In the music industry, there are leaders, followers and those who get lost, and occasionally found, in the fray. Always one to buck convention and blaze her own trail, the copper blond bombshell that is Tiombe Lockhart is setting her own standard by following the leaders that are her heart, her music, her lips and her hips toward a destination even she isn’t sure of. Wherever it leads, be it the fray, the stage, the silver screen or The Tiombe Lockhart Bootleg #2, there’s bound to be a bit of trouble along the way… and that’s just how she likes it. The “Queen of Doom” sat down with Clutch for some real talk.
Clutch: So, Obama just got a national security briefing today and did his first press briefing as president-elect… he is looking worn out.
Tiombe Lockhart: I know! How could you not be? But you know what, I feel as if the day he got elected, him and Michelle made another baby. [laughs]
C: Michelle is like “listen… whatever you want! You’re the president, baby!”
TL: It’s ridiculous. He has more weight on his shoulders than any other American president has ever had. Black Americans, the country, Republicans, crazy Republicans… And on top of that, everyone is waiting for him to fuck up.
But he won’t, because he’s gonna surround himself with the right people. He did the right thing by choosing Joe Biden. Biden can be the asshole when Obama can’t… but a good asshole. Kinda like the asshole dad when you go out to a restaurant… he doesn’t want to be, but if he has to be, he will. [laughs]
C: Yea, he’s a smart man… I’m just so proud of him.
TL: I’m so proud. I was in Williamsburg [Brooklyn] on the night he won and it was a mess. It was insane! There was a nice, peaceful, happy riot in the street. The police were in riot gear! I will never forget it… there were titties on the street! It was crazy.
You can really, honestly tell kids now, “you can do whatever the fuck you want to do.” That’s going to resonate with so many children, so many different types of children.
C: You’re originally from Atlanta and I know you stopped over in LA for a while. It’s a recurring theme for many musicians here in New York – migrating north chasing a dream. Your journey took a few detours before you came to New York though.
TL: Yea, I lived in Atlanta until I was 11. Then I moved to LA. I was always singing when I was younger, but it was really something I just did and was very “whatever” about. In LA, I got sidetracked and got into a lot of bad things… I ran off one day with my homegirl who had a boyfriend who lived in Watts. Now, we lived in North Hollywood and I remember we decided we were gonna go to Watts and I hooked up with my girlfriend’s boyfriend’s friend who had just got out of jail! I was 15 and he was 20 and he had JUST got out of prison! What was I doing!?
C: Ha.. being 15.
TL: You know? So, I got into a bit too much trouble and I had to go to LA County High School for the Arts. My mom was like “look, you’ve got to do something, so go to this arts high school.” I found out that I was really good in musical theory and it was something that came really easy to me. It was then that I really got into certain music like Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def… I dunno if it was the weed I was smoking or what, but that music really spoke to me. [laughs]
I loved music the whole time, but then I started falling in love with hip-hop music. I wasn’t a music nerd by any means, but I really liked Nina Simone, Common, and Ella Fitzgerald…
C: Is that why you decided to major in jazz vocal training?
TL: That’s exactly why. I didn’t want to learn the classical way, I wanted to have my training be jazz influenced. But when I got to LACHSA, I didn’t really get along with most of my teachers. [laughs] I didn’t want to be a jazz singer, I just wanted to learn from that aspect. There are certain teachers who I learned so much from, but for the most part, I didn’t want to be a jazz singer.
C: That jazz influence must’ve made you hear music differently, which was why you were so drawn to the hip hop music of that time – like Tribe and Common – who during that time were so heavily influenced by all things jazz.
TL: Right, that’s it absolutely.
C: I know that you write, produce and mix a lot of your own music. How does that process work for you?
TL: I’m in the middle of that process right now working with my new band called Cubic Zirconia – it’s awesome. To be quite honest with you, I am so fucking tired of writing right now. I love writing, but it’s very confining because it’s just me.
Basically, the band is Nick and Todd [formerly of Men, Women & Children] and Nick is primarily the person who does the beats. He doesn’t just give us a beat and say “here, do something with that.” We come up with a lot of stuff together. He’ll put something together and I’ll take it home, then listen to it over and over and over.
I’ll come up with a melody before I come up with the actual words. I’ll just go there with the words and try to make it make sense, let it move me. Like with shows, you can act a fool, it’s so wild and you’re just out there… like a stream of consciousness on stage. Feeding off the audience. But when you’re writing, it’s just you and your words.
C: Performing on stage must be great for coming up with ideas for music.
