Tiffany Cromwell - Canyon SRAM
Tiffany Cromwell is one of Australia's most successful cycling exports. A force on the bike and a character off it we sat down with Tiff to talk absorbing the musical culture of her European base, the difficulties of getting to know a place whilst racing, and Australian punk icons Frenzal Rhomb.
When were you born and where did you grow up?
TIFFANY: I was born in Stirling, South Australia in the Adelaide Hills and spent my time growing up in the Adelaide Hills.
What is your Current City?
TIFFANY: Cap d’Ail, a small town on the French Riviera on the border of Monaco.
Do you take on any musical tastes from where you’re based or your travels during the season?
TIFFANY: Yeah. I would say I don’t have a fixed musical taste, I’m quite adaptive to what I like, and I certainly do pick up new favourite artists, DJ’s or beats that I hear throughout my travels and particularly from here where I’m based. We have a very strong summer ‘party’ culture in the South of France where you often get top DJ’s playing and big musical artists. There’s always music pumping from every venue all around town, from lunch until the evening and late into the night. It’s not often that I’m out partying during the season, but even when you’re just out for dinner or even lunch or relaxing at the beach, there’s always beats that you hear. There are often tunes and musical tastes that I will start to enjoy from these surroundings as often they’re also attached to nice memories from where I’ve been or what I was doing when I heard them.
Its surprising, given how sprawling a non-european cyclists’ travel is, that very few seem to absorb any music from where they base themselves throughout the season. I am very guilty of that. You obviously do, even if it’s not something you’re setting out to do. What is it about where you are in France or the sport or travel that has made you so open to culture and maybe inadvertently different music, whether it’s good or bad?
TIFFANY: For me I think it’s just that I have a love of travel and really immersing myself in the cultures of the places I go. I’m past the point of travel where I want to see the ‘famous sites’. I want the local experience when I travel, and through that you discover the hidden gems of the place. Whether it’s food, places, people, language or music. When we’re racing it’s always a little more difficult to pick up the cultures and different music of the regions as often we go from airport to hotel to race to hotel and back to the airport, you don’t get that chance to experience the place that you’re in so much. But whenever I have the opportunity, whether it’s when I’m in the road or my own non-cycling travel then that’s where I’ve experienced the place and the culture and their music. With France, where I’m living I think it’s a case that when I’ve finished my training I don’t always want to be stuck inside in my apartment. I want to be outside where the atmosphere is.
What was the last race you did? What music did were listening to to get you through the transfers and travel?
TIFFANY: The last race I did was the Lotto Belgium Tour. I have my ‘go to’ Spotify playlists. Depending on my mood, whether it was to try and pump me up, or if I wanted something a little more soothing post race the ‘chill’ myself out a little bit. I definitely find that I was often turning to house music during this race on the transfers. If you find my Spotify, my go to playlists were summer house, vacation Haus, dance POP and Tropical House pre race. Post race i would enjoy indie chillout (I do like a bit of Indie music), Lounge - soft house, and Chill session.
Good list of ‘playlists’ there. Are you making those playlists before you race or are they built up over many races, or even just playlists you subscribe to? You’ve got a good range of playlists there.
TIFFANY: I can’t hold claim to creating any of those playlists, they’re all ones I’ve subscribed to. I think about my mood, or the atmosphere I need to create and then I use Spotify to find the feeling I want with my playlists. And then anytime I like one of the playlists I discover then I save it and remember it when I’m searching for a particular playlist or mood I want to create for myself when listening.
What music do you remember growing up around? Who was the first person to get you into music?
TIFFANY: I was very much into the ‘Teeny Bopper’ type music. Britney Spears, Aqua, Mambo No. 5, Spice Girls. You know all of our old favourites. Although I did get into a bit of the soft ‘Punk Rock’ courtesy of my brother. Two bands a remember listening to was NOFX, Frenzal Rhomb, Garbage and Fat Boy Slim (although he wasn’t so much punk I don’t think). The first person who got me into music was probably my brother. He was always more into music than me, but he always had music blaring from his room at home.
What is the first song you remember liking?
TIFFANY: Probably something super lame like 'Hit me Baby one more time’ from Britney. I remember we always used to dress up like her and it was one of the big popular songs when I was in the later years of Primary School.
Hahahaha, how many in your Britany posse?
TIFFANY: haha, truth be told I can’t remember exactly. But there was a good 10 girls at least. The group I hung out with at school, we were all fans.
Did you play a music instrument as a kid?
TIFFANY: I started off playing the piano and later changed to the flute. If you asked me to play them now though, I think I’d be pretty rubbish.
Was it a school band thing? Did you learn how to play the song ‘Tequila’?
TIFFANY: No, I was never in a school band as such. My school did have a big music emphasis to it, so music classes were always supported/encouraged. When I played piano I was super young. In primary school the early years and I just had one on one lessons with that. When I changed to the flute, it was also in primary school and I was part of the School Ensemble with that. I was also part of the Choir in Primary school too, I’m not sure how as I’m a terrible singer. I can’t remember if I learn’t how to play the song ‘Tequila’, I feel like I did in Ensemble perhaps.
