Tatiana Eva-Marie is what many people would call a “triple threat.” She’s brilliant, beautiful, and talented. Not only is she the lead singer of the Gypsy-French Avalon Jazz Band, she’s also a well-known actress who performs regularly in New York and tours the world. She’s basically a Swiss fairy princess, with soul.
HC: Where’d you go to school?
Tatiana: “I have a Master’s degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris, but I didn’t study music there, I studied English Medieval Literature.”
HC: Where is your hometown?
Tatiana: “I grew up in Lausanne, Switzerland, until I was about 15 years old and then I moved to Paris. Lausanne is a beautiful, artsy, and serene lake city built on the side of a hill, with a breathtaking view of the Alps.”
HC: What was your first experience with music like?
Tatiana: “My parents are both musicians, so I don’t remember an actual first encounter; music was as present as oxygen. I do recall three instances that turned music into a personal affair for me, all between the ages of three and four. Disney played a very important part in my musical development, specifically the choirs in ‘Peter Pan’ and the hauntingly beautiful bass flute overture of the ‘Jungle Book.’ Then my mother signed me up for dance lessons and I became obsessed with Tchaikovsky’s three famous ballets – I learned the entire scores by heart and could sing every part. And finally, I watched ‘Some Like It Hot’ and fell in love with old jazz; there was no turning back after that point.”
HC: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry?
Tatiana: “It wasn’t always so clear. My parents were pushing me in that direction and I took a very rebellious stance, that’s also why I studied Medieval Literature. I also pursued a career in theater, which was off to a rather good start. However, the jazz bug was still wriggling under my skin and I came to New York on a whim, looking for adventure and inspiration. That’s when it truly became clear to me that it was my calling above everything else.”
HC: What can listeners expect to hear from the music you make? (Like what message/feel are you hoping to get across to your listeners?)
Tatiana: “I strongly believe that my music should not have any political message in the classic sense. I very much dislike the über-politicized times we live in and the negative effect they have on people. I hate processed food, processed music, processed elections, dating apps, plastic… I hate what politics are doing all around the world. In the past few years, I have noticed that people seemed more depressed, glummer, many people seem to have lost their sense of humor and their ability to be silly and have fun in a way that is not mindless and mass-produced. My activism is insolent joy and romanticism, which I have decided to spread around me through music. I personally have enough of the world’s vulgarity and lack of humanity: this is my way of trying to make a difference.”
HC: Describe your music in three or four words (genre, mood, tone, etc.):
Tatiana: “Swing. Joy. Romance. Generosity.”
HC: Musically, who inspires you the most? (This can be another artist, family member, religious figure, etc.)
Tatiana: “It’s very hard to pick just one. Although my music has little to do with her, I am greatly inspired by Dolly Parton and her generous, authentic and childlike aura. There is also the explosive insolence of Louis Prima, the indulgent romanticism of Teddy Wilson, the brazen abandonment of Anita O’Day, the hopeful melancholy of Hoagy Carmichael… But my greatest lessons in music and performing were taught to me by my parents, Anca Maria and Louis Crelier. My violinist mother schooled me in the Eastern European tradition – which includes a tragic and voluntary sacrifice of the self to the audience and lots of extreme emotions – and my composer father taught me to never compromise on quality and to build a project with a keen eye for detail.”
HC: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?
Tatiana: “Every step of the way feels like the latest biggest break. I just got back from the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which is the most important festival I’ve played so far. I felt so elated about performing there. That’s how I felt the first time I sang at Lincoln Center a few years ago. Every concert, every “break”, helps you define your sound and your artistic vision. The goal is to always remain a work in progress.”
HC: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Tatiana: “Not resorting to cheap tricks. I’ve been offered so many big opportunities for fame and money, contracts which required me to sing music I didn’t believe in, dress in a certain style, compromise my integrity in many different, subtle ways. My biggest challenge was to say no and keep doing things my own way, resisting the temptation of quick fame, easy money, and fast YouTube clicks. Slowly but surely, the tortoise wins the race!”
HC: Have you ever entered a talent contest, or auditioned for a televised talent show of any kind? If not, have you ever thought of doing so?
Tatiana: “There are few things I hate more than talent contests. My mom and my friends were always pushing me to audition for these shows and when I was a teenager I did one in France, hating every step of the way. I was selected, but could not go through with it. It felt like I was selling my soul to the devil. I reasoned with myself and managed to take it as a good learning experience. I always think of Béla Bartòk’s beautiful phrase ‘competitions are for horses, not artists.’ I gladly accept to be criticized, but there is no place for judgment in art. A career is not a prize that you can win in something as vapid and vulgar as a talent contest, all you can achieve is fame, which was never what interested me about the glorious and sacred life of an artist.”
HC: What does your five-year plan entail? What are your goals, and where do you hope to be?
Tatiana: “I hope to be steadily growing as an artist and to keep affirming my presence in the music industry. I hope to record at least one CD every year and find some good representation because I’ve been doing everything on my own and as my business grows, I believe it’s time for me to find a proper manager and booker.”
HC: Can you tell our readers about any collaborations you’ve been working on?
Tatiana: “Oh, so many! I am currently working on a trio CD with bassist Elias Bailey and guitarist Vinny Raniolo, a repertoire of love-gone-wrong songs which are as funny as they are bitter. I am also collaborating with two of my best friends, Amos Rose and Sasha Masakowski, on our vocal group, the Copacetics, that will be performing at the next NYC Winter JazzFest for the first time! I am also collaborating with French director Gérome Barry on his first feature film, which I will be starring in. It’s called “Swing Rendez-Vous” and follows the steps of a young Parisian love-sick man into the jazz underworld of New York City, searching for an elusive singer who detains a magic song…”
HC: What’s next?
Tatiana: “I am currently resting in the French countryside with my father’s cat Simbad, staring at trees and trying to gather my thoughts before returning to the hot and bustling New York summer. I have a few shows coming up with my band at Joe’s Pub, Dizzy’s, and the Winter JazzFest, and a new Avalon CD coming out in August. I have also started mapping out the concept for my next album, which will be completely dedicated to ‘happy music,’ songs to imbibe, carouse and frolic to… It’s almost the 20s again, after all!”
HC: What would you say is your favorite part of being in the music industry?
Tatiana: “The rush of creating something ephemeral and beautiful with my friends on stage and sharing it with the people who have gathered to listen.”