Tigirlily Gold
Jared Olson

Tigirlily Gold Paid Their Dues Playing Cover Songs in Nashville Bars. With 'Shoot Tequila,' They Created Their Own Honky-Tonk Anthem


Like countless country legends before them, sister duo Tigirlily Gold (Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh) got a firsthand education in stage presence by playing an endless stream of four-hour gigs on Nashville's Lower Broadway. The historic Music City strip has long been a destination for young dreamers to hone their craft. It encompasses several notable Nashville venues, from the honky-tonk heaven that is Robert's Western World to celebrity-owned tourist destinations such as Blake Shelton's Ole Red, Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row and Luke Bryan's Luke's 32 Bridge.

"Broadway is the best bootcamp for an artist," Kendra Slaubaugh says. "There's no other place where you can go play three to four days a week, four-hour cover gigs and really work out the stuff you need to work out before you really get to these bigger stages."

The North Dakota-raised duo says their years spent performing downtown helped them develop their onstage banter and learn just the right song to play at the right moment, from the tried-and-true crowd-pleasers (Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and Garth Brooks' "Friends and Low Places") to the unexpected (Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love"). But it also inspired their own honky-tonk anthem: "Shoot Tequila," a rowdy barn-burner that brings the duo's self-described "girl group energy" to the forefront and even delightfully evokes Shakira's 2005 pop smash "Hips Don't Lie."

The song, which the duo wrote with with David Mescon and Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra), is Tigirlily Gold's first country radio single.
Wide Open Country recently caught up with Tigirlily Gold to talk about Broadway lessons, Shakira name-drops, their forthcoming EP Blonde and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Wide Open Country: "Shoot Tequila" is such a fun song. Can you tell me about writing it?
Krista: Kendra actually had the title "Shoot Tequila," but this whole song is inspired by our days playing downtown Nashville. We played Broadway for about three years -- those four-hour cover gigs -- and we used to play songs like "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and "Friends and Low Places" and songs that just get requested over and over again and they never go out of style. So we wanted to write something that had that honky-tonk energy. ... We sat down and we were like, "[We] just want to write something fun, like, I can't do the serious song today." [Laughs] So we had the title "Shoot Tequila," and we were off to the races. It took us two sessions to finish it, but we wanted it to be lighthearted. ... I hope people laugh when they listen to this song a little. Because it's supposed to be a little bit funny, you know?

WOC: I love the Shakira reference.


Kendra: That was Krista. She was like, "What if we put like 'shake, shake Shakira hips'? Can we say that?" I was like, "Yes, we can say that."

Krista: I had kind of mumbled it as far as like, this'll never get put in the song. I'm kind of a stream-of-consciousness writer. I say a lot of things that are not good. So every once in a while, I say something, and they're like, "Oh no, that's going in the song." I'm like, "That of all the things I said? OK, sure." [Laughs]

Krista: We had so much fun writing it, and I think we knew -- we don't always know right off the bat what songs we're going to record, but [with] that one we knew. Especially when we started it playing it out live and then it was the same reaction we had had about it from our fans and live audiences that didn't even know who we were, but they really liked the "Tequila song." We were like, yep, it's working.

WOC: The song has been popular on social media. How do apps like TikTok help when it comes to connecting with fans?

Kendra: I definitely think social media is all about how you use it. For us, we don't post stuff that we don't feel good about, and we try to have fun while we're making content, because otherwise it really does feel like this job that's kind of draining sometimes. But we love social media and the fact that "Shoot Tequila" has over 43 million views on social media -- we couldn't play enough shows in the world to reach 43 million people. ... We're going out and doing all these live shows, but the fact that our song can also reach people in the UK, people in Australia, Norway -- I think we're still top 50 in Norway right now [with] "Shoot Tequila." So it's just things like that we wouldn't have the ability to do without social media.

WOC: You spent a lot of time performing on Nashville's Lower Broadway -- how has that helped you develop as a duo?

Krista: Playing Broadway has helped us so much. We were performing four to five years around like North Dakota and Midwest states before moving down to Nashville. But the Broadway thing is just a little different because we were doing, at max, 90-minute sets. Obviously, the sets downtown are four hours. We had to learn a lot of new songs -- the '80s and the '90s country and all those classic songs that get requested down there. These people are coming to Nashville. They wanna have a good time. Some of them like country music and some of them don't like country music, but they don't know who you are. They're walking into a bar. There's 40 bars downtown that they could go in and listen to live music. So you really have to be on, and you have to be entertaining and you have to find the thing that makes you different from other people

So we really learned how to entertain down there. ... We now say that if we can do Broadway and play four-hour sets [and] make people care about us who don't know us at all, everything else is gonna be a little bit easier than that. We kind of always compare it to that.


Kendra: Broadway is the best bootcamp for an artist. I know everyone has their own opinion about it, but there's no other place where you can go play three to four days a week, four-hour cover gigs and really work out the stuff you need to work out before you really get to these bigger stages. ... It's influenced our writing, just everything we do, the way we feel comfortable on stage and how we interact with the audience.

WOC: Your bio says that you're bringing girl group energy back to country music, which I love. I grew up, as I'm sure you did, on groups like The Chicks. What does "girl group energy" mean to you? How have you been inspired by those groups throughout your lives?

Kendra: I just think of any girl group, like The Chicks or Destiny's Child or Wilson Phillips or anyone like that, and [I'm] like, "They are so cool. I wanna be like them someday." The empowerment, the confidence, the energy. We definitely want to keep most things energetic, upbeat, fun, confident. Obviously, there's a moment in every show, in every set, for the more vulnerable moment, but overall we're like, let's go have some fun and inspire other women out there. Obviously, we love our men, too -- but, I mean, our name is Ti-girl-ily. We're for the girls. [Laughs]

WOC: What can people expect from your upcoming EP Blonde?

Kendra: Blonde is kind of encompassing that girl group energy. It's about being bold, confident, being yourself, but also being able to poke fun at yourself and not take life too seriously. There's basically a song for everyone on the record. We're going to be releasing songs throughout the entire year, so it's going to be a really fun, full year. ... We say blonde's a state of mind. You don't have to be blonde.

Krista: It's a Dolly Parton state of mind.



READ MORE: Rooted in Country: Tigirlily Gold on The Wreckers' 'Leave the Pieces'