A piano in the potting shed
Composer, lyricist, pianist, singer and entertainer Ty Jeffries was educated at The Purcell School of Music and is an extremely versatile artist who is know not only for creating haunting and evocative piano pieces but more widely in the world of musical comedy cabaret on both sides of The Pond.
Claire Martin OBE talks to Ty Jeffries
Ty was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire UK and spent some of his formative years in L.A. as a child when his father the late actor director and screenwriter Lionel Jeffries was making movies such as ‘Camelot’ and ‘Notorious Landlady’ out there.
Ty instinctively started playing the piano and writing songs from the age of 5 on an old piano family friends had left for safe keeping in the family garden potting shed. Ty went on to be taught his first jazz chords by family friend Sir John Mills, and his obvious innate musical talent was encouraged by amongst other screen composer Elmer Bernstein, Fred Astaire, Shirley MacLaine and Diana Dors for whom he would perform at family parties. Ty also danced down Sunset Boulevard one night with Astaire, was encouraged as a very young artist by Salvador Dali, sung to by Maurice Chevalier whilst sitting on his knee by the pool at the Chateaux Marmont Hotel in Hollywood, and author Roald Dahl would tell him bedtime stories. These ‘strange but true’ early experiences possibly contribute to some of the darker and more surreal, themes and undercurrents that weave through Ty’s music, original songs and stories.
At the age of just 14 Ty was offered his first publishing deal by songwriter/publishing due Bill Martin and Phil Coulter (of ‘Puppet on a String’ /’Congratulations’ fame) and was later signed as songwriter to Elton John’s publishing company Rocket Music and had some chart success and went on to work with artists as diverse as Neneh Cherry, Billy MacKenzie and The Associates and Chaka Khan.
In the late 80s Ty had a hugely successful career as a top model (the first with a shaved head) working with Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme Des Garcons and Versace and gracing the covers and pages of Conde Naste Publications’ British, American, French and Italian Vogue as well as Per Lui and and Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine (Warhol along with artist Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat became personal friends when Ty was living and working in New York at that time).
When he was 21 Ty began his professional career as a musician playing the piano and singing nightly at Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair, The Roof Gardens in Kensington and The Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly. Having always been influenced by the greats, he seamlessly added his own original musical numbers into the repertoire of Gershwin, Porter and Berlin jazz standards.. In 1984 Ty was signed as a composer and lyricist to Elton John's Rocket Music....but it was not until many years later that Ty gave birth to his towering blonde ex-vegas showgirl alter- ego Miss Hope Springs for whom he writes, directs and MDs and has appeared both in London’s West End to huge acclaim but also both sides of the USA including The Lincoln Centre in NYC.
Ty’s compositions span the world of classical music, Vaudeville and Music Hall to Golden Age Hollywood and evoke anything from the cabaret’s of 1920s Berlin and Paris to his evocative solo piano music redolent of film soundtracks, and more experimental dystopian soundscapes. He was mentored for a number of years by Vangelis who encouraged Ty’s composition. In fact Ty was in the studio with Vangelis during the creation of his soundtracks for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire. Ty’s beautiful melodies and witty intelligent lyrics have been discovered more recently by the world of classical music and he recently performed a solo concert at the world famous classical venue Wigmore Hall in London. Ty is the first ‘non-classical’ artist to have done that. Ty appears, in one form or another, at Live at Zedel in London's West End and further afield on a regular basis.