While some teenagers might feel lucky to make it out to concerts every weekend, for Tippy Balady it’s slowly becoming her career. The student at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is still sending out college applications but has already made her mark on the local scene. Attempting to juggle grades became more of a struggle after Balady participated in the 16th season of American Idol. She wasn’t featured on the show but made it to the top 75 before heading back home to Dallas, more determined than ever.
Just last September she released a music video for her original song “Begin Again,” produced by Jason Burt. The song seemingly blew up overnight, right before her 18th birthday. Shot with a charming aesthetic by Balady’s friend and fellow local high school student, Will Roberts, the video racked up more than 100,000 views in short order. The sudden fame came as a bit of a surprise at first, she says. Ironic given that the sound is somewhat of an anthem to her.
“I wanted it to be a self-reminder,” Balady says. “I have anxiety, and I constantly just think about all the negative things or all the worst possible outcomes of things. You got to just take a step back and not analyze the situation and just let everything happen. And ‘Begin Again’ was just kind of me getting that off my chest.”
Her most recent release, “Merry Go Round,” is a song in a similar vein, tackling the topic of anxiety and mental health. But unlike the bubbly bedroom pop of her last hit music video, Balady’s latest is a far more brooding take on the subject. Inspired by a suggestion from one of her teachers, she says she created a collaborative project between her and dancer Ava Nobel, a Booker T. Washington graduate.
“I sat with it for a little bit because I didn’t know what to write about, and then one day I sat at the piano and I had this melody in my head,” Balady says. “Words just flew like out of my mouth and out of my pen and on my paper, and I had one line.”
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The line, which the song begins with, "My thoughts and I don’t get along," perfectly set the tone for the video that was filmed with the help of Los Angeles-based HiHat Productions. The company has produced music videos for the likes of Rihanna, Timbaland and Justin Bieber, and that extra polish can be clearly seen. Nobel’s spasmodic performance as the victim of her own inner turmoil is expertly expressed in her movements. And Balady’s chaotically intricate choreography pulls no punches.
“It was so easy for me to write, yet it was something I struggle with talking about so much,” she says. “That’s something that I really love about songwriting. I don’t have the ability to talk about some of my deepest struggles with people. I don’t like being vulnerable in front of people. But with songwriting, it allows me to be vulnerable with people in a way that makes me feel comfortable, and I think that songs make other people comfortable.”
The music video for "Merry Go Round" will have an official release event 8 p.m. Friday at 1115 Dragon St., Dallas. Check here to RSVP, and you can catch Tippy Balady perform live Jan. 8 at The Rustic.