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Tishmal on “You Got So High,” Hummingbird Creativity, and Fresh Starts

Tishmal photo

Tishmal is the stage name of Rachel Brockbank, a San Diego native who now lives in Los Angeles. Tishmal means “hummingbird” in Luiseño, the language of her Native American heritage. A hummingbird works nonstop, so it’s not surprising that Tishmal has ten new singles planned for this year.

Rachel is also a very successful model, whose work has appeared in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger and L’Oreal. She was doing both music and modeling in New York City when the worst of Covid hit. “It definitely took an emotional toll, which was a factor in our decision to move back to California,” she says. “I was so thrilled to be back in Southern California, only two hours from my hometown and Native land.” Since returning, Tishmal has been working with producers Daniel Pashman and Christian Medice (Pink, Moon Taxi).

Tishmal’s new single “You Got So High” is (on one level) a lament for a close friend who got dragged down by drug problems, yet there’s also an element of wonder in the song. As she puts it, “The real theme is the grief of losing a friend or secret love.”

I bet you didn’t know

I was the girl who loved you

Why’d you have to tell me

All your favorite songs?

Tishmal’s latest music has me wondering: how do you say “a star is born” in Luiseño?

Your new song “You Got So High” is about a friend who crashed and burned on drugs. What’s the story behind that song?

It’s funny how this song really came out of the blue. I was on a flight back from a show, doing a written meditation, when I had a flashback to a secret crush I had in high school. When I got home at the piano, it ended up becoming “You Got So High.” While it talks about drugs, I think the bigger theme of the song is seeing someone you love change, and the grief of losing a friend. There must have been part of my subconscious that needed closure all these years later in song form.

Your song “On My Way Up” is one of the best songs of the 2020s so far. It’s about how you overcame anxiety and depression during the worst of Covid. Did you write that song to celebrate returning to California?

Thank you so much. I went into the studio that day, meeting producer and co-writer Daniel Pashman for the first time. We hit it off and had so much fun with the music that day. It definitely felt like we captured that energy in the song. And yes, I’d say it was a celebration of coming home to my roots and all the change I had been through. 

You once did a nice cover of Chris Isaak’s song “Wicked Game.” Are the spacious guitar chords at the end of “On My Way Up” sort of a tribute to that song’s guitar feel?

I hadn’t thought of those parallels! It wasn’t intentional, no. I do try and listen to the oldies as much as I can for my musical influences.

Your 2021 collaboration with Kaskade – “New James Dean” – has had more than two million streams on Spotify alone. Based on audience reaction, do you consider that to be your “signature song” so far?

I always feel like my signature song is the one I’m currently working on! I get so obsessed with the newest thing I’ve made. But I do really love “New James Dean” and it is so awesome to see people love that one. Kaskade really brought so much power to the track. Such a fun collaboration. 

What cities will you be playing this summer to promote the new EP?

Around Los Angeles for the summer, and more shows to be announced this fall!

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