Music & Me with … Whitney Tai

- 01 May 2020 -

Image: Whitney Tai from New York, NY

In this interview Elizabeth chats to Whitney Tai who has just dropped a new single, Surrender, from her forthcoming album, Apogee.

When were you first introduced to music?

Music was very important in my house. My dad rotated the discography of the Beatles, Mo-Town classics and A LOT of brit-rock gems from the moment I was born. Every night until I moved out, my dad played guitar in the singer-songwriter genre to classic rock ranging from James Taylor, The Allman Brothers, to Jethro Tull. We’d do a sing-along after dinner often. The first song my dad taught me on guitar was Gloria by Van Morrison and really I enjoyed teaching myself to play Beethoven on my 90s Casio keyboard.

Tell me about your favourite teachers

It would have to be the humans currently in my life, my producer Tim Janssens and my guitarist, Andrew Kingsley. We talk about music theory and composition all the time together and I am genuinely fascinated by how humans psychologically respond to music. How music takes on distinct shapes, color and spatial relationships as you build it. I like  analyzing the science of music as it opens up windows to understanding the psyche and why music is so intuitive to the world.

What are your fondest musical memories?

Probably the school plays my teacher used to put on at my grammar school. I felt for a private school with limited resources, we were able to put on some awesome productions. It was here where I discovered my true comfort and love of the stage. In 8th grade, I was cast as Cinderella and tasked to learn the entire Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook taught by my first-rate music teacher, Cris Spinner. She is a firecracker and made music fun.

What is your favourite TV theme tune and/or film soundtrack?

This is like asking my favorite ice cream flavor haha. If I had to choose, my favorite film soundtrack would be the score to Dragonfly by John Debney. I remember crumbling with awe as to how he married the story with his theme. I met him some months ago at the Newman Scoring Stage where he told me how he got the job and what inspired the music. We chatted, shared some common past memories and I expressed what the score meant to me. We both welled up with tears and that was one of those cosmic life moments I will probably never forget.

What was the last music download/ CD you bought?

The Slow Rush by Tame Impala, a brilliant sonic production by one of our contemporary renaissance thinkers. Watching Kevin’s music evolve over a time-span sideline to my own personal growth as an artist feels visceral. He and I share many of the same influences and is probably one of the few contemporaries I feel connected to artistically (since most of my life-changing inspirations are older classics).

Imagine you’ve been given $300 to spend on anything music-related. How will you spend it?

I feel it would be natural for me to use the funds to donate to music education materials/instruments to a school in need or an organization that provides music to children who are ill, elderly in nursing homes or individuals marginalized by unfair conditions. Music should never be denied to anyone, it provides joy, improves reasoning, promotes discipline and permeates healing. In 2020, $300 dollars isn’t a lot of money but every little bit helps the overall contribution.

How do you balance music with your other obligations?

This has honestly been hard as hell lol… I come from a previous design culture where I worked for different architecture firms over the years doing 10+ hour days. When I started picking up music full-time, I realized that if I was going to work hours like that again, it would be for my own company and on my own terms. I started doing design consultation independently and loads of odd jobs so music could be my primary focus. Being an entrepreneur is all I’ve ever wanted. Seemed like a natural transition and I get high on taking risks that break the box of any system limiting my potential.

Happiness is ... a warm embrace as well as a surrender. It is a gracious love of simple things, a celebration of innocence, gentility, kindness, curiosity and adventure. To share this with others and see their equal joy furthers a glowing energy that spreads like spiritual wildfire.

Image: Surrender 















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