If you could go back and learn a musical instrument, which would it be and why?
TIFFANY: The electric guitar. There’s something about the electric guitar that is so rock and roll. As a solo artist or part of a band you can be as equally creative with the amazing tunes that you can play, and if you have a voice that goes along with it, that’s a beautiful combination.
This is what I find intriguing about music, everyone, well at least most people can see themselves playing music and want to play but don’t. What sort of music would you play?
TIFFANY: Yeah I know. I think it’s because majority of the world loves music in one level or another and it’s the skill that is one people would love to have but it’s a skill that takes a lot of time to acquire And I think in the world we live in today, people don’t have the time or patience to learn that skill, plus I think you need an element of natural talent too which also many people don’t have but wish they could. I think I would want to play a mix of Jazz as jazz is quite cool in the right surroundings. And then also a bit of pop and indie, but pop and indie that has quality and skillful Guitar solos involved.
How have your musical tastes changed and developed over the years? Were you ever part of any music scene’s?
TIFFANY: They’ve changed so much over the years. When I was younger I really had no idea what I liked, I kind of just moved with the trends to try and fit in with the ‘popular’ kids at school. Whereas now I use music so much more as a part of my life and my mood, whether it’s training, focusing, relaxing, hanging out with friends, I know what I like and I don’t like dependent on the situation. My taste has changed a lot too, I used to only really listen to mainstream music and my knowledge of music was pretty minimal. Whereas now I do prefer a bit more alternative and independent artists who you have to search a bit more to find what they’re doing. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some mainstream artists I happily listen to too. I also used to hate house and dance music and not mind punk music, whereas I have to say that those two genres have changed completely. I’m still not a massive music buff in terms of knowing songs and their artists, but I do appreciate music a lot more than I used to. I would say that’s the biggest different. No, I can’t say that I was ever really part of any music scene’s.
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
TIFFANY: I think it was ‘A man's not a camel’ by Frenzal Rhomb. Or one of those ‘So Fresh’ - The Hits of Summer Albums, but I couldn’t tell you which year it was.
Frenzal Rhomb, the world needs to know more about this band. I remember fearing them as a kid.
TIFFANY: hahaha we’re they very big outside of Australia, or were we the only ones who really got to experience them?? But yes, the world does indeed.
What was the first gig / concert you remember going to?
TIFFANY: I remember going to a concert when I was living in Boulder. I was taken to ‘Red Rocks’ and we saw Bjork play, I think it was. She was the warm up and then David Byrne was the main act. The artist at the time I didn’t really have any idea about, I was actually taken there on a date. But the venue was an amazing experience.
Bjork would have been amazing at Red Rocks. Who took you on the date?
Yeah it was pretty amazing. At the time I knew nothing about Bjork or David Byrne but I appreciated the surroundings. Funny story the date actually, truth be told I don’t remember his name. But, basically I was coming back to Denver from a race and I was trying to convince my friend to pick me up from the airport. He wasn’t able to and I remember him saying, never know maybe you’ll meet someone on the bus. And then I did, he was a graphic artist living in Boulder. He was super nice, although ended up being a little too ‘on another planet’ than me. Plus I think I met him in the last two weeks of being there before heading over to Europe for the rest of the year. But out of all of it, it was worth the Red Rocks Experience.
What's the best gig / concert you've been to?
TIFFANY: Kylie Minogue was pretty awesome to see live. i actually got to see her play for the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. And then not so much for the concert atmosphere itself, but the artist for still putting on an amazing show considering the crowd was very hard to work with, as it was in Monaco and they’re notorious for being a tough crowd. John Newman, he is an amazing artist and performer too and as a bonus I got to meet him with my friends after the show backstage.
Who's a teammate with the worst musical taste you’ve had to endure?
TIFFANY: That’s a tough one. I don’t have someone who really stands out so much, although if staff come into the category. One of my Canyon//SRAM soigneurs - Lars, he sometimes has questionable taste and he always has music on when we’re on the massage table. On the occasion I like his place lists, but often it flips to terrible German punk rock music and other German songs that he seems to enjoy, but me not so much.
Do you just deal with that or ask him to change? I know massage is a pretty rare opportunity for down time during a race and bad music during that period can ruin it.
TIFFANY: Oh I always give him a hard time about his music, anytime a bad song comes on. So either he will change it or just leave me in charge and then we change to my playlists. ha. But yeah I’m not willing to sit through bad music during my massage, that’s for sure.
How about the teammate with the best music taste?
TIFFANY: Loren Rowney, an old team mate of mine always had pretty good music taste and also Alexis Ryan who I often room with, I often like what she’s playing.
Do you still have or remember any old playlists you made when you were younger? For what or who did you make them for?
