Electro-pop elfin princess Tigs poses for Clash

Looking every inch the electro-pop elfin princess, Tigs from Chew Lips playfully poses and climbs around a crumbling pub in East London. Proving that she is not keen on playing it safe, the front woman clambers on the roof for the sake of art and says she acts the same when it comes to her music.

Risk-taking isn’t perhaps what you would first expect from an electro-pop outfit led by an all too familiar good-looking and stylish front woman. Their first singles were released by French fashion house/record label Kitsune, home to other paragons of hipster cool The Drums and Two Door Cinema Club. It feels a little too formulaic and obvious.

Tigs makes it clear that it is not and she is not looking for recognition through any association and will not be trying to ride high on the wave of the recent electro pop resurgence. “We’re just a regular band that makes some electro sounds,” she proclaims.

This attitude separates Chew Lips from seemingly comparative artists such as La Roux and Little Boots who seem all too happy for us to compare them with electro pop luminaries such as Heaven 17 and The Human League, both the formers having collaborated with the latters.

When talking about her fashion influences however, the flamboyancy often associated with the electro and new romantic scenes of the 1980s, and more recent electro stars such as Lady Gaga, shows through. “I love the Camila Skosgard shoes because they make me so tall!” she beams.

For their performance at Gemma Slack’s Autumn Winter 2011 catwalk show at the grand Freemason’s Hall for February’s London Fashion Week, Slack, noted for her theatrical sculptural, dramatic designs, created a bespoke outfit for Tigs. “It was such a treat!” Tigs explains. “I don’t think anyone has specifically made me anything for me like that before; it’s laser cut leather, I wore it in the shoot today, it’s like butter it’s so soft.”

“Weeping electro tears,” she says of the wonderful gold eye make-up framing her left eye. “I do this on stage so I thought I’d do it for the shoot as well. I don’t think I could get the boys to wear make-up, but I’d give it a go!”

It’s not just cosmetics that the boys of the band and Tigs differ on - it is their opinions of their live shows too. Tigs goes on to explain, “James normally thinks the opposite of what I think. He is very focused on mistakes. Which is mad. He’s right, it should be as mistake-free as possible but if there are a couple of mistakes, and the vibe is amazing, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m the only one looking at the crowd; I know whether it’s going well or not.”

It’s this instinctive, almost animalistic style of performance when the band play live that sets Chew Lips apart from other artists also working with synths and electro sounds.

This translates not just in their shows, but also on the record itself. Tigs’ soaring, almost soulful voice expresses the emotion of the lyrics, provoking an emotional response in the listener, whilst simultaneously allowing James Watkins and band mate Will Sanderson room to use their weird and wonderful instruments to perfection.

This is party music, made to make you move - whether you like it or not - in a way many other artists lumped into the same genre can only aspire to.

Words by Lois Newcombe
Photography by Jon Gorrigan
Styling by Natasha Wray
Make Up By Helena Lyons
Hair by John Paul Scott


Follow Clash: