This week I got the chance to talk to Tiffany and Maqui from IndiviDúo. The dynamic Latin pop duo “IndiviDúo” was formed in Buenos Aires in 2010 when Tiffany Joy (Californian Singer / Songwriter) met Maqui Reyes (Colombian Singer / Musician / Composer) and they decided to set their solo careers aside to join musical forces.
How to find Individúo
Website – https://www.individuomusic.com/
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/individuoshow
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/individuomusic
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/individuomusic
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/individuomusic
Transcript – Download PDF version
SWR: Oh, let’s start with introductions. You guys have a cool story. I read it in your bio, but how exactly, how did you end up in Argentina, and how’d you guys meet?
Maqui Reyes: That’s nice. You just talk.
Tiffany Joy: Should I go first. Okay. Well, I’m Tiffany Joy and I am a singer songwriter ever since I was quite young. I started writing in Spanish also when I was very young even though I’m from the Bay Area. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I really fell in love with the culture at a young age and the language, so I started writing songs in Spanish as well. Then, I just kind of took off with my guitar and started performing and traveling throughout Latin America. I lived in Chile for a little while and Costa Rica. Then, I went to Peru and a few other countries. I ended up in Argentina, loved it there, but at that time I actually didn’t live there. Moved back to San Francisco. I had a jazz trio and I launched a bilingual album called El Ritmo del Mundo. That was in 2007. I had originally done an EP in 2002, which is when I met Iari. I had done a couple albums and I kind of had a mini crisis, you know, a quarter life crisis and I left San Francisco. I left San Francisco and I moved to Argentina. I’ll let you know, I had lost a job and a boyfriend, kind of crisis time. So I moved to Argentina. This was late 2008 and I moved there to record my third solo album, an album called Real Joy. It was in English, but there was a producer out there that I wanted to work with and a drummer I had met before who was a very dear friend of mine and I wanted to work with them. So I moved to Argentina and I was performing there, and I had a band, and playing little venues. I actually went to a party one night, a Columbian party, we had a friend in common that put us in touch through Facebook. He said, “Why don’t you come to a party?” And that is how we met. So that’s my version of the story. You tell your version. Was that enough?
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, yeah, perfect.
Tiffany Joy: I was trying to make it concise because it’s a lot more than that but-
Maqui Reyes: So, I am Marqui Reyes. I am Columbian from Bogota. After studying business administration because that was my father’s expectations, I decide to go away and start all over with music, which is my really passion. I went to Argentina and I was studying music for maybe seven, eight years. At that moment, I was living there alone and I was at the same party she’s talking about with all these Columbian friends. I was happy she came, and she grabbed the guitar, and we were all, oh, my God. She can sing and she can dance, and she’s amazing. So, I fell in love with her, and that night was very special because that was the first time we were singing and we sang together, and of course, we met. We fell in love that night and that was almost eight years ago, and we haven’t stopped singing together since that day.
Tiffany Joy: I think you knew right away. I think people at the party, people will attest to this that, people knew right away that there was like a very strong musical connection there. We liked each other, but I think it was more musical than even romantic in the beginning. I think we fell in love with the idea of the music of one another. We actually went home together that night, but it wasn’t so much romantic as it was, “Play me every song you’ve ever written.”
Tiffany Joy: And then, he was like, “You play me every song you’ve ever written.” I was like, “I wrote this when I was 10.” “Oh, yeah, I wrote this when I was 15, and my dog died.” Then, it was like all, it was like 36 hours of just sharing music.
Tiffany Joy: Then, I think that same weekend we sang our first cover. We put our first cover together, just, we wanted to hear how the voices sounded. Then, we started out playing living rooms in Argentina. Like, we were just the musicians that you wanted to invite to your party because we had this repertoire and we would just sing all these cover songs and then, we were like, we should try to compose something together. So then, we started writing together. Our first song, Sueno
Maqui Reyes: At the same time, sorry, at the same time we were working on individual projects.
Tiffany Joy: Oh yeah, we both had our …
SWR: It was at the beginning kind of a side situation.
Tiffany Joy: It was just for fun, yeah.
SWR: She was recording her album. I was recording mine. So it was kind of fun, but it became stronger and stronger.
Tiffany Joy: Well and then I remember too, we started getting asked to play private parties, and we’ll pay you.
