Tieg Johnson is the frontman of the orchestral folk band TIEG. Tieg Johnson, a singer
songwriter from Los Angeles was the youngest graduate from the Musician’s Institute at
the young age of 16, immediately started touring the country as Brie Larson's guitarist and was in a signed prog-rock band called Canon. Tieg now leads his new project TIEG.
The band currently has 9 members. Tara Louise, one of TIEG's vocalist has reached success on Youtube, while the bands other vocalist Shelby Lindley has a big repertoire in doing voices for Anime. Yu-Ting plays the violin in the band and has performed alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Deadmau5 to name a few. Shannon, the bands flute player has a history of performances in several orchestras and has also worked with Jason Hayes the World of Warcraft composer. Seana Thompson, the bands cello player studied classical music but is well equipped with her cello. Chris Rolontz on double-bass graduated from the Thornton School Of Music and has recently finished a tour supporting The Violent Femmes. Last but not least, we have Gabriel Grinta on drums who is also a graduate from the Musicians Institute. Gabriel has honed his spot as a performer at Disneyland Tokyo.
TIEG recently released a new single “Lovelight" (feat. Shelby Lindley). The song is a beautiful melodic piece that is soft and enchanting. The soft strings and vocals are a silky and seamless blend of musicality. This is a really relaxing but at the same time invigorating track that will make you feel goosebumps. The two vocalists are almost intertwined and it makes the listener even more in awe. A very folky track but also has a lot of classical elements to it. This creates an interestingly moving melodic piece of music. "Lovelight" is a very intricate piece of work and it really showcases the talent of each band member. These extremely talented musicians have created a musical project that has no means to slow down. "Lovelight" is definitely a song for your feel-good playlist. We can't wait to see what's next for TIEG.
Listen to "Lovelight" here and check out our exclusive interview with the band below!
Hi TIEG! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello readers! My name is Tieg Johnson. I lead a 9-piece orchestral folk band. It's honestly kind of touchy-feely music which is weird since I'm pretty undemonstrative in real life. My parents must have been very confused how they made a kid that didn't get excited opening Christmas presents and laughed during the sad parts in movies.
How did you chose your stage name? Is there a special meaning behind it?
TIEG is the name of the band and I guess you could say my dad chose it since it's also my first name. I think he wanted a short rock-star name like Sting or Bono. Still trying to follow through on that dream for him.
Can you give us a brief history of your musical career?
It started out with a bang, that's for sure. After graduating high-school at 14, I became the youngest graduate of the guitar program at The Musician's Institute in Hollywood. From there I immediately landed a gig touring the country as Brie Larson's guitarist (she used to be a pop singer). My personal music project at the time was a prog-rock band called Canon and we got signed and made a record. I was definitely experiencing the fun side of the music business. Then I got to experience the not-fun side. The Brie gig ended, my record label went bankrupt, my band Canon broke up, and since then I've started two other bands that also ended up disbanding. TIEG is my newest project and I figure if I name it after myself it can't ever break up since I'm not sure how I would go about breaking up with myself.
How did all of you come together to form TIEG?
I started a folk trio with two friends of mine called "Shelby, Tieg & Tara". After a couple years Tara left and we spent another year trying to find a replacement. While looking for our new third member we continued to performed as a duo and called ourselves, logically, "Shelby & Tieg". We never were able to lock down another singer, but we did find other people that wanted to play with us! "Shelby & Tieg" was now a full-fledged 6-piece band with Gabriel Grinta on drums (we work at the same music school), Chris Rolontz on bass (we went to the same high-school for 3 months), Shannon Canchola on flute (she went to music college with my sister) and Yu-Ting Wu on violin (we met through Shannon). We went into my friend's studio to make a record. Around this time Shelby became a mother and we were finding it difficult to finish the recording process. We decided it would be best to continue to make music together but as separate artists so we could move at our own paces. So "Shelby & Tieg" minus the name "Shelby" brings us to "TIEG". From three names to one! Strangely enough, now that it is just the one name, it has allowed Tara to come back and she is performing in the group with us again. We also have since added Seana Thompson on cello who was one of the very first possible Tara replacements back when we were trying to re-complete the trio and Robbie McCarthy on oboe who along with Shannon on flute had played on an old "Shelby, Tieg & Tara" recording. We're all together again!
Do you write your own music? Can you tell us a bit about your writing style?
While we have done the occasional cover song (we had a pretty fun version of Justin Bieber's "Baby" with a killer beat-box flute solo from Shannon), we mostly sing original music. I write the words and the music, but the really fun part is in the arranging where we figure out how everyone is going to play and sing on the track without it turning into nonsense. Shelby and I have likened the writing and the arranging process to the book "Where's Waldo" in that you basically just try a bunch of stuff, looking for that next right note, until BAM!, there he is. He was there all along and it seems so obvious now. String enough "Waldos" together and you've got a song!
Congratulations on a spectacular release! "Lovelight" is a total hit! Can you tell us a bit about the song?
I try to write songs so different people can get different things out of it. I try not to go "I Am The Walrus" extreme with that style though where everyone might have a completely different interpretation. I like songs that are definitely about something but the details can be up in the air.
The general theme of “Lovelight" is just telling someone that they are strong enough to live their own life and to go do that. I have a friend who listened to the demo of this song a lot around the time his mom passed away. When she was alive but sick he was struggling with wanting to spend as much time at home as possible but she was insisting that he go attend a prestigious music school that he got accepted to. I never actually asked why he liked the song so much, but I imagine he pulled a similar message that his mom was giving to him at the time out of the song. He did decide to go to school and I know his mom was very proud of him for doing well with that.
Tara on the other hand described it as "Tieg friend-zoning someone for 3.5 minutes"... This is also an accurate interpretation.
Where did you record "Lovelight"? Who was involved in the creation process?
The drummer in my old prog-rock band Canon wound up becoming a multiple Grammy-Award winning engineer for his work with Beck. When the band was still "Shelby & Tieg", "Lovelight" was one of the songs we recorded at his studio for our record. Shelby and I had written the instrumental parts together in her apartment using fake violins and flutes on my laptop. Hearing Yu-Ting record each violin part one at a time and slowly becoming an entire "Yu-Ting orchestra" was a pretty magical experience. We just threw everyone into the recording room one at a time and built it up from scratch. It went very quickly. It's a nice experience creating music with people as skilled as the people in this band. All those masters degrees 'n stuff they have are legit.
Where did the inspiration behind "Lovelight" come from?
Honestly, I probably just played a weird chord on accident and it gave me the tingles. That's how most of my songs start.
What’s next for TIEG?
We have a bunch of songs we recorded at Cassidy's studio that I'm working on finishing. I'm just tackling them one by one. I have to re-record little things, edit, mix, master, make cover art, procrastinate, come up with music video ideas I can't afford, etc. The next song is about a soldier coming home from war and surprising his loved one. Where do I come up with this sappy stuff?!
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