INTERVIEW: Tiger Mimic


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PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

Tiger Mimic


I have had fun chatting with Bram and Jess of Tiger Mimic….

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who have been discussing their upcoming work, Elephant Skeleton EP. With tracks Don’t Cover Up My Eyes and Elephant Skeleton out; the guys chat about their creations and what they want to achieve going forward – I ask how they got together and whether there are any gigs due.

Bram and Jess talk about their favourite memories from their careers to date and how they unwind away from music; how that special chemistry comes together; which rising artists we need to get behind – they each select a great song to end things with.


Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Bram: Hi, Sam! Doing well, thanks. It's been a good week. We just rolled out our first music video on Friday, which is also my first animation project since I was a kid, so it's been nice to have some new stuff to share. 

Jess: Hey, hey! Doing great, thanks. It’s been a busy week, but the good kind of busy! Didn’t sleep much last night because my heater decided to make the craziest sounds at 4 A.M. - but it’s nice and sunny today, so can’t complain!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

Bram: Sure! I'm Bram, originally from the States and I play guitar and sing for Tiger Mimic.

Jess: Woot woot! I’m Jess. I sing and play the synth. We’re an Indie-Rock band based in London and the other two members are Ben on bass and George on drums…but they couldn’t be here today.

How did Tiger Mimic get together? Is there a story behind that name, too?!

Bram: I had been writing and performing for a solo project I had going in N.Y.C. when I met Jess and she had her own thing too. Except for a couple joke songs in school, I had never really had any luck writing with other people, so I was surprised to find that co-writing came very naturally with her. After I discovered the joy of co-writing, I basically just dropped the solo stuff. Completely.

Jess: Ha, well. it just sort of happened. We met and started hanging out and, one day, Bram picked up his guitar and started noodling and I just started singing. It started that day and never stopped. Finding a name wasn’t easy at all - I’m sure other bands understand the struggle! A tiger mimic is a butterfly that has evolved to look like a poisonous butterfly (although, it isn’t) so that predators leave it alone. Also, I’m slightly obsessed with my cat (like full-on-crazy-cat-lady-obsessed) and he’s a little tiger mimic. 

You have an E.P. coming out next year. What can you reveal about the songs included and themes addressed?

Bram: There are five songs on the E.P., two of which have been released so far: Don't Cover Up My Eyes and Elephant Skeleton. The other three are titled I Took Off My Body, Salt Woman and In the Distance. Thematically, we have pretty different writing styles. The two songs on the E.P. that I wrote the verses for, Elephant Skeleton and Salt Woman, address very simple, personal things in indirect ways. Sort of bittersweet themes of transition and change just attacked from different angles; a garden falling into neglect or someone just carried away on the wind. There are a lot of nature elements in my writing. 

Jess: Like Bram said, there are five songs and In the Distance, which is the last song on the E.P., is the slowest, moodiest and saddest one - and perhaps my favourite one to sing. In the Distance, Don’t Cover Up My Eyes and I Took Off My Body were started as complete improvisations. Bram started Elephant Skeleton and Salt Woman and I liked them so much I wanted in on them, so I wrote the choruses.

I think people will be able to tell who wrote what at some point! I make up a story in my head and then write from the perspective of a character in the story. My songs may sound very personal, but they aren’t. Bram is a much more poetic writer than I am.

You have already released the singles, Don’t Cover Up My Eyes and Elephant Skeleton. How has the reaction been so far? What is it about those songs that marked them out as early singles?

Jess: Don't Cover Up My Eyes has been out for a couple months now and people have been really supportive. It’s been really nice getting people’s feedback and encouraging words, especially when they’re strangers. We like the way the song starts with just bass and voice and then builds up. We have so much fun playing it we just thought it could be a good introduction to our style. 

Bram: Elephant Skeleton is pretty fresh out the door, but the initial reaction has been good so far and we've been hearing positive things about the video, which is really nice. It's hard to predict whether an 8-bit adventure story about an elephant losing his bones will resonate with your audience but some people have already told us that they're expecting a sequel now, so that's nice to hear. That song always felt like a good mix of what defines Tiger Mimic's sound for me: trading vocal parts, harmonies; narrative lyrics and a lot of different layers as the song progresses.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

If I were to travel back to your childhoods; what sort of music would I find in your collections?

Bram: The first records that I would seek out were Beatles records - Magical Mystery Tour was the first non-children's record I really got into. My dad had a lot of really great '60s/'70s vinyls: Hendrix, Doors; Neil Young, Joni Mitchell; Leonard Cohen, Zeppelin - so those were all in heavy rotation when I was growing up. When I branched out on my own, I got into a lot of different things, though. My first concert was Nine Inch Nails, but my second was probably something like Weezer, so I was all over the place. 

Jess: Oh man, I think I liked a little bit of everything. My family and I moved so much when I was a kid that it kind of depended on the countries we were in. In Lebanon, the only music playing on T.V. and on the radio was basically either Arabic music, which I disliked as a kid, or basically just the ‘hit’ Pop songs. There wasn’t much else, really.

My dad had Classical music albums and my mom loved The Beatles so I listened to those quite a bit. I loved discovering new music. I remember, sometimes, we’d buy something from the store and it came with an included C.D. and I just couldn’t wait to listen to it. When we moved to France, my first album was a Bob Marley C.D. and my favourite band for many years was Nirvana.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Guillén

There more are and more mixed-gender/unisex bands coming through. I think you get more depth than an all-male band. Do you think having Jess in the band, and providing a female perspective, gives you extra contours and layers?!

