This week’s artist bends the rule of the column as she doesn’t technically call Seattle home anymore, but we’re willing to make an exception. You might have seen Tigerlily Cooley in her band, Bleachbear, which she was in with her sister and cousin. Now she’s attending college in New York City and pursuing a solo career.
Name: Tigerlily Cooley
Bands/musical affiliations: Bleachbear
Neighborhood: Born and raised in Fremont, going to school in NYC
Socials: Instagram: @tigerlily_music, Tik Tok: @xotigress, Twitter: @music_tigerlily, Facebook: @tigerlilymusic
Song to know: lisbon
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How’d you get into music and why’d you stick with it?
Although I didn’t come from a musical family, I grew up playing music. When I was young, my sister and cousin (who would later be my bandmates) and I would perform at the summer county fair in Walla Walla, Washington.
My Dad would always show me concert footage from bands like The Who and Queen and tell me their stories, so in a way rock stars like Keith Moon and Freddie Mercury were like my childhood storybook characters, and I grew up wanting to be just like them.
Favorite local venue you’ve played in Seattle? Favorite local venue to see a show at?
I always loved playing at the Fremont Abbey; the rounds they do there are just magical. We also played at the Neptune, Neumos, the Crocodile, El Corazón, The Sunset Tavern, The Vera Project… Over the years, I’ve basically played at every venue here, they all are cool in their own way.
Would you say getting your start in music in Seattle specifically influenced your sound or process or how you look at music at all?
For sure, Seattle is such an iconic music city. From Jimi Hendrix to Mudhoney to Damien Jurado to Nirvana to The Head and the Heart to Fleet Foxes to Band of Horses to the Fastbacks… I could go on and on.
There’s a very DIY spirit to music here and that’s something I always want to embody. When I was in Bleachbear, my family and I were sewing our stage outfits, producing our albums, building our website, photographing our album covers, filming our music videos, booking our shows—really doing everything, and that keeps you authentic as an artist. And I still do everything! I wrote ‘lisbon’ alone in my basement, filmed and produced the music video, edited the album cover on my cell phone, then coordinated an entire benefit concert for the release show, haha. That’s why I take offense when people refer to me as “a singer”—it perpetuates this stereotype that women in pop are just singing tracks other people wrote, looking cute, and there’s some record label behind the scenes doing all the work.
I can only speak for myself, but I’ve been grinding at this since I was 13 years old, producing my records and hauling my guitar pedal board across the city to play unpaid gigs every weekend. Everything I’ve achieved has been solely because I work my a** off.
The music you released with Bleachbear leans more “indie dream-pop” — at least that’s what I think it says on Spotify — and your single seems much more pop-oriented. Where did that come from?
I’ve never really felt an allegiance to any one genre. Probably because I grew up listening to such a mix—like I consider myself both a hardcore fan of Mariah Carey and Roy Orbison and they’re completely different, haha. I love being in a rock band. I love being a pop artist. But I also could see myself reimagining my sound in the future. I’ve always admired artists like David Bowie, Madonna, and Lady Gaga who have reinvented themselves constantly in their careers and pushed their own boundaries—it’s exciting and fans never know what to expect next; that’s the kind of artist I want to be.
COVID has stopped all live music for the foreseeable future, do you have any ideas or plans for what these next few months might look like for you? Are you working on anything?
I have a bunch of songs recorded so it’s really been thinking about which I want to release, and when. Also working on a remix of lisbon that’s SICK—can’t wait to share it with you all.
Favorite song from a Seattle area artist OR about Seattle/the PNW?
I have so many. I’ll give you a whole playlist of stuff on my Spotify. Not all these artists are still living here, but at one point they were! Also, I just want to add that this is a tiny fraction of the incredible artists in the PNW that I listen to. I love supporting local music—I think it’s really important musicians do that, it’s what makes community. [Find Tigerlily’s playlist here]
Anything else you’d like to add/promote?
I’m the most fun on Instagram! I’ve been covering songs my followers suggest all summer, and we just made the dopest fan vid I’ve ever seen of people singing to my new single all over the world, so I highly recommend finding me there—I’d really love to hear from you guys. And please do follow me on Spotify if you want to hear more, it’s all up from here.