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Exclusive Interview with Love Island USA Star tiger del flor on her New Single"shut up and kiss me!"

Inspired by bands like Nirvana and Hole and growing up on the Seattle grunge scene, tiger del flor began her musical journey fronting an all-girl grunge band in high school. Since she has graced our TV screens on Season 4 of Love Island and now lives in Hollywood, California, pursuing her solo music career. Stef from The MIC caught up with tiger del flor to discuss her latest single, "shut up and kiss me!" and how being on the show affected her mental health and songwriting.

SJ: Hi tiger del flor! We're so excited to have you on The MIC and chat about your latest project!

TF: Me too; excited to be here!

SJ: Can you tell us a little bit about how your musical journey started?

TF: So I started out in music fronting an all-girl grunge band with my little sister and cousin. I grew up in Seattle, so I was raised on Hole, Nirvana, The Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, The Fastbacks, Flop… a lot of 90s Seattle rock bands that influenced me musically later on.

tiger del flor "shut up and kiss me!"

SJ: Your first official musical endeavor was fronting an all-female grunge band back in Seattle. What was that experience like for you, and what made you want to make the change to a solo artist?

TF: Gosh, it's so nostalgic thinking back to the high school band days. We were playing shows almost every weekend… most of the memories are playing tiny clubs in random Seattle suburbs, hauling gear back and forth from the greenroom to the car, texting all my friends last minute to pull up so we could make ticket sale quotas haha.

SJ: You're currently based in Hollywood. Has your geographic location affected your music or influenced any part of your sound?

TF: Totally. When writing "see me in hell," which is the record "shut up and kiss me!" is on, I was living in Hollywood and spending a lot of time reading about Los Angeles back in the day and the lives of the famous actors and rockstars who spent time here like James Dean and Jim Morrison. A lot of the song's lyrics are inspired by their lives, so to me, this record is really an ode to the tragic glamor of old Hollywood and rock 'n roll.

SJ: You've said you're inspired by the "tragic glamor of old Hollywood and rock' n roll" and Tumblr sad girl culture. Do you think there is a correlation between the two, and if so, what about these ideals and aesthetics inspire your music the most?

TF: Yeah, I'd say the overarching concept that inspires me is nostalgia. I'm one of those people who like to romanticize their life and pretend they're living in another decade. I have an old convertible, and I love driving it through the streets of LA wearing giant retro sunglasses blasting the Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac and pretending I'm in the 1970s, haha. I don't have a TV at home, I have an old-school projector, and I mostly listen to random old records I took from my grandma's basement. I've always had a deep appreciation for the past, and I try to capture that in my music while putting my own spin on it and making it modern.

SJ: What are the most significant musical influences that affect tiger del flor?

TF: It's always shifting! For the latest EP, some of my main influences were Mazzy Star, Dayglow, Hole, Cannons, Radiohead, Nirvana, and Lana Del Rey.

SJ: You have been recognized by Asia Society and JoySauce as a leader in the AAPI community. Why do you think being an advocate and leader for the AAPI community is so important?

TF: I think it's so important since, growing up, I didn't feel a sense of pride in being Asian American since I never saw people like me represented in the American entertainment industry. Early on in my career, people in the industry advised me to stay ethnically ambiguous so that I wouldn't get pigeonholed into being categorized as an "Asian artist," and I was advised by others to switch from rock music to J-Pop or K-Pop. Things have changed a lot since then; we're seeing a lot more AAPI representation both in the music and film industry, spearheaded by films like Crazy Rich Asians and artists like BTS. However, there is still a long way to go, and I want to be a part of that change.

SJ: Since 2020, you've released eight singles. You had a brief hiatus during 2022 while you were featured on the fourth season of Love Island (USA). What was that time like for you mentally and emotionally?

TF: Honestly, most of that experience was weeks of me waiting around in a hotel room with nothing really but a TV while the producers decided if I was going to be put on the show. So I used that time to catch up on all the movies I missed growing up, like Risky Business and Boogie Nights haha.

tiger del flor "shut up and kiss me!"

SJ: Was music cathartic for you during that time? Did it help to have a creative outlet, or did it make you want to disassociate creatively?

TF: I connected Spotify to the TV and blasted a ton of 70s disco music, but I didn't have access to anything to really make music since you're not allowed to have electronics, so it was mostly me singing karaoke to Diana Ross.

SJ: What was the best thing you learned being a part of the show?

TF: I think it gave me this sort of "f*ck it" mentality. It was such a weird experience that coming off it, I was like, damn, I really just did that; at this point, I can do whatever I want. Why not release a song called "shut up and kiss me!" haha.

