We take a special pride in being able to showcase interesting and exciting music here at GrandLife, so it is with great pleasure that we are able to introduce Tatiana Eva-Marie into our weekly program in The Club Room at The Soho Grand. Tatiana Eva-Marie has proven her ability to bring a rich sumptuous atmosphere to any room she walks into, but it’s her voice that we’re most excited to have with us. We were able to speak with Tatiana about her influences, growing up around great music, 1930’s Paris and the current state of jazz in NYC:
GrandLife: Growing up, how big of a role did music play in your household?
Tatiana Eva-Marie: My parents are both professional musicians, so music was always all around me. I went to sleep at night to the sound of my father composing in the other room and woke up to my mother practicing her violin. Music was the most natural thing in the world and my dad called me “the jukebox” because I had an uncanny memory for words and melodies, anything from Tchaikovsky to Jethro Tull. My parents and I made music together and it was the greatest thing. I couldn’t even imagine how other families lived without music.
GL: Clearly the smoky parlors of boomtown New York in the early part of the 20th century had an impact on your music. How did you discover the genre?
TEM: My father was the lead singer of a New Orleans style 1920’s big band called the Louisiana Dandies. I went on tour with them sometimes and was their recurring guest star around the age of 9. When I was a little girl, every night was movie night, and I was hypnotized by the music. We would watch silent movies, films noirs, old musicals, Disney classics like The Jungle Book (where I discovered Louis Prima), and Woody Allen of course, whose film scores I listened to over and over again. When I was about 5 years old, my parents thought I had a personality disorder because I used to tell people I was Marilyn Monroe. She was my idol and I was already obsessed with swing.
GL: How did you develop your voice? Was it a happy accident, or a determined effort?
TEM: Well, it was a bit of both I guess, because even though I didn’t take singing lessons, I feel that I have learned more through experience than if I had studied properly all my life. I did my first professional recording when I was 4 years old and then I performed on stage all my childhood with my parents. Although we had a very bohemian lifestyle, they were also very strict teachers in many ways. They taught me to respect music as a true profession and not as a way to fame, and always practice my art selflessly. My mom used to tell me, “think of the words and your voice will know what to do.” Best advice ever.
GL: What makes for a perfect gig?
TEM: The perfect gig is when there is a strong bond between my musicians and I, and we are having fun because we are sharing love for the same music. It can be in front of 5 or 1000 people, in a shabby bar or a beautiful concert hall, it doesn’t matter. As long as we have this magic energy and we can be moved by one another and the music we are playing, we are able to bring the audience in and create memories for them. Then the gig is perfect.
GL: If you could go back to any period of jazz, which would it be and why?
TEM: I would definitely go to Paris in the late 1930s. The Parisians were discovering swing jazz and making it their own through the genius of musicians like Django and Grappelli and singers like Jean Sablon. The Zazous, who were the ‘swing kids’ of Paris, saw this new American music as a symbol of freedom and equality: dancing and performing jazz was their way of resisting the war and saying, ‘we are alive and vibrant, no one can take that away from us.’ That’s so beautiful and important. I would have loved to be a Zazou and danced in the medieval cellars of Saint-Germain…I am living out my fantasy by making myself the ambassador of the Zazou spirit in New York City.
GL: What plans for performing and recording can we expect in the future?
TEM: I have just finished recording a voice and piano duo album called Prelude, soon available online. It is a collection of French and American poetical jazz tunes that I try to interpret as intimately as possible. I am also currently collaborating with violinist Adrien Chevalier on original neo-swing compositions for our upcoming recording. As for gigs, I perform almost every night with Avalon Jazz Band in various venues around the city, but I have to admit that Thursdays at the Soho Grand are very dear to my heart: the Club Room setting, old school and sophisticated, is perfect for listening to jazz.
© Eva Qin Photography