When Blu DeTiger was last in the UK, things were very different. “I was playing bass for different artists, and not really touring my own music,” the New York artist reminisces to NME about her 2020 trip across the pond. “I think we played the last show in London before everything shut down and got cancelled.”
DeTiger finally got a chance to return to the capital two years later: this time, though, she was playing her own sold-out headline show at Colours Hoxton. On the night, DeTiger demonstrated her virtuosic bass skills by blitzing through a set comprising of solo material, a selection of well-chosen covers and an impressive on-stage jam. At one point she joined the audience by rocking out in the centre of the crowd: it felt like a hero’s return.
Despite releasing a handful of solo singles in 2019, it was only during the COVID-19 lockdowns that DeTiger really started to blow up for her music. The multi-instrumentalist’s slick bass covers of tracks by artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B went viral on TikTok, before her 2021 EP ‘How Did We Get Here?’ won widespread acclaim for its brand of funk-infused pop. Since its release, she’s played on Bleachers’ earworm ‘Stop Making This Hurt’ (before later joining the Jack Antonoff-led band for a rendition of the track on Saturday Night Live), appeared in the documentary film Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 U (A Sour Film), and last month collaborated with Canadian funk-duo Chromeo.
Her recent live return in London, then, felt like the culmination of these two years of grafting. “I was back playing my own songs, which felt [like it was] meant to be for my story,” she tells NME as we sit down in a seaside studio in Brighton ahead of her slot at the city’s Great Escape festival.
For the latest in NME’s In Conversation series, DeTiger tells us all about working with Chromeo, her hometown show at New York’s Governors Ball Music Festival this weekend and avoiding snakes while filming in the desert with Olivia Rodrigo. Here’s what we learned.
Working with Chromeo was a blast
“I’ve been a fan of those guys since I was really young,” DeTiger explains of working with Chromeo on the double single ‘Blutooth’ and ‘enough 4 u’. “We got connected through a few different people and everyone was like, ‘Oh, you guys would vibe and get along’. Me and my brother went to their studio and just had the most fun ever… it definitely shows my funky side in a way that isn’t showcased in my other songs.”
A collaboration with Biig Piig is coming soon
While ‘Blutooth’ and ‘enough 4 u’ may not necessarily be part of a larger project, DeTiger does reveal that a bigger body of work could be on the horizon. “There’s another song I’ve been playing on tour called ‘Crash Course’ that I did with Biig Piig,” she says. “We had a really good time making that song, and that will be out soon as well.”
Working with the genre-splicing London-based artist, DeTiger adds, was tons of fun. “[Biig Piig]’s just such a nice person, such a kind soul. We actually made a few different songs, and the one that we finished just had something that I really liked about it.”
New York City has had a major impact on her sound
DeTiger made her debut on the New York City music scene at an early age. Born and raised in the city, she performed at some of New York’s most iconic music venues – including a night at the legendary CBGB when she was just seven-years-old – as part of the local arts programme School of Rock.
“My sound definitely has some grit and edge to it… and I think that comes from being in New York, growing up there DJing and doing the whole nightlife thing there,” she says of the impact the city has had on her music. “I would obviously be completely different if I was from anywhere else. It’s just shaped so much about me… the energy and the hustle and growing up there. You just get the energy – New York is always going to be in you if you’re there a long time.”
She’s buzzing to play Governors Ball 2022
As a New York City native, Governors Ball Music Festival was a staple of DeTiger’s summer. “I think the first year it started  I was in middle school, and I went that first year because obviously I was always really into music,” she recalls. “And then I went every single year [after that]!”
The 2022 edition of Governors Ball will see DeTiger realise a childhood dream by joining a line-up that includes Halsey, J. Cole, Kid Cudi and many more: “It’s really crazy. It’s one of those moments where you’re like, ‘Oh, shit!’… I’ve got to plan something special.”
Filming Olivia Rodrigo’s Driving Home 2 U documentary came with its risks
Earlier this year DeTiger appeared in Driving Home 2 U (A Sour Film), a documentary that follows Rodrigo through the whirlwind release of her debut album ‘Sour’. The documentary portions of the film are intercut with live performances, including one where DeTiger plays bass during a rocked-up version of ‘Brutal’ that was filmed in an airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert.
After becoming online pals and following each other on TikTok for years, the call to be in Rodrigo’s film came after the pair finally crossed paths IRL at a Caroline Polachek show in LA (“we met backstage, and she’s just the sweetest,” DeTiger reveals). Rodrigo later reached out to ask if DeTiger would appear in Driving Home 2 U, and they headed out to the desert to film a live performance.
“That place is crazy,” DeTiger says now of the cinematic location of the airplane graveyard. “When you get there, they do this whole safety demonstration that’s really freaky. They’re like, ‘The snakes will bite you’. [But] no-one got bit!”
Blu DeTiger will perform at Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City this weekend