SJ: Let's get into some of the music! Your new song, "shut up and kiss me!" was just released on May 25th. Can you tell us a little bit about what this song is about?

TF: Yeah! For me, "shut up and kiss me!" is really an ode to the 90s Seattle grunge I grew up on. The title was inspired by "Touch Me I'm Sick!" by Mudhoney, the drumming was inspired by "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, the guitar sound was inspired by "Violet" by Hole, and I guess the lyrics were inspired by all the shady guys who slide into my Instagram DMs and try to cheat on their girlfriends with me. But don't worry; I always put them in their place haha.

tiger del flor "shut up and kiss me!"

SJ: What did your creative process look like for this track? Do you typically write alone, or do you like to collaborate?

TF: I would love to find songwriters I can collaborate with, but yeah, I wrote this record alone.

SJ: This track has a lot of pop-punk, almost angsty vibes, and it sounds like you were honing in on your grunge band roots. Did you work with a live band while writing this song?

TF: I did! We had two drummers on the track, one of which was my little sister Bird, and then my guitarist and bassist Daym also produced and performed on the track.

SJ: Is this track the start of more rock-based songs for tiger del flor?

TF: I want to keep making indie pop music, but I grew up on rock 'n roll, so that will always be a part of what I do… so yes, there will be more rock songs down the road!

tiger del flor "shut up and kiss me!"

SJ: Do you see yourself fronting or joining a band again?

TF: I still perform with a band when I do concerts, so it still feels like I'm a part of a band which is awesome!

SJ: What did the recording process look like for this track? Do you always work with the same producer/engineer or experiment with each project?

TF: I've worked with a lot of producers and engineers. Music is a collaborative process, and like any collaborative process, it's a lot of hit-and-miss haha.

SJ: This track was paired with a cool, well-shot music video released on June 15th! I definitely could see the nostalgic Tumblr vibe from the first frame with the cassette tape to the corded phone and grainy film filter. What was your favorite part of filming this video? Did you help with any of the creative direction?

TF: Thank you! I did help with the creative direction, that was an entire process, but the best part of making the video for sure was trying to secure the location. We shot it at a sketchy pay-by-the-hour motel you can't reserve ahead of time. The morning of, we have a super tight production timeline, so we drive down at 7 am, assuming nobody will be there yet, and, to our horror, every single room was booked. So we got McDonald's and sat in the parking lot for hours waiting for someone to leave and then begged the cleaners to give us the room immediately without cleaning it. It was a hilarious, very makeshift, and unsanitary production, but that's part of the joy of being an independent artist. It's often gritty and shitty, but you make it work, and, when it comes together, you buy yourself a box of Krispy Kreme donuts at 2 am when production wraps and say hell yeah.

SJ: What is one song you wish you wrote?

TF: Haha how do I pick one? I'll go with Heroes by David Bowie; I've always thought that song is brilliant.

SJ: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

TF: I think the moment I felt most proud was when I got my first Spotify editorial playlist feature. The reason being, I know those editors are sifting through every song out there, and you're up against artists with big labels and managers, so to be an independent artist who is really independent (like it's literally just me pulling all this together, no manager, no label, no connection to anyone at Spotify) I just remember thinking, "wow, the only reason I'm on this playlist right now is the music is good enough." And that might seem really trivial, but for me, it meant a lot. Because this sh*t is really hard. I've been grinding at this a long time, and what keeps me going now is simply the endless pursuit to create the best music I can, so those moments that make you pause as an artist and realize you're doing just that means a lot.

SJ: Where do you hope this musical journey leads you?

TF: If you had asked me this when I started in music a decade ago, I would have told you a Grammy award, a world tour, and being on the cover of Billboard magazine. And don't get me wrong, I still aspire to all this. But when I asked a psychic years ago about my music career's future (yes, I know what you're thinking, but stay with me, haha), they told me, "rest in the flow." I spent most of my early years in music, focusing on what I wanted to achieve in my career, but as I grow older, that's shifted to focusing on making the art that inspires me while living a life that feels like art, and I trust that, as long as I keep doing that, the flow will take me exactly where I need to end up.

SJ: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your journey and your latest release. We just added this track to our playlist and can't wait to hear more!

TF: Thank you, it has been an absolute pleasure! I invited you all to blast "shut up and kiss me!" and connect with me on social media!

LONG STORY SHORT: tiger del flor's "shut up and kiss me!" is a timely track that fits perfectly with the pop-punk resurgence. It's a fun track that returns to her grunge roots and very reminiscent of Avril Lavigne! A pop-punk playlist necessity.


Stream "shut up and kiss me!" below!


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