Maqui Reyes: That’s right.
Tiffany Joy: We were like, “Oh. You’re going to pay us to do private parties. This is cool. Yeah. Let’s do it.” So then we realized that it was profitable, and we realized that it was more powerful, like it affected people more. Because even at a private party, not even talking about the economic aspect of it, when two voices together, people would cry, or they would get goosebumps, or they would be very moved by the energy of the voices. And we said, “Okay, well then there’s something here. This is golden. We want to continue doing this.” That’s when we started composing together. And that was like a whole another beautiful process because two composers that find each other and compose, it don’t always work.
Maqui Reyes: It usually doesn’t work.
Tiffany Joy: It usually doesn’t work, actually. It’s hard to compose with other people, so it’s been a very interesting process.
Maqui Reyes: Yeah. But that was the beginning of everything in Argentina.
SWR: That was the introduction.
Maqui Reyes: We owe that to Argentina.
Tiffany Joy: We owe so much to Argentina.
SWR: That’s kind of crazy. So how did you choose, so two questions, how did you choose Argentina, and also, what did your parents think when you made this decision?
Maqui Reyes: Oh, that’s a great question.
Tiffany Joy: You go first.
Maqui Reyes: I chose Argentina because it was free. The education was free. So I applied to a, how do you say that today, conservatory.
Tiffany Joy: Uh huh, yes.
Maqui Reyes: And if I made it, I would be able to study.
Tiffany Joy: You had to audition to get it.
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, of course. Write an exam. So I already have some knowledge of art … My father’s a musician, I didn’t tell you that. So that makes … He plays music and he’s also an account.
Tiffany Joy: An accountant.
Maqui Reyes: An accountant. So that’s kind of the situation. So then we have had music in my house forever. My brother plays the saxophone. So I already knew, but it was a tough exam. But as I made it, I just flew to Argentina.
Tiffany Joy: However, your family wasn’t too supportive of studying music.
Maqui Reyes: No, they were not very happy at the beginning.
Tiffany Joy: It was like basically if you go to study music you’re no longer part of this family.
SWR: Oh man.
Maqui Reyes: Not like that bad. Like we lost connection. They never said something that bad. We lost connection for a couple, for maybe five years.
Maqui Reyes: Then my brother came there to study saxophone, so …
Tiffany Joy: So they lost both of them.
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, yeah.
SWR: We need to start talking about this.
Tiffany Joy: Okay, we need to start talking about this music thing.
Maqui Reyes: Exactly. Exactly. So that’s how …
SWR: That’s interesting, do you think that your parents wanted that because, you know you were saying your dad’s a musician, but he was on the side, just saw no future in that, or …
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, I think that’s kind of … That’s a question I should actually ask my father. I think it’s kind of … My father, because my mother passed away, my father I think he has mixed feelings. He loves music and he plays music and he taught me music, so he loves it. But we was expecting something more stable. And I understand that now because I know this is unstable. But you can fight it.
Tiffany Joy: And I would dare to say, I’m sorry, I mean I lived in Colombia for four years and I’ve had quite a lot of exposure to the culture, and I would say that culturally, it’s not a real career. Actually, even in the United States, when you say you’re a musician, it’s not a real career.
Maqui Reyes: “What are you going to study?” “Medicine.” “Ah.”
Tiffany Joy: “Wow.”
Maqui Reyes: “What are you going to study?” “Music.” “Ooh.”
Tiffany Joy: “Ooh.” I don’t really think there is that validation yet. I don’t think we’re there yet as a society. And in the United States too, we’re getting there, but it’s not quite there, and in Columbia even less. I don’t think they consider it … I don’t know. It’s not something …
Maqui Reyes: It’s changing, it’s changing.
Tiffany Joy: I mean maybe it’s changing, but maybe when you left, I mean this was 12, 13 years ago, I think it was even worse than it is nowadays.
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, like my father generation have this paradigm?
Tiffany Joy: Paradigm.
Maqui Reyes: Of the musician he be not worker, not a hard worker.
SWR: It’s kind of a weird thing, right? It’s actually a really hard … it’s just as hard as any job. But the vision is just like you’re like a bum.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah.
Maqui Reyes: I never … I had my degree in business administration and I worked for two years. I never studied as hard as I did with my musical career.
