A Voice for the People: Singer & Songwriter Tani Speaks the Real Through Her Music

In today’s Dirty South Club spotlight we give a little shine to singer and songwriter Tani (pronounced like Ta-Nee). She talks about what inspired her to get into music, what inspires her as a songwriter, motivating others to be themselves, and unapologetically being herself.

Talking with Tani was like talking with a good friend and good friends can go on and on. So we condensed this piece to share the highlights and imperative pieces to know as much about this urban mermaid as possible and I made sure we kept much of the “good friend” discussions on the hush because that’s what friends do, right? 😊

However, if you want to know more about her, you can know her through her music or just ask her. You’ll learn a great deal about a real one. Let’s jump into this thang kinfolk!

What’s your name and what part of the Dirty South are you representing:

My name is Tani. I guess if I was to pick a place in the Dirty South that I represent; I make most of my music out of Texas. I’ve made most of my music in Austin, but I’m not from anywhere cause I’m military raised. (Laughs) So yea, I don’t have a hometown exactly, but I’ve been in Texas probably the longest.

What do you do and what inspired you to do it:

I write songs and I sing. I consider myself a songwriter first. My life inspired me to do that. I’ve always sung and I’ve always written songs cause I can literally write and sing. I’ve seen other people go through things, I go through things and it’s just a way that I express myself, right? So, when I was a kid it started just because I needed an outlet. I don’t know that I knew why I did what I did until I was much older. Now I do it because I like help people express themselves or confirm what they feel or make them feel good. Like, my whole goal in life is just to uplift and motivate; (to) inspire. You know, as corny as it sounds that’s really what I’m here for.

Yea, that’s not corny. I mean, that’s a good thing because you could be using your gift for a lot of other stuff that has technically no substance. So, I can definitely respect wanting to do it for the reason that you’ve said. So, I totally get that:

People get it f***ed up, they think like these corny politically correct songs is what people need and that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes we just go through s**t and just have someone really to say, I’ve been through that same thing you have been through or I feel the same way you feel; is uplifting and motivating.

People go out for birthdays and holidays, like Valentine’s Day, they’ll go and spend $5.00 on a card because they don’t know how to put into words how they feel. So, it’s like it’s not easy to express yourself. So, I just want to be a voice for people that don’t have that outlet and it’s also therapeutic for me, you know?

Gotcha! So let’s see, who have been some of your inspirations musically past and present:

Mariah Carey was huge! Prince — huge. Prince and Lauryn Hill. Present day, people that I love? I like, Andersen Paaak is dope. I like Kaytranada. I like BJ the Chicago Kid. Just people that’s doing different stuff and being real honest with it.

Yea, that’s dope. I’ve always been the type musically, I’ve always been into the quote unquote distinct voices and distinct tones. I like BJ the Chicago Kid because his voice is just different to me. When he sings, I know it’s him. I like that about him. There’s a lot of guys or even ladies that I hear, especially today, and I can’t tell it’s them. That was something that I liked when I first heard your single, I was like you know what? She’s different! You just have a different tone to you that you don’t hear in popular music or otherwise:

Well thank you! And I know you hear a lot of music too. That’s a big compliment! (Laughs) If I had to say; I’m a big trap rap fan. My favorite rapper is Gucci. I don’t know if that’s what you’re asking, but yea. (Laughs) Gucci is my favorite! I have a cat and his name is Gucci too. (Laughs)

Now that is actually dope:

People, they think it’s because I like the brand name. No, he’s named after the rapper!

When people discover your music or hear your music for the first time; what do you hope they get from your music and also from you as an artist:

I mean, the whole point of my existence is that I want to motivate people to be themselves. I know that I’m not perfect. I don’t have the most perfect voice. I don’t probably think politically correct. I make mistakes.

But when I’m making my music, I want people to feel like oh, somebody understands! Or, she’s saying something that I’ve always wanted to say. I work really hard at trying to create living room conversations. I want people to be able to fall into the music cause music today, has made it harder for people to do that.

