An artist can come in many forms, but rarely do we see one who completely defies what we know to be personal expression. Tiffini Truth, a former Inked Life model turned performance artist, brings an act that you've never seen before. She leads a performance show called The G.R.I.N.D (which stands for Ground Right Into Night's Dust) and acts to "create art out of destruction." Combining penetrating vocals, the invasive experience of power tools, and electronic accompaniment, Truth's unique sound is completely unforgettable. Truth toys with our perceptions of what is art and what is music through her self-established grind blues and her performance style completes the experience. In addition to exploring an untapped genre of "metal" music, Truth is also a trained contortionist which adds to the unusual and avant-garde aspect of her vocal storytelling. Through her music and performance, Truth sets her audience on edge, giving viewers a show that engages a diverse pool of emotions from fear, to excitement, to enlightenment, which all come together to produce a spellbinding act of bravery and talent.
INKED: Describe what goes through your head during a G.R.I.N.D performance. How does it feel to interact with power tools, physically and emotionally?
TIFFINI TRUTH: I couldn't honestly tell you what goes through my head when I'm performing the show. I literally black out. More often than not absolutely everything is forgotten. Which is the point for me to do it. The ultimate escape from reality if you will. Those few clear moments where there is just nothing at all. It's cathartic. Unless something goes wrong on stage is the only moment where I snap out of that state to handle what's in front of me. Then you just snap right back into this insane clarity and focus of your energy into one moment.
It feels really liberating to be able to work with power tools on a physical level and involve them in the music making process. Women vs. Machine, if you will. Especially with angle grinders specifically. They are always trying to run away from you, taking on a life of their own. Snakes with an RPM rate of 11,500 slithering across these metal plates that just so happen to be strapped to your body over your vital organs. Emotionally you are faced with your fear of potentially dying at every show. It's real. Which in itself is the most freeing experience of them all. You see the danger in sacrificing all you have physically and mentally in the name of creating this insane art that you feel has a place out there somewhere for someone just like you. For nothing else you do it for that feeling. Very freeing. What a better way to go if the worst was to happen. Fuck it.
When did you first get involved with grind art? How did it feel the first time you used power tools?
I created grind art back in 2009 officially. Then I debuted the first live show in 2010. It took me one year of straight up practice on metal plates that where safely strapped into vices in a mechanic shop in Vancouver, Canada. I had a contact that owned a car repair shop and he would let me use it after hours to practice on. He would be doing the books and I'd be in there grinding away. The staff at the time where always really curios as to what the hell a woman would be doing with all this metal. It was tough to try to explain what I was creating. I just knew I had to get proficient in wielding my grinders before I strapped them onto my body to create something bigger. I'm grateful for having that space as my 1 bedroom apartment with carpet throughout at the time was not a conducive space to angle grind in. One year of grinding, learning different angles, and ways to create sparks. Then I strapped in and started the live show.
How did it feel the first time?... Like a roller-coaster. Speed, adrenaline and that sweet smell of burnt metal in the afternoon. Nothing like it.
What are the best parts of your performance art?
The best part has been coming up with a genre of my own which is Industrial Blues. There are no rules of how I have to be or any level of conformity. I am anti-conformity. It's great to be able to create in a space for yourself to exist in. Not fit into but simply exist in freely. That space is always changing as life does but the intention of that space remains the same. The show will always be based around 2 things. Power tools and pain. There in lies the predominant elements of Industrial Blues.
What new acts do you plan to introduce into your show?
As far as stunts and any theatrical elements go that will always stay under wraps. As I mentioned before the show is always changing and I like to reveal things as I do them. Less talk, less hype more action. Wait and see. There's always more that's all I have to say about that.
When did you become interested in music? How did you decide to pursue it as a career?
Since I was a tyke. I was 3-years-old dancing on my front lawn in Toronto as a kid to Aerosmith's "Dude looks like a Lady" wearing Miss Piggy pajamas. Oh wait. You mean in creating music? High School. I was proficient in band and art, sucked at math. Typical. So it was a natural progression into music as I developed in life. I got derailed by modeling for a while which was good in the sense that it helped me get over my stage fright. Also, it paid and music really didn't. Being on sets with crews and traveling helped me become more confident in myself. That confidence in myself led me right back to where I always belonged which is creating art.
What are your plans for the future as far as G.R.I.N.D?
My biggest goals are lofty, as they should be. If you're going to do something why not dedicate all your time and energy into one concerted effort, right? Right now I'm in Mexico writing the new album which will most likely get chopped down into an EP of sorts. I always write as if I'm putting out a record. Then I grind it down into a point form version of what I'm trying to convey. I've written two albums but have limited songs actually released over the past five years. So to try to not confuse you I'm working on my third record right now. Which will be released in singles throughout the year of 2016. I'll start filming a new set of music videos in January and release those in conjunction with the new music. Then the new live show will debut sometime in spring 2016. It all takes time and I forecast usually a year out in advance. The G.R.I.N.D show is really technical and all the edges need to be shaped precisely before I let it loose for public consumption.
One thing I am most looking forward to is collaborating with other artists in the new year. I think it will be great to see who many different platforms we can manipulate sparks onto in 2016. From digital art and beyond.