TL: It is, but when I come off stage, I always feel sad. You just give SO much when you’re on stage. Well, I know I do… I can’t really turn it off, so sometimes I get into trouble. [laughs] It’s such an overwhelming sense of doing whatever feels good, being so open and free with your shit…
C: Trouble? How so… getting too open?
TL: Well, not like orgies on stage or anything! [laughs] It’s just this thing where you can say too much or be a little too expressive. It’s just because you’re really feeling it and in that moment, you do a lot of things that are just free styling or you say whatever is on the top of your head or make a joke. When you hesitate, it’s not the same thing.
Some people may disagree with me but I think God is in everything and there are certain subjects you’ll talk about, like sexuality or whatever, and sometimes people are like “whoa!” I don’t filter myself. I think it’s my job to completely let go when I’m performing.
C: What are some of the key differences in some of your early music like “The Tiombe Lockhart Bootleg #1” and the work you did with The Platinum Pied Pipers, compared to what you’re doing now?
TL: So, I think that the difference is like when you first have sex and you don’t really know what you’re doing. Then you do it a little more and get better or you’re with a dude who really knows what he’s doing, it’s kind of like that.
With Bootleg #1, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just knew that it felt good. Then with PPP, it was just a crazy ass experience. At that time, I didn’t even want to do music anymore. God is crazy, because he always brings me back to it.
I was signed to Elektra after college and then that didn’t really work out so I was just DONE.
On some arrogant youth shit, I was just like, “No, I’m not doing anything anymore!” When you write something and put your all into it, and then it doesn’t work out… it’s heart breaking and devastating. But then Wajeed [Platinum Pied Pipers] sent me a beat and a check [laughs] and I was like “Oh, lord!” But “Stay With Me” came out of that and it was just so different.
What I’m doing now though is a lot more fun, dancier and represents more of where I’m at with my personality and the music. Like with Queen of Doom, I was transitioning into things that I wanted to write about that were more specific. I was trying to bring it closer to me… more than a theme or idea. I’m getting closer to talking about things that are closer to who I am or who Nick and Todd are. Much more specific to our experiences. I’ve gotten closer and closer to describing the thoughts that I have without being general.
C: As far as your audience, who are you trying to reach with the music you’re doing now?
TL: I think that I’m just trying to reach anyone… you know the girl that you’re brother or cousin or friend might be dating who is just dumb and doesn’t get jokes… I’m trying to reach the opposite of that. The person who just doesn’t take themselves that seriously, who is probably a little self-deprecating. Someone who has a different perception of life.
C: Who are you listening to while you’re creating this new music with Cubic Zirconia?
TL: Um, Voyage, that new dude DJ Mujava’s Township Funk, he’s from South Africa… a lot of dance shit, but I also love The Black Lips, The Spits, they remind me of the Ramones… oh, and I love Lil’ Wayne! I think he is the smartest man alive, him & Keith Olbermann.
C: Olbermann from MSNBC?
TL: Girl, yes. I find him strangely attractive and I hear he’s strange! [laughs]
C: Growing up, what kind of music were you into?
TL: Oh I loved [the music from] Annie! Me and my homegirl would watch Children of the Corn and Poltergeist when her parents went to sleep, but we’d ALWAYS watch Annie. I loved Mrs. Hannigan! And I liked the music from Purple Rain, too.
C: You have a very unique personal style, how would you describe it?
TL: You know, I’m really getting tired of this whole 80s thing. I’ll go to a party and I’ll see a dude with a hightop fade and think “dude… you’re not Big Daddy Kane!” Personally, I’m over the hipster shit. It’s alright, but what I saw 2 years ago and thought was dope… I’m just not feeling it now. But my style is based on my Auntie Bobbi. She had the illest style. Like right now, I’m wearing mom jeans and glasses, I just go with whatever is in my gut and whatever I like.
C: What are your favorite local spots to find pieces?
TL: I go to this huge ass thrift store. I go through everything, take it and cut it and make it my own. Also, Malin Landaeus in Williamsburg.
C: I see you have some acting credits on IMDB. What’s that about?
TL: Oh gosh… I did do some acting when I was younger. It was so weird! But I recently did some acting for Machine Drum in a video. A friend of saw me in it and wanted to put me in this short film, so I said, “why not?” It was so weird, but fun! FADER Films is gonna put it out. I want to do horror movies… I LOVE horror flicks.
C: Last question… what’s in your Clutch bag?
TL: A one hitter, Camel lights, a credit card, ID and my phone. If I have bigger bag, I bring vodka or whiskey if I don’t know the bartender and the drinks are $38 for a shot of Jameson.
For more on Ms. Lockhart and her music, visit her on Myspace.