Tylan Greenstein made a name for herself through five albums and ten years touring with award-winning folk-pop quartet Girlyman, but now she's striking out on her own. Her debut solo album, One True Thing, reveals a more mature, thoughtful Tylan (who's also dropped her last name for her solo effort). Tylan funded the album through a successful Kickstarter campaign, where her fans helped her raise nearly $50,000 in just 30 days.
And now Tylan's fans — and the rest of the world — can finally get up close and personal with the out singer/songwriter, as One True Thing hits stores and digital venues June 18 (pre-order a signed copy of the album here). And you can see the thirty-something songstress in person when she launches a tour to promote the record this fall.
Get a sneak preview of the latest single, "Love Then," off that album below, then keep reading to find a SheWired exclusive interview with the out crooner about going solo, finding her own voice, and surviving the seismic shifts that have taken place in her life recently, which also inspired her new record.
SheWired: Your album is lovely. It's rather somber, though. What sets this album apart from other records you've done with Girlyman, most recently Supernova?
Tylan: Well, let's see... I don't even know where to start with this one! [Laughs] Working with Girlyman, there were three of us who were songwriters, and actually, you really got three different songwriting styles on our records, I think people really liked that. With this record, I've written all of the songs — except for one that was co-written [with fellow Girlyman Nate Barofsky — "St. Stephen"] — so you're getting a lot more of my style, and you're also getting a product of the last couple years of my life, which have just been - you're supposed to have your Saturn return when you're in your late twenties, but I seem to be having mine now! [Laughs] So I've had a very tumultuous period and I think that that is always going to funnel its way into my work. Now, you're saying it's somber. I wouldn't exactly say it's somber, but I would say it's very personal, and I think a very intimate album.
On that note, what are some of the difficulties or struggles that you're revealing with this album?
For me, at least, [songs are] always a mix of my personal experience and my training in writing fiction. At best, it's a more universal kind of story. But in terms of my own life, over the past year, I have several areas of my life that either evaporated or changed completely, including a relationship. I was in a relationship for over a decade.
Yeah, for a really long time. And that relationship shifted, and we're still very close friends, but, you know, we had a house together and it was really a marriage. So that relationship, in that form, ended, and then Girlyman decided to take this hiatus, and I've been touring with Girlyman for also over a decade. And that happened around the same time, and there's other close relationships in my life that either just disappeared or shifted radically; my financial situation shifted; I moved across the country. Basically it was just... the positive way to look at it is just a complete life makeover. But when that happens it's a lot, you know? And usually when that happens, I think it's really unexpected. Just really a reminder that we have no control over what happens to us in our lives from the outside. I mean, obviously we have personal authority over what we do, but in terms of the bombing in Boston, I think it's an example of that. People came to run a marathon and something else happened. So you could say that it was my own personal supernova that happened.
So you said that your relationship had shifted. How do you identify in terms of relationship status these days?
I'm in another relationship.
OK. And on that same note, how do you identify along the LGBT spectrum and along the gender identity spectrum?
You know, I get asked that a lot, and I think I probably have a different answer every time. [Laughs] I think the easiest way to say I identify is queer. I'm exclusively with women and in terms of gender, I would say that I sometimes identify as genderqueer. I'm definitely masculine-of-center. I identify as a tomboy — there's lots of different ways to describe it. But I think it's also kind of shifted a bit. It's a spectrum.
I totally agree. I think that the push to have folks define themselves in concrete terms doesn't necessarily reflect how humans actually experience the world.
Yeah, I always have this feeling of slight panic when I get asked that. Like, "uh oh!" It's hard, I think, to kind of put yourself in a box these days.
Definitely. And in knowing that you self-identify as queer, what about that identity resonates for you, personally?
Oh, what a good question. [Laughs] I mean, I could easily identify as a lesbian, I guess. But because of my gender identity that doesn't feel quite right. I definitely don't identify as a feminine person, so I just feel like queer has a way of — not exactly washing over all of that — but it covers a lot of ground. And I think it covers some of that ambiguity that can exist from day to day, or from person to person that you're dating, so I really like that. I've always liked that word. And I like the reclaiming of what could be seen as a derogatory word.
This is now a way to describe myself and I'm proud of it.
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