Tiffany Joy: Music.
Maqui Reyes: With business administration it was much easier.
SWR: Music’s also more competitive. Depending on what your goal is.
Tiffany Joy: Oh my God, yeah.
Maqui Reyes:And it’s nothing that you can just learn by reading or … You have to invest time, and everyone has different timing in order to get thing with your instruments, or it’s … I mean it’s much more work than an average career, I would say.
SWR: I think there’s something that they way. Your parents always in the search of excellence they kind of ruin your creativity.
Maqui Reyes: They mean well.
SWR: Yeah, I know.
Tiffany Joy: I think that happens in a lot of cases. My story’s completely different from his.
Tiffany Joy: So I don’t know if that’s for better or for worse, but I come from this really all encompassing hippie family. My father’s an artist. He’s like an artist, healer, spiritual type of bohemian man. And my mom studied music, she played the flute, and my grandpa was a concert pianist, my grandma was an opera singer. On the other side, my grandma was a singer songwriter. In fact, I never met her because she passed away, but the first guitar I ever played was her old Yamaha that was just sitting around the house. So I have a lot of music in my family and I think they always loved the fact that I was a little performer. I grew up doing musical theater. Ever since … I did my first professional show when I was eight, and so my parents invested a lot of time, and the little resources we had, because we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but it was like, “What do you need for the costume for the show? I’ll stay up and sew them for you.” Or, “What did you need?” My dad’s an artist, “I’ll do your makeup.” The were always there.
SWR: Invested in you.
Tiffany Joy: Yes, completely invested in me and my artistic career. My sister too. She chose a different path. She got into sports and then later into business, always super into her as well. I just have great parents, you know. And when I chose to go to Argentina, it was hard because I took two suitcases and a guitar and completely left. But it also, I needed to get away from my safety net because I think when you have that much love, you never fully develop. Like I didn’t know how to cook or do my own laundry. I had so much love and support, and I needed to really learn how to find that on my own, so for me it was bittersweet, but I’ve always had the support of my parents, and I think you’ll agree that as a duo we’ve always had the support of my family 100%. Helping us finance our first album, just always being there for us, number one fans at all the shows. It’s really nice, it’s a blessing.
SWR: That’s so cool. So did you decide that you guys had to come back here in some ways because you know, his family, because I feel like it’s kind of hard to be a musician in the Bay Area versus LA, or New York.
Tiffany Joy: It’s hard to be a musician anywhere.
Tiffany Joy: We personally chose to come back to the Bay Area because that’s where we were getting work. So in Colombia … So we started the project in Argentina and we recorded an album there, and we were doing pretty well, and we actually had a potential to maybe sign with Sony, and things were heading that direction, and the deal fell through. So we had to make a decision. We either go to Colombia where we have family, or we go to California where we have family.
Maqui Reyes: This is four years ago.
Tiffany Joy: This was even longer, right?
Maqui Reyes: Four.
Tiffany Joy: Was it four years ago? So we chose Columbia because we went there to visit family one time, and we wind up getting a TV interview, and people liked so much what we did we were like, “Oh my gosh. There’s a place in the market for what we’re doing.” And maybe Colombia’s not quite as competitive as the United States, and maybe we can rise to the top here. So we went to Colombia and we launched our career there, and things went really well, I’m not going to lie, it was like a good run. Four years of … we had a section on a television show, we launched a CD, we had a distribution deal in country, sold out show at a big venue, we had a band that we played with for two years, we went to award shows. We did a lot of really amazing things. We were like, “We’re doing the thing. Doing the …” The thing is, we weren’t making any money. You know, everyone knew who we were and we would get … My baker at the bakery was like, “Oh, you’re that girl from the …” And I’m like, “Yeah, it’s me.” But we weren’t getting hired to do that. So we thought, this is nice to be known, but we want economic validation for what we do. And there’s a lot of corruption in Colombia, it’s hard. I mean it’s like that everywhere in the music industry, but there it’s really hard because all of the radio heads, and all of the media people, they knew us, because we had done press tour after press tour, hired press agents, done tours, everyone knows who we are. But they won’t put our song on the radio unless we pay. I mean, that’s just how it works. So finally we just were like, we’re exhausted of just pushing, and pushing and everyone. And everyone loves us and loves what we do, but until you pay, you can’t play. And so we were like, we don’t have a big investor, we don’t have rich parents, that’s not our situation. And we had been coming to California once a year for the past six years to tour.
