That Girl With Dark Eyes: Synth-Pop Chameleon

While so many of today’s most interesting artists are harkening back to the sound of the ‘90s in a big way, That Girl With Dark Eyes shows guts by...

While so many of today’s most interesting artists are harkening back to the sound of the ‘90s in a big way, That Girl With Dark Eyes shows guts by exploring her love of synth-filled ‘80s dance pop. That Girl With Dark Eyes is the musical moniker of Tiffany Garrett Sotomayor, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Tiffany is actually quite a big deal in Spain. However, she actually hails from San Francisco. She’s spent the past year or so in Barcelona (where she’s earned the title of Spain’s “synth-pop hero”), recording her debut album, performing live, and garnering critical attention from the likes of Elle, Magnet, and NME. She’s already worked with Roddy Bottum of Faith No More and Imperial Teen and a plethora of the biggest producers from the world of dance rock, in addition to sharing bills with bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Los Campesinos, and C.S.S. While there’s no definitive date set for the release of That Girl With Dark Eyes’ debut, she’s released a handful of singles, most recently “Hey Baby,” a soulful R&B number reminiscent of early Janet Jackson… if Janet Jackson’s primary collaborator were Martin Gore in 1985… She also recently took some time to chat with me about her musical career’s, thus far, brief history and just exactly how she approaches the role of being a musician.

Izzy Cihak: Since this is still a relatively new project and you’ve drawn comparisons to a lot of fairly different artists, I have to ask: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about you?
Tiffany Garrett Sotomayor: I think we’re still getting to know each other… me and the fans. We’re in the dating stage… taking it slow. Walks on the beach, lunch at In-N Out, miniature golf… very casual. But it’s really important for me to connect and make things more personal, so I’m excited to perform these songs live and meet the people who are listening.

Izzy: For that matter, what are your most significant influences, whether musical or otherwise?
Tiffany: I grew up listening to a lot of old-school hip-hop, funk, R&B… my parents are huge Prince fans and it was the first concert they ever took me to. I was completely mesmerized by his performance and to this day I haven’t seen anything comparable. He’s truly gifted. I remember being fascinated not only by him but with the audience as well… the heels, the hair, the leather and lace… the devotion. When I was a kid I thrived on being around the eccentric types. San Francisco had a big impact on me in that way and as a teenager it was a place of freedom. You could be anything you wanted to be and it was okay. No one even blinked an eye. When I was like 12 years old a friend made me a few mixes that introduced me to a lot of indie bands and, not to sound dramatic but, it changed my life. I was already a drummer but, at that point, I knew I wanted to be a drummer in a band. Shortly after that the band Imperial Teen took me under their wings and was a key influence on my life and music too. So, I guess, it’s my environment and people…

Izzy: And what would you consider to be the highlights of That Girl With Dark Eyes so far? You’ve gained critical acclaim from a handful of really prominent outlets.
Tiffany: The highlights for me are the people I’ve been able to work with on records… The other stuff is, of course, very exciting and I’m super grateful for it but the creative part and collaborations are far more fulfilling. Working with Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Goldfrapp, Kylie Minogue) was definitely a high point. I was really fortunate to spend time with him (and later the same with his son, Stanley). Their influence made me a better song-writer and musician. That’s irreplaceable. The same thing happened this year. I was able to work with some incredible Barcelona musicians as well (Julian of Love of Lesbian and the engineers at Blind Records). The friendships formed and the things learned during our time together are really special to me. Honestly, when it comes to “critical acclaim” and being in well-known outlets, I understand the importance of it but, at the same time, it’s all very fleeting. There’s so many artists and bands now that it could easily be someone else instead of me so, when it happens, I’m thankful for it. And it doesn’t matter if the outlet is big or small… It’s just as important to be in the smaller outlets and lesser known blogs as well because a lot of times they are more excited about the music and put more effort into sharing it.

Izzy: I really like your recent music video for “Lonely As a Wolf,” in addition to your fashion sense. What is it that inspires the visual elements of That Girl With Dark Eyes?
Tiffany: Thank you very much! The video has had a great reaction and I couldn’t be more happy with the way it turned it out. The video concept was meant to represent a dream-like state and I wanted people to have freedom with their own interpretations. I suppose with all the visual elements of TGWDE I like there to be a bit of mysterious and fantasy. And I’m sort of a chameleon… I don’t like being tied down to any particular style.
Izzy: What’s next for you? How are you planning to spend the second half of the year? Any chance of some live dates in the states? If so, what can we expect of the live experience?
Tiffany: Yes, there’s definitely plans to play the states! In fact, I can’t wait to do that. Since everything is self-released at the moment, I’m still working on putting my team together. I will probably be starting on the West Coast first and hopefully playing some festivals. I’m really excited about the live show… In the past I’ve had two drummers. It’s quite energetic and “up-beat.” I normally have a full-backing band and since I’m moving back to the US I have part of the new band learning parts right now! I’m also working on some collaborations with other artists (originals and remixes)…

Izzy: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat.
Tiffany: My pleasure! Thanks to you for having me. xo

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.