Tilly And The Wall

Parental Advisory is a new feature on Stereogum where we’ll talk to musicians who also happen to be parents. It can’t be easy to raise kids from a tour-bus bunk, or to explain to your toddler why random people keep walking up to you and asking if you want to get high with them, and we thought it would be interesting to learn how some of our favorites learn to live that double-life. And for our second installment, we talked to Tilly And The Wall leader Kianna Alarid Cameron, whose daughter Orian was 10 and a half months old when we did the interview. (Note: The interview is actually about three months old; I just haven’t had time to post it until now.) Our interview is below

STEREOGUM: Does Orian’s name have any meaning?

CAMERON: It turns out that it does. It a very, very old name, and it’s akin to primordial dawn, like a dawning of life. But we just kind of made it up, and then we looked it up. It’s hard to find anything on it, but theres some things.

STEREOGUM: How has the balancing act been so far, between being a mother and being in a touring band?

CAMERON: Luckily, my job is my art. When people are doing life right, that’s the way it should be. So to me, there’s no separation. I mean, my whole life is art. Consciously, that’s what my life is. And I feel like, just taking her along, it’s just part of her life. It’s going to be such a cool thing watching her grow up without her mom having to separate, like, “OK, mom is going to work. Now mom’s home.” When I’m home, I’m writing. When we’re out, we’re singing. So it’s more like balancing the kid into that. You bring her into your world instead of having the kid and having to do everything specifically for the kid.

STEREOGUM: Have you done any touring since she was born?

CAMERON: No. We’re leaving October 5, and so we’re going to figure that out [laughs]! I have some plans.

STEREOGUM: What are you going to do?

CAMERON: Well, we have not only my daughter but also Derek [Pressnall, guitarist] and Jamie [Pressnall, tapdancer]’s daughter, who is almost three. And their little baby, who is also 10 months, is also going to join us for a couple of days. So it’s going to be like a cult. We’re taking a minivan, just for the families. So that alone will be really nice. We’ll be up earlier than the rest of them, and we can just drive when we need to. I feel like that will be helpful. Otherwise, logistically, we’ll have to feel it out. Being adaptable is the best possible thing when it comes to a situation like this. Everything’s different; every city’s different.

STEREOGUM: It’s got to be easier when there’s two people in your band who already have kids.

CAMERON: Yeah, and we’re both bringing friends who are nannies. I know that there’s a company who specializes in tour nannies, and we were like, “Wow, that’s so cool.” But until we can afford that kind of thing, we’re just taking our amazing friends who are willing to come and who have experience with kids. So it’ll be really helpful for sure.

STEREOGUM: When Derek and Jamie first had their daughter, did that cause any tension in the band?

CAMERON: Well, what happened was that we had just decided to take a break from touring because we’d just spent eight months on the road. And then she found out she was pregnant, so it was just perfect timing. We just sort of stopped the band a month before she got pregnant. Until we just recently got back together for rehearsing and recording, with the new album stuff, we’d never been around both Tilly and the babies.

STEREOGUM: So this is all a new experience that’s just now happening?

Yeah, it’s just now happening. It’s a whole new ball game.

STEREOGUM: Has Orian been out of town yet for any stretch of time?

CAMERON: Yeah, actually. We did a video for “Defenders” in Joshua Tree, so she flew when she was four months old. And then we’ve also been to Denver to visit my partner’s family.

STEREOGUM: So it didn’t throw her off too badly to be out of her own bed?

CAMERON: She’s actually only, for the past week, started to sleep through the night. I mean, she still wakes up at 5:30, but compared to what we were dealing with, it’s great. She was waking up maybe 10 times a night. We had her sleeping in a sling because she had reflux when she was very little, and then it was the swing, and then the crib — so many different ways. I think it was good, though, because now she can sleep in any of those things. So when we travel out of town, we bring this little swing and a Pack N Play, so it’s kind of a blessing.

STEREOGUM: It’s funny; people without kids don’t realize how much your kid’s sleep starts to rule your life.

CAMERON: Oh, yeah. I just plan the day around her schedule. When they’re sleeping, you can’t take them out at certain times. You want them to get a nap at certain times or else they’ll just be acting wild later. It does kind of run your world.

STEREOGUM: Is your partner in music at all?

CAMERON: Yeah, he has a band, the Conquerors. He calls it “psychotropic rock.” His music kind of induces the experience of psychedelia, which is really cool.

STEREOGUM: So she’s around music all the time, then?

