11:40 | 19th February 2019

Top Feature: Darren Waite

Mon 28 Mar, 2011.

I caught up with Ty Jeffries (the man behind Miss Hope Springs) backstage after seeing his performance of "Je M'Appelle Hope" at the Drill Hall in London to find out a little more about Miss Hope. At 6ft2, he is a welcoming gentle giant who, as he puts it, “you can just press start and I’ll just keep talking”.

Ty Jeffries - the Miss Hope Springs Interview

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I caught up with Ty backstage after seeing the performance that is "Miss Hope Springs" at the Drill Hall London to find out a little more about Miss Hope. At 6ft2, he is a welcoming gentle giant who, as he puts it, “you can just press start and I’ll just keep talking”. Full of ideas for the future and with an incredible talent for song-writing, he took the time out to answer a few questions.

RI: What inspired you to create Miss Hope Springs?

TJ: I love those ladies Judy, Barbra, Liza, Peggy Lee, Lotte Lenya and Blossom Dearie. There are a thousand women who play the piano and sing in bars all over the world who had aspired to greater things in their lives and they find themselves at a certain age, in a certain bar playing a certain piano to fleeting audiences. I think that’s what attracts us to the true divas – it’s perhaps that they are out there on the circuit and they are very successful but they have all got sad lives, no matter how fabulous they are.

Like Peggy Lee and Liza Minnelli. They’ve not had a happy love life or family life. Judy Garland too. Barbra Streisand has managed to survive – having turned her back on the tragic diva thing.

RI: So this is your homage to all those ladies gracing the silver screen or stage and all those other lounge singers?

TJ: Yes. I think she’s the lounge singer that aspired to be the lady on the screen in her younger years when she was a beautiful starlet wanting to be a singer/dancer but found the years have passed her by. But she still hopes...

RI: How much of the songs are Ty’s experiences?

TJ: It’s all my experiences but I’m writing for her. She is my muse so I put myself in her shoes and then I draw on my life and things that have happened and stories I have heard, then make them happen to her.

RI: It’s wonderful to see the songs come to life. How do you write the songs? Do you write the lyrics and then the music?

TJ: It’s almost spooky because it comes at once in one go. I sit down and work out the beginning, middle and end. It just tumbles out. If I have to work too hard and slave over a song, I know it’s not right. If I’m trying too hard to squeeze the pieces of the puzzle together. Like the song “Seedy Little Nightclub in Pigalle”. That was a tough one to twist and turn, trying to rhyme with Pigalle.

RI: I loved “The Youth Is Wasted on The Young”, which reminds me of Jamie Cullum’s version of “Blame It On My Youth”.

TJ: (laughs) I suppose I am the Trans Jamie Cullum. I could fit 3 Jamie’s into me, which is not a euphemism. Hope’s mother always told her that she should never be ashamed of being 6ft2, even though she was eleven and she went on to be a showgirl in Vegas where it is perfectly acceptable to be a leggy blonde. She started playing the piano when she got too old for the nipple tassels and feathers.

RI: Have you actually performed in the US?

TJ: I have but not to the extent I would have liked to. This incarnation of Hope was released at Brighton Fringe last year and it was really a success. This is what started Julie Parker, who runs the Drill Hall, to ask me to perform here last November and then she asked me to come back and do the next instalment in Hope’s life.

RI: Is this a darker side to her life?

TJ: No, I think she is always dark. She has her cracked foundations. The difference with what I do is I don’t do covers, I don’t do standards, I don’t do other people songs. I’ve created a repertoire of songs for Hope so where she might sing a Bacharach song, I’ve written a song that fills that space in the style of Peggy Lee that exists in a parallel universe in some ways.

RI: What was the look you were going for with the black set, the black piano, the black costume?

TJ: Nightclub. A lounge act in an upmarket hotel/bar at about 3 in the morning with all the boozy clientele and she is telling her story to anyone who is sitting there with their drink. No-one would be safe – they’re listening and she’s playing to her cast, her extras, I suppose. If the world’s her stage then the audience is her extras and Hope wants top billing (laughs)...

RI: What made you switch from modelling to Miss Hope?

TJ: Well modelling was a long time ago and something I did in the 80s. It was just something you did, a rite of passage, if you were reasonably good looking in any way shape or form. I was very interesting as I was the first guy with a shaved head who was a top model. I modelled for Jean Paul Gautier and Comme de Garcons. That was great and I was told by Jeff Miller, who was a top New York journalist, that I was the reason why a shaved head became so accepted. I was doing it and people would shout at me in the street calling me Kojak, then Duncan Goodhew, then Right Said Fred but I started it. The stylist for Right Said Fred said he shaved their heads because of me.

RI: What’s next for you and Miss Hope?

TJ: I don’t know. We’ll see – it’ll probably be another musical project. I’m going to do a CD of this show, hopefully before the end of the run but I will probably be working this show for a year around the country on tour, hopefully. I did a little tour with the other show but I don’t have representation, which is tough so if there’s anyone out there...

RI: Finally, have you got any pearls of wisdom to any aspiring Miss Hopes out there?

TJ: Miss Hope would probably say “Be true to your inner diva, don’t copy anyone else and stay away from Peroxide Blonde wigs. It’s been done to death. Oh, and never wear a chemical yellow or have a green light on stage. It makes you look hideous.”

And with that, we bid each other adieu and Ty leaves to catch the train back to Brighton.

You can see more of Miss Hope on

Miss Hope Springs is performing at the Drill Hall, Chenies Street, on Weds-Saturdays at 8pm till 9th April, with a show on Sunday 3rd April at 5pm £10/£8. Definitely worth dropping by to see.

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