"I love this city. I love the people. I love everything about it. I'm happy to be coming back to run the marathon. There are always good vibes in New York. I feel so at home here. It's so nice. It's such a beautiful place to be," Tigerlily said with an incredible amount of cheer. I sat across from one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my life. The sun was out in New York City as the Australian DJ had a lot to say about her career and why she is participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th, 2016. Before talking about lacing up her running shoes for a good cause, she had many wonderful things to say about her homeland.
"I've been home only seven weeks this year. I've been in America and Europe more than I have been in Australia. Logistically I should be here but my bed and the rest of my clothing are at my parents' house in Sydney. Growing up in Australia was absolutely amazing and I would not change it for anything," Tigerlily exclaimed. She continued by saying, "I know it might sound a little biased but it is literally the best country in the whole world. It is clean. It is safe. We have so many different opportunities. It could be sports, music or whatever it is that you want to follow. We have an incredible environment. Such beautiful, healthy food. And as I said--it's safe. There's not many countries in the world where I go and feel safe." Tigerlily gave credit to her family for providing her with a safe and loving environment. She told me, "I had a beautiful childhood growing up with my parents and two younger sisters. I did all the school things. Every single sport. Every single instrument. Every single drama class. Every single debating class. I was really a go-getter." Her adventurous spirit eventually led the way for Tigerlily to develop an intense interest in music.
The DJ with the bright hair and bright personality went on to tell me about her whimsical journey in the music industry. Tigerlily said, "When I was four years old my mother and my father put me into a music school. They taught how to play the basics of piano. Writing, reading music, composing and all that stuff. It just became a thing in my life. I continued on in that music school until I was eighteen. I also did music throughout high school playing in various orchestras and jazz bands. It was a really big part of my life growing up." She was also able to express herself by forming a band with her best friend at the time. "We spent every lunch period in the music room. We would write songs and enter competitions. We never won anything because all of our songs were about teenage love and angst," Tigerlily laughed. Soon after, Tigerlily discovered her love for the nightlife.
"I started going clubbing. I got a fake ID as you do. I started going clubbing since I was sixteen. I saw all these DJs. A--I loved what they did and B--I thought I could do a way more kickass job," Tigerlily said with a wink. She explained, "I had that realization and I had that thought but I didn't know any DJs and I didn't know anyone at the time. One day I did this little test where I walked up to the bar and went, 'Hi I'm a DJ. Can I speak to the manager?' All of the sudden this guy walks out and he is the manager. And he goes 'What can I do for you?' So I said 'I'm a DJ and I would like to play a set here.' Then he said, 'Yeah sure, here's my email. Email me some mixes.' Funny story...Now I work with him so closely. He used to run Pacha Sydney. We always used to laugh about how this little sixteen-year-old went right up to him in the club saying she was a DJ. I'm sure he saw straight through it. That's where it started. Then I pursued my passion. I got my hands on a set of decks, practiced my ass off in the bedroom and the rest was born. Very self-taught." Normally, that's where the story stops for a lot of DJs. Not for Tigerlily. Her tale was only beginning. She had many moments of self-discovery including becoming an advocate for the vegan lifestyle.
"I went vegan for two months at the start of the year. I was touring really heavily and internationally. It was really hard. I wasn't educated enough and I wasn't dedicating enough time to my diet. Three months ago I went cold turkey," Tigerlily said. She took a deep breath. "I knew I was about to go on tour. I remember eating my last Twix bar and going 'I feel like crap. I don't need this anymore. This isn't for me.' Ever since, I haven't looked back. There have been a couple of unintentional slip-ups. Yesterday, someone gave me a cow milk coffee instead of an almond milk coffee. I had one sip and I could definitely tell there was cow in that coffee and got it switched out. I have become incredibly passionate about it. I spent a lot of time learning about it and talking to people about it. Now I have such an understanding of our bodies, our environment and what's going on with the animals," she told me. Tigerlily followed up by saying, "People are uneducated. I think if you learn, you often want to share. I think that it's baby steps. Just talking to people. Maybe you'll change one person's life. It's crazy. I feel like talking about this is potentially more powerful than talking about music in someways. People expect you to be a DJ and only talk about music. For example the drivers that drive me around...We end up talking about what it is like to be a vegan. Three of the guys that I met in the past two months are now giving it a go. It's amazing. I'm like, 'Hell yeah!' I also have to give a big thanks to my sister because she went vegan the same time as me. She's been very supportive. We send each other cute little recipes and photos. She's always checking in with me. Family is everything." Her family is also supporting her vision to run the marathon in New York City next month.
When I congratulated her on taking part in an extremely difficult race, she cut me off. "Don't say props yet. I haven't done it," Tigerlily loudly laughed. She then looked me in the eyes and got serious. "Mental health has been something I've always been passionate about. It's always been something that's been very prevalent in my life. I struggled through heaps of different stuff. I battled with an eating disorder when I was a young teenager. I had serious anxiety and depression through university and breakups. Now, to be completely real with you...The past few months have been the hardest in my life, hands down. I've been traveling around Europe alone. Spending two months touring alone is completely alienating and it was really difficult. Not only that--I watched my friends and my family go through completely different or similar things. In the 21st century and the environment that we live in today, mental health issues are so prevalent. People aren't doing the right things. People aren't approaching mental health in the right way. They are taking pills and expecting something to change overnight. It's a change of lifestyle. It's a change of diet. The way you move your body. The way you control your mind. Meditation. The way you think about yourself. It's such a complex, big issue. I'm so against anti-depressants." She explained her stance very firmly. "You know what. I want to share a story. My grandma recently went on anti-depressants. My pop passed away two years ago and it was really difficult. And I understand that. In that situation, it really, really helped her. She has had so much improvement from it and she's off them now. And she's great. It's amazing. She went on them with the intention of getting off of them. But then there are the people that go on the anti-depressants and they rely on them. For me to see that, it's such a defeatist attitude. It's a sad thing," the DJ sighed. Tigerlily stared off at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center in the distance. She said, "That is apparently a mental institution. That scares me. Those people should be in this park right here, kicking balls and running around. Not cooped up in buildings." Tigerlily then explained her involvement with the organization known as Lifeline.
Lifeline is a charity providing every Australian experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Tigerlily seemed hopeful for the future. "Lifeline has always been one of the big ones. They are one of the big mental health and suicide prevention charities in Australia. When they said they had an opportunity to work with me, I said, 'Yes, yes, yes. Whatever it takes. Let's do something. I want to get involved.' Then they asked, 'Do you want to run a marathon?' I was like, 'Yeah. Why not?' Lifeline is great because they provide that kind of support to encourage people to change that negative behavioral pattern and get out of those ways. There is a really big push for young men overcoming the stigma of negative mental health to reach out. They just started a text message service. If you are too afraid to make the call, you can send out a text. It's so cool because it will break down the barrier even further. Especially for young men and teens," she told me. Tigerlily then wished me well before departing to her next venture. Her magic and words of wisdom will forever be unforgettable.