Bram: I can say, for me, the music immediately got a lot more interesting when I started writing with Jess. I enjoyed the stuff I did before but there was something homogenous about it, like something was missing. She has a completely different approach to melodies and writing lyrics and it really brings a different energy to the songs.

Elephant Skeleton is a good example of a song where I had a melody and a couple verses and no idea where to go. Jess just immediately had this great melody and that totally made the song for me. Apart from gender differences, though, she also grew up in different places in Europe; lived around different cultures, speaks more than one language and I’m from a little rural town in the U.S. in a state that is known for having a lot of rocks (seriously) - so our perspectives come from almost cartoonishly different sources. 

Jess: Aw. I wouldn’t dream of being in a different band. I love playing with those guys so much and initially I was hoping there could be another female band member so we could be two girls and two guys. But, we all clicked immediately and I love the way it turned out!

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

Bram: We're pretty new in town, so I think getting out on stage as much as possible and putting on some good shows is the best thing we can do in terms of building an audience right now. We'd also love to connect with other like-minded bands around town who might want to join forces for some cool showcases.   

Jess: Yes!

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

Bram: A lot of my music career has been really D.I.Y.; recording in friend’s closets and things like that, so getting into a real studio this year was pretty much fulfilling a lifelong dream for me. Working with an awesome band, an awesome producer and just spending twelve hours a day in a windowless room working on music, it was really incredible.

Jess: I share that same memory. It was really even better than what I had hoped for and imagined. Another favourite memory of mine is several years ago when I was living in N.Y.C. I posted a song on Facebook and sort of forgot about it. Then, a couple of years later, I saw my friend Pauline who lived in Europe and she started singing my song. I realised she knew the lyrics. It made me really happy. I sang the song at our first show in London and she was dancing and mouthing the chorus with me. 

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)? 

Bram: Oof, tough. Maybe a tossup between Songs of Love And Hate by Leonard Cohen or Zuma by Neil Young

Both have really strong childhood memories attached to them; hearing my dad singing around the house - and then later playing them together when I learned how to play guitar too. 

Jess: Blue by Joni Mitchell

I’m most comfortable when I sing high so, whenever I wanted to cover a song, I had to change the key. I grew up thinking ‘Oh great, I’ll just have to sing Opera I guess (which I did for a while) because I can’t sing any Rock or Pop songs; my voice is just too high’. Then, I discovered Blue and, for once, I was so comfortable singing someone else’s songs, it was in my range! That album helped me not give up wanting to be a singer: it made me feel more comfortable with my voice. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Bram: Tom Waits, I think. He's such a distinctive artist and I think a tour with him would be a completely unique experience. He always seems to pick these really atmospheric, classic venues too which I find appealing. Almost all of the most memorable shows I saw in N.Y.C. were at places like The Apollo or The Beacon. it really feels like an experience in those smaller venues. 

As for a rider...I can probably only think of food things. In a perfect world, there would be amazing Thai or Mexican food along the whole trip. If someone really twisted my arm I could drum up a few other demands, but I'll never be the 'no brown M&Ms' kind of guy. 

Jess: I’d love to open for Björk. She’s awesome. When we eventually go on tour, all I’ll really need is a daily shower. Actually, being the only girl on a tour bus, I’ll especially wish for a daily shower for each of the guys. 

Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?

Bram: We'd love to get a tour lined up but, right now, we're just focusing on London. We're pretty new in town, so we're still getting our name out there; trying to connect with other bands, meeting promoters etc…so that's going to be our focus for the time being. Next show, though, is on September 26th at the Dublin Castle in Camden, we'll be playing at 8:30 that night. 

Jess: Yay. Hope some of you guys can make it that night! We’ll be announcing some other show dates soon too. 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Bram: Just figure out what makes you different and use it. There are a lot of bands doing the same thing really well but I’d rather hear someone who is a little rough around the edges and trying something new. That’s what moves music forward for me. 

Jess: Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are who you are and you do what you do. And, be patient: it really takes time to build a loyal fanbase. A lot of new singers that pop up and are immediately extremely famous have a whole P.R. team; managers and a label that is investing a lot of money in them and, of course, that’s really great for them! But, if you’re D.I.Y. then it will take time and it’s okay that it takes time.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Saltwater Sun/PHOTO CREDIT: Rosie Mackay

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Bram: I've been enjoying Saltwater Sun from Reading. They're on tour right now and will be in town the night after our gig, so I'm hoping to make it to that. I don't know how long they've been around exactly but there's also this London band, Weird Milk. I've only heard a few songs so far but they're doing some really interesting work.

Jess: Yeah, cool bands. I like what I’ve heard from Shanghai Blues and the London band Oshens have some really nice songs also! 


 IN THIS PHOTO: Shanghai Blues/PHOTO CREDIT: Ant Adams Photo 

Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Bram: There's a lot of Sci-Fi love in the band, so we've done a few movie marathons together at our flat. The Alien series; Predator, things like that. I also read quite a bit, paint a little and just wandering around getting to know London has been great. I was in N.Y.C. for fourteen years so it's fun having a new city to explore. 

Jess: I cuddle my cat; I like to draw; I hang out with family and friends. I love watching movies, so that’s definitely my go-to unwinding thing. The film marathons with the band are great – we watch too many movies, eat too much food and then we lay on the couch like beached whales and complain that we ate too much and, also, when’s the next film marathon? It’s all very, very sexy and Rock’n’Roll. 

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Bram: Oh. I’ve been loving what Elza Soares has done with her last couple album. Her song, Banho, is so rad. That’s my pick

Jess: Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me! Love that song


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