Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A RISING STAR 2008 –TINATIN (full interview)

This year will be a breakout year for musical artist Tinatin. That’s according to Billboard Magazine who listed her as one of the 10 fresh faces to keep an eye out for in 2008. In the US, she’s a well-kept secret who’s about to go public in a big way.

Tinatin was born in the Republic of Georgia 23 years ago into a family already deep in the arts. Her father is an architect and painter while her mother is a classical pianist. Now living in New York, she’s working on an album due out this year. Her music is not only enjoyable to hear, but impactful with messages—from the state of the United Nations to HIV, her voice clearly paints a picture for her listeners.

Her single “We the Peoples,” is available on iTunes and will be a part of her album. Billboard calls it, “a penultimate, contemporary anthem honoring the mission of the United Nations, perhaps more relevant than ever, given the flux of worldwide politics… a resonant affirmation that politics actually have potential to unite.” You can’t get a better review than that!

Holliston: There’s a lot of excitement and buzz out there about your music right now. What is it that got you noticed by Billboard?

Tinatin: I think ultimately, especially in New York, it’s a story. If you have a story, no matter how good or mediocre or perhaps even poor, the songs are, A.) it’s the record and B.) it’s the story and if you can put the two together then it can more or less guarantee a buzz. I think New York is based on buzz. Buzz and hype, to me signify New York.

H: The good thing about that buzz for you is that you do have a good product. And you have an album coming out.

T: I’m actually wrapping up with the material. I worked on the album both in New York and in London and initially I started the record in London with Christopher Neil, my producer. When I got to New York, what I realized immediately was no matter how many similarities between the industries in London and New York, at the end of the day a European record is a European record. And in America, unless you do things the American way, it’s very hard to convince them that no matter how good you may be, there is so much out here and you have to do something different. I had to practically re-do a lot of my material done in Europe to make it more suitable together with my team in London (Christopher Neil and Peter Adams) and the US producers, yet keep that European factor there that would make me slightly different from what’s out there.

H: What did you have to do differently?

T: We had to rethink a lot of the arrangements. Some of the production values had to change. For example, as soon as I got here, Christopher Neil immediately got American producers on board such as Bob Iadeluca and FAB, who’s actually a French born producer and songwriter, and he’s already very successful in America. He got them to really listen to the songs and see what they could bring to the table to make it a little bit more American, a little bit more U.S. oriented, yet keeping the same songs that made the record unique. At the same time we didn’t want to go too American so we could still appeal to the European market, thus writing additional material with Chris Neil and Peter Adams – my UK team – in NY.

H: When will the album be released?

T: As soon as possible! I absolutely cannot wait! We’re just wrapping up with the songs. We need a couple more songs and then we’ll be ready to put it out there and see where it takes us.

H: Does the album have a name?

T: Not yet! It was difficult enough coming up with the first single. We had to pick out a song that would not only be a record—a song, but ultimately it would tell a different sort of story about me. I think that’s when we went for the song “We the Peoples” based on the United Nations charter because it tells a little bit about me—my background as a journalist, my attachment toward the UN. To me it’s more than a song. It’s a story. It’s who I am. That song immediately creates an image of me. And based on that, we had to rethink a lot of the songs on the album because I can’t put songs that are too different from it, too girly, or too romantic. It creates a whole concept for the record.

H: What is it about the United Nations that has drawn you to it?

T: I think that the current climate that I grew up in has been a very exciting period for me. Being 23, I’ve seen quite a bit. I’ve lived through a civil war in Georgia...we moved around a lot. There was a lot that really touched me throughout the years when I was growing up. And when I found the place that really sums everything up for me into one, which is the United Nations, where it covers everything from peacekeeping to HIV-Aids to human rights, the concept of the UN is what really drew me to the organization. There is a freedom to be able to make that little bit of difference as a human being yourself, given the opportunity. And through that and in many ways also through the great idea of author and UN expert, Ian Williams, I decided that if I can work at the UN as a correspondent why don’t I write a song that will appeal to people because ultimately music is the language that is very universal. Everybody can relate to it. Everybody can understand it. Music can click with far more people.

H: With all the attention currently focused on you, how do you keep the buzz alive?

T: I think that’s the tricky part. It’s easy to attract someone to your persona and material but maintaining and sustaining that buzz, unless you have something else to offer requires a lot of work. You have to sit down with your team and say ‘OK guys. We’ve got all this attention on us but what have we got next to give to the audience and critics?’

H: Once the album is released, will you tour?

T: Absolutely. I’m rehearsing with my new band in New York. So once we have our concept together as a band we will start playing some venues both in the US and internationally.

H: Having lived in many countries, does that impact the way you write and the way you perform?

T: I really think it has an enormous impact on the eventual product. Having performed in several countries, that’s when you realize what every audience wants. I think every audience in every country is different. They have different expectations from you, different demands, different tastes...being able to target them all with one record has been the biggest challenge of all. Being able to sit down and say how can we make this universally do we make all these audiences feel they are a part of it...that it was done for them, not just done in a different country and imported. Having that experience of performing before international audiences has been very helpful in determining the final sound of me as an artist.

H: Do you have plans on releasing songs in different languages?

T: Yes I do. Very much so. I think that because I made my debut in France, France can be a very strong market for me. I love their music and it comes down to if you love their music and you incorporate those elements into your music that can click with them as well.

H: What brought you to the United States?

T: When I was little, when I was growing up, during the Soviet period, we were so interested in anything to do with the West. When the first Russians, Georgians, and everyone else from the USSR got a chance to travel, my parents were one of the first to be able to actually go to America through my dad’s work as an architect and painter. And when he came back, told me about it, and showed me the films he took, I was so fascinated by it. And factor in American music and musicians like my all-time idol Barbra Streisand that, to me, means America. America, to me, was the ultimate goal. It was the land that meant everything. If you want to make your dreams come true, no matter how much of a cliché that may be, trust me, this country gives you far more opportunities than anywhere else does in the world. When I got the opportunity to move to America, it was a hard decision at first. But I knew that if I could sustain myself for the first couple of years and attract enough attention to be able to stay here for another couple of years, it would mean there is something here for me. If you make it here, you’re bound to make it anywhere else.

H: And your goals for 2008 and beyond?

T: It all comes down to doing what I genuinely love and being able to share it with an audience that responds. Whether it’s through the album coming out this year, the concerts I’ll be doing, it all comes down to being able to do something I love to do.

Did You Know?

• Tinatin speaks six languages (Georgian, Russian, French, Italian, English and Spanish) and is working on learning Japanese. Domo arigato!
• She taught herself French through books, watching French television and listening to Celine Dion music (and translating her lyrics with a French-Russian bilingual dictionary!)
• Her three most talked about songs include “We the Peoples” (co-written by Tinatin, FAB and Arnie Roman; produced by FAB, “I Pray” (co-written by Tinatin, Chris Neil, Peter Adams, Jane Ryall; produced by Chris Neil and Peter Adams), and “Wild” (co-written by Tinatin and Ayhan Sahin; produced by Ayhan Sahin).
• Her full name is Tinatin Japaridze.

Courtesy of

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