‘Tina Tara: ”I always knew I wanted to become a singer”

Can you share your musical journey with us, from when you first discovered your passion for music to where you are today as an independent musician?

I always knew I wanted to become a singer, stand on a stage and connect with the audience on a sheer emotional level. I felt flooded with emotions and excitement when I listened to Whitney Houstons first album when I was 8 years old. It sure took a few months for the idea to form that I wanted to do that too, but I was mesmerized with the possibility to be able to create such energy by just opening your mouth to sing. It fascinated me and simultaneously I had the feeling in my gut that I was supposed to do that too.
Making my dream become a reality seemed next to impossible for the longest time as no one in my surroundings knew how to help me, nor was I equipped enough to find out for myself. (Internet was not the biggest thing then yet). For most of my childhood and teens I felt lost, misunderstood and not supported in the pursuit of my dream. It was apparent that most people who heard thought it was a childish mirage that had nothing to do with reality. I took the standard course of life and studied marketing at college but had to fight against depression and self medication.

I was lucky to be granted an exchange semester in Spain where I ended up meeting a producer with whom I began working on several song recordings. I decided to stay in Spain for a few more months as I had the strong feeling I needed to break out of my rigid, carefully constructed life plan.
When I came back to Austria I decided to honor my promise to my parents to finish my college degree but I also promised myself that once that was done I would move to another country where my music career had a chance to blossom. And so I did.

In my early 20’s I moved to London and began a music performance course at the BIMM institute. Since I had written my own songs in English I felt that I had a better chance of improving and gaining traction in an English speaking country. I built a 10piece band and toured throughout London and surrounding areas promoting my first original EP called “Not An Angel” Back then I knew how to make music but did not have much experience when it came to the marketing side of things so my EP did not get as much traction as it could have received.
Over the following years I struggled with health issues which turned out to be an auto immune disease I at first struggled with but after some time found a way of healing. My symptoms included brain fog, numbness and extreme fatigue. I also was dealing with some impairments like blurred vision and inability to walk. The years I struggled with MS were very difficult but also helped me find another trajectory and approach in life which is much more focused on self love and gratitude. Having gone through this time and learned how to heal myself through mental work and dietary changes, I also found another approach to music. I was suddenly drenched in positivity, light and colors. I changed my old artist name to the one I have now, Tina Tara, and released a series of singles that were colorful, positive and upbeat. It was my rebirth in a way and I am very grateful I got to experience that.

One of the songs I wrote during that time, Maybe, ended up being promoted in the US through connections I made when I visited Los Angeles. It ended up on the TOP40 Billboard charts on #34 and was the only independent song on that chart in that year (until that point). Sadly this happened in May 2020 just when the pandemic began to spread, therefore it sort of flew under the radar and did not go any further. But I was still so happy I got to that point, and it helped me get my visa to move to the United States.
When I arrived in California in October 2020 I wrote a song called New Here and filmed my music video (diy as always 🙂 in the beautiful Santa Barbara. After that I went on a bit of a “sabbatical” music wise as I had undergone a big shift in my life and it was time to reevaluate. In 2022 I fulfilled a lifelong dream and sang the national anthem for the Chicago Bulls and The Chicago White Sox. For a little girl from Austria who only dreamt of this but never thought this was possible for her, this was definitely a bucket list item to cross off. All these events left me feeling like anything is possible and nothing is standing in my way. My last single “I’m On Fire” speaks about the changes you undergo on a journey of self discovery and growth. To me, this song represents a distinct point in my life where I was done with the ‘bs.’ I shifted my focus to my goals and personal & professional growth. No excuses, no victimhood, no bending or bowing. Just the true, real me. I love belting out the ‘I’m On Fire’ part because every time I do, it gives me more strength, and I shed some of the insecurities I held inside me for so long. This is my fight song.
After a little settling-in phase and getting through the after effects of the pandemic I got to establish myself in the music scene a little more. I am currently performing up and down the West Coast and working on new material to be released this year 2024.

What motivates you to create music, and how do you stay inspired to continue making new and unique music?