Maqui Reyes: Every winter.
Tiffany Joy: Every winter we would come for two months.
Tiffany Joy: And our shows that started out like performing at the little bar on the street, we wound up filling up a 200 seat theater. So we were like, okay, slowly we’re growing. So maybe if we come back here we can continue to grow our fan base. And we also started working a lot in Miami. We started composing for other artists. And so being here we’re also closer … we’re within the United States so we can go to Miami, we can go to Nashville, we can go and song write. And I missed my family, of course. That’s beside the point. But we feel like there are some opportunities we want to explore here, so we’re here for now. Who knows how long, but …
SWR: So how’s it different songwriting. I mean, I see Nashville and stuff. You said Nashville, so there’s actually a Spanish songwriting community out there, or is it like you’re just working with other people on other material all together.
Maqui Reyes: It’s definitely not like here in California. We just came from there. We saw a Latino movement growing very slowly, but it’s definitely not the main things. English music, I would say 90% of what we saw. But it’s coming, the Latin music. But the thing is, as composers we have this good position because we can write in English and with Spanish.We can actually perform in English and in Spanish. But we have our show, it’s in Spanish, but we can easily … She can easily … She told you she’s a songwriter, and her primary language is English, so we can do both. And actually in Nashville it’s funny because we met this songwriter, and she’s wonderful, a great musician. What’s her name, Liz…
Tiffany Joy: Liz Anne Hill
Maqui Reyes: And she wanted to have a songwriting session with us, and we did, but we composed in Spanish.
Tiffany Joy: And we got a great song out of it. In fact, we’re proposing the song for Spanish artists. So yeah, it’s a really great song, so … She wanted to write something in Spanish. She’s not totally fluent, but she loves it, and she’s like, “I have this idea.” And we’re like, “Let’s go with it.” So we wound up writing something in Spanish. I believe that Nashville in the next five years is going to grow exponentially, and I think a lot of Latinos are going to come in, not necessarily to do music, but I think the Latino population is growing there, you can see that.
Maqui Reyes: They can consume music.
Tiffany Joy: Exactly. And then there’ll be more consumers for that music, so there’s a chance that Nashville could have a little bit more Latino influence. Will it ever be like LA or San Francisco? No, probably not. But I do think it will grow. So I think us as songwriters it’s just interesting to be there because you get inspiration from everywhere. So to work with a country artist, we were like, “Oh, let’s talk about her being sad,” and she’s like, “Let’s talk about her burning down his house.” And I was like … See, we wouldn’t have thought to say that, but a country artist would, and in Spanish it sounds really cool. So it’s like you never know where you’re going to get …
SWR: Yeah. It’s probably not a topic that’s talked about.
Tiffany Joy: Exactly yeah. So it was very interesting and I think that … Like, it’s interesting to go there, and compose with her, and then the day after we were in Miami, composing … With our publishing group in Miami, completely different group of people, you know. Just very interesting.
SWR: So there’s that concept of what they call idea sex, right, it’s like you’re taking all these things and like the baby looks pretty cool, actually.
Maqui Reyes: That’s right, that’s right.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah. That’s an interesting … Yeah, Nashville’s an interesting place. I like it.
Maqui Reyes: So that’s what’s happening. We have been here for maybe two months.
Tiffany Joy: Well yeah, because we got here in June, but then we left on tour and we toured Europe for three months. And then we just got back, so now we’re just kind of like, “Okay, what do we do?” So every day we’re trying to have meetings, and do things. And we perform every weekend, you know.
SWR: I see that you guys have a steady gig, right, at the winery and stuff.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, we do play at Testerosssa the third Friday of every month. That’s the only steady one. The other places are just kind of speckled. Because we were always touring, so nothing’s really fixed, but now that we’re here, I think we would only take on a steady if it was a real good deal. Like we love that winery. We love the staff. We always have a great time. Our fans really like to go to that place. So you’ve got to kind of pick your places.
Maqui Reyes: It’s also fun to play in different places, every single weekend we play in a different places. That’s also fun.
