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Classic Music Meets The Future In TATYANA's Digital World: Interview With Tonitruale’s August Muse


TATYANA's Instagram handle hints what we can expect from her music from the get-go: A classicaly-trained harp player who uses the color blue to describe her music. Sounds pretty other-worldly already doesn't it it? From her music videos looking like a futuristic Coppola movie to playing the harp in old people’s homes and hospitals, she definitely has that ethereal energy going on.

In 2018, TATYANA walked into an underground rave in London. Thrilled by the sense of community that drove the party, UK-based singer/producer TATYANA made it a goal to play her own music in this kind of environment some day. Instead of changing her music path for it to fit into a certain aesthetic and genre, she focused on clashing classic with electronic by running her harp through crazy effects and not shying away from profiting from her own classical training. As a result, TATYANA found her unique sound that consists of a saturated harp, watery synths and echoey vocals.

Touring with Neneh Cherry, experimenting with multiple styles of music, living in multiple cities and being on stage with her laptop and a harp, TATYANA's creative vision if truly ‘ineffable’.

Photo Credit: Rio Blake

TATYANA recently dropped her first EP Shadow On The Wall under Sinderlyn Records. EP opens with a lusty dream-pop starter, Wild Card. It's our first gaze into TATYANA's world. The gentle harp in the background works very well with her voice and creates the base of a hypnotic sound that accompanies you through a portal that TATYANA has meticulously crafted.

Still from Wild Card

The portal leads us to the second track of the EP, "Over Again". The robotic digital clock-work sound compliments the repetitive lyrics, almost making it sound like a mantra that prepares you for a trance-state. Need 2 Know is no different. A Charli XCX-esque futuristic pop production really ties the track and make every beat make sense. Overall, the production plays a big part in the EP, making everything sound coherent and clean. The fourth track, OOT starts off by TATYANA singing "Only trust my head and not my heart now." She continues to sing for/to someone, convincing them that they can join her whenever they want, unless they promise to be honest with their feelings. From a single song, we understand the transition that she is experiencing. Perhaps moving from one place to another (as she did most of her life) or putting herself first in a situation. Whatever it might be, the underlying message is beautiful. Shadow On The Wall is the last song on the EP. The humming and the back vocal work really gives this track a classic love ballad essence. Though she makes it her own by distorting her vocals in a robotic way. By adding these digital futuristic aspects to a song that might have been somewhat basic otherwise, TATYANA ends the record by reminding us that she can do it all.

TATYANA's music videos are always a visual delight and a source of fashion inspiration. From the long Edie Sedgwick-ish earrings to glitter jumpsuits, there is always something exciting happening on the screen. The dewy-finished makeup looks accompanied by blue glossy eyelids pay hommage to the Gen-Z beauty movement that was defined with the HBO show Euphoria. Soft effects, flowers and glitters surround TATYANA in her surreal world. I've interviewed the "Pre-Raphealite Girl in the Digital Age" to understand her music and her musical identity better.

Berklee is one of the top destinations for aspiring musicians. Do you think that studying there and being surrounded by so many different musicians that have different backgrounds influenced the way you perceive music and other varieties of music that you personally wouldn’t be that interested in? 

Sure! It was such a nerdy, immersive experience. I remember a friend visiting me from London while I was studying at Berklee, asking “Do you guys ever talk about anything else but music?” She seemed quite perturbed by it coz it was literally non-stop. All we did was listen, play and talk about music - even at parties. I think she was quite happy to leave and go back to normal socialising. 

You’re a harp player but you seem to combine harp with an edgier sounding style which seems to work very well and sounds very coherent. How did you come up with the idea of contrasting harp with lots of effects? 

I bought an M9 stompbox modeler in high school which is a guitar pedal with loads of different effects. I didn’t know anything about it, I just had money to burn from playing some fancy harp gigs and wanted to try something new. It was a lot of fun playing around with that thing - putting every kind of effect imaginable on it including like, hardcore overdrive and stuff. Now I’m a bit more tasteful. 

As an Anglo-russian musician, what would you say the biggest difference is between english and russian music scene? 

I haven’t lived in Russia since I was a kid so I couldn’t tell you! There’s lots of cool music coming out of Russia right now though - Kedr Livanskiy for example (who’s signed to my sister label 2MR!) 

Photo credit: Nwaka Okparaeke

Living in more than one city can be tough yet beneficial in terms of finding identity. How did it work out for you and your music? 

Grass is always greener isn’t it? I think perhaps it’s easier to find community if you’re rooted in one place. I do feel a bit disconnected from every place I’ve lived but not in a bad way. I like to think that my role as an artist is to be an observer, so in a way it helps that I’m floating around and being pulled in lots of different directions. The main thing I’ve realised from all my travels is it turns out that in most places people are fundamentally much the same :) 

Electronic pop is having a big moment in music right now. Do you find it overwhelming trying to do something original and stand out as there are a lot of other artists in the same lane as you?

I feel like electronic pop has been having a moment since like - the 80s! It’s all cyclical. I don’t find it overwhelming because my general motto is there’s nothing new under the sun, especially in pop. My goal is write good songs and I feel like the rest will follow. 

Your production style makes me think of James Blake (a personal favorite!!!) yet it’s so different considering that you clash classic with modern. Would you consider solely doing classical music or music without harp someday or is harp an essential sound for the TATYANA sound?

I’m afraid I do not have the chops for classical, not sure if I ever did! The commitment classical musicians have is astounding- they’re practicing 6, 8, 10 hours a day. I’ve always been more interested in writing my own music. Classical music will remain a hobby and treat for me - playing old pieces and listening to BBC Radio 3 in the mornings. I think the only thing essential to my sound is my taste. I would never superfluously add harp if I don’t think it served the song. That being said, one of my dreams is to make a record exploring the harp and making it the focus of the music.

You have a meditation (a sound led meditation known as healing harp) and you’ve been doing Instagram lives of that. It makes me think of music therapy. What are your thoughts on that as a person who have studied music very deeply? Would you consider being a music therapist if you weren’t a performing musician? 

It’s something I’ve done since high school - I’ve played in old people’s homes and hospitals so I’ve seen the powerful effect music can have. There’s something magnificent about the harp too, it does seem to cheer people up. I would definitely consider it! 

The Wild Card music video looks like an amazing blue glitter-filled fever dream straight from a Petra Collins shoot. What was your inspiration behind it? Did you have a moodboard of sorts?

Nwaka (the director) did an amazing job, didn’t she? If there was a mood board it would be called ‘Pre-Raphealite Girl in the Digital Age’.  

The unique sense of style radiates from your Instagram, press shoots and music videos. Where do you find inspiration for your style and how would you describe it?

My mother used to tell me “you’ll have plenty of time to wear black when you’re older.” I like bright colours, clothing that’s fun and with a bit of humour. I like a bit of sexy too - love a bit of latex, especially on stage. When I’m at home I like being comfortable because I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer - but when I’m performing, the crazier the better!

And lastly, what would you want to say to Tonitruale readers? 

Be kind to yourself. It’s a crazy world right now. And for a good time - stream Shadow on the Wall <3 


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