Vocalist/songwriter Tiyon “TC” Christian is known for writing countless number of hits for artists including John Legend, Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Estelle, Backstreet Boys, T-Pain, and Jacob Latimore to name a few, and now the talented lyricist is preparing to step out on his own as a solo artist.
He chatted with Singersroom about the single, his beginnings in the business and working his way from doing Youtube covers to the top of the charts. He also talked about working with Brandy and bestie Tamar Braxton, being a freestyler, his idol Whitney Houston, and more.
Check it below!
What did you do before you got into the music industry?
I went to school and put covers online, so that was basically it. I had a job for three months at Burlington Coat Factory and that didn’t end too well (laughs), but other than that, just recording music and putting it online on Soundclick.
How did you get discovered?
I wouldn’t say that I was discovered. I guess I was more so known, because of the covers I'd done, and certain producers in the industry would hit me up asking if I write. And honestly, at the time I wasn’t writing, I was just doing covers and making them my own. But I told them I write, just lyin’ (laughs), so it forced me to start writing to different tracks. So when I started to write to different producer’s records, that’s when I started getting placements. The first placement I got was for this boy group called Menudo and they flew me into Orlando and I worked with them, and that was my first time working with an artist. I was really nervous and at that time they had a big TV show on MTV called Making Menudo and we were filming for that. I didn’t really know everything that I should have known going into the situation as far as recording and stuff like that. But it was a learning experience and was so much fun. It prepared me for more things and people to work with in the future.
You’ve written for and worked with many artists. What inspired you to step out and become a solo artist?
I think just me realizing the gifts I possess. I think a lot of times, artists do things they really don’t want to do in order to do other things. I never thought I was gonna be a writer, I just wanted to sing, you give me a song, I can sing the heck out of it, and that’s’ what it is. One of my friends was like, “yo, you wanna be a singer or artist, you need to write your own music so you can convey what you’re trying to get across.” Cause you don’t ever want to be one of those people who sings something somebody gives you. You wanna be able to say what you wanna say so people can connect to you as a true artist. So I started writing and that’s’ when everything started happening for me. I never thought I would be a big writer working with the Beyonce’s, the Brandy’s, the people in the industry I looked up to growing up. So it was very intimidating too, because they’re so amazing at what they do, but I think I chose to do it when I became comfortable with myself.
Being in the background, something people make you feel like you’re not good enough, or you’re too fat, or you’re too small, too this and that, it can be an insecurity things. I feel like sometimes a lot of creative people hide behind writing or being behind the scenes because they’re told they not good enough. It messes with you. So when I started getting myself together, and was like it’s time to do me, that’s when I got comfortable with myself, and also working with Tamar. She didn’t have to do it, but she took me on tour. She brought me out in the middle of her set, so she would do like four songs, and say “I want y’all to work with my friend TC” so she picked three songs that she likes in order to get the crowd hyped, then I introduce her back on stage. And just going city to city with her and R. Kelly, it was just a mind-opening experience for me and something I will always remember. I just brought things back into perspective onto what I really wanted to do.
I remember first hearing about you the first season of Tamar & Vince working on Tamar’s first album. How do you feel about reality TV? Would you ever do more of it?
I would love to do it. There’s been a couple of shows who asked me to do a couple of features, but I would love to have my own situation. One thing I don’t wanna do, though, is a show where it had negativity. I don’t wanna be portrayed as something that I’m not, or them edit and do different things, that’s not my thing. I like to have a good time, I’m goofy, I’m funny, I like to laugh, and if it’s not about that, then y’all tryna fight, then nah, that’s not for me. There’s some things that I just won’t do for exposure. I want my talent to speak for itself when I’m trying to build the brand I’m trying to build.
Who’s your favorite artist to write for / work with and why?
I have a couple. Of course, Brandy because she’s one of the people I looked up to growing up. My first placement that was actually released was her and I feel like at that time, I was in such a dark place, I was alone, I had moved out of my mom’s house. I was doing everything on my own, basically homeless. I was sleeping at friends’ houses, and getting that song on an artist’s project whom I really admired was basically wake up call, that I’m capable of doing anything I put my mind to. It pushed me an inspired me to do more things and go harder so I thigh that was a big moment for me. And also, I know it’s cliché cause I work with her a lot, but Tamar, she really embraced me and we get each other. We love writing together, we write great songs together. I love working with Tamar more than anybody because we just have this great chemistry. Even though we argue, we fight we’ll go at it, we bump heads, I’ll be mad, I won’t say nothing to her and she’ll be like “what’s the problem?!?!?” and it’s a genuine brother and sister relationship, we just have so much fun. Plus, she’s so creatively amazing, I’ve learned a lot from her actually with arranging and certain things with writing, ‘cause she’s been doing it for a long time. So I’ve learned the most from her.
Who are some of your musical inspirations/influences?
My biggest influence is always Whitney [Houston]. I felt like a voice like her is one in a million. She possessed tone, quality, control, power, range, everything you would want in a vocalist. She was “The Voice,” the industry gave her that name. That’s what I based myself vocally around, was Whitney, and wanting to have the same impact on people that she had on me. When I sing, I want people to be like, “wow, he’s actually amazing he’s great,” cause that’s what she did to me. Other people, Brandy, Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton. I feel like all those people wrapped up into one is me.
Take us through your songwriting process. How does a song come to you?
I have different scenarios. If I have an idea of whatever I’m going through or what I wanna write about , I’ll know that gonna be the subject, and if I have a beat, I’ll just freestyle whatever comes to mind and it just always comes out as a song. I’ll start all the way from the top of the track, next thing you now I’m all the way at the end of the record, and I’m, like wow, I just did this. So a lot of my records I got placed were just freestyled. But if I’m writing with other people, I like to sit down and pick their brains, us go back and forth with certain things. Making sure their ideas are being heard, too. It depends, but I usually just freestyle.
Tell us about your single “Designer”. I think a lot of people can relate to it.
“Designer” has so many meaning to me. I feel like everyone has been in a situation where the person either took you for granted or they cheated. Didn’t know what to give back to you what you’re worth. At the end of the day when you know how great you were to somebody and how much you’ve done for them, you start feeling a slight resentment when it doesn’t work out. You start feeling like I shoulda made you pay for the hurt you put me through all the times I was with you, when you didn’t have a job, or I was with you before you became an artist, everybody goes through that. But for me “Designer” also takes on a different meaning with me being in the industry ad always being in the background with helping so many talented artists fulfill their dreams and help push them put and it’s like, I’m always overlooked. So it’s kinda like a double entendre for me.
Is designer attached to a bigger project like an EP?
Yeah, I’m putting an album out, I didn't have no time for an EP. I started by staying, ok, I’ll do seven songs, and everybody liked it. Then seven songs turned into eight, then turned into ten, then fourteen, so I’m trying to figure out how many songs I’m gonna put on the album, but it’s done. I wanted to put a full album out because people have been waiting on me to put something out for a long time so I don’t wanna cheat them an put seven songs on the album.
Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
I see myself in movies, acting. I’ve always been a big entertainment baby. I LOVE plays. Touring, performing, I wanna do stuff overseas. I’m just trying to maximize every possibility that I can while I can cause tomorrow’s never promised so I can’t keep waiting on my dreams to come true, I have to go for it.