Tatiana’S Culture Shock: Dj Tyger Lilly
It’s 7am. Do you know where your DJ is? Maybe she’s just arriving home from the rave last night? Or the DJing gig at the Brooklyn Museum? Maybe she’s happy to have flats on after walking Marc Jacobs’ show during the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week? This may sound like a crazy adventure, but DJ Tyger Lilly does it effortlessly. With so much going on, I had to get the scoop up close and personal...
DJ Tyger Lilly puts her Tyger face on and off the turntables and runway. Check out how she went from a makeup artist, to a having a simple, yet life-changing, meeting with Tim Gunn of America’s number one fashion reality show. Supermodel by day and DJ by night, DJ Tyger Lilly shares all with The Wrap Up.
The Wrap Up: Tell us about ‘Teen Diaries’ and how the hook up with you and Keri Hilson came about…
DJ Tyger Lilly: The ‘Project Butterfly’ event is an amazing organization that I was honoured to be a part of. ‘Teen Diaries’, Damaris Lewis, Keri Hilson and I, we all donated our time and thoughts to helping young urban teens with their self-confidence. We focused on making yourself beautiful, inside and out, with a proper diet and exercise. It was truly an awesome experience to share with these young girls.
TWU: You seemed to put modelling and DJing together for the event but, overall, how did DJing and modelling come about?
DJ Tyger Lilly: Modelling came first. I started off as a makeup artist, in LOVE with fashion! Then I bumped into Tim Gunn behind the scenes of a fashion show that I was doing makeup for. I asked him how to get on ‘Project Runway’, he gave me the production team’s name and the rest is history. As for DJing, it was a total different experience – definitely more grass roots. I grew up as a musician, taught the trombone and piano by my grandfather. I have always had a connection to music, so when it came to spinning, I was more of a natural.
TWU: Speaking of natural, tell us about your first DJing experience…
DJ Tyger Lilly: Wow! That’s taking it back (laughs). I remember my first gig was at this underground hip-hop club, which was totally not my scene, and I had a gut full of butterflies. With every step that I took towards the DJ booth, the fuller my belly had gotten. Walking in at a first glance, it was about an 80/20 male/female ratio, and I was very intimidated. The DJ booth was hanging above the dance floor, and I remember climbing up a narrow staircase just to reach this tiny room with two turntables and a mixer. There was hardly enough room for my laptop, let alone standing room! But I didn’t care, I was too nervous about getting booed or, even worse, replaced by the other male DJ. Somehow, I summed up the courage and put my Tyger face on. I finished my set with just a few scrapes and bruises to the ego, being harder on myself than necessary. But from that point on, I was hooked.
TWU: Would you say that was the most interesting experience?
DJ Tyger Lilly: The most interesting place that I played was at this awesome wedding in the Dominican Republic. The countryside was so beautiful and inspirational to spin to as my backdrop. It was truly interesting how I made it through the whole wedding, being that my entire staff spoke only Spanish, and I didn’t. It was a miracle we made it through our sound check, a freak tropical storm, and an entire relocation of the reception. In my journeys, I have learned to relax and go with the flow.
TWU: Okay, let’s move on and talk fashion now. Tell us about your fashion modelling experience…
DJ Tyger Lilly: I have been very blessed to work with some of the industry’s top designers. Not only have I spun for Valentino, Nicole Miller and Tracy Reese, but I have also modelled for Viktor & Rolf, Dsquared, Red Valentino, Chanel, Marc By Marc Jacobs and The Gap, to name just a few.
TWU: How do you pick between a DJing event and a modelling event?
DJ Tyger Lilly: Luckily, I don’t have to – they tend to be at different times of the day. Modelling is more of my day job and DJing is more of my night time alter-ego, like Jem or Super Man! It’s not rare that I will have to pull an all-night affair and then model for a shoot the next day, it’s an amazing thrill.
TWU: You spoke briefly about the bumps and bruises to your ego on your first DJing experience, but what about overall as a model and a DJ?
DJ Tyger Lilly: With anything you want in life, there are always hurdles to jump over. In this life that I have chosen, there seems to be more obstacles than a few. The first thing people see is my colour, then my features and, if they’re lucky, they are then blessed with my talent. But before they even get to the true skill, they put me in this fort almost – a closed in room filled with racial stereotypes, sexist slurs and accusations of incompetence. Regardless of what some people may think, I am a skilled DJ, I am an attractive person inside as well as out, and I am very intelligent and more than competent to set up my own equipment. But I do enjoy a good looking sound technician to lend a helping hand if I need it (laughs).
TWU: So what’s next for DJ Tyger Lilly, you just recently got signed I hear, what should we look out for?
DJ Tyger Lilly: Yes, I have recently been honoured with an amazing opportunity to work with an awesome management team. Everything is still very new to me and my entire team, so we want to keep this irreplaceable time to ourselves for a little bit longer. I am taking major steps forward to bridging the gap between fashion and music. Everyone knows that they are a perfect couple, but for some reason they can’t find the perfect marriage. I believe that it’s imperative to make that marriage happen, smoothly and beautifully, you know Tyger style. I want my music to be as classic as my style is, and vice versa. But major things in the making The WrapUp will be the first to know!
TWU: Finally, we must know, what is your ultimate goal with both modelling and DJing?
DJ Tyger Lilly: My ultimate goal is to be happy, and to bring happiness to those that I touch through my hard work. I have so many ideas, and goals that I want to accomplish, the sky is the limit.
Stay up to date with DJ Tyger Lilly on Twitter - www.twitter.com/DJTygerLilly
Words: Tatiana R. Johnson (@TatianaToT)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)