Words: Miljan Milekić
It’s been a long time since I first heard TAT, back in mid-to-late 2000s. I remember hearing them on MySpace (remember that?) and instantly getting hooked by the band’s energy, attitude, and the amazing voice of frontwoman Tatiana DeMaria. Fast forward eleven, or twelve years, DeMaria is working on a first solo record, and also released a few songs on the way. We caught up with her to check what’s she up to. Check it out!
Hey Tatiana! Being a TAT fan for more than a decade now, I’m happy to see you back on track, releasing new music. How does it feel to enter the madness again?
Tatiana: Thank you! Appreciate that and you being a TAT fan, too. It feels awesome! I love taking this new music on the road and reconnecting with TAT fans, as well as introducing my music to new people. It’s been a blast so far, and there is so much more to come in 2019, I’m looking forward to it.
On the new songs, especially tracks such as ‘London Don’t Lie’ and ‘Make Me Feel,’ you offered something different, and a bit unexpected. Yet, it’s still your signature sound and has the same energy you are known for, just in a different form. How do you see your own musical development in recent years?
Tatiana: I’m glad you think it’s retained that energy and sound. Retaining that feeling and sense of who I am for the listener whilst not relying on a wall of guitars to define the edge is a balancing act I am very conscious of when it comes to how I approach the songs and production. When you create more space in a song or track, every instrument holds more weight, one sound could throw the song into feeling like a different style. You become more decisive, and you’re also more lyrically exposed – a process I’m enjoying. I’m not entirely sure how to address the development, except to say that whatever development I’ve experienced in life then gets expressed in the music, and I’m expressing more of that with a more open soundscape on this solo record.
With TAT, you offered one side of your personality – the raw, punk one, but still had your heart on the sleeve. Now, it seems like you have so much more to offer, musically as well as lyrically. Is your new stuff influenced by new sounds you were embracing over the years, or you had it in you for the whole time, but just needed the time to articulate it in a proper piece of music?
Tatiana: I would say the latter. When I was writing ‘Soho Lights,’ I was also producing underground UK hip hop. I’ve just drawn more of my influences and production into one sound instead of splitting them up. I had actually written ‘What It Is About You’ and ‘Too Much’ while still touring with TAT. We tried playing ‘Too Much’ as TAT once or twice live, but it lost something in terms of how I felt the song should sound and sit. It took me time to find the right balance and sound for this project, but it gets clearer for the listener with each song I release. It’s certainly been a very consistent style I’ve had behind the scenes; just more developed now and more clearly articulated.
A few songs are already out, and there is a word on a street that you are preparing an EP for the next year. Can you tell me more about the plans?
Tatiana: Yes – working on an album, and prepping a whole lot more than an EP. I’m super excited for 2019, it’s going to be a bonkers year, and I’m fucking in it! I’ll be announcing the releases as they come, so stay tuned.
When you released ‘Soho Lights’ you were still very young, and it seems like everything got too big, too fast. Do you think that this time you are the one who calls the shots and dictates the tempo of everything? Do you think this time can be different, now that you have more experience and knowledge?
Tatiana: Interestingly enough, I think both things are true. Things did grow very fast, but I had kept us independent and was actually the one calling the shots in TAT. I have a tendency to go very hard at things. I honestly just didn’t stop and take the time to reboot. I mean, reboot by recharging, and taking a break from touring non-stop at times. Reboot in terms of bringing in some of the new sounds sooner.
The TAT sound had evolved in some of the new music we were recording. We never released it, but some of it I still love. Something about it wasn’t enough for me, though. There were things I wanted to say, and music I wanted to make that triggered certain things in me, and I needed to go do that fully. At the time, I had discussed bringing some of the new sounds into TAT, and I think it would have just diluted the essence of the band. Both TAT and Tatiana DeMaria projects came about at certain times in life, they each have their path for me in a lot of ways. So I chose to keep them separate. Not to try and do it all in one sound and cock it up really.
Apart from your own stuff, you also write music for movies and commercials, showcasing your talent in yet another form. What are the main differences between those two, and different is the writing process itself?
Tatiana: I appreciate the question. The difference is quite stark for me. The songs I write for myself all come from experience. Sometimes, you don’t want to admit you were a cunt in life, but in general, a song just isn’t the same if you hold back. You also have to be honest with yourself, remember feelings, take yourself back to times and places sometimes, to finish a song you may have started in one headspace when you’re now in another. It’s the art of connection. You could be really happy and trying to finish a song about heartbreak. Tapping into that is a practice and skill.
When doing a jingle, or soundtrack, you generally get a brief, a visual; someone telling you they want an upbeat happy song with a light feeling, for example, or to match a visual emotion. I don’t read the brief ’till I’m ready to work. The brief, the visual, it makes me feel something, and I run with that feeling. It’s an emotion that is already delivered to me in what they send because it triggers and evokes what I translate musically, be it on the nose or something I write to shape the scene in a different way.
All your career you’ve been a big advocate and supporter of women in the music scene. How do you see the scene and the music industry as a whole right now compared to the time you were starting? Are there any changes for the better?
Tatiana: I see a whole lot more women with instruments, producing, playing, it’s awesome. No one was stopping girls from picking up guitars before, except for the social pressure of valuing beauty and social norms for females more than the craft itself. I think it’s great that women feel less pressure to conform to other shit and kids these days just grow up with a more equal sense of gender than before. It allows people to follow their passions with less of a fight.
Right now, it seems like the US stole you from us. Do you have any idea when can we see you perform in Europe again? Playing shows, do you still rate TAT songs as an important part of who you are musically? Are you planning to continue to throw some of them in between new bangers?
Tatiana: Nah, never. The US is just a massive country and takes a while to get around (laughs) I do love touring the US, and I’m grateful my American fans have been amazing and incredibly supportive. My British fans have been too, so I look forward to touring the UK and Europe very soon.
TAT songs are still important to me, and I do still incorporate them live into my set. Playing Warped Tour this summer and selling out the Whisky A GoGo in LA last week, I still played a handful of TAT songs. They’re still a part of me and my journey, and I still want our fans to be able to sing that shit at the top of their lungs and have a great night. I love hearing the songs I’ve played to death and love at shows I go to, so I don’t want to stop people from feeling that.
One last – this past Summer, you were part of the last ever cross-country Vans Warped Tour. How much did the tour mean to you in the past years, and can you share some interesting stories about it?
Tatiana: It has meant so much to me. It gave us a platform and our start in the US. It started with Shira Girl putting us on her stage and the Kevin Lyman, bringing us back a bunch and being incredible to support my music then, and now. I can’t imagine what things would look like without Warped being a part of my journey in the way it has.