CAMERON: Exactly. And he plays instruments. I don’t really play instruments that much. But he can play guitar for her all day, and she loves it. And we listen to amazing music all the time. He’s one of those people who knows the history of music and is also into everything new. I don’t know how to keep up with crap; I was just never that dedicated. But we have tons of good music, and she always hears it.

STEREOGUM: Does she like your music?

CAMERON: I don’t know. I only really play it when I’m getting ready for rehearsal. But she loves the Sesame Street video. We watch Sesame Street every now and then, and it was like, “Oh my god! It’s mommy!”

STEREOGUM: So she got that this was you on her show?

CAMERON: I don’t know what she got! But she did like it.

STEREOGUM: Right, it’s hard to say what all they understand when they’re pre-verbal.

CAMERON: Yeah, you know the wheels are turning. With new kids, they’re so bright. You know something’s going on; you just don’t know what.

STEREOGUM: Is kids’ music — music that’s specifically supposed to be kids’ music — a presence in your house?

CAMERON: No, it’s not. My husband hates it. He even hates all the music that plays along with her swing, or on her toys. He’s always like, “God!” I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me. He doesn’t play anything like that, for sure, and I never know where to find anything, so I never do either. Neither of us is really interested in it. I sing to her all day long; for every instance, there’s a new song that pops out of my head. I’m sure that’s annoying to him too [laughs], but I like my songs.

STEREOGUM: You guys are lucky. I had this idea, having kids, that we wouldn’t have kids’ music on at all because kids don’t know that it’s kids’ music. I’d just play whatever, and that would become kids’ music. But that was not my experience at all. Mine really did like “Baby Beluga” or whatever so much better than whatever I was trying to make her listen to.

CAMERON: I mean, obviously people know what they’re doing. There’s some reason why kids like it. Some of those songs on Yo Gabba Gabba! are so good!

Comments (6)
  1. Interesting take on the “rock ‘n roll” lifestyle, and kind of breaks down the fourth wall between “cooler than you” musician / journalist and the rest of us who aren’t involved in rock culture since parenting has never been viewed as “cool.” Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but I’ve been seeing a lot of this sort of baby-meets-music writing in recent months — Many writers who came of age during the blossoming of Pitchfork and Stereogum marrying off / entering committed relationships and starting families, and little by little, you see that parent perspective changing the way they write or flat out reading anecdotes about the kid in their features or reviews (Tom = unapolegetically guilty x 1000.) The dudes from PunkNews.org just began a dad blog, which couldn’t be any more un-punk when you say it like that, but they’ve made it punk in their own way (http://www.dadsnotpunk.com/)

    It all kinda makes you wonder where “indie” music journalism is going as it ages, because for the past decade, these writers have all been our “cool” and “dangerous” passports into a world we aren’t familiar with, and all of a sudden, they’re not shaving not because it looks hip, but because the kid kept them up all night, and their latest Pallbearer post talks about how odd it is that their new album works well to put the baby down for a nap. Will these writers have to step aside so that a new breed of scribes without playdate commitments to distract them can keep the cutting edge image of the lifestyle alive, or can these now-vets have it all: The by-line, the baby and the endless cool.

    I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know traditionally that people who live the sub-culture life and breathe its music fear the day when settling down and adult responsibilities might cramp their style. I guess we’re looking to all you music parent pioneers first to see if what’s on the other side is as scary as we think it is…

    • The world of musicians isn’t very cool. It’s usually either kind of boring and normal or kind of pathetic. Unless being lonely and getting wasted every night is ‘cool’ again… I thought that stopped being cool after high school.

      • I don’t disagree with you that the drug-drunk culture image is very unappealing, but that would be making a huge generalization about every band. A lot of indie musicians are just intensely geeky people with obsessions over sounds, digital culture, computers, fashion, books and film that in turn makes them “interesting” to everyone else on the outside who works a “regular” full-time job, shops at Macy’s and might pick up the Parquet Courts album.

        • Oh I wasn’t trying to imply that that’s what all musicians do. I guess I take the geeky stuff as normal because im around it a lot. No doubt talented people are intensely interesting but the lives of musicians tend to be kind of monotonously routine, hence normal.

  2. This is a cool feature, being a full time parent and a part time struggling musician, so I can relate to it a lot!

  3. “Luckily, my job is my art. When people are doing life right, that’s the way it should be.”

    Um, not for nothing, but this kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I’d like to think I’m doing life right – I’m certainly trying my damnedest – and yet, I’m still having to hold down a day job to make ends meet while also doing my art, especially living in New York City…which is probably my first mistake.

    Anyway, screw you, cutesy-poo Tilly and the Wall lady.

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