Tatiana Hazel is a first generation Mexican-American musical artist and fashion designer redefining pop music. Growing up in Chicago, Tatiana didn’t see many pop or alternative artists that looked or sounded like her. The lack of representation didn’t discourage Tatiana, however; it provided even more drive.
Her style is bright and vivacious, with details and elements from decades past. Decades she did not grow up in, but found plenty of inspiration from for her music and designs. Hazel dropped her first album Toxic in 2018 via Downtown Records and recently announced a new EP coming June 2020, DUALITY.
The Orchard: As a bilingual artist who sings in both English and Spanish, how do you decide which language to write/sing in?
Tatiana Hazel: It always comes naturally to me when I’m starting a new song. It mostly depends on what the music sounds like and what I feel fits better sonically. Or I choose which language simply by what I’m in the mood to write.
In addition to being a talented songwriter and performer you also are a fashion designer. How would you compare fashion design versus songwriting when it comes to expressing yourself?
Music and fashion have always gone together for me. I dress according to the music I am listening to on a daily basis. I feel the same goes for the music I make and clothes I design. If I am making a song inspired by a certain decade, my design inspiration will likely come from that decade as well.
In your 2020 single “Hasta Que” you sing about moving from your hometown of Chicago to Los Angeles. How did it feel making the move from the Midwest to the West Coast? What do you miss most about Chi-town?
I honestly feel that moving was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love Chicago so much and am so proud to be from such an amazing city, but I felt that I needed to leave in order to grow as an artist. I am inspired by meeting new people and seeing new things, so I needed to go somewhere with a completely different landscape. Also, the music scene in LA is great. What I miss most about Chicago is my family, friends, walking around Logan Square, underground parties/raves and all the summer festivals (although sadly they won’t happen this year.)
On that note, this interview is taking place during social distancing mandates. Are you staying in LA or Chicago? How have you been keeping busy during this time? Have you discovered any new hobbies?
I’m currently in LA. It’s crazy because I feel like I’ve been busier now than I was before the stay at home order. I’ve been making so much music, songwriting, collaborating with other artists virtually, shooting videos, taking and editing photos, reading books, crocheting clothes, cooking — which are all things that I do anyways, but am currently doing even more often. I’m also learning French, that’s new!
At the age of 11 you taught yourself guitar and at 13 you began uploading videos to YouTube. Do you remember some of your favorite artists you were listening to at that age? What was the first album you fell in love with?
I used to listen to whatever CDs my older sisters owned because that was my only access to music at the time. I remember listening to Nirvana, The Cranberries, Bjork, Slipknot, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, Nelly Furtado, Shakira and many more, but those are the first ones that come to mind. I would listen to whatever music was coming out around that time and a little earlier. I didn’t really discover the music that I’m into now until high school when I had access to the internet, and that was life changing for me.
“When I make music, or any art, I view it as making the most of my time here on Earth by creating a body of work that will inspire and resonate with people and hopefully outlive me to be a part of something greater.”
As a first-generation American with Mexican-born parents, how would you say your heritage influenced you growing up? How did your upbringing make you the person and artist you are today?
I grew up going to Mexico for about two months every summer, and I think it did shape who I am, although I don’t often think about it. I consider myself to be a very romantic person in the fact that I find beauty in the simplest things in life, and I think that’s a huge part of Mexican culture. We celebrate a lot, enjoy art, spend a lot of time with family – even death is treated as a celebration of life. When I make music, or any art, I view it as making the most of my time here on Earth by creating a body of work that will inspire and resonate with people and hopefully outlive me to be a part of something greater.
“When you read statistics about how few women, minorities, etc. are in these industries it can truly be disheartening, but if you let it stop you then we won’t ever see change.”
What advice would you give to first-generation artists hoping to make it in music or fashion design?
Work really hard, don’t doubt yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. When you read statistics about how few women, minorities, etc. are in these industries it can truly be disheartening, but if you let it stop you then we won’t ever see change. You have to create the change you want to see in the world, or in this case in music and fashion.
In a 2018 interview you said “I want to see someone like me in the mainstream and I’ve always thought, ‘Well maybe if I don’t see it, I’ll make it for myself.” Latin music and Spanish language releases are all over the global mainstream right now – and you are a part of that wave! How does it feel to see more Latin music on the radio and charts now after not seeing it so much in the mainstream growing up?
It’s amazing! I always felt misunderstood because of the fact that growing up I never really listened to Latin music, although I’m Mexican-American. I have always been into more alternative music, but now I feel like all the lines are being blurred when it comes to genre. I don’t need to sing in Spanish or make a certain type of music to be considered a Latin artist – I can simply be an artist that happens to be Latinx and I feel a little more understood.
Your 2018 debut album Toxic explores the emotional rollercoaster of toxic relationships and is an incredibly vulnerable piece of work. How did it feel sharing that album with the world, especially as your first big release?
All of my work is extremely personal and vulnerable, but I think about the fact that people are going to listen to the music and connect it with their own lives and experiences and not really think about what is going on with me personally. It can be scary to share my deepest, darkest, inner thoughts — but in my opinion, it makes for the best and most honest music.
Who are some of your dream collaborators?
I don’t really have any because I listen to so much older music that I don’t really know of a lot of people who are making music now, but I should look into it for sure. I also only work with people I meet and connect with organically, so I guess whoever that ends up being will be cool.
What can we expect to see next from Tatiana Hazel?
I will be releasing my sophomore EP DUALITY this summer, which I’m super stoked about. So be on the lookout.