TyLean is anything but forgettable

By: Bradley Turcotte

TyLean is anything but forgettable
Photo: courtesy of the artist


Pianist TyLean's music comes with the disclaimer that it is ‘not for casual listeners.' Her latest offering, The Unforgivable, The Unforgettable, combines elements of the caustic and the celestial; a melding of genres that has amassed TyLean a following on both sides of the Atlantic.

Originally hailing from small town Pennsylvania, TyLean now resides in London. A self-taught pianist since the age of 14, she began experimenting with the cello at 24.

"I am not a cellist and have never called my self such. People assume because I'm classically trained" - a phrase she detests - "that I must be by default classically trained on the cello. I don't play cellos. I rape them. It's a phenomenal instrument for exploiting and creating horrific soundscapes."

The landscape of TyLean's childhood was a lonely one. Living in such an insular place with siblings too old to bother with her, she retreated into the fantasy world of film.

"Film was my first passion, because watching movies kept me company," she says. "That was what I wanted to do, but since there were no films being made in my part of Pennsylvania and I couldn't convince my family to move, I got into children's theatre as a matter of compromise. From there I got into musicals and eventually came to be very passionate about orchestral music and opera."

The influence of operatic music can be heard on her debut, the When All Else Fails EP. Although many called When All Else Fails ‘hauntingly beautiful,' TyLean describes the reaction to her debut as confused.

"It was my first release. I had no fans, no supporters and no one who understood who I was and what I was about. I don't even think I understood who I was and what I was about yet. The lyrics were either too dark for them to accept or too intelligent for them to understand. In addition, I was from small town Northeast Pennsylvania. I knew people who had tattoos of the local ‘80s cover band who they would support tooth and nail in a fight. Just the fact that I was recording and releasing original music was well beyond their ability to comprehend."

It was small-mindedness like this that inspired TyLean to seek refuge in another country. For as long as she can remember, she has wanted to flee the US.

"I don't like America," she says. "I was hell-bent on becoming an ex-patriot since I was 7 years old and was able to understand what countries were and just how far away the other side of the Atlantic was."

Her move across the pond has given TyLean an insight into the habits of the international music fan. She says American, English and Canadian music lovers all absorb music differently.

"In the UK, people are more passive about their music than in the States, where people define themselves by the music they listen to. In the States, people tend to be more dedicated to a genre than their own ability to think whether they like a piece of music or not. The UK is also slightly like this, though not nearly to such a degree. Canada, however, is completely the opposite. Music fans are open minded and accepting of anything they happen to like, despite what genre it falls into."

Once of a member of prolific darkwave band Attrition, TyLean and founding member Martin Bowes had a falling out over his veganism.

"We parted ways over an incredibly silly difference of diet. Martin Bowes is a vegan. I think we should eat endangered animals before there are no more left to taste; humans too. I'm at odds with the accepted belief that humans are special and important. We are shit-throwing monkeys who if we hadn't evolved to say derogatory things about one another, we would still be flinging poop. One day the usual banter turned into an actual disagreement and that was that for Attrition. We were both probably being too headstrong for our own good."

However TyLean says she loved the experience of performing with the band, which has been active for three decades, and looks forward to connecting with Bowes again in the future.

Death Disco presents TyLean in Ottawa April 15, Peterborough April 16 and Toronto April 24 before heading back to England to appear at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Look for a new EP, tentatively titled Formaldehyde, to appear this summer.


Video: “Corner of My Eye“ by TyLean

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