Tatiana Tell is a Scranton-based musician who recently broke into the local music scene. At just 21, the Scranton High School alumna is working to grow her musical career while majoring in journalism and minoring in advertising and digital media at Marywood University. She plans to graduate this spring. In the little time she is not working on music or school, she can be found bartending at Thirst T’s Bar & Grill in Olyphant. Her recently released debut album, “Unspoken,” received recognition as Electric City’s best new album in 2018.
Meet Tatiana Tell…
Q: What first got you interested in music?
A: It started when I was around 6. I really wanted to learn how to play piano. I was always passionate about singing, so my parents put me in classes. I learned how to play piano, they put me in vocal class, and I got involved in theater. It’s been my whole life for as long as I can remember. I was that kid who never did anything else besides music and practicing.
Q: Describe your musical style and who influences you.
A: I would probably be categorized into alternative, rock and pop. I’m really influenced by Stevie Nicks, old school No Doubt, Lana Del Rey, and Lady Gaga and her style. I’m a huge Lady Gaga fan. A lot of people say they’re surprised by that, because I like the rock, grunge-era and ’90s (music), but she is just so talented, and she’s what inspired me to start writing. I’m obsessed with the ’90s era, even though I was born in ’97 — so I didn’t experience all of it, but I grew up listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the Seattle ’90s aesthetic.
Q: As a young and new performer, what is something you feel you are lucky to have already learned?
A: My whole life has been preparing me for the criticism and the way the industry works. Because I got to experience constructive criticism throughout my whole life, I feel like I handle it maybe a little better than other people. I get that not everyone is going to like my music or even like me as a person. It doesn’t really upset me, because I know who I am. I know what my music is and what it means to me.
Q: Talk about the development of your album “Unspoken.”
A: When I was 12, I started writing, and I told my parents I wanted to create an album. I started it when I was 14. I was working on it for about two years. It took so long. I was still in high school at the time. I ended up taking a really big break between the time I was 16 and went to college. I don’t think I was confident enough to put my own stuff out there. When I got to college, I rerecorded the songs at Saturation Acres Recording Studio, and the album was born. A lot of the songs on my album were written when I was really young.
Q: How did you feel about releasing music that you wrote so early in your career?
A: That was something I struggled with before releasing the album. I remember talking to Bret Alexander from Saturation Acres. I said I didn’t know if I felt comfortable putting these out there and I didn’t know if they were good enough. I had changed so much. I’ll never forget what he said, and that was (how) that’s still a part of who I am. This is my first album, so it would be a good growing experience. The way I arranged the set list, it’s most recent to least recent, so it kind of shows growth too.
Q: What is the theme throughout the album?
A: A lot of the songs have to do with heartbreak and lost love. I wrote a lot of these songs when I was heartbroken, but I feel like there was a lot of resentment and hate put into the songs. The album is definitely angry. It’s a feeling we all feel, and I just had to let it out. I’ve had a lot of not-so-great relationships in my life starting from a young age, but I think anyone can relate to songs like this, because everyone has been heartbroken or resented a person for the way they made them feel.
Q: What are your plans/goals for the near and long-term future?
A: My near-term goals would definitely be to perform out more and get into the bar scene. More than anything in the world, I want to be performing my own stuff and covers too. Eventually, it would be great to go somewhere with this. I’m not saying be famous, but go somewhere other than local. If not, it’s OK, because I go to school for something that I still love just as much as music.
Q: What has been the coolest musical experience so far in your young career?
A: There’s a competition called neXt2rock. This was for the East Coast, and each area had its own venue. I competed in that. I didn’t win, but it was still an awesome experience, because there were so many people. It was my first real time performing my songs in front of a lot of people in a stage setting. I got to meet other musicians who are also really passionate about what they do. I loved talking with them. I entered the competition, and then later on we found out that the venue was going to be my dad’s bar (Thirst T’s Bar & Grill), so that was pretty cool too.
Q: What are your other hobbies, interests or activities?
A: At Marywood, they have the Wood Word, the school paper; I love writing and am the editor for arts and entertainment, so I write about a lot of music-related things and entertainment and pop culture. I am also really into art. I’m really into graphic design and sketching. It relaxes me. At school, I’ve been a TV anchor for TV Marywood. I like everything that has to do with the communications field, whether it is advertising, creating content or something else like that.
Q: What is it like to balance an up-and-coming music career and student life?
A: Difficult. I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard, especially when I was still in the recording process. I was in school while I was creating the album. Doing all of that while going to school is hard, but since I love it, I have to push for it.
Q: Have you had a specific moment or time in your life that helped shape the person you are today?
A: At a young age, specifically around high school, I don’t think I liked myself or gave myself the respect that I deserve or that I have for myself now. I was putting myself in positions with people who truly didn’t care about me or put me in bad situations. That was rough, and it’s something that I still think about to this day. Now, I look back on it, and I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t have the experience that I have, and this album probably wouldn’t exist.