Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Tigirlily Gold Talks CMT Award Nominations, European Travels, And Creating Their Debut Album

Tigirlily Gold is a country music duo from North Dakota, composed of sisters Krista and Kendra Slaubaugh. The girls knew from a young age that they had a dream of creating music together. Since performing as teenagers and forming their band in high school, the pair is finally moving their way up in the world of country music. 

Krista and Kendra moved to Nashville in 2017 to attend Belmont University. After they graduated, they honed in their focus on music and began posting cover songs on the popular app, TikTok. Their trending covers brought attention to their talents and led to a record producer signing them to Monument Records.

After releasing their first single “Somebody Does,” in 2021, the track topped the iTunes charts. Soon after their official signing, the girls released their first self-titled EP in July of 2021 working with multi-Grammy Award Winner Shane McAnally. The duo then supported artists Walker Hayes and Ashley McBryde on tour across the US. 

Now, the girl-power duo has embarked on a new musical chapter with their latest EP, Blonde, a personal record that includes stories of love, loss, power anthems and songs of female empowerment. The first single release off of the EP, “Shoot Tequila,” came out in January and has seen success with over 50 million views across social media. The song was nominated for two different CMT Awards: Duo Video of the Year and Breakthrough Female Video of the Year. 

The duo was also added to the Class of 2024 of CMT’s Next Women of Country, making them part of the only 125 women inducted so far. The ladies have over a dozen concerts on their tour list for 2024, including another appearance at CMA Fest and other music festivals across the country. Tigirlily Gold is preparing to release Blonde the album later this year, featuring some edgier songs and their usual electric girl-power energy.

We spoke with Krista and Kendra about their recent travels in Europe for the C2C Festival, what’s inspiring them to write, and how AI music generators may affect the future of the music industry. 

Tigirlily Gold Talks CMT Award Nominations
Photo Credit: Andrew Wendowski/MusicMayhemMagazine.com

You were just nominated for two CMT Awards in 2024. What’s been the highlight of that experience? What was your reaction when you found out?

Kendra: First of all, we were not expecting to be nominated for one, let alone two CMT awards. We were in Paris at the time, and we were sitting in the back of a taxi cab. It was the end of our ten-day Europe trip of work and play. We were pretty tired by that point. Our manager turned around in the taxi cab and he said, ‘How do you guys feel about being nominated for two CMT awards?’ We both just looked at each other and freaked out. 

We are so grateful. We grew up watching CMT. We’re from a really, really small town in North Dakota, so our entertainment was literally sitting in front of our TV. We would have friends over and we would sit and we would vote on which video we wanted to win. I have those vivid memories. To be nominated for a CMT award now is pretty surreal.

What were the highlights of the travels in Europe during the C2C Festival and did you find any cool sightseeing spots?

Krista: We spent a couple of days in Scotland, a couple days in London and a couple of days in Paris. It’s really hard to give one specific highlight, but I will say we got to play the OVO Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, and we got to play the O2 Arena in London, and those venues were incredible, massive arenas. Meeting the people over there was probably our favorite part, because they’re so kind and so lovely and they really just care about the music. 

We saw three different castles. I think the prettiest place was Edinburgh, Scotland. It was like a little whimsical Harry Potter world where there’s castles. It was beautiful. In London we got to go up in this building called The Shard. We also did the Tower of London. We did a bit of tourism and we took an Uber boat for the first time. Then we ended our trip in Paris for a couple of days. 

The Eiffel Tower, I will say, was much bigger than I anticipated. Sometimes with monuments, they’re smaller or not what you expected, but the Eiffel Tower was majestic. It was beautiful, and I really have nothing bad to say about any of the places we went. Everyone was so lovely. 

Paris is one of my favorite places. I go over and over and over and you can always find something different every single time.

Kendra: That’s what we loved about Paris. There was a little cafe that you could stop into to get a coffee and a pastry. There was so much shopping and just the beauty. There was beauty everywhere you went in Paris. We really loved the architecture of Paris. I feel like in Scotland we just got more of that outdoorsy beauty. We got to go to Loch Lomond National Park and see the views of Scotland, which was incredible.

Is there any follow up to Blonde coming?

Krista: Yes, there is a follow up coming. Blonde is, as you know, our EP. There will be a second half of that coming later on this year. So, we will have it blonder, so to say, but it will be our debut album off of Monument Records, which is super exciting because we’ve been a band for over 11 years and it’ll be our debut album. You only get one of those.

Blonde the album is coming this summer. You can expect more of the girl group energy, but I do feel like the back half of the album takes a different turn than maybe people are used to from us, but it’ll still sound like us. Maybe some more edgier breakup songs. We have a couple love songs coming your way, and of course, more girl group energy.

What’s inspiring you to write right now?

Krista: Kendra and I, we go in waves. We do write a lot from personal experiences. I’m always writing down ideas like if someone says something or what I’m feeling at the moment. I feel like we’ve been writing a lot about our personal experiences. But Kendra has been funny because as sisters, we have the same goals and passions, but we are going through very different things in our lives personally, so we never run out of material, which is great. 

