Tiffany Darwish knows a thing or two about starting over.
The California-born, New Orleans-based singer-songwriter–who rose to fame as a teenage pop sensation in the ‘80s and topped the charts with her 1987 debut album, Tiffany–has gone through a handful personal and professional rebrands over the last few decades.
“I’m not the same girl I was at 14,” she told Billboard in 2002, sensing that she’d been pigeonholed by the entertainment press of yore. “Why do I have to feel bad about being a pop artist, a mall queen? Everybody was digging it for a second. Why should I hang my head now? That was my start. That doesn’t mean it’s my finish. Now, I’m just proceeding, doing my thing.”
At the time, Tiffany had just posed for Playboy, calling her appearance in the magazine “the first step in presenting myself to the world as I am.” Now, almost twenty years later, Tiffany is gearing up to release a different type of stripped-down project. Her forthcoming Pieces of Me Unplugged arrives next month, featuring three acoustic versions of tracks that appeared on her last album, 2018’s Pieces of Me, plus a demo of a song that will appear on her next album.
Today Tiffany premieres her unplugged version of “Starting Over” via American Songwriter. It’s a gut-wrenching, guitar-driven rock number that sees Tiffany searching for the most authentic version of herself. Her voice is rich and husky as it soars in the chorus: “The tears fade from my eyes / But I still see your smile / Left standin’ in the shame / Starting over every day.”
“This is one of my favorite songs on the album,” Tiffany tells American Songwriter of the track. “Starting over is the sentiment of my life. I am starting over in a lot of things every day and I try to be the best I can be.”
For Tiffany, this urge to start over applies just as much to her personal life as it does her musical career.
“A lot of times I’ve felt awkward, not knowing my place,” she says. “I am allowing myself to start over in my music, in my relationships, and in my experiences. By starting over you can find your way. Fact is, sometimes you have to lose your way to make changes in your life.”
Tiffany wrote and recorded the track at Rockfield Studios in Wales while cooking for her bandmates. “The process was unique,” she says. “The band was in one room recording and at the same time I worked in the kitchen cooking up a sauce or a roast and putting together the lyrics. Then we worked with the band’s producer Mark Alberici, who worked with me on the structure and doing the demo. It was like a game with the band to have this song put together before we sat down and ate what I was cooking. We were cranking out our best stuff and the process [was] really, really enjoyable.”
Though Tiffany got her start as a pop star, she continues to veer into rock, citing the Foo Fighters, Liam Gallagher, Rival Sons, and Sigrid as recent influences. “They all inspire me for many different reasons,” she says. But Tiffany is less concerned with fitting into a particular genre than honoring her own feelings and experiences as a songwriter.
“The EP is about heartbreak, self discovery, and finding new love,” she says of Pieces of Me Unplugged. “It’s also about feeling scared, vulnerable and uncertain. Most of my fans knew I was going through a separation and a divorce [when I wrote this material], which brings up a lot of feelings and emotions. It’s [about] becoming completely honest and raw with my feelings. Which is scary and liberating at the same time.”
Tiffany sees Pieces of Me Unplugged as a chance to reintroduce herself following that separation and divorce, and following a short stint as a contestant on the Australian reality TV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2018.
“I think this [EP] is a real good look into Tiffany,” she says. “It allows you to learn about Tiffany the person and the musician, it shows my dedication, with my wild sense of humor. It’s a reflection of my personal tragedies and sadness. Yet it’s also about new adventures and new love and growth. It’s a timeline of my life. I dug deep and found the willingness and strength to be exposed.”
Tiffany also has a new album in the works, which she says will showcase her most vulnerable songwriting to date. “There is a lot more of me in this writing,” she explains, teasing the record. “You will see so much more about my life. I’ve opened myself up completely.”
Pieces of Me Unplugged is out May 22.