Continuing our series for International Women’s Day, we took a virtual trip across the water to have a chat with Tiffany Lyons, vocalist with melodic rock band Slyboots. Join us below to find out about how Slyboots came to be, life in New York and their love of literature…
Introduce us to Slyboots, who’s involved and how would you describe your music?
Slyboots is a melodic dream. Our band family is made up of our lyricist and guitarist, KG Noble; bass player, Margaret LaBombard; keyboardist and harmony wizard, JayJay Lozano; drummer, Ted Marcus (of Meat Puppets fame, and also Margaret’s husband); and me, Tiffany Lyons, on vocals. Our music speaks through nostalgia, an unapologetic gaze into current events and a hopeful voice for the future.
So how did you all meet?
We met through a bit of kismet. I was invited to perform in Joe Hurley’s All-Star Irish Rock Revue in Rockaway Beach, NY at an annual Irish Festival in 2019. Through that opportunity, I was fortunate to meet so many talented artists, one of them being Sal Maida (who was the bass player for Roxy Music, Sparks, and Cracker among others). After the festival, Sal reached out and asked if I wanted to be introduced to a band that was looking for a new lead singer. After meeting with KG and Margaret, I felt the universe opening and I jumped right in. We hit it off and we began our journey finding our footing as a reimagined band called Slyboots. We started rehearsing intensely for our first round of gigs which began about 3 months later. The rest is ‘Bootie history.
The New York scene has spawned so many important artists, any favourites for you?
New York, it has been an honor to grow up here after moving up from South Carolina when I was 12 when my mom retired from the military. I can say with complete confidence that my view of music expanded from my first day in Brooklyn. There are so many genres that exist in this city. Before we even get to artists, I have to say I heard music that I never even knew existed. As a teenager, I started singing in school and at the local church. My mornings before school were scored by the likes of Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, and the incomparable… my personal idol… Barbra Streisand. In my heart I am a bit of a crooner, and in my everyday existence I am a ‘Funny Girl’. Barbra Streisand has been a constant throughout my teens, college and beyond. There hasn’t been a period of my life for which she hasn’t had some advice.
How have things been affected there by quarantine, can you see light at the end of the tunnel?
New York City in particular, the city of opportunity for so many musicians, has taken a huge hit from the COVID-19 crisis. Historic venues have shuttered their doors and we worry about whether they will ever open again. As a band, we have not been able to rehearse in person since March of 2020. All of us have had some traumatic experiences in the past year that we never thought we would ever have to encounter. But, in true New Yorker fashion, we are persevering as best we can. We are looking towards the future, taking individual responsibility to rehearse and practice independently in the interim. We are hopeful that by the end of this year we will be back on the stages we long for so much.
Who or what influenced you to become a musician?
I don’t know if anyone ever influenced me to be a musician. I have always loved musicals ever since I was a child. One day I just started singing along and I never stopped. There is music in my heart. Have there been people in my life who have given me opportunities to sing? Absolutely, too many to name. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, NY, music is Queen. I was fortunate to have met musicians who had been playing for decades who were willing to take a chance on someone who had never been on a stage other than in choirs and high school musicals. It’s about how open you are to being a novice, an amateur, being the least knowledgeable person in the room and becoming a sponge for all you can take in.
There are more and more women in the music industry now but it’s by no means a level playing field – how hard is it to get the same opportunities as men in bands?
Within all industries there is engrained sexism. I have played shows with other bands that wanted to see my outfits before the performance to make sure I was “attractive enough for the passers-by”. At the end of the day it’s about knowing your worth. Through their years of insight from being in the industry Margaret and KG have emboldened me as a female musician to leave the table when it’s not for me. Will there always be inequality? Absolutely. Will it stop us from world domination? Never.
Who’s on your list of great female musicians?
What else do you get up to outside of making music?
SLYBOOKS! This band is full of book babes! We love a good book – any genre. We started #slybooks to share our passion for reading and connect with our community. Our goal is to build it further by feeding the need for creativity and art through literature. Plus, we’ve had some pretty stellar authors join us for the discussions! When not creating music, I work as a consultant for Lord Cultural Resources, a woman-owned consulting firm that works exclusively with arts and cultural assets. And I am the proud dog mom of an adorable Yorkie named Louis.
Any words of advice for girls whose dream is to get into the music business?
First, a piece of advice given to me when I was just starting out: “Find your band.” To add a caveat to that, do not be surprised if your band finds you. Be open to the universe and be honest with yourself about how much you want it and how much you are willing to work for it. Second: Love yourself. You cannot create authentically if you don’t take time to listen and hold space for yourself. Authenticity is what draws all of us to what we love.
And lastly, what’s on the horizon for Slyboots?
Slyboots is recording music in May and we are hopeful and waiting with baited breath for the world to open up again. We can’t wait to get back out there with our community and to share in making and performing some beautiful music again.
You can catch up with Slyboots via the links below and drop into a live performance with them here.
10th March 2021