Shot are really important. There are also places like DJ Warehouse where you can go in and hire them out for a week or an hour and learn.

There are a lot of free, online tools for learning the basics. I just encourage young kids to reach out and talk to people because there are so many DJs and producers that you’ll be able to find a connection (friend of a friend of a friend) who might have a setup or knowledge about how to write dance music. For me that’s been the most successful thing: linking up with people and learning from them.

A photo posted by Tigerlily (@djtigerlily) on

FN: Anything you wish you had of known starting out?

T: Don’t drink alcohol! With the DJing world, drinking alcohol and partying come hand in hand. I used to party quite a lot when I first started. It’s not good for your brain, body or career.

Yeah it’s fun; it’s the music industry, it’s dance music, we’re all having fun, we’re at a party, but you’re there to work. Even if you’re having a really great time, you’re still there to work.

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DJ Tigerlily on how to be a successful musician
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