As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 20 – Summer 2022
Tiffany Lloyd, aka TiffsBass, defines what many would call a phenomenal renaissance woman. Her talent and ever-growing list of accomplishments are accredited to her undeniable skill and work ethic. She not only is dominating the music industry on both the Broadway stages and the Grammy Recording Academy, but she also teaches private bass guitar lessons at the live location of one of her endorsers, Collabrio Studios.
From an artist to entrepreneur, creator, director, performer, and songwriter, TiffsBass is Black girl magic. She was recently featured in Global Woman Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs Guiding Us Into A Better 2022.” Lloyd has played alongside many global superstars such as Yolanda Adams, Ledisi, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Dennis Chambers, Sofia Carson, and Lynn Whitfield, among many others. She recently returned to attend this year’s 64th GRAMMYs, and shortly after, she had the pleasure of being the bassist for the 20th Annual GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards.
TiffsBass® has garnered the endorsements of many major music manufacturers, including Elrick Bass Guitars, Elixir Strings, GR Bass Amps, Bartolini Pickups and Electronics, and LK Straps.
We had a chance to catch up with Lloyd to learn more about her success, music, gear, and words of wisdom for aspiring musicians.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I was born a musician, so becoming a professional bassist was inevitable. There were several things I was introduced to in life that forced me to learn the principle of making hard decisions and then moving on those decisions when it was time to move. On the flip side, there were things that I landed in because I was destined for it. My journey consistently requires me to work on becoming as excellent as I can. And that inspiration comes from my constant admiration of the work ethic of some of the greatest household names in the entertainment industry.
What styles of music inspire your approach to playing the bass and songwriting?
When it comes to bass-playing, I’d say bebop, jazz fusion, and a little bit of classical music. But, when it comes to songwriting, I’d have to say the thought pattern in most over-arranged gospel music inspires my approach to writing arrangements.
How did it feel to be the first Black female bassist endorsed by Elrick Bass Guitars?
It felt like a combination of being proud and grateful. I am elated to represent the company as an endorsed artist because it’s a brand with tremendous integrity and kindness. Not to mention the rich value in the quality of their products — Elrick Basses are unmatched. I am grateful to be a part of the company because I love standing tall for anything/anyone with strong core values. I appreciate companies that also see the value in me and want to endorse TiffsBass.
What bass guitars, amps, pickups, and pedals are you using in your rig? Do you have a favorite bass guitar?
For bass amps, I mainly use GR Bass amplifiers, and occasionally, I use Markbass amplifiers. I solely use Bartolini pickups and electronics and Elrick Bass Guitars — my custom Elrick Evo 5 is definitely my favorite bass. Before I began playing Elrick basses, I used non-custom basses that I thought sounded pretty good at the time. No disrespect intended to the other brands but going from others to Elrick felt like going from an average designer brand handbag to a Chanel purse. I’m sure all of my fellow lady guitarists can understand what I mean by that! 🙂
You also teach bass at Collabrio Studios. What advice do you give your students about harnessing their skills and developing their talent as a musician?
The advice I give doesn’t sound that exciting to most, but it motivates the students that are serious about their craft and want to grow and excel forward. The first piece of advice that I give is to practice full-time hours to become a full-time musician; don’t focus your practice on areas that you’re already good in. It’s always important to eradicate excuses. The next piece of advice that I give is to aim to be better on your instrument than you were yesterday, and don’t compare or base your progress on the skills and progress of others. Lastly, study and pay attention to the approach and input of the other instruments around you because strictly approaching bass solely from a bass player’s perspective can be, in my opinion, mundane at times.
You played bass guitar for the New York off-Broadway play For Colored Girls in 2019. How did you prepare for your performance(s), and what is it like being an accompanying musician for a Broadway play? Do you have any advice you can give to musicians who want to perform on Broadway?
First, I will say that it was so much fun playing for that particular Broadway play. After the show was locked in through tech rehearsals and all, the prep for the performances as a bassist, for me, was just the formality of getting there. It’s in New York City so traveling through that city daily was an adventure that I could write a book on in itself. 🙂 For me, the most rewarding thing was the lifetime friendships and bonds that I formed with all of the cast and crew.
To stay transparent, being an accompanying musician for a Broadway play, for a musician like myself, took quite a bit of discipline because of the nature of Broadway. Meaning, you play the music as written, period. No embellishments, enhancements, solos, substitute notes for fun — you have to stick to the writing, and for me, that was challenging to do every night because generally, as soon as I hear a song, my mind automatically says, “play it TiffsBass way.” 🙂 I’m so grateful to have gone through that because that kind of discipline only makes you a stronger musician.
My advice to potential Broadway musicians is to stay ready so that you’ll always be ready for the call.
How do you balance navigating the business side of the music industry as well as perfecting your sound and brand?
The business side of music is the part that most do not stress the importance of. It can be quite challenging at times because you have to put just as much effort and professionalism into the business side as the musical side. My personal system is that I schedule my days out manually, every day, down to the hour. No day is identical to another in my world. First and foremost, I work with my personal trainer and I meal prep. Without good health and wellness, any brand is limited. When it’s time for prepping for a TiffsBass live show, I call on my team to help me with the business side of things in relation to the shows because although I may think I’m superwoman, I have to focus on my artistry in those time periods. I also schedule in time to take care of administrative things and study my music.
What is the inspiration behind your most recent single, “Paradise”?
The sounds of underground jazz inspired my writing of “Paradise.” Arranging it was based on the feel of being at the finish line of a studio session when the song is finished recording, and now the band can just play, freely.
What is your practice routine like?
My routine is I usually warm up with a jazz standard and then start reviewing technique exercises. At that point, my metronome is on, getting on my nerves, and I plow through anything I’m rusty on. Once I find myself up to par and having fun, I realize I’m no longer practicing, so I switch to some other fingering or scale degree exercises. Sometimes I make up my own exercises as long as it trips me up when I first try it. But even my practice routines, I schedule out into increments. You can really cover a lot of practice routines in six to eight hours if you schedule/allot time to each task.
You have worked with so many artists of various genres. What advice can you give to artists who want to achieve versatility in their playing?
The key is catering to what the artist wants and what the MD of that artist wants from you, not what you want. That’s the key to working with many different artists. Some artists want a busy style from the musician, and some want a pocket style. Some want your approach, and some want you to instead play their approach. Once you understand this concept, you’ll end up getting calls for many different artists of a variety of genres, and that builds experience in versatility. The other keys are genuineness and reliability. One needs to have a genuine connection with the artist’s music that you’re playing for. You need to be teachable, reliable, solid, trustworthy, and most of all, fun to work with. There’s nothing worse than a stuffy musician with an attitude.
What has your journey been like as a Black female bass guitarist?
It’s been interesting, and in the same token, so much fun. Being a female bass guitarist tends to catch many by surprise, and as a Black woman, I do tend to meet people that are shocked when I say I am a professional bassist for a living. Some don’t even really fully believe it until they go to my website. I realize that I am a rarity in this industry, but it’s truly yielded a rewarding journey that I have learned a lot on. I see myself as a bass guitarist that happens to be a female and a female that happens to be Black. I just see my instrument.
What career accomplishments and goals do you see for yourself in the next three years?
Within the next three years, I want to venture into other areas of the entertainment industry. I am leaving room to be open to amazing things that I have been and will continue to come my way, but I definitely want to perform at the Oscars and continue to be a part of the GRAMMYs every year. Getting my EP out is always a goal. 🙂 Modeling is a new journey for me, and to my advantage, it has intertwined with my musical brand.