If there was ever a year to make you question the choice to follow your dream as a performing artist, 2020 was it. The pandemic sent a wrecking ball through the music business, stopping careers in their tracks as everyone hunkered down in place; venues and tours completely shutting down.
For Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh of Tigirlily - who had moved to Nashville three years earlier - it meant finding a whole new way of doing things. Instead of panicking, the sisters decided to jump on that wrecking ball rope, à la Miley Cyrus, and embrace the wild ride.
Inspired by Taylor Swift from a young age, the North Dakota hailing siblings started writing songs together at 14 and 16-years-old, so by the time the pandemic sidelined them, they’d penned their fair share of poppy love ditties and breakup tunes. Knowing they needed a way to keep reaching fans without being able to play live, they turned to social media, posting their songs on Instagram and Tik Tok.
One afternoon during a writing session with friend Zarni DeVette, full of angst and frustration, Tigirlily dug a little deeper and tapped into something special – the hope-filled ‘Somebody Does’. Instantly striking a chord with listeners, the track rocketed to the top of the iTunes Country and All Genre charts. Its social media success also drew the attention of Monument Records, who already had the duo on their radar, and the girls landed a record deal - squeezing even more lemonade out of 2020’s bucket of lemons.
“When we sat down to write ‘Somebody Does’, we just thought, what do people really want to hear right now?", reflects Kendra. "If we had one chance to tell the world what they really need to hear, we'd say that you are loved, you matter, you are enough exactly as you are. The song pretty much wrote itself in about two hours.”
“Also, it didn’t alienate anyone,” adds Krista. “So many people from all walks of life have reached out saying it affected them in some way. I think people really needed that song after a year of feeling lonely and isolated. But we didn’t know it was going to resonate that well, it was kind of like the song was bigger than us. I’m so thankful we were able to write it and put it out. We were both crying when we found out it went No. 1.”
They followed that up with the spunky ‘My Thang’ and the plucky new ‘Dig Yourself’, both of which appear on their debut EP, out July 9th. The project is the essence of Tigirlily itself, packed full of positive energy, infectious grooves and plenty of fun, along with some weightier tracks as well.
“Every single song is completely unique and has a different message,” said Kendra, “and people are really going to get to know about us and who we are.”
“That’s what you hope and wish for as an artist,” followed Krista. “You want to write something that can last and leave a legacy, that has an impact for a long time.”
For Cuts The Deepest, Kendra and Krista capped our chat by discussing five songs they each consider legacy-worthy and that have inspired them the most in their journey as artists and songwriters.
We grew up watching American Idol and are diehard Carrie Underwood fans. I think that song is so beautiful and honest and vulnerable; it’s just beautifully written. It’s a perfect story song, and I think that kind of music definitely stuck with us - giving people some inspiration throughout the day is very important to us.
I’m personally a sucker for a breakup song – I’ve loved breakup songs since I was 10, and this one is so well-crafted and one of the best. Everyone has had those moments after a breakup, but no one worded it this way. It’s so honest and heartbreaking at the same time, and so catchy too. A lot of times breakup songs can be so down and just make you feel so depressed, but this one still has some good energy to it.
I literally learned how to sing harmonies from this song. We didn’t grow up in a musical family, and one day I just decided to see if I could sing the harmony to this one, and I picked it up pretty easily. I also love the energy - I think we need more female duos and groups!
I picked this one because it was a childhood song to me. But ‘Clean’ is also one of my favorites too, because it’s a got a beautiful sentiment that gives me chills every time.
I don’t know why, but that one always makes me emotional - I’m like, “Why do I feel like I’m 70 years old when I’m 23! I don’t want life to go so fast!” It’s my aspiration is to tell like stories like that.
I remember I would sing this song at every talent show growing up, and I especially remember how the crowd would react; everyone was happy after that song was played. It’s the kind of music I want to make - it’s a storytelling song of life which I love. Jennifer Nettles was my vocal inspiration growing up.
I get teary-eyed every time I listen to this song, and I think it’s the most classic country song in the Top 5 for sure! The way that story is told is so good, everyone can relate to it. It’s a hard thing to do as an artist to have a song that speaks to that many people - it might even be one of my favorite songs of all time!
The eeriness of this song I just love. I love listening to that kind of music, and the emotional impact that song had when I was growing up. It’s like, “Why do I feel like I’ve been married and divorced and will always love this person after listening to this song?” It’s cause the emotional impact of the lyrics and the way they sing them is so powerful.
This one goes along with ‘Poison and Wine’ for me. I would put those two songs on repeat for hours and hours, which was sad!
“You had a good childhood too!" [Krista interjects, laughing]
I know, I was a happy person!
I was obsessed with Adele when she started out. I would also sing that song basically at every show we had, and Adele was a huge inspiration for me too.
Tigirlily's self-titled debut EP is out on July 9th via Monument Records.