Tiffany Joy: To play in a lot of different places, yeah. It’s fun. Yeah, and then sometimes we do private parties, or weddings, or whatever comes up.
Maqui Reyes: Now the corporate events.
SWR: That’s true, yeah.
Tiffany Joy: Corporate events, yeah. And we’re going to be putting together a really nice quartet too, because we normally play the two of us, and we love our duo show, it’s great, but we want to also try to maybe get in some more of the clubs that are used to having bands. So we’re going to put together a quartet, and we’re probably going to launch … do the presenting of the quartet at this really cool little place called the Art Boutiki in San Jose, you know it, yeah, probably in March, so that’ll be cool.
SWR: Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. Let’s talk about songwriting. So do you guys song write together, or is it just one of you guys, and when you do, do you have a certain go-to, like do you come up with the melody first, or do you write the lyrics and say, okay, now we’ll figure it out.
Maqui Reyes: That’s a great question. We usually, for the duo, we compose together. And that’s cool but … Her sister got married two months ago and she just composed a song for her because that was her gift, and I also composed my song. So we can do it together, but we are also trying to do it on our own, as well. And the methodology, it could be like … She’s a melody builder, and I grab the instruments, so we have a piano, we have a guitar, ukulele, whatever we have. So we try just to make it go together. And at the end, and our most picky part of the process is putting lyrics on top of those melodies.
Tiffany Joy: I dare to say that’s what we both … that’s what we most struggle with, I think because truthfully because he’s very picky. But it’s a good thing because I think that’s why our lyrics are so beautiful, but I would be fine with a line and he’ll be like, “No. I don’t like the metric, I don’t like …” I’m like, “It sounds great, just leave it.” And that’s always the constant battle. You know I want to finish something, and I want to get the song so we can sing it, and he’s like, “No. It’s not right.” But I think his incessant need for it to feel and be right is what makes the song so beautiful. So I think there’s that perfectionist element, and I also think that he’s quite a prolific songwriter, and I think that when he puts his mind to it, songs come. And when I’m not as inspired, he’ll come up with these beautiful songs, and then it’s great because we sit down, and I’ll just add a harmony to it, or change an arrangement or something, and then it’s ours. So I mean, I know the song’s his, he wrote it, but it becomes the duos, and then we wind up performing these songs, and I think probably half the songs on our new album will be originally written by you because you’ve been in a very fruitful moment of just like writing a lot.
Maqui Reyes: It comes and goes, so I’ve been lucky the last months.
Tiffany Joy: But that’s okay. I’m always like, “Oh, they’re your songs.” He’s like, “They’re our songs.” They just come, and if we can perform them and get them out in the world, they’re our babies.
Maqui Reyes: There’s actually a lot of big artists buying songs. It’s just great that we don’t need to buy, we have our own stuff.
Tiffany Joy: It’s so nice. And it’s really exciting, we’re trying to get more into songwriting for other artists. And it’s actually happening now.
SWR: There’s some insanely prolific guys right now. I was at ASCAP earlier this year and there was a guy, his name is Ashley Gorley or something.
Tiffany Joy: Oh yeah.
SWR: He’s got like thirty, and he’s like … more than 30, like 35 number one hits. But it’s just like a fascinating thing.
Tiffany Joy: Amazing. Wow. How do they do that? It’s amazing.
Maqui Reyes: A few days ago we were watching the documentary on, a big show it was, David Foster. Another number one. Every single song.
Tiffany Joy: Like a machine, yeah. Yeah, it’s crazy.
SWR: But I mean, I was talking to someone, I forgot their publishing group is something, it’s something out of Nashville but it’s like, yeah these guys are writing 200 songs a year, and out of that five of them make it.
Maqui Reyes: That’s all you need.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah. I was actually just talking to our publisher. This year they were a little low on their quota, but they submit 150 songs and only 30 got placed.
SWR: Wow. The converstion rates.
Tiffany Joy: Which is pretty good. Yeah.
SWR: It sounds terrible but that’s fantastic.
Tiffany Joy: That’s actually fantastic. And one of them was mine. Well, I wrote it with two other writers, but I did get a song placed this year with a bit artist in Spain, so that’s like I’m super excited about it.
Tiffany Joy: I feel like oh, it’s finally happening. Because this transition into songwriting, we’ve always been songwriters, but we’ve been singer songwriters, so we didn’t ever really move into writing for other artists. So this is new, this year, and it’s super exciting. We love it.
