(Photo courtesy of Street Talk Media)
Getting Real With Plumb
A candid look at her thoughts on music, suffering, and hope
By Sarah Komisky
Sitting down with Plumb is like talking to a friend. Not someone who talks about the weather or where they got their shoes. No, she’s more like a friend you can grab coffee with (or tea, in my case) to laugh, cry or simply be honest while knowing there is someone who listens, cares and will be real with you. Tiffany Arbuckle Lee is that kind of person. Known for songs that tell stories of pain and suffering while shining the light of hope in Jesus Christ, she is woman on a mission. This mission to share the message that you are not alone.
Determined, she has faithfully committed herself to not doing things “halfway,” as she put it. She faced her own share of pain: undergoing depression and the unraveling of a long-standing marriage with her husband. She has seen God restore her emotional health, family and marriage. Her latest release, Exhale has been a testament to the power of restoration found in Jesus Christ. I like to think of our conversation as one of those over-coffee type talks. So grab a cup, sit down and I’ll introduce you to a new friend. Her name is Plumb.
Signed to Silvertone Records just shy of turning 21, Plumb came onto the music scene in the late 90’s, alongside the band Jars of Clay. With an alternative sound similar to artists like Bjork, Sixpence None the Richer, the Cranberries, or PJ Harvey, Plumb didn’t intentionally set out to fit that mold.
“Garbage had came out with their very first project, and I fell in love with that. I listened to the Cure a lot in high school. The guy that I dated in high school had a really vast and passionate taste in music. He was always introducing me to different bands. Between him and my brother, who was also an avid music listener, I was always being exposed to different artists like Depeche Mode and Pink Floyd. And it just kind of kept building and I loved the sound of a band,” Plumb shares.
Plumb was majorly impacted by musician Alanis Morissette because she had an “unapologetic, confident, unique way to communicate her art.” She was also influenced by her ability to gain respect through her art rather than her dress.
“Although she didn’t communicate it from a Christian perspective, I appreciated that she wasn’t out to be a sex symbol, she was out to be heard. And she seemed to believe that if you want to be heard you don’t necessarily have to dress immodestly, because that’s a pretty cheap shot to get attention by uncovering yourself no matter what you look like. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want people to be pay attention to me because they thought I was pretty or that I was sexy. I wanted to be heard because I wanted to be respected,” Plumb says.
She calls the whole journey of becoming herself today a “research project,” and confesses that she found out who she was as a musician in front of everyone. As for the alternative sound, she notes, “It kind of just found me and I responded to it.” Yet, she also expanded on the many facets of what makes Plumb the way she is.
“I loved the alternative sound. There’s also pop elements. There’s rock elements. There’s more cinematic elements. I love film and I love actresses and I love fashion and I think there’s all the different parts of me that get to come alive,” Plumb confesses.
Additionally, a big part of who she is today came from songwriting. Writing music for her own albums and also for other artists like Mandy Moore and Michelle Branch, Plumb always keeps it real by writing from a genuine place. Over the years, the subject she became passionate about addressing is human suffering, whether it be from her own experience or the experiences she heard from others.
“Pain has always been very appealing to me to write about because I feel like it hurts when you feel. However it feels inevitably, in a moment of emotional, psychological, physical pain, you inevitably feel alone, and that’s why it hurts so bad. And I feel like music is a way to say, ‘You’re not by yourself.’ I’ve always been a feeler and when I meet someone that tells me their story and it hurts, I don’t want it to hurt, I want to take that away and I can’t, but I feel one thing I can do with the platform that I’ve been given is for them to know the most comforting thing: which is hope. When you’re in a bad situation, no matter what it is, you feel hopeless. I think is the worse part, and I believe because of the cross and resurrection, there is hope no matter what your situation is,” says Plumb.
“When you know you’re not alone, you have a little hope, and with that hope God can do an infinite amount of beauty to advance His kingdom. He can and He does. And I just want to be a bullhorn that says that nothing is ever truly lost and nothing is truly wasted because there is always hope. Because of that, it doesn’t have to stop there. It doesn’t have to be just pain. I think at the end of the day, God knew that He could use me to be a voice to the seemingly hopeless that there is hope. I just know what it feels like to hurt and when you feel comforted, when that comes, whatever that is, that is the greatest. It’s just the most fantastic feeling to feel a little bit of that weight lifted and I hunger to be a part of that for someone’s else’s life.”
Encouraging others to make those first steps towards recovery, Plumb shares that it simply starts with speaking your hurts out loud.
“I think that we have some darkness in our lives. If we have the lid on something: emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically, and we keep the lid on, it’s just getting worse. When we speak it out, and again talking to a counselor is top of the list, and to your pastor, someone else, a close friend, family member. But, just starting with as simple as saying it out loud in your house. For example: ‘I’m sad and I don’t know why,’ ‘I am uninspired and I don’t know why,’ ‘I’m so dark inside and I don’t know why.’ And I think sometimes people know why something that was onset has caused that. But at the same time sometimes they don’t know why. That’s why it’s in epidemic propitiation right now, because people are just: ‘I don’t know. I don’t know,’ and they don’t own it and they kind of can’t. So start there with owning it and saying, ‘I’m struggling with something and don’t know why but I know I am struggling.’ Find out what do you know, and ask yourself some questions,” encourages Plumb.
Plumb and her family have learned to live life differently after coming out of a difficult season, but one of things she wants to assure readers is that she is not perfect.
“I don’t have it figured out. I don’t have it all together, but I now know who I am and I know now even more who Jesus is. And I can trust Him more now,” Plumb acknowledges.
Sharing from her own experience, Plumb offers practical steps to help keep balance in life.
“One of those things that I now try to help try to balance our lives is to be extremely intentional. We have a community around us that is very hand-picked and very specific. Of people that know us and are comfortable speaking truth to us. It takes a village. We help raise each other’s children. We don’t have a very superficial, surface relationship. We are very open with each other. So number one is community.”
Another practical step for her family was reading a book by Patrick Lencioni entitled “The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family.” The book really helped give some good guidelines and structure to help prioritize life.
“Defining who we are after you list your number one priority in your home. Underneath, as number two, there are these bullet points that are the non-negotiables where no matter what the top priority is, these are the bullet points that link you to that mission statement. That’s maybe going to disrupt some of your routine so you have to account for that. The third question is, ‘How are you going to execute that?’”
Overall, Plumb notes that being extremely intentional, very communal, and reading Lencioni’s book helped her family have balance in life.
Check out Plumb on the Beautiful Offerings Tour coming this summer and fall as well as her newest book co-authored with her husband Jeremy coming soon. Until then, take a listen to Exhale and pick up “Need You Now,” as a great summer read.
You can find out more about Plumb by visiting plumbmusic.net