Tila Tequila talks to Music Mix about her new single: 'I don't think music is about singing'
Image Credit: Keadrick D. Washington/PR PhotosTila Tequila‘s hair is colored platinum blond. It’s a risky, jagged new cut. She dyed it right before jumping on the plane to New York, leaving behind sunny Los Angeles and her long brown locks. And just as she’s dropped her old look, Tila’s trying to drop the image you have of her. You know, the one of her making out with dozens of competing guys and girls on her MTV show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.
Before she got down on camera in hot tubs surrounded by booze, she was an artist. She rapped and sang. And that’s what she wants to get back to. Funny thing is that she’s basically still the same: sweet but so not innocent. She’s out promoting a song called “I F—– the DJ,” for goodness sake. On the 15th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper, Tila sat down to talk about how Fergie stole her style, what songs a DJ should play to get her into bed, and why Madonna can’t sing.
It seems that everything you do, whether it’s your hair color or who you’re dating, becomes someone’s blog post and comes with criticism. Do you pay that stuff any mind?
I do whatever my heart tells me to do. As long as I’m not hurting anybody, I don’t think that anything I do is wrong. Whether they hate me or love me, I am in the entertainment industry. So of course I’m entertaining them. I think I’m doing my job pretty damn well.
I recently saw some pictures of you at a grocery store in a raunchy dress holding watermelons. Just saying that makes me laugh. Was that just you being you?
Yeah. People think that, “Oh, she’s trying to do this and that for attention.” If you’re my friend in real life, I do way crazier things. I’m one of the girls that you would love to have in your group of friends. I’m the spontaneous one that says, “Come on everyone. Let’s get naked and drive off somewhere.”
I want to hear more about that…
Well I have plenty of stories like that. When I was 13, I skipped school and we stole a car, which I feel bad about now. But you know, whatever. My sister was in high school then, so her and her friends picked me up. I was hanging with all these high school people and I felt so cool. We stole a nice car and drove it around the beach. We did twirls and just mashed it. And then we drove it into the ocean and all jumped out. It just sank. Just things like that.
I heard your new rap single, “I F—– the DJ,” this morning. I especially love its aggressive title, but it was too much to digest over breakfast.
Everybody, all the kids, they love it. There is a bunch of people saying, “How could you make a song like this? Be a role model.” I never said I was a role model, first of all. That’s what musicians do. You express yourself. Just like Madonna. She got in so much trouble with [“Like a Prayer”] the burning crosses and the black Jesus. And look at her! She’s a legend.
How would you describe your style and sound?
I have my own original sound. Because I had released music a long time ago, before I was famous. I had “F— Ya Man,” which is a classic. To this day, everybody knows, [sings] “I ain’t tryna f— ya man.” And this is before all the girl rap-talk came out. This was when will.i.am was trying to sign me. There was no artist doing that type of sing, pop, rap thing like I was. Then next thing I know, Fergie comes out with “London Bridge.” And everybody was like, “This song sounds like ‘F— Ya Man.’ That’s your swag.’” Come on now.
There aren’t too many women rapping nowadays. As one yourself, what do you think of hip-hop’s leading lady, Nicki Minaj?
Um, I think she’s good. I just think she’s getting a lot more recognition only because it’s been such a long time since there have been many female rappers. Back in the day, there was Lil’ Kim and MC Lyte. So after a long period of none, everyone is focusing on that one. I’ve heard some stuff that I felt was wack. But she’s getting better. The first couple of songs I heard from her, I was like, “What? Are you serious?” Then I heard her freestyle and everybody was like, “She killed it.” And I was like, “Not really.” But I’m going to give her credit, because she’s doing her thing. And she’s not hating on anybody. I’m sure she’s tired of being compared to Lil’ Kim, but Kim in her heyday, to me, she was like the female Tupac. She was my idol.
What was the inspiration behind the “DJ” record?
There aren’t that many songs that pay homage to the DJ. They are the ones getting artists’ music out there. They are the ones getting the club popping. But no one’s giving them any love.
Except you, who apparently gives them a lot of love, right?
[Laughs] Yeah. I f—– a DJ.
What three songs could a DJ play to get you to bed?
I definitely love Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams.” And Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone.” It’s just so dirty. And maybe something from back in the ’90s, like Jodeci or Silk. [Sings Silk’s “Freak Me”] “Let me lick you up and down…” Sexy. I just like seeing the DJ go off.
Are you into tricks? Like DJs that scratch with their chins?
Yeah. My friend DJ Skee has guitar players and a band playing with him. He wears a suit. It’s not just DJing. He’s putting on a show. I’m like, “Wow! I’ll f— you, Skee.” [Laughs] Because that’s when you know they have real skills and they’re just not iPod DJs like Samantha Ronson.
So this song is going to be on your EP this May?
Well I have Welcome to the Dark Side coming out, but people are getting it confused. It’s’ not the one “I F— the DJ” is going to be on. I released that first because so many fans wanted me to. It’s going to go on another EP with the other club bangers.
So what’s on the Dark Side EP?
It’s more oldies stuff like Marilyn Monroe, Nina Simone, and Billie Holiday with a live orchestra and just singing live with no Auto-Tune and no back up singers.
Yeah, I may not be able to saaaaang! I’m not Christina Aguilera. But I don’t think music is about singing. There are millions of people that can sing. But Madonna can’t sing. A lot of people can’t sing, you know? It’s all about your conviction behind a song and your unique sound. If everybody sings like Christina Aguilera or Alicia Keys, everybody would sound alike. But when you hear my voice, it’s so unique. You’ll know that’s Tila Tequila’s voice.
Why have you waited so long to show off your singing skills?
Well, for two years I was shooting A Shot at Love. I wanted to take a year off to get my image away from that. They kept on associating me with that show. I didn’t want to be known as that, because you start to pigeonhole yourself. Now I can put out music and start fresh.
I actually posted a video of me performing a song off of the EP on my website. It’s called “Blue Dress.” You’ll see. People are like, “Wow. You should do more stuff like this. You actually sound like Marilyn Monroe.”
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter @EWMusicMix.)
More from EW.com’s Music Mix: