Back at home in Indiana, 25 year old Tiara Thomas evokes nothing but focus and passion for her upcoming debut album, Bad Influence. With her achieving what seemed like instant fame after her debut on Bad with Wale, and then her EP Sallie Mae, Tiara is definitely an artist on the rise and has created a lot of intrigue. Giving us a taste of her songwriting skills, unique vocals, and general artistic vibe, she definitely has us wanting more and with her debut album being entitled, Bad Influence, we get the feeling that we won’t be disappointed.
So, why is her debut album called Bad Influence? One can only imagine what an album with that direct of a title could mean. But with Tiara, you always expect something more. More than just the stated obvious. “Bad Influence was named after a couple of things, definitely the influence after Bad. I was new in the music industry and it kind of took me some time to go away…and put my sound together a bit more…if I go back to my laptop from back in college and I listen to the music I had, like Bad, it gets back to my roots. It is a really sexy album, I talk about sex, relationships, drugs, all of the things, that can be considered a bad influence.”
Tiara did not have the same and somewhat typical experience that most of us have when we attend college. Go to class, take your final exams, and party. Repeat the same cycle for four years, get your degree and then you are kicked out into the real world. No. Tiara went to college, did the typical college routine with a spin. She did music. She was a musician and a student. “I don’t regret college, I didn’t really want to be there while I was there. But I did get an opportunity to move out of the house. I went to college 45 minutes away from Indianapolis. I was really sheltered growing up, and so when I got to college, and became an adult, I had to discover things for myself. I met so many different people from different walks of life that it made me grow up and discover who I was and my music came out in that.
Her college experience also marked the beginning of a fateful relationship with Wale, which later led to Bad, her EP, and now her debut album. “I met Wale…my sophomore year when I was on Spring Break in Atlanta with a couple of my friends. I was under 21 at the time and my friends had a fake ID so we could get in the club. Wale was in the club and we somehow were just next to him…in VIP. I was scared because I knew I was not supposed to be in there, but Wale started talking to me. He asked me what I did and I told him I was an artist and we started from there.”
The start was fast. So fast, that it is hard to believe that anyone would be prepared for achieving popularity and that much visibility that Tiara did after her hit collaboration with Wale. Many artists have time to build their sound, their look and overall persona. Tiara did not really have that luxury of experimenting over time, naturally. She had to create that time and really focus of developing her artistic persona and what she wanted to convey to the world through her music. “It was really challenging because you cannot prepare yourself for that. It happened so fast; I was just not ready. But I got in the studio and just made a lot of music to figure out my sound out and experiment. I want my album to be cohesive and a clear interpretation of who Tiara Thomas is. It took me a while to figure out my sound and who I was. I’m excited for people to hear this album because this is a body of work that people should have heard after Bad.”
And develop her sound she did. With her recent single, One Night, Tiara is very vocal and raw about sex and relationships. This is definitely a theme that we saw with Bad. The rawness is definitely intentional.
“I got a lot of inspiration from 90s artists like TLC, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, Blaque, 702, and Mary J. One thing that I learned about that era, people said what they wanted to say, and it was raw. It was an empowering time for women. I am really for female liberation. That is why I talk about sex and relationships, not about being promiscuous. Women can be sexual…women should feel comfortable embracing that. Men like Trey Songz and Chris Brown can be sexual, but when women do it, we are labeled as a ‘hoe’ and I hope that changes.”
One of the reasons why Tiara is able to focus Bad Influence on women empowerment and freedom of expression is that she has a lot of control over the production and content of the album. She co-produced and wrote most of the album and that creative freedom has allowed her to hone in and really develop her sound to be able to control the content of her album. “I like to have control over my music and my sound and I feel like that is a part of my story. I’m the type of artist that I am a storyteller and I want whatever I’m singing to be true to me, whether it happened to me or something that I experienced by seeing someone else. I like to keep it personal, so that if I have a connection with it, then it reaches people better.”
With many of the artists that are currently out being mass-produced to look and sound the same, it is truly refreshing to hear Tiara’s sound and it be so different and unexpected. It was also great to hear that she wanted to continue to develop her unique sound and be a standout amongst the noise of other artists who sound the same.
Tiara’s focus on being able to be a storyteller drives her ultimate goal and the legacy that she wants to leave behind.
“I’d rather be known for making great music than to be extremely rich. I’d rather everyone know, that that is Tiara Thomas, this song is amazing…on some Prince shit, than to be rich. Because, if I was extremely rich and no one knew who I was, I would be incomplete, I’m still not reaching people, I want it to be like I’m somebody who paved the way for women to be themselves.”
Although Tiara Thomas has created a buzz with her musical talents, she has certainly not left her mark on the music industry and has yet to reach her peak. However, the energy that Tiara emits and the intrigue that she creates, you know that with each single, EP, and subsequent albums that she releases after Bad Influence, she will definitely leave her mark in being a good influence for women to feel that they are able to leverage their freedom in speech and talk as freely as men whether it be about sex or politics.