PHOTO CREDIT: Nora Smith
IT has been a real experience…
talking with Tatum Rush about the stories that go into his E.P., Mini Girls. I ask the songwriter about his music and some of his influences; whether he has a standout from the pack; which artists he grew up around; whether his Swiss and Italian D.N.A. impacts his music and aesthetic – I ask him about gigs.
Tatum Rush revels new artists to watch for; if he gets time to unwind away from music; the three albums that mean the most to him; what advice he would give to artists coming through; what he hopes to achieve before the end of the year – the ambitious and talented artist chooses a song to end the interview with.
Hi, Tatum. How are you? How has your week been?
I won’t be able to complain about my week! I am grateful every morning for making time to do the many things that I love and not much else - I am completely blessed by the Sun God Ra.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am Tatum Rush: singer, performer; songwriter, producer and video artist; cross-pollinating (a word I detest) through today's musical landscape, from Pop to R&B; over to Latin, back to Pop; not without contraband. I am a sane and decent R. Kelly attending a total-reset Osho seminary in Doha. The un-attentive public might, flatteringly, box me as a typical mainstream artist but, if you dig under the paving stones, there’s the beach!
Your E.P., Mini Girls, is out on 1st June. Can you tell me about the themes that inspired it?
Mini Girls was inspired by...girls. Women, to be politically correct. Every song in this E.P. is a direct conversation with a female counterpart inhabiting my social, poetic and libidinal imaginary. Just like a rich girl's limited edition Barbie collection, you will find the princess from a far-away Eastern kingdom; the evangelical Brazilian bride, the Parisian philosophy student going to the club in a Mini Cooper...it is not easy to deal with these sophisticated ladies, not even for Tatum Rush - that's why you will find both turmoil and bliss in every song.
Talk to me about the tracks. Is there a favourite you would choose from the pack?
Mini Girls is a fortunate track. Everybody I know likes it (or at least pretends to). It's a very diverse set of songs: each one is a distinct aesthetical experience. My secret favourites are Bahiana, a Pop-Latin novella and Imperial Odalisque, an orientalist Dance painting. Both songs were inspired by my past journeys to places that marked me.
I heard a preview of Bahiana (ft. Nancy Deleuze), your next single (out on 18th May). What is the story behind the song?
Bahiana was inspired by reminiscences of images and sounds caught travelling in Northern and Central Brazil. I had in mind atmospheres like the annual ceremony for Yemoja, the Goddess of the Sea, where women in white dresses walk into the sea offering flowers and champagne to the wind. Passing glances of lovers on scooters in the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro...
I asked the Swiss-French-Brazilian artist Nancy Deleuze (courtesy of Electric Heroes Records) to help me write it - and I think she did something beautiful.
You have worked with other artists before – directing the video for Fai Baba’s track, Can’t Stop Loving You. Do these collaborations give you influence and energy when it comes to your own music?
Fai Baba is my good friend.
We used to be flatmates until a rare Indian bug infestation forced the demolition of the building. It's funny. When I'm in the midst of creating music, at some point, I always try to imagine the possible facial expression of a good friend such as Fai as if he would be listening to it for the first time. Fai always gives me energy and vitality.
You are a Swiss-Italian composer. How does your background and D.N.A. guide your music and tastes?
I am very lucky; I have both American and European cultural backgrounds, plus, I travel a lot. Ticino or Switzerland has a history as a destination for so many great artists...
As I noted in a previous interview, bizarrely, many came to die in Ticino. For example, George Harrison. Today, it's a very strategic place because it is at the intersection of Paris, Berlin; Milan, Copenhagen or any other continental adult-playground EasyJet-listed city you like and, at the same time, it's full of quiet idyllic retreats on lakes and such. I try to keep my artistic intuition intact, safe from too many influences; so, often I'm happy to be able to chill by the lake and drink a Cosmopolitan.
PHOTO CREDIT: Nora Smith.
Which artists did you grow up around? Tell me who you count as idols…
A reduced list in chronological order: Michael Jackson, Riverdance; Robbie Williams, a bunch of Italian rappers; Cypress Hill, Zap Mama; Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Bossa Nova Friends; Pat Metheny, Pat Martino; Wes Montgomery, Toots Thielemans; The Beatles, Joni Mitchell; Sly and the Family Stone, R. Kelly; Erykah Badu, Claudio Villa; Piero Umiliani, Jai Paul and Joni Mitchell...again and again.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christophe Coënon
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
I'm presenting my E.P. in Paris at the Olympic Cafè on 27th June! I’m working on a South American tour for next fall...
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I really hope something goes terribly wrong with the anthem song they selected for the FIFA World Cup Russia, and that the deciding committee picks my song, Bahiana, to replace it A.S.A.P.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Yes. While working as a stagehand at a Jazz festival, I remember my mission to hail a cab for a lady hooker hired by Buddy Guy, the Blues legend, because his manager wouldn't let her ride in the limo with the crew.
During the wait, she shared with me a very interesting and vivid life story…
PHOTO CREDIT: Nora Smith
If you could select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
A Trip to Brazil Vol.1 and 2 is a freeway-stop Bossa Nova compilation that made me want to become a musician.
Pat Metheny Group - Still Life (Talking) is the album thanks to which I became a musician.
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) gave me the groove.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Stop trying to come through for a month or two; do something else.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
All the time I get to make music is luxury, so no chillin' away from nothin'. Maybe, I'll take a break to have a sip of a Cosmopolitan.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Arthur Russell - Losing My Taste for the Night Life
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PHOTO CREDIT: Juliette Henrioud