SWR: So did you target artists, or are you just writing it and the publishers try and sell it for you?
Tiffany Joy: Well in our case it happened that we didn’t even … I didn’t even think we would get into this, but we wound up meeting our publishers in Miami, and then they signed us to their publishing company because they wanted us to come on as a part of the team. So they have certain artists they compose for and they’ll get a massive email from say Sony or Universal, like, “We’re looking for these types of songs for these artists.” So when that happens then maybe we’ll think about a particular artist.
Maqui Reyes: Every single publisher in Miami … it’s writing songs. It’s a lot of competition.
Tiffany Joy: Is working on the same songs, trying to submit. It’s a lot of competition.
SWR: That’s insane.
Maqui Reyes: That’s crazy.
Tiffany Joy: But it’s fun.
Maqui Reyes: It’s the same like, I don’t know, like a lawyer.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah.
Maqui Reyes: There’s a lot of competition. You’ve got to do something different. And if you do it, you’re going to be happy.
SWR: That’s cool. So do you guys have any routines that you go to before you start writing, I don’t know, drink a cup of coffee or something. Something that you keep going to, or a certain time of day that you start at.
Maqui Reyes: Usually we are outside, we never write here. We love working on the beach, for example.
Tiffany Joy: Or in the woods. Nature’s very inspiring.
Maqui Reyes: Yeah we have written a lot of stuff there. We have some kind of seat here outside. But about some kind of ritual or something we … Actually, we’re not … we don’t have … Sometimes actually I’m just showing something to her and she stops. She just sits and it starts happening, so it’s … When it calls, we go for it. Something very funny is that we are always both of us with our cellphones, with our voice memos. So la, la, la, la, la, la, and you get your memo. Next day, “Look, look what I …” That’s something that has helped us a lot.
SWR: Yeah. Cool. So if you don’t mind me asking, I mean, this is the muso life, musician life, what do you guys do … obviously you have day jobs, right, or something else on the side. Or are you focusing on this completely now at this point?
Tiffany Joy: We’re almost completely focused on this.
SWR: Sweet, okay.
Tiffany Joy: I still have a digital job that I do a little bit. It’s not a huge moneymaker but I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been working as a PR director for an investment association. And we have a magazine too that covers alternative investments in the emerging market space. And I started doing it when I was in Argentina, because I could work with my partner online. He’s based out of Buenos Aires, and he’s actually in Singapore right now, or in the Philippines, pardon me. And so just being … I work maybe one or two hours per day, check in, have to take a call, do something. And I’ll keep doing it. I could probably live without it, truthfully, because we have a low overhead, and we’re making money in other ways, but to have some sort of small steady income is really nice, and I really enjoy it, and I’ve been doing it for a long time, so that’s still … But truthfully, we perform. That’s the majority of where our money comes in. It’s performing. And then hopefully soon bigger amounts of money will be able to come in through royalties, and through working as songwriters.
Maqui Reyes: I also like teaching. So I have a couple of students. I’m looking for more. I like it, and that’s also a way to get some money steady.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah it’s pretty new here too, so who knows what we might get involved in in this area, but if it were up to us, I think our primary stream would be through performances.
Maqui Reyes: Oh yeah, definitely.
Tiffany Joy: That’s what with really enjoy doing. We love working. We don’t mind spending every weekend playing three hour shows and just performing.
Maqui Reyes: It’s actually what we do.
Tiffany Joy: That’s what we do. And yeah, I mean, you have to work. I mean, this area, the pay’s not great for artists that play wineries and bars, but you just work. The tips are good, the people love what you do, and you sell CD’s and yeah, you’re working. There’s something really nice about going out for a burrito afterwards and knowing that you earned it by singing your songs.
SWR: That’s fantastic. That’s the dream, right.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, it totally is. When we go to sleep, and you know, we have the added value of the fact that we’re a couple, so it’s just really nice like we load all of our equipment, we unload all of our equipment, we come in and have this nice little space, and we go to bed, and it’s just like, “… We are doing it, man.” And it’s just like … you don’t need more than that. It feels really good.
SWR: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm. That’s I think, the essentials.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, you can dream about the house and the car and the things, but you know, what really makes you happy, feeling validated for what you were born to do.
