Premiere: Tiara & Andrew Unveil Transcendental Splendor On “How Real Are We?”

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The concept that our surroundings are composed of intricately connected cosmic fragments carries a profound fascination, resonating across all levels of art and media. Just last year, the Disney animated film Wish distilled this idea into an easily accessible melody with “I’m A Star,” a whimsical response to the film’s “I Want” composition, “This Wish.” This catchy tune simplified the imposing notion into an inspirational mantra (“If you really want to know just who you are,\ You’re a star (yes!)“). Taking a more sophisticated approach, Vienna Teng’s expansive composition “Level Up” from 2013 presented this concept in a broader context with a spiritual undertone, suggesting a more arcane purpose at play (“Lord, we are all cinders,\ From a fire burning long ago“). Indeed, we are not only composed of stardust but also surrounded by it in every aspect of our lives. This cosmic residue is the result of eons of celestial downfall and rebirth, creating a sense of eternity in its vast scope.

Within such a profound interconnected web, questions arise that seem to scratch at the very fabric of reality. What significance does a lifetime of our stardust hold in that ethereal chronicle? What propels the dance of these wandering elements? Does existence itself hold true? It is within this contemplative space that we find alternative folk-pop duo Tiara & Andrew on their latest album, How Real Are We?, a musical odyssey not only celebrating the celestial beauty that binds us but also questioning its purpose, structure, and fundamental essence. Set for release on Friday, March 15th through Grimalkin Records, this seven-track pilgrimage into paradoxical spirituality invites listeners on a journey into the enigmatic realms of being, vividly painted by the duo’s radiant sound. Today, The Auricular is proud to premiere this marvelous record with an exclusive stream below as well as some further observation into its stark questions and infectious melodies.


In a way, How Real Are We? distills the vast dialogue of eons into a personal journey marked by both turmoil and triumph–a boundless wave that accompanies individuals throughout their lives, for better or worse. Originating from discussions exploring the intriguing possibility of humanity being a glitch in an ethereal simulation, the album grapples with this concept while simultaneously acknowledging the beauty and resilience that arise from this unconventional anomaly.

The album’s title track exposes this quandary over a lush and sparkling soundscape, contemplating our identity on a grand scale while simultaneously getting lost within a stratified pixel of captivating beauty within the interstellar mosaic (“What is the point of worrying\ It’s all a game\ It’s as real as you and me\ But how real are we\ Can you show me your ways\ I’m obsessed with your energy\ Let it rain down on me\ Rain down on me“). Yet, Tiara & Andrew remain unlost within this axiom, examining their own personal charms (“We are all special\ Yes every one of us\ I’m starting to learn\ That in the blink of an eye” from “If The Moon Knew My Name”) and harms (“Feeding into all of your stereotypes\ I wish that I was thinner\ Oh I wish that I was prettier\ Wish my skintone wasn’t pictured as the monsters on your media” from “Thinner”) despite the pressing existentialism.

It all culminates in “Stardust,” where the perspective shifts from timid questioning to staunch confidence, asserting that regardless of the nature of our existence, it is up to us to forge ahead with passion and substance (“We are Stardust\ We are blazin’\ If you have a choice\ Choose to be amazing“). Importantly, this assurance doesn’t diminish the preceding struggle or the still-unanswered inquiry. Instead, it makes the case for living for life, regardless of how life lives. Embrace the downs so that the ups are that more joyous. Delve into the intricacies of the universe, allowing its imperfections and flaws to be recognized and appreciated with keen empathy. Above all, live as you desire, for that is the sole path to genuinely render the eons of commotion worthwhile.

The sound of How Real Are We? encapsulates this equilibrium between personal significance and cosmic magnitude, unfolding like a refreshing gust of wind that evolves into its own dynamic force by the end. “Drifter” initiates the album with a nebulous allure, awakening the musical tempest from slumber as it embarks on its journey toward a climactic crescendo. “Thinner” and “How Real Are We?” intensify the breeze, escalating from a light draft to a discernible current waiting to command its surroundings. “Willow” diverges from this surge with a sweet ode, endlessly charming in its captivating grace, while “If The Moon Is My Name” feels like the calm before the storm, combining a poignant plea with an innocent guitar melody. “3am” brings in the most palpable backdrop of the whole record up to this point, a shift in the album’s textural timbre that carries over into “Stardust,” a track propelling Tiara & Andrew from progressive folk into the realm of furtive neo-soul with compelling urgency. By the end, the amplitude from “Drifter” to “Stardust” feels monumental, a tonal shift that truly encapsulates the metaphysical plight fueling the album’s core.

How Real Are We? is the first album from Tiara & Andrew since 2021’s Roller Skates, a marvelous eight-track record full of folk-pop wonder that was nominated for the inaugural Newlin Music Prize in 2022. Following that success, the pair released some singles together as well as two solo EPs in 2023: the piercing prog-pop TRIBE by Tiara Mustafa and the vivid electro-soul 80s Dream Land by Andrew Blackwell Jr. The journey to How Real Are We? was prolonged by a challenging period, including the loss of an entire album’s worth of recordings due to a software failure at a local studio. This setback was a heartbreaking blow for the musical duo, who had already navigated their fair share of highs and lows while striving to sustain themselves as full-time musicians. The resilience displayed in overcoming such obstacles adds a profound layer to the detail of this record, making it not just an album but a testament to the enduring spirit of their music. Coming full circle, the essence of How Real Are We? mirrors that of humanity–something that, whether by chance or design, endures with poignant beauty. This exceptional quality is sure to continue illuminating Tiara & Andrew’s future sounds, even if its brilliance on this record is particularly dazzling.

How Real Are We? is out everywhere on Friday, March 15th through Grimalkin Records. You can pre-save it digitally now by clicking here, and you can also pre-order a CD or cassette tape through their Bandcamp page (click here). Proceeds from cassette tapes will go to Pretty Purposed, a Petersburg-based non-profit organization that inspires communities to empower girls and young women with programs centering on personal, physical, social, and professional development.

You can catch Tiara & Andrew in concert next on Friday, March 15th at Basic City Beer Co alongside Spartan Jet-Plex and J (fka The Moment). For more information on that show, click here. You can also catch Tiara & Andrew on Wednesday, March 20th as part of The Auricular‘s monthly in-store showcase at Plan 9 Music in Carytown. For more information on that show, click here. Keep up to date on future performances and releases from Tiara & Andrew by following them on social media.


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