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Titiyo Makes Her Mark

Interview with Titiyo

Oct. 25, 2002

The enigmatic Titiyo has emerged from the European music scene and is ready to claim a stake on the American homeland. With four Swedish Grammys under her belt and enough sexiness to melt the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, Titiyo now sets her sites on your hometown.
She will wink and you will surely buy. With artists like the Hives, the Hellacopters, Division of Laura Lee, Soundtrack of Our Lives, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and now Titiyo, you will buy into a fresh and hot new music scene, that will soon be known as the Swedish Invasion.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata got the lick, but Titiyo got the taste.

Livewire: Where are you now?

Titiyo: I'm in Stockholm and it's about a quarter past four, it's Friday night and we're going to meet up for a drink and go to a Swedish party.

Livewire: That sounds like a blast!

Titiyo: It's pretty cold over here right now so we deserve it.

Livewire: I've never heard of Titiyo before, so in a couple of sentences describe yourself.

Titiyo: Well, I was brought up and born in Sweden - in Stockholm. I have a daughter - she's 10 years old. I released my first album in 1990.

Livewire: I didn't realize you've been around for so long?

Titiyo: Yeah, this is actually the first time I'm doing America for real, we did kind of a try in 1990 but we really weren't up for it at the time.

Livewire: How do pronounce your name?

Titiyo: Teh-tee-yo.

Livewire: It's kind of a tough name to pronounce. How about shortening it to Tit?

Titiyo: (Laughs) I don't think so!

Livewire: You seem to be popular in Sweden and Europe. What are your plans to conquer America?

Titiyo: Well, you know, work hard I guess. Now that I've done the album. I finally met the record label when I went over to New York and I was surprised how organized they were and how much work they put together for me. I was working all the time there. They're really excited about the album, which really gave me a great feeling, you know.

Livewire: Do you have any TV appearances planned like the David Letterman Show?

Titiyo: Well, we have to see how the single "Come Along" does first. You got to be up there to be able to do those big shows, but I would love to do that, of course. The single seems to go pretty well on the radio right now, so everything looks good.

Livewire: Wouldn't it be cool to follow in the success of fellow Swedes like the Hives?

Titiyo: I call them the young ones (laughs). I'm already 35 and they're like 15 years old.

Livewire: They've been around for awhile, too.

Titiyo: I also like Backyard Babies. They're fun, New York punk, kind of. Yeah I like a lot of that new music coming out. Have you seen the Hives live?

Livewire: No not yet, but I'm dying to.

Titiyo: I think the Hives are really, really good live! Oh, there's another band you have to check out... Soundtrack of Our Lives. They're also from Sweden. Their just the best rock band going. They're really fun and kind of crazy. They're kind of a softer rock, but I don't know the names of all the varieties of music, because I just lost my virginity to rock music. Just a few years ago, yeah it's a little bit softer and a little alternative.

Livewire: When you lost your virginity was it hard?

Titiyo: It wasn't hard, it just happened. It just came in (laughs).

Livewire: You have a beautifully exotic look. What nationality are you?

Titiyo: Why, thank you. My mother is Swedish and my father is from West Africa, from Sierra Leone. I'm black and white.

Liveiwire: You don't look like Sade, but I think she has a similar background.

Titiyo: Yeah, she's got English and Nigerian and a little bit of Spanish, I think.

Livewire: Do you think that you're a sex symbol?

Titiyo: Me?

Livewire: Yes, you.

Titiyo: No, no.

Livewire: Oh, come on now! You're hot!

Titiyo: I haven't got enough big boobs.

Livewire: You don't need big boobs. You've got a beautiful body.

Titiyo: (laughs) No, seriously I don't feel like that, no.

Liveiwire: I believe you're being humble, but you need to take another look in the mirror.

Titiyo: I guess it helps to have a look in music.

Livewire: Do you prefer singing to modeling? I know you're in a lot of the European glamour magazines.

