A while back had a chat with Shiraz Tilley (she goes by Raz), who is lovely by the way and downright brilliant! An accomplished musician, singer, songwriter from Brisbane, Australia. She discussed her process and some of her influences. It was great to connect with her, and we wish her well with her musical career and any future endeavors. So grateful to have the opportunity to have a word with her. Here are links to her social media accounts/ website and such. Also, be sure to watch her music video for My Therapy. Enjoy!
Click the links below to find out what Raz is up to and stay up to date:
Intravu: Raz Tilley
So, where are you from and was music a big part of your world, growing up in your household?
– I’m from Brisbane, Australia, but my parents are from England and all my immediate family live overseas (England, USA and Africa). However, I’m very proud to be an Aussie and lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my parents’ taste in music and their era of pop and rock. They are baby boomers and a lot of the music I heard growing up was predominantly from those English bands who started the whole British Invasion. Musically and culturally, I’ve often felt a bit out of place in my generation because I’m a bit of an old soul with my artistic tastes and knowledge. I wholly admit I’m rather ignorant of contemporary music. I think as an only child most of my early musical education was determined by my mum and dad and predominantly my dad’s love of classic Rock n’ Roll from the 1960s and 1970s. Personally, I think the music of that time was more alluring and even the organic production, considering the archaic technology, was superior. There was character to the sound that I think is lacking in a proportion of the cookie-cutter music we hear today. Bands like The Who, The Beatles and Cream, just to name a few, pioneered the notion of a well written song with memorable catchy riffs and flowing structures. My parents thoroughly encouraged me to undertake piano lessons and musical activities from a very young age. Hence, I studied the Art music classics from The Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras. As a child I knew my Mozart from my Bach, but could hardly name a band or artist in the Top 40 charts.
What are some of your fondest musical memories?
– My fondest musical memories, that I can at least actively recall, started around the age of 13 when I started going to live concerts, when artists toured in Brisbane. I was so lucky that my parents often took me to see musical acts that have defined music history and popular culture. I remember seeing Bob Dylan when I was 14, The Rolling Stones when I was 15, Meatloaf at 16 and even getting called up on stage to boogie with Wilson Picket! All the acts I was fortunate enough to have seen were nothing short of incredible. They encapsulated everything I love about live music and professional stagecraft. I find some of the acts around today are crass or vulgar without the necessary goods to back them up, which comes across as amateurish and naive. Don’t get me wrong, I love a persona onstage, such as musical gods like Metallica, who carry on and do what they want, but they also have the talent and tireless work to hone their craft too. Sadly a few of the wonderful performers who moulded my love of music are no longer living, like David Bowie and Ray Charles. However, their legacy lives on and I know I am blessed to be able to say I saw them live. I’ve also got to meet two of my music idols, Neil Finn and Roger Daltry.
Who have been the biggest influences on you, musically or otherwise?
– Musically, my biggest influences are rather eclectic and range from singer-songwriters, such as the wonderful Neil Finn and Missy Higgins, to 80s hitters like Duran Duran, to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, such as your bands like Black Sabbath and my fellow Australians, ACDC. To speak in “music journalism terms,” I think as an artist you’re constantly in a state of growth and branching out as you mature. Therefore, your overall sound and style also changes and you should be continually learning, embracing new forms. For me, I’ve been involved in a variety of musical groups which have had different genres (pop, soul, blues, jazz) and even instrumentation. I love the sound of a Ska-like brass and woodwind section, as well as the bluegrass feel of banjos and harmonicas. I think there are glimpses of so many musical genres and influences in my work.
Are your songs mostly autobiographical? Have you always found writing comes easily? What is the process?
– I fully believe that to write well you have to write what you know and draw from personal experiences. All of my music is somehow linked to me personally and comes from stories and encounters, both interesting and, sometimes, banal. That doesn’t mean to say that all my songs are about someone in particular, or written as, say, a vendetta or put-down. Some of my pieces were written using information from friends or relate to cultural observations and trends. Obviously, if I feel strongly about something, there will be truth in the lyrics and it’s a lot easier to craft.
– Writing has not always come easily. The creative process is strange, confusing and utterly random. Some days you can wake up bursting with ideas and creative visions, and other days I can be completely uninspired.
– Personally, the songwriting process always starts from the music itself. Whilst playing, or musically “doodling” on either piano or guitar, a riff can come out of nowhere or a chord progression sparks my imagination and from there I’ll elaborate. I make no bones about the fact I’m not a natural lyricists and I have to work harder on this aspect of songwriting, with constant writing, cutting and editing, separating the wheat from the chaff. Usually, I have a title or theme in mind, which acts as the catalyst for the rest of a song’s lyrics. I like to tell a story and I follow the wisdom of Keep It Simple Stupid. Trying too hard to be clever or provocative is pretentious and generally doesn’t work. People want to be able to sing along and repetition and restraint is key.
How long have you been playing piano? Do you play any other instruments?
– I have been playing piano since around the age of six. I remember getting my first keyboard in year 1 of primary school. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on practising, but my parents, particularly my mum, persisted and encouraged good rehearsal practice. As I got a bit older, I would go and practice independently and enjoyed all aspects of learning an instrument.
– Yes! I additionally play, saxophone, guitar, bass, harmonica and dabble with djembe and percussion.
Any pre-show rituals?
– I don’t really have any specific pre-show rituals, but I suppose the standard deep breaths and instrumental warm-ups etc…Doing my own makeup is a very calming experience and when I look decent I feel a lot better and have more confidence. I don’t really get horrible stage-fright or anything, so I enjoy the pre-show excitement.
Any favourite quotes or words of advice you’d like to share with fans, that have helped you in your journey?
– I must admit I don’t really have any favourite quotes I live by, but I think is a wisdom guru. Anyone who quotes thermodynamics in everyday life is one to watch.
– The advice I’d give to any other aspiring musicians and artists is to keep going, think positively and work hard. Try to ignore any negativity you may encounter too. Sadly, there are people out there who don’t want to see you succeed and take sick pleasure in bringing others down, like trolls who have nothing better to do with their pathetic, insignificant lives. Just remember, they are probably jealous, insecure and suffer from low self-esteem. Just take the high road and turn the negativity around to benefit yourself and your art. Also, if you have nothing nice or constructive to say, then don’t say anything at all. – I suppose that’s a sort of quote?
– I would love to take this opportunity to send out many thank yous and my utmost appreciation to everyone who has helped me in my musical journey. Particular thanks to: my Dad, who is my everything and always has my back; Daniel Vista, who has worked tirelessly over the years with me; Bernie Wedrat and his masterful genius; the musician friends who have contributed their time and skills to my projects; my non-musician friends and family who love me regardless; and all the phenomenal support from fans. You make this world a better place and encourage me everyday.