TIFFANY: I certainly don’t still have any old playlists but I vaguely remember making some. They were very much for myself, back in the day when we would have Discmans. I remember downloading songs from Napster and the likes and often i would make one or two tapes/CD’s with the top songs on the radio at that time and then I would never update them. As I mentioned earlier, when i was younger I wasn’t the biggest music buff.
What song would you listen to put you in the right place for a race?
TIFFANY: I don’t have a stand out song that I would listen to, to put myself in the right place for a race but moreso a particular genre or style of song. It would always have to be something upbeat with a good tempo that wants to make you get up and dance. That gets me going, energised and wanted to get out on my bike and race hard.
Does anyone take control of the music on the bus and what do they play?
TIFFANY: I would say often it would be Barbara Guarischi in charge of the music. It would most of the time be very upbeat dance type music or something a bit of something like Justin Bieber or perhaps some Italian love song to keep the Italian’s happy, but we get rid of those type tunes pretty quickly ;). Or there were always a couple of songs within our team that would get the girls excited, especially Mieke. We would often find her singing. The name of the songs I couldn’t tell you, but when we were motivated, or perhaps needing motivation then Baby would always find these particular songs to get the girls going.
Have you ever had a ‘victory’ song or a track you associate with any performance, good or bad?
TIFFANY: One song that I always find as a great song to reflect on amazing performances. Not necessarily my own, but I remember it getting played one year at the Cycling Australia awards dinners and it was ‘Hall of Fame’ by The Script. I would say that this one has always stuck with me as a ‘memories’ type song for good performances.
Music is good for that.
TIFFANY: It is indeed.
Have you ever worn your ipod during a race?
Yes. I went through a phase where I had convinced myself that riding to music with an upbeat tempo in a time trial will help you with your performance. So there was a period when I would be listening to my iPod when I was racing TT’s. I’ve never worn an iPod in a bunch race before.
What did you play? A bunch race is definitely a bold move. Just thinking about wearing headphones in a bunch race and a story my brother told me about him doing that and an old pro getting pissed about it. Is there a distinct hierarchy in womens professional cycling? Would someone get pissed if you had head phones in when you were in grupetto?
I can’t remember 100%. I think I played dance music, similar playlist to that of my TT mix. Basically songs with a fast pace beat as it made me think I’d pedal to the rhythm of it. Well at least that was the theory we went along with. Yeah in a bunch race it certainly is a much boulder move, especially if you’re supposed to be listening to team radio directions. Funny story about your bro. I feel like at the moment there isn’t such a distinct hierarchy. About the only person that people really listen to in Grupetto who rides grupetto is Giorgia Bronzini. She’s boss and people listen to her. But before her then it was Ina Yoko Tutenberg, everyone listened to her. I don’t think someone would get pissed though if you had head phones in, in grupetto. You get more pissed when people feel like they need to attack from grupetto, Italian cup style racing. This happens often in women’s cycling.
What song do you play to get things started when you’re throwing a party?
TIFFANY: Disclosure - You and Me (flume remix)
Does musical taste influence how well you’re going to get along with someone? If so what’s a song that if someone played would let you know you’d probably get along?
TIFFANY: Yes I think so, as when you’re on the same wavelength when it comes to music that’s pretty special as it’s so hard to get a room full of people who all agree on the same music. If someone played something like Symphony by Clean Bandit ft. Zara Larsson then I think we would be friends. :)
A song that would instantly turn you off someone?
TIFFANY: Tough one, any heavy and hardcore punk music that was played would turn me off, as I find that often people who like these type songs are the angry type of people, so I don’t think we would get on.
Does Frenzel Rhomb fall into that category now? They just came out with a new album actually.
TIFFANY: Ha. I think so. At least the Frenzel that I remember. I remember them being on the ‘heavier’ punk side so I would have to say they’re not my style these days. Although I’m unaware of what their music style is like now, news to me the new album.
It's pretty much the same. Have you ever played a song to impress a person or group? If so, what was it?
TIFFANY: I don’t think that I have. At least not one that stands out.
A song you’re embarrassed to admit you like, but listen to often?
TIFFANY: Justin Bieber, What do you mean. Secretly everyone loves a bit of Biebs.
Which song would you choose to soundtrack the highlights reel of your career?
TIFFANY: This is a super hard one, The Script - Superheros
You can have multiple tracks if you like.
Ok then, with that I’d also have is Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon and Don’t Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia. It’d be a long highlights reel obviously. ;)
Haha, I hope so. What’s the best way to listen to music?
TIFFANY: Live at a concert. If you can’t do that then with some really good speakers.
If you were colonising Mars and could only take one album, what would it be?
TIFFANY: Tough one!! Something U2 or ColdPlay I think.
Which one? The rocket is leaving right now and you have to decide…
TIFFANY: U2, they’ve always been my ‘go to’ favourite.
Thanks Tiff, appreciate you taking the time. Take it easy.