“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” said Joan Didion in The White Album. But for Tatiana Hazel, life has been armed with stories and thousands of miles of travel.
After becoming known through videos on the YouTube platform a decade ago, this Latina singer-songwriter, producer, and designer knew that Chicago would not be her home base, and it has been her move to Los Angeles that has set the tone for her new creative phase.
BELatina spoke with Hazel about her style, her history and, most importantly, the role of women in an industry that still has much to learn about equality.
From Chicago to LA, a Journey
“I have been making music since I was a kid, since I was nine, and I started playing guitar when I was like 11. I’ve always been writing songs and I used to post videos on YouTube with myself playing songs that I wrote on guitar,” she told us. “Those videos got some views so from there, I then moved to Los Angeles from Chicago, and ever since I’ve been releasing music and producing myself.”
“That’s been my journey,” she added.
But the transit from a YouTube channel to the other side of the country brought about a major merger.
On Her Style
“I’ve been producing a lot of music for the past two years,” she recalls. “And through learning different instruments and being exposed to all different kinds of music, I think fusion just comes pretty naturally while practicing my instruments and my production.”
“I grew up listening to a lot of Latino music when I was younger because of my parents, but I didn’t personally listen to it until I was a teenager. Growing up I always liked more the indie alternative female artists like Julieta Venegas and Carla Morrison. I really like that because they were singing in Spanish but they had a style that I was familiar with.”
“I would say my style is indie pop.”
On Her Experience as a Latina in the American Music Industry
For Hazel, the new music scene in the country has been both fruitful and powerful.
“It’s actually been really great because right now is a great time [for Latinas in the industry]. I’m sure that if I were making music at an earlier time it would’ve been way more difficult for me, as it was for some of the great female artists that came before me in my field. But for me it’s been great because it’s a great time for Latin music and people are more open to different genres. I’m not just packed in a box of Latin [music]. I can make songs in Spanish but people also listen to the song written in English or in both.”
“It’s been just amazing being a Latina making music during this time.”
Both her compositional process and her lyrics materialize in a natural handling of English and Spanish. However, for Hazel, the latter offers a much wider creative space.
“I’m fluent in both languages. Actually my parents always joke that I’m better at writing lyrics and music in Spanish,” she says. “I don’t really know where all the words come from. It comes naturally. The first time that I wrote in Spanish I was so shocked because I could find so many things that rhyme. In English I always felt it was kind of limited. Writing in Spanish is really exciting because I think that there’s a whole other vocabulary, more words that work together, and there are a lot of different ways to say the same thing so I think it’s way more creative.”
On Feminism and the Role of the New Generation of Female Artists Shaping the Music Industry
For the young Latina, “collaboration” is the keyword.
“I would really like to encourage more women to start producing or even just to get in the room as an engineer or in the recording side,” she told us. “That could allow us to collaborate more. I think to help each other is really important because I feel that men are usually helping each other out, and I think between women, we are not there yet.”
On Her Work as a Fashion Designer
Similarly, Hazel combines in one language her two passions, music and fashion design, which has allowed her to collaborate with artists like Girl Ultra and take her designs to other platforms.
“Music has always been the first thing and I’ve always designed clothes for myself but I also work for other artists when they have shows and video shoots,” she explained. “This is what I said before, what I said about collaboration between female artists. It doesn’t have to be a musician or an artist but I just want to help in any way that I can.”
On the Future of Latino Music
As one of the most current exponents of Latin music in the United States, Hazel considers it an infinite field of possibilities.
“I definitely see it changing,” she said about the Latino music scene. “I think, looking at music, that is going to come as a lot more different kinds of genres. I think it won’t just be the popular things. I think there will be a lot more room for rock, or indie, or pop in Spanish. I think it will be just as diverse as any other market with music. And I also think a lot of artists are also incorporating English and Spanish, and that’s a crossover that’s happening now with a lot of artists in the Latino market and the general market. It will continue and grow.”
On the Road Ahead
After the release of her EP Toxic during the summer of 2019, Hazel has her mind set on a new release and the new phase of her creative journey.
“The songs are really just about things that I’ve gone through in life and things that I’m going through right now, and the transition from Chicago,” she told us. “It’s really relatable the fact of making big changes in your life.”
“I’m releasing an EP called Duality in April. I’m going to continue with my design; I’ve always designed a collection that goes along with a project. For example for my last EP, there were seven songs so I created seven pieces. And that’s what I’m going to do for the next one. So I will be working on the collection and the project. And maybe playing some shows after that.”