Kendra has been married to her husband for almost five years now. The whole last year I’ve been single, trying to date, going through breakups and finding love. So, there’s always a little bit of something that’s unique to either Kendra or I and a song. But then again, I think travel inspires us as well. In the journey we’re on, we get to see so many pretty beautiful places. We get to meet so many cool people that it’s hard not to find beauty and inspiration everywhere we go.

It was just announced that you are on the CMA Fest lineup again this year. Do you have any favorite CMA moments from the past, and what are you looking forward to this year?

Krista: I remember last year we had an incredible CMA Fest. It was so much fun. We had played the Reverb Stage and our song “Shoot Tequila” had really started to kind of takeoff. I remember that was one of the first times we had just seen so many people singing along to that song, and they had stopped letting people into the stage area because it was packed. I will always remember that moment. But of course, we remember our first time going to CMA Fest and seeing Blake Shelton out on the streets and just dreaming of a day when we would get to play there someday. 

We were playing down on Broadway, hoping for the day we get to be a part of CMA Fest. So, the fact that the past few years, and thankfully again this year, we get to be a part of this amazing festival is just so much fun. There are so many amazing artists playing and it’s just the best time in Nashville.

Tigirlily Gold Talks CMT Award Nominations
Photo Credit: Jared Olson

The Opry is one of my favorite places and you guys have played at the Opry almost a dozen times since you started your music career. Do you have any favorite Opry moments?

Kendra: I will say my favorite Opry moment was our debut. Just stepping into the circle for the first time, and we got to hug each other in the circle. It was just a pretty surreal experience. We got to play Dolly Parton’s birthday bash at the Ryman back in January, and just getting to honor her for her birthday at the Ryman was incredible. 

It was three of our favorite things: the Opry, the Ryman and Dolly Parton. I will say, one of my other favorite Opry moments is I remember coming off stage and Vince Gill was watching side stage, and I didn’t realize it until we were completely done with our set. Those are the moments at the Opry that just make it so surreal, so special. It’s such a family there. You really just feel that.

I’ve been interviewing quite a few siblings in bands the past few weeks. Do you have any tips for traveling with family?

Krista: When it is very early in the morning and one of you is not a morning person, it’s okay to have silence. I will say that the pro tip also, when people are running low on sleep energy and they seem not like themselves, just ask them, ‘Hey, what do you need? What can I do to help you?’ Just know that if you are very sleep deprived, they’re not mad at you. 

Kendra: They’re just mad at the world.

Krista: I always ask Kendra, I was like, ‘Are you annoyed in general or are you annoyed with me?’ But honestly, Kendra and I get along so well. We love that we get to see new places together. I think it’s just really being attentive to the other person’s needs and always more coffee. I think that’s a necessity.

North Dakota has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. People know Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, but are there any places in North Dakota that you would tell people to visit off the beaten path?

Kendra: I would definitely say the Badlands in North Dakota. There’s a place in Medora, North Dakota, and it’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You go through the park and you get to see wild horses, bison and all these different animals. The Badlands are just so beautiful. I would say, Medora, North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is probably the most beautiful part of North Dakota.

Did you have a hard time transitioning from small town North Dakota to Nashville? What was the hardest part of the transition?

Krista: Honestly, thankfully we had each other, which made the move from small town North Dakota to Nashville a lot easier. Moving on your own would be super tough. I think the transition was fairly easy because everybody in the South and everybody in Nashville is pretty warm in general. 

They definitely made us feel at home wherever we went. But we definitely knew we were starting over as far as being small fish in a very big pond of people going for this dream. We had a realistic view about that. We just got to town and got to work. That’s really all we thought about. I would say it was a fairly easy transition just because we did have each other.

You got a big start on TikTok during the pandemic. It’s really become a critical tool for musicians and all genres of music. Any thoughts on a potential ban of TikTok or what that might do to change music right now?

Krista: Obviously, I always think that apps replace each other and systems replace each other just in general over time. So, I think even if TikTok does get banned, it obviously would be upsetting for us because we use it a lot to get our music out there and connect with people, but I just think something naturally will take its place. 

I think people don’t need to freak out if it does get banned. It’s not the end of the world, and I think there’s always ways to promote your music. Just keep on making great music. I really hope it doesn’t get banned. I don’t want it to get banned. But I don’t think you can bank your whole career off of one app.

Artists always find a way to create and labels always find a way to market music. It would be very, very sad because you know, we’ve built up such a presence there as many other artists and creators have. It would be very sad but we would find another way.

AI writing is super scary, with the potential to take journalist’s jobs. I read about and AI music apps coming out too, which are incredibly strange to think about.

Kendra: See, that to me is way scarier. The AI stuff, I think that’s scary.

The traditionalist in me wants to say there’s no way you can replace the authenticity that comes with music and writing and the personal elements of it. But what I’ve seen with the improvements of the writing side, it’s crazy.

Krista: It’s so tricky. I think we definitely need some restrictions, but I think as long as it’s used in a way where it helps inspire, helps create, but doesn’t replace creators, it can be used as a tool to help. But of course, I don’t think anybody can replace the incredible songwriters in Nashville and their uniqueness and their experiences that they bring.

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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