What would you consider to be the best business or personal advice you’ve ever received:

I think, being original, being consistent, and being honest. Be more real; less perfect.

Today, a lot of people have a problem, in my opinion, with being original. In many of the arenas, music or otherwise, we don’t really set out to put forth the vision that we have. It’s like, no, be the original you not the remixed version of somebody else:

Right, I think it’s gotten confusing. I’ve been doing music for a long time. I’ve been recording since I was 12 and I’ve been around people that tried to put me in a box. There’s so many people that I think that make it seem like you have to do that. I think they forget that the reason why the biggest people are so f****ing big is because they didn’t listen to anybody; to try to make them be something that they weren’t. We like them because they are them and nobody else can be them. It’s kinda backward logic to me for somebody to want me to be something other than myself. I’m a mom, I wouldn’t want my daughter to feel like she has to be something that she’s not.

Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for those who wish to follow in your footsteps musically:

If I could talk to a younger me I would definitely tell myself to figure out why I do what I do sooner. Because, the second I knew why I did what I did was the second things started to change for me.    

So, how do you define success:

In life? I don’t know why it’s a tricky question. (Laughs) I just want to do what I love, every day. I wake up in the morning; I wish I could do what I love every day all day. Like, what I’m born to do. So, success for me, every day I work towards being able to do or I strive to do what I’m born to do every day.

All I want to do is be in a space where I’m able to fulfill my purpose and not have to think about it. I don’t wanna even think twice before I have to make a decision about do I want to do what I love or do I have to do what I have to do today.

So, to me that would be success, being able to eat, breathe, and sleep my music without having to think about other s**t that happened in the world, you know?

Yea, I got you. So you have any plans or goals in the near future? I know you definitely want to get the EP out, but anything other than that? Any touring, etc.:

Yea, I’m working on putting together some tour dates now. I wasn’t gonna go until next year, but probably gonna happen a lot sooner because my last single is doing good. My video just came out like a week and a half ago and we’ve got like 200,000 views pretty much. So, people are waiting to see us. So yea, I think we’re gonna definitely go on a mini tour here soon and see some people face to face.

I’ve got an EP, the Urban Mermaid Project comes out this Spring. I’ve got a mixtape coming out. A few more features coming out, some fun features and more visuals and more videos. Lastly, probably the album will come out later this year or early next year. Depending on how well everything else plays out. I’m busy! I’m like in the middle of a full project right now!

What do you like to do for fun:

EAT! (Laughs) I’m a fat a**. I like to eat all day! I like to go places just so I can try the food. I plan my vacations around food. I’ll give you an example. When I wanted to go to New York, everybody was talking about pizza, right? So, I had to have pizza in Brooklyn because you read about people eating pizza in Brooklyn and s**t, like it’s the best pizza ever. So, I had pizza in Brooklyn and I had to have spaghetti in Little Italy and cannolis. I had to have a hot dog in Central Park. I’m so weird like that. I like having an adventure on my way to get food.

What do you love most about the Dirty South:

The food! (Laughs) No, it’s real chill. I’m definitely more Southern than anything, I really am. I’ve got a lot of family from New Orleans, in Louisiana and I’ve lived in Atlanta and all the time I’ve spent in Texas. I go to other places and they say I’m slow because of my dialect. (Laughs) They think I’m slow!

It’s funny, I may talk slow, but I probably think three times faster than they do. But, I love the South. People are nice here. We’re chill here. In the winter time, it’s like summer. Like I said, the food is better. I don’t like to be cold. (Laughs) I mean I hate the winter time so I’m comfortable down South. (Laughs) I’m not really like a East or West coaster. I’ve been there multiple times, but I don’t know, it’s just not for me. AND I just seem to have better hair days down South! (Laughs)

Yea, cause that’s important (Laughs):

It is! Cause I don’t have time for that! I have too much hair to be risking it all on that! (Laughs)

Kinfolk, make sure you get by and check out Tani and follow her social media to keep up with all she’s doing.


Photos courtesy of Tani

© 2017 C. Huey for Dirty South Club | D$C

This interview has been edited and condensed.