To me it’s less about what motivates me or what inspires me. To me it is all about the Why!
I make music because it fills my heart with joy, it is the most passionate and honest expression there is to me and I have a gut feeling that is what I am supposed to do. This gut feeling was there since I was a child. Back then, I did not know what to do with it, but when I did not follow my instinct life would slap me back on track and get me to focus on this path – no joke! It was gnarly.
There have been many times when I doubted if I should keep going. And again, something happened that brought me right back on track.
Of course, my never ending thirst for finding out what’s on the other side of “keep going” makes me not want to quite as well.
Another fact is that I am very stubborn and I just want to prove to myself and whoever is watching that it is possible that a little girl from a small town in Austria makes it to the big stages of the world. Even more so because when I struggled with being half paralyzed through MS everyone told me to stop the music industry. I thought about it for a few weeks, then life slapped me back on track and literally a producer knocked on my door and I just got offered some Virgin Money lounge tours in the UK. That’s how it all kept happening. And I was back on track. 🙂
I am so excited to be able to keep sharing my story, my heartache, my victories, my pain, my enjoyment… Everything! I have gotten very inspired by other people being vulnerable and bold, so if I can be a person who does this for someone else, I am here for it.

Inspiration comes and goes. I think as artists we have to be patient with ourselves and take it as it comes. But thus far, life itself is the inspiration. Sometimes I feel like I live in a soap opera. There is not so much inspiration to look for, it kind of knocks on your door. Haha

As an independent musician, you wear many hats – from composing to marketing. How do you balance these different aspects of your career, and what challenges do you face in the process?

I have definitely taken on every role possible including producing my own music and music videos. I love, love, love doing all these things. My biggest struggle is balancing the left brain from the right brain activities. The one thing that messes with creativity the most is, if you also have to think about marketing it yourself. You cannot be free as an artist if you think about the outcome.
I definitely struggled and still struggle with this. I have found the only solution to not compromise either is to have specific times when I am letting my creativity flow and specific times when I am focusing on marketing. In theory it works. But in real life I still need to interrupt editing my website or working on scheduling social media posts if I get an idea for a song. Then I suddenly go into recluse mode, shut my door and am not found for a few hours until the song is finished. Lol … hey, thats what it takes 🙂

Could you tell us about your creative process? How do you come up with new ideas for songs, and how do you go about turning those ideas into finished tracks?

I do not have a formula. I think the only “formula” or “trick” I would be able to share is that I just make myself more open and available for creativity to come in. It is very easy for me to go all cerebral and logical and shut my creativity out to focus on tasks. If I have not just gone through a heartbreak and there is no other option but to write about it, I have to consciously make myself available to receive inspiration. And then, it hits me everywhere, at any time, in any situation. I take my phone and record anything that comes to mind when it does, lyrics, melody, both. Then, when I have time, I sit down and listen through all those ideas, write them down, finish the songs with either a piano instrumental in the back or I find a cool beat or instrumental online I want to use. When it comes to actually finishing the track I hire a producer and we work on the arrangement together.

Independent musicians often face financial challenges. How do you manage your finances to sustain your music career while also covering your personal expenses?

Great question. I have, thus far, always paid for things myself which was obviously not enough especially for marketing expenses. Out of financial reasons I learned to do a lot of things myself. Writing and producing, mixing and mastering, filming music videos, directing them and then editing them too. I have become a one-woman show. Now, I am facing the only real issue every human being on earth has. Time.
I sheerly do not have enough time to do everything and still stay sane.
This year, I have met the right people to complete my team who have extensive experience in the industry and can really help me move the needle and reach the audience that will appreciate my music.
I am going to launch a Kickstarter campaign beginning of February to raise funds for marketing expenses. In the end, those are the biggest expenses for any artist and a reason why independent musicians stay so far under the radar. I hope my current fans and supporters will see the value in my music and story and help me make a difference by getting involved in my Kickstarter campaign.

Can you share a particularly memorable or challenging experience from your journey as a musician that has had a significant impact on your career and personal growth?

I would definitely say that “Maybe” hitting the Top40 charts was a life-changing event. Not necessarily because of the actual chart, but because of the doors it opened for me. Financially, I never saw a dime from this success. Personally and professionally it helped me move to the US and finally get into the country, the circle of people and environment I knew I needed to be in to step to the next level of my music career.

With the rise of digital platforms, the music industry has changed significantly. How do you navigate the digital landscape, including streaming services and social media, to promote your music and connect with your audience?

