Name: Carmen Tannich aka Tanyc
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Tanyc's self-titled debut album is out via Gentle Art of Music / Soulfood.
Recommendations: The first book that I want to recommend is also related to my album; my cover picture was shot and realised by Wictor Franko, a photography artist from Warsaw. I met him at an exhibition in Poznan, Poland and fell in love with his way of photographing. His photography book is called "Wiktor Franko Vol.1".
The second recommendation is not a specific work of art but to go into museums. During lockdown I realized how much I missed these visits and how much artworks and artists have to say. I get inspired by pictures. Every piece tells a story for itself if you let it.
If you enjoyed this interview with Tanyc and would like to find out more about her and her personal world of songs and sounds, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My parents owned a professional recording studio. Therefore it was obvious that music would be my companion for life. I was given access to many different styles and influences.
The most fascinating part for me back then were the complex choirs in pop music. It was a natural and logical process for me to be writing songs eventually.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I was given singing lessons at the young age of six. Aside from dull technical exercises I learned how to use my voice in a studio. Techniques with the microphone, working with compressors and EQ, recording polyphonic vocals and when to take up space or step back as a soloist. All that I learned from childhood on from which I have acquired an automatism for these areas.
In my opinion the best training is to record oneself and then to check that. A focus in my training was that I do not imitate anyone, hence I could work on my own strengths very early in my life.
I do not think much of imitation and faking to sound like somebody else. Often something unique and beautiful is lost. After time that might even cost you your voice. I think when listening to somebody you can recognize easily if they honestly display their emotions or if they are just copying the style of a different singer.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
It largely influenced my album. With it, I was given the chance to listen only to what I had to say. Because I get around a lot and I work and compose as part of teams, this urge only increases, sometimes without compromises.
I have a clear image of myself. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know which situations I want to be exposed to and to which I don´t. I learned how to reflect thoroughly, these results flow directly into my creativity.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The biggest challenge was writing the lyrics. To sit down and listen to oneself, to get to know oneself better, to reveal personal information etc. That is always a challenging but rewarding process.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
My parents owned a completely analogue studio in the 70s, 80s and 90s. They only added digital stepment slowly and step by step. Bulky devices and expensive tapes as well as conscious recording were replaced by the possibility to experiment faster and easier. I had the opportunity to get to know the analogue as well as the digital world of music.
For me, the idea of the song takes center stage. Because of that the technology used is just an instrument to reach the goal. An aid if you will. In a time where producing has become affordable for everyone and everyone has the same tools back home, sadly way too many things sound the same. That I fine incredibly unimaginative and little to not inspiring.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Most importantly I am a better singer than I am an instrumentalist. The ability to sketch choir arrangements and harmonies very fast without needing other instruments is a very enjoyable capacity. This gives me a more direct access to my songs. Words and harmonies mostly make up the base of my compositions.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I value working in person with instrumentalists or my co-producers most. It happens only rarely that I compose in teams. When it comes to arranging the songs I am happy about every input, be it about the arrangement itself, the way the instruments play or about a special sound. It was also beautiful to find new approaches of playing the songs in a band in the arrangement of the album for this stage stage.
Nowadays it is normal for 10-15 people to be working on a song. For me that would be out of the question. It would distance myself too much from me.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
A typical day starts with the first cup of coffee in bed and a slow and calm transition into the day. My daughter is already grown up and I already have the time as a mother with everyday school life and getting up early behind me. I live in the mountains at 1150m sea-level, and the days are very different there only because of the weather.
I do have a routine that does not repeat every day but repeats regularly. A part of that is morning sport, yoga or just a walk. I work on administrative and organisational to-dos before noon. Creativity usually peaks in the evening when it is quiet, and I can absorb the calmness. When I play concerts, there is a lot of preparation to do for the evening like warming up … I would like to separate music and “other aspects” more, but they depend too much on each other.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
There were many highlights that I like to remember.
A special one was the work on the first album of my former band CAMA a few years ago. Our producer brought us to a small village in France in the middle of nowhere. There we could find no distractions and calmly focus on the project and work on our music that we arranged and recorded. I was used to a very busy day to day life, so this way of producing was very special to me.
Maybe that is where the longing for starting a new project somewhere in the South came into being and I fully committed to the idea.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The previous answer gives an example for such a state of mind that leads to achievements for me. Over time I learned that creativity can’t be forced. I know that I can rely on myself, and a little bit of pressure helps the process.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music never hurt me; I won’t let it come that far. Before that happens, I turn off the music or go away. I also feel attracted to music that fits my current mood. I think that music surely has its big contribution in therapeutic uses. This topic would go beyond this interview and should be answered by a psychologist.
When I first showed the song “Beautiful” to some of my friends I saw how deep they dived into the mood of the song. How intensely they were touched and that they were in a way hypnotically sucked into the music. I saw this phenomenon especially with this song several times. I was very happy about that and it shows how music has the power to move people.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Too many boundaries can inhibit inspiration. It is even more our duty to treat other cultures with respect.
A lot of that happens on subconscious level, but I think the line is drawn when people exploit other cultures for commercial and economical reasons. In general, I would say it is great how different cultures grow together. Through that, the perception of everybody gets the chance to adapt.
I was lucky to be able to learn a lot from my daughter who went to a college with people from over 70 nations who live in diversity with the same goal. This example would be a great model for our whole world at large.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I often connect music with certain colors or I immediately see pictures in front of me. I used to see that as a big advantage because I know in the beginning how my album, the pictures and the videos have to look like. I was able to create a visual connection next to the auditory.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me art is used only for me. I always see myself in art first. I allow myself to be drawn into the pictures, then I ask myself the question what the artist wants to express with that. I don’t want to share political or educational opinions in my songs. I also don’t want to get too direct. My goal is to give the listener a chance to feel with the song, a motivation for reflection in a way.