Titiyo: I've done a lot of photo shoots, but I haven't done a lot of modeling. Model just to model? I went to school and then I stumbled into singing.

Livewire: Your U.S. debut Come Along is an eclectic album featuring your beautiful voice, what's different on this effort than on your previous albums?

Titiyo: I think the main difference is very much the lyrics. This time the lyrics were written by two guys, Svensson and Berg, and the words are so very, very different. I mean they're about maybe the same things, but a little bit more aggressive, a little bit harder.

Livewire: I could even see you going a little harder on your next record.

Titiyo: I 'm still a soul singer and have to stay somewhere in the middle (laughs). You can really hear the influences of rock music, you can here Peter (Svensson) that is really grounded on the rock side.

Livewire: Did they write all the songs?

Titiyo: They wrote all the songs on this album. I've been writing a lot on the previous albums, but I felt that this is really not my, um... I was looking for something different. I didn't want to be involved in the writing because I wanted a completely new sound.

Livewire: Do you see yourself writing more on your next effort?

Titiyo: Yeah, I think so, I've got quite a lot of inspiration this time.

Livewire: I've read that you are influenced by Radiohead?

Titiyo: Yeah, I kind of discovered that music pretty late...about 4 or 5 years ago.

Livewire: What's your favorite Radiohead album?

Titiyo: I think OK Computer is because it was the one that caught me and it's still my's very beautiful. Radiohead influenced a lot of bands today. Their like ABBA (laughs).

Livewire: Yeah, the last great Swedish sensation.

Titiyo: (giggles) There are just certain bands that can do that.

Livewire: What's different about the European music industry versus the American music industry?

Titiyo: It's much smaller here. You can go and do promotions forever in the States. I think also, It's quite different from country to country, I mean if you go to Sweden, the Swedish market and the people are a bit like the English...a bit arrogant when it comes to music. If they go to a showcase, it doesn't matter who it is, they stand there with their crossed arms waiting for the band or artist to prove themselves. If you go to the same thing, for example in Germany or in France or in Spain...from what I've seen of America, which is not very much, there is more curiosity and a more open feeling, to me. People love music. I've been in New York and I felt that there was no arrogance at all. I was really surprised because you're the big market. If anyone should be arrogant it should be you!

Livewire: NBC has selected your title track to play behind their Fall TV campaign. Could this be the push you need?

Titiyo: Well, as I understand it in America any commercial, any way, to kind of get the song out is good. In Europe it's quite different. From what I heard the spot looks good.

Livewire: A lot of artists are breaking into the music industry by selling their work to corporations. It doesn't seem like it bothers the newer generation as much as someone from Neil Young's time. Is it a sell out?

Titiyo: This concept of marketing is growing in Europe as well. It's a give and take thing. It's not a sell out.

Livewire: Are you married now?

Titiyo: No (laughs).

Livewire: Where do you call home now?

Titiyo: Stockholm is my home. It's very hip.

Livewire: Are you being biased?

Titiyo: No, no, people love it in Stockholm and then the winter comes and that's tough. Sweden is very Americanized. We've always been running after America. Although we're much more ahead than Finland and Norway. More than most countries around Europe really. It's nice to be able to fly to New York for a week. If you stayed in this country all the time you would go mad. It's nice to have the contrasts.

Livewire: Any other bands that get your heart rate up?

Titiyo: I was really happy when I heard the N.E.R.D. album last year, from the Neptunes. The Neptunes are hip-hop producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. It's kind of alternative hip-hop. It was really fun and I was really happy when I heard it. It's really good! You should also have your ears open for a Swedish guy called Steven Simmonds.

Livewire: Are you going to tour?

Titiyo: If the album does well I'm sure I'll tour the States, but if doesn't work out, as well, I'll probably start another album earlier. It just depends.

Livewire: Do you have any film aspirations?

Titiyo: No, I kind of know my limits and I accept them (laughs). I'm not a actor at all and I think that music is enough for me. I don't see a lot of pop stars successfully going into that business. I'm happy where I'm at now.

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