SWR: And the house and the stuff.
Tiffany Joy: It’s just stuff.
SWR: Yeah, it really is. I mean, and it takes away from …
Tiffany Joy: It can be distracting.
SWR: Very distracting. What do you guys have … like your biggest challenge today when it comes to songwriting or performing, something you’d be like, “Oh man, I don’t need this. If there was some way to solve this, I would totally solve this.”
Tiffany Joy: Truthfully, and thank God, creativity has never been an issue for us. It’s always been investment. It’s always been getting funding. That’s really the only thing that’s stopping us. I think if we had constant funding, like for the past eight years, we’d probably have six albums out by now. So it’s never been a lack of material or a lack of work ethic, it’s always been a matter of finding funding, and people that want to get involved. We still don’t have …
Maqui Reyes: Contacts.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, contacts. Record labels don’t invest anymore, but private investors invest. Angel investors invest. People still get involved in projects. But we haven’t met those right people yet, and truthfully we haven’t been here. This is a good place to meet people.
SWR: This is actually a fantastic place.
Tiffany Joy: Exactly. So part of the reason we’re here is networking. Who might want to get involved. Like now we have a project that’s running really well on its own, and it’s very promising, so this would be a good time for someone to get involved. So now it’s just like putting the pieces together, but I think …
Maqui Reyes: Yeah, it’s interesting.
Tiffany Joy: It’s really interesting, and if one thing has been lacking, it’s been that, just like the right people and the contacts, you know.
SWR: Do you think in Bay Area, or anywhere.
Tiffany Joy: I don’t know. We meet people in Miami sometimes, that seems like it could be good. Definitely in the Bay Area, we’ve had miraculous things happen of people wanting to get involved. We’ve done two Kickstarter campaigns that have been successful here, so I think that there are people that support us, and people looking for projects that are worthy of being involved in too.
Maqui Reyes: And I have the feeling that the people here in the Bay Area, the get it, how hard it is. Not like in Colombia, we were talking that they may not see it. But people here know, so they show respect, and they help. Like the first time I came, or maybe the second time we came on tour, I was very amazed because the people was driving two hours or from far away to see a show of maybe one hour. And I would say, “Did you drive?” “Yes, of course, we don’t get this very often.” Because the kind of music that we do here, it’s unique, so I was amazed because that would never happen in Colombia. My friends wouldn’t drive two hours to see me. So here there’s special people, and I believe, we believe that if we work hard, and we keep showing up, and doing some things different, like growing the show. At the beginning it was the two of us. Now we have a drum machine. We have a looper so we do different things.
Tiffany Joy: Percussion instruments, melodica, we just keep adding things to the show. Now I’ve been playing the kazoo.
SWR: I dig that. I love it
Tiffany Joy: It’s fun. Soloing with the kazoo.
Maqui Reyes: So the show it’s getting more interesting, so that’s our part of the deal. And that people have the other part, they have to show up to the concerts and to the thing. But I think that’s the way it happens.
SWR: So the biggest challenge is trying to network, trying to get people … sell your idea, sell your … or get them to invest.
Tiffany Joy: Yeah, and to people to know about us. I know that a lot of people would be interested in having a product like this at their party, or at their event, or at their house concert, but people don’t know about us. So how do we make that happen.
Maqui Reyes: Exposure.
Tiffany Joy: Exposure, and I think really it’s like really word of mouth too in this area. So you have to perform a lot. Every private party and corporate party we’ve ever done is because someone saw us playing at some little hole in the wall. So you have to actually, physically … I don’t think a press kit works in our case. Someone needs to be there and feel the energy of the show, and then they’ll want you to come and perform at their event. So that’s why we’re just trying to work as much as possible. Farmers’ market this weekend, we’ll be there.
SWR: I did see that.
Tiffany Joy: Why not, we were like, “Hey. Let’s do it. Going to put some Santa hats on and play some music.”
Maqui Reyes: Why not?
SWR: That’s so cool.
Maqui Reyes: That’s right.
SWR: Okay, so if there’s someone starting out today, what’s some advice you’d get them, and maybe to do, and not to do.
Tiffany Joy: As a songwriter, or as an artist?
SWR: How about as a songwriter?
