THERE are very few artists who can provide…
such a vivid, unique and personal interview. Tishmal tells me about her eponymous E.P. and the themes/stories that inspired it; what it feels like having it out in the open; working with talent like Mason Porter on the E.P. – how her Native background, and family morals, go into the songs.
Tishmal talks more about principles held dear to Native Americans and what it is like living in modern American; if there are going to be any gigs coming up; what the differences are between San Diego (where she grew up) and Utah (where she is based) – and whether she will come to the U.K. this year.
Hi, Tishmal. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! This past week was great. I have been preparing for a show at the end of this month and I’ve also been able to do a lot of songwriting. I’m always so happy to be songwriting!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yoursel, please?
I am San Diego native, currently living in Provo, Utah and loving the music scene and people here. My music is ethereal, electronic and raw. People have compared me to Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine and Lorde - which I take as humbling compliment. I am a fan of all those artists.
How does it feel knowing your (eponymous) E.P. is out there?! Was it a fulfilling and exciting experience?
It’s so surreal! Only a small group of people had heard my songs before releasing the E.P. - and it feels good to know the songs are out there for more people to connect with.
What are the main themes explored and tackled throughout?
There are themes and metaphors drawn from my lucid dreams and nightmares that I have. The songs ask difficult questions - a lot of which I don’t have the answers to yet.
How cool was it working with Mason Porter (Haarlem, Goldmyth) and Christian Darais (The Brocks) on the E.P.?
They are super-talented dudes and I love their work. Mason and Christian are both so easy to work with and they are so creative. We have similar tastes in music: I really trust and admire their production choices. Being in the studio is always a good time. I feel super-lucky to have them on my team.
It seems ‘Tishmal’ is a very important symbol – a Native name given to you by your father. What is the meaning of it? Do you embody a different persona as Tishmal – compared to ‘Rachel Brockbank’?
My dad gave me the name Tishmal when I was about twelve. It means ‘hummingbird’ in Chamtela (A.K.A. Luiseño); the language of my tribe, Payómkawichum, or the ‘People of The West’. We have the tradition in my tribe and in my family to be given a Native name. Having a Native name is one of the many ways we remember, honor and claim our culture.
I don’t know if Tishmal is a different persona - but I definitely feel like Tishmal comes from a deeper, rawer part of me. Maybe, in a sense, it’s Tishmal who writes the songs.
How vital and influential was your San Diego upbringing? Was it easy fitting in there and ‘belonging’? What lessons and memories do you take from the city?
I love Southern California and especially San Diego. I believe that geographical places can hold energies that affect us. Growing up in the ancestral lands of my Native heritage connected me to my identity and the land around me: the plants, the smells; the climate – from a young age. I’m super-grateful for that sense of belonging. I miss it.
I also miss being able to wear flip-flops every day of the year!
Utah is where you are based now. What are the main differences in terms of vibe, music and people?
In San Diego, there wasn’t much of a music scene where I lived. Also, at the time I lived there, I was pretty shy and didn’t perform my songs very often.
The music scene here is such a supportive and positive environment. I have really felt this team mentality from everyone - and this vibe and attitude that success rises with success. I love it! I think we can all agree that Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo plays a big part in that positivity.
Which artists inspired you most growing up? Can you remember the first single and album you ever bought?
When I was like six, somehow, I got a hold of one of my sibling’s Walkman C.D. player. It had The Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits album inside the C.D. player. I went outside and hid in my backyard to listen without anyone finding out. I played it all day, over and over, until I wore out the C.D. player batteries. I was in love with the young Michael. I also grew up listening to The Beatles and Heart - thanks to my dad’s love for Classic Rock.
I grew up having family jam nights, singing and playing through those songbooks.
IN THIS IMAGE: AURORA
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most you; which would they be and why?
Oh; this question is so difficult to answer! Wow. I cannot pick three, but I will try…
So. Brandon Flowers’ Flamingo album became the soundtrack to a really transformative and hard time in my life as a teenager - this album was my escape.
A compilation album, The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates (by Hall & Oates), taught me a lot about song forms, hooks and Pop music.
Junk by M83 is a more recent album that I was (and am) enamored with - it has moments that take me back to my childhood and moments where I feel like I am in outer-space; floating in the future.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I will be playing shows locally and I am planning a tour through Idaho, Utah; Nevada, California and Arizona this summer with my band. Of course, I would love to go further with touring when the opportunities arise…
Will you come to the U.K. soon? Have you played here before?
I don’t think I can express how much I love London - and the Tube! Why don’t we have an underground like that here in the States!? I went to the U.K. for the first time two years ago and fell in loves – so, yes; I really hope to play in the U.K. soon! I have this dream of playing an acoustic show with London Grammar and Fyfe.
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
This year, I am planning the release of more music; release another music video, open for some bigger acts and, most of all, just connect with more people. I also hope to really try my hardest in all of this. I don’t want to look back and think: ‘What if I had just worked just a bit harder?’.
Do you get time to chill away from music? What do you like to do when you’re not creating?
When I am not working on music, I love being outside in the mountains; at the beach, among flowers: any sort of nature. I love yoga. Also, my husband and I have recently gotten hooked on The Great British Bake Off – so, we have been staying up late to binge-watch.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I recently played a show and was feeling really hesitant going back into the crowd: just so shy and nervous. I was hanging out by the side of the stage when this group of super-young kids came up to me and wanted to talk and take pictures. Knowing my music had inspired those young kids meant so much! It helped me remember that my music is for them - and I love knowing people are resonating with the songs.
I wish I would’ve known more local artists when I was in grade-school - but there wasn’t much of a music scene where I grew up.
It seems your upbringing promotes peace and connection to nature. Donald Trump, as your President, is the opposite of all that! Do you think he is eroding and pimping-out the land you love and grew up in?
I am sad to say Trump is definitely not the first to take away sacred land. There is a long, terrible; inexcusable, sad history of U.S. government and Native relations. It holds a lot of weight and pain in my heart. I can’t believe some of the things that are happening in history today with Bears Ears, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the other countless battles over stolen lands and broken treaties. Now, more than ever, we need allies and people to speak up for what is fair and right.
This country is still occupied by Native American people - we are resilient and we will continue to fight to protect what’s sacred.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I have been jamming out in my car to Right for You by Lil Silva. Enjoy! Thanks for having me!