It is all about not getting overwhelmed, putting one foot in front of the other and maintaining my own authenticity. It has definitely taken some time for me to learn that as the social media landscape has changed so quickly and has taken over a big part of the music landscape. I am learning to become more efficient with my tasks and not waste time on details. I also learn not to read my reviews. Which can be challenging when you manage your own social media, but it is not impossible.

Collaboration is a key part of the music industry. Have you worked with other musicians or producers, and how have these collaborations influenced your sound and career?

I love collaborating with other songwriters, producers and musicians. I think we tend to get stuck in our own way of creating music, or own melodies and our own lyrical signature. Collaborating always brings a fresh perspective to the table. I was lucky to write and produce multiple tracks with various artists and producers. Justin William is one of my favorite songwriters to work with. He has just started to launch his own music and I am very excited to see where this goes.
Other than that I am currently working with a couple of EDM producers and am looking forward to see where that collaboration goes.
My most recent and youngest ever songwriting partner is my vocal student Dylan. I started teaching him over a year ago and he has made wonderful progress. Now we have written our first song together which he dedicates to his sister as she is getting married this year in April. The song is wonderful and he will even record and release it on Spotify. He is thirteen years old and already a little pop star.

Your music likely reflects your unique style and perspective. Could you describe your musical identity and what makes your sound stand out in a crowded industry?

I don’t have limits. I will go to the end of my powers in expressing my emotions. When I step out of the vocal booth after recording a song usually my whole body is shaking, because I have given it my all.
I believe you can hear that in my performance. I am not someone who likes to throw autotune on every performance. I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be real.
Nowadays I hear a lot of copycats. I think people are afraid of being their true selves and taking risks.
The artists I am most attracted to are the ones that are real.
I cannot give you a checklist of all the things that make me “better” than other artists. I don’t really believe in that. I think everyone gives what they have. I give my all. I mix genres where I see fit, I am not stuck in one lane. That might be what sets me apart. I guess we will find out 🙂

What role does live performance play in your music career, and how do you approach planning and executing your live shows, especially in light of recent challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic?

Live music performances are very very important to me. It is the best way to connect with the energy of an audience. There is nothing quite like it. I have been performing live a lot this past year, however, in light of me being quite new to this country it definitely took some time to get that rolling. I am looking forward to a much more performance heavy year this year 2024. And I cannot wait.

Many fans are interested in the stories behind the songs. Could you share the backstory or inspiration behind one of your recent tracks that holds special meaning to you?

“I’m On Fire”:
I wrote this song in London together with my songwriting partner and producer Anthony Goldsbrough. When I wrote this song I thought about all the hurdles, all the struggles and all the rewarding feeling after overcoming them. In my life I feel like I have experienced quite a myriad of hurdles, Sometimes I really did not want to keep going anymore. I was doubting everything, my existence, the meaning of life, the meaning of my existence in life. I have fallen so low and into such dark pinholes of anxiety and depression that it seemed impossible for me to get out of them. Having experience that, I know the only solution for getting out is having faith that there is another way. There is light at the end of the tunnel, somewhere. And then, just take on step a time. That’s how I got my way to of it. There was no magic recipe or spell to make it all go away. But every single step I took made me stronger, more confident and a little tiny bit happier. The thing is, I am not saying I got through it all and now I am cured from all despair and sadness in my life. But I have a certain appreciation for the darkness in life. It makes us stronger humans. It gives us more gratitude. It gives us more appreciation for the light. I am so very grateful for life and for every second in my existence I get to spend with an intact body, a healthy mind and free of pain. Those things are the most valuable. No money in the world can buy that. This song is my fight song and reminds me (not that I need reminding) where I came from and that I am stronger than I though I would be.
I happily share this song with everyone who finds themselves struggling, to remind them that we are made to survive. We are built to conquer. And that we absolutely can succeed.

Looking ahead, what are your future goals and aspirations as an independent musician? Are there any upcoming projects or exciting developments in your career that you’d like to share with your fans and the audience?

I am currently working on a new single release and am planning on a bunch of releases this year. Whether those will be singles or an album is not decided yet. I have worked on putting an album together last year and am almost finished with the song selection.
My goal is to keep going until I reach my highest, truest potential as an artist, vocalist and songwriter. I love cracking the code of what I thought was impossible. I want to connect with as many people as possible and share all I have to give with whoever it moves, motivates or inspires.