Tiffany Joy: As a songwriter. You go first.
Maqui Reyes: Okay, for me it’s hard to give advice because I think we are still learning a lot. But the fact that we are here, that we have been doing this together for eight years, and beyond that, I can see that there’s people even starting even more than we are, so for those guys, I would say, right now a big game changer, it’s knowing or approaching music as a career, as a real job, as a real thing. You have to be prepared in order to do music, because now it’s confusing because without playing an instrument you can produce a whole song. And that’s okay, but if you don’t get the difference of being able to do that and being an artist or being a musician, then you have a problem, because at some level, at some point, you will have to prove, you will have to do it. And if you’re not capable, you are going to struggle. So my advice would be, take your time. I know we all want to be big stars. But take your time, grab your instrument, feel it, study it, love it. Find your voice. Write a lot of songs before you start thinking about your hit because that’s the thing, every song you write, it’s your hit. That’s the truth. I would take my time in order to get better, and then start really going there. We’re actually still getting into that point where in the first time of our career, I think we are ready for something else because before we were not ready on the stage. Colombia made us much better performers, because we play everywhere, big stage, little stage, streets, everywhere. So now we have that. Now we’re learning … I’m learning English, we’re still getting everything in the place in order to go there, so that’s my advice. Take your time. Love music. Respect music. And try to understand it. It’s not that complicated. You just have to put some time in it.
Tiffany Joy: I think my advice would be find your specialty. Like find what you’re good at because I think that not every songwriter is a lyricist, and not every songwriter is a musician, and not every songwriter is a melody writer. So, to give an example in this last session that I did, and a very good song came out of it, it’s the one that got placed, there was a musician, a lyricist, and me. And I know that my strengths are melodies. When I was a little girl … I always use this example, but I would take the shampoo, and I would sing the instructions because I like putting melody to words. That’s what I really love to do. I just hear melodies all the time. And so for me, that’s my strength. Can you make a career out of that? No. So I’ve had to learn music. I taught myself to play the guitar but I never learned music. So thanks to my lovely husband, I’m now studying music, and it’s very challenging, because I learned to write song without knowing anything about the notes. So I have two albums that I don’t know what chords I was playing. And that’s cool for a while, until you start to write, because then you don’t have enough tools in your tool belt because in a particular key, there are certain chords that fit into that key, and certain ways to break the rule that work and don’t work. And so it’s like if you don’t know that, you just get stuck. You can use four chords, but then you’re like, “Oh, where else could I go? What else could I do?”
Tiffany Joy: Exactly, yeah. Or you just get stuck. So …
Maqui Reyes: I think we all feel that, I think it’s how you react to that.
Tiffany Joy: I think I never thought about that. I was just so moved internally by … I was a born songwriter, I just felt the music. I learned three chords and I just ran with it, and I was just so excited. And then I would make things up, and I don’t … Is this a chord? It sounds good. And that’s how I composed. I had bands that I was leading without knowing anything about music. “Just play this. Do this. It sounds like this.” I mean, that’s okay, and I made it work for a while, but now as a songwriter, I’m realizing that if I want to sit down and write a song, it’s very nice the tools that I’ve learned, that this is in the key of A, so these are the chords that I could potentially use in this song. I never knew that those tools existed before. So my number one advice would be, find what your good at, work on that. I know I’m a vocalist and a melody writer, so I worked on my voice. I studied voice for a long time. I studied musical theater. I worked on it very hard, now I feel like I have a good … I feel strong with my instrument, my main instrument. But I also play the guitar. I’ve studied the piano. I play the melodica. I’m learning cello now. So keep learning, keep getting better. And then the other thing that I would recommend, and no one told me this when I was 18, and I’m 35, learn about music. Even if it’s basic theory, just learn. It’s going to be so much easier if you do it when you’re young. Because when you start to do it when you’re my age, it’s very hard. It’s like everything’s already closed, and I have to learn everything, and I’m learning it in two languages, I just want to shoot myself in the foot. But just do it because it will give you a whole … it’s like having, instead of just having a pencil, you’ll have a whole box full of colors. That’s the difference. You’ll have more to work with as a songwriter. So that would be my advice.
SWR: Fantastic. Those are the questions I have for you guys. Thanks for your time.
Tiffany Joy: Of course, thanks for having us.