Tanis Chalopin is a globally influenced artist whose life is deeply entwined with music, stemming from her multicultural background and upbringing across various countries. Her journey as an artist mirrors her exploration of self through the universal language of music, transcending boundaries and offering emotional depth beyond words. Tanis excels as a singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Her songwriting artistry intertwines captivating melodies with a fusion of acoustic and electronic elements. Infusing hints of her diverse heritage and multicultural upbringing, she crafts a musical landscape that bears a distinctly unique sonic palette and texture, wholly her own. Beyond her musical prowess, Tanis’s artistic expression extends to photography, inspired by a touching encounter with a young boy named Micky. His courageous spirit in the face of adversity stirred Tanis’s commitment to supporting abandoned children, leading her to use her art as a means to advocate for their cause. Driven by a profound sense of social responsibility, Tanis’s art becomes a medium for societal reflection and change. Her creative endeavors reflect not just personal expression but a resounding call for empathy and action, emphasizing her belief in the transformative power of art to inspire a more compassionate world
Can you tell us a bit about when you decided to take music seriously, and how you got started recording and releasing music?
Tanis Chalopin: I have known I wanted to have a career in music since the age of 5. That being said, it remained a dream for a long time until I was reaching the end of high school and told my parents I wanted to study music in University, something they were not naturally pleased to hear. But it is thanks to them that I began taking music seriously as I had to prove to them in my early teens that it was not just a vague and distant dream, but that I had the determination and drive to do the work and make a living in music.
Your upbringing seems to have a rich musical influence. How did being surrounded by music and having access to diverse cultural experiences shape your musical style and approach?
Tanis Chalopin: No one in my family is actually a musician. My father always loved music but didn’t have the opportunity to afford lessons, let alone instruments. My discovery of music really came from being an extremely shy and introverted kid. Because socializing wasn’t my strong suit, I found a way to emote through all types of music, everything from classical, to metal and to pop. And through listening to so much music, and already composing little sketches on the piano, my curiosity for other musical traditions grew as well. It eventually became a subconscious part of an amalgamation of sounds I like to hybridize and why I think the music I like to create has influences across several genres.
Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember, and who are you listening to right now?
Tanis Chalopin: It’s hard to say. As mentioned, I really listened to everything depending on the mood I was in and I have always been someone who would fall in love more with individual songs rather than artists. That being said, in the more recent years I have really enjoyed a huge amount of material from both Bon Iver and The 1975. Love the feels they create in their songs.
Could you tell us about your experience studying at the New York University Steinhardt School Department of Music and Performing Arts? How did this education impact your musical journey?
Tanis Chalopin: My degree at NYU Steinhardt was in Music composition and Theory so it was really a degree specific to furthering my intentions to become a composer for film, television and multimedia and I think I really taught me to be able to write not only for the genres that I was comfortable and familiar with, but also to be able to compose whatever a director might have in mind for his project. As far as a singer-songwriter, though my education was not focused on this aspect, I believe it also forced me to become a better all round musician and to make more conscious decisions in my story telling.
Your TED talk on visualizing music was intriguing. Could you elaborate on the concept and its importance in your music creation process?
Tanis Chalopin: My TED talk was a collaborative idea to transform music videos into a somewhat interactive experience with clickable elements, whether it is to find out a fun fact about a certain shot or moment in the song, find out the brand of clothes the artist is wearing or provide a link to a cause that the song may mention or the artist might care for. The idea was to expand and combine already existing mechanisms into one in order to allow artists to share what they care about and interact with their audience within their artwork. At the time of my talk it was still very much in prototype stages and unfortunately we haven’t found the right team to put everything together but I still believe in it and hope there will be an opportunity for it in the near future.
“Ce n’est pas moi” and “Losing my mind” were your early singles. How do you feel your music has evolved since those initial releases?
Tanis Chalopin: I am proud of those songs and it is the reason they are still out there, but I wrote them when I was 17 years old. I didn’t know much about anything at the time to be honest! So, I would say that aside from my voice developing and my musical arrangements becoming richer as I continue to learn, the main thing is the stories I tell now in my songs are deeper and are no longer a projection of who I want to be, but of who I actually am.
You’ve ventured into composing for films like Thoroughbreds and Killing Hope. How does your approach differ when composing for films compared to creating your solo music?
Tanis Chalopin: Composing for film is actually my full time job. I love it and love using music to give potentially new and deeper meaning to the visuals on our screen. When writing film scores I compose to the already finished film to match the changing cues and therefore have a form of guideline I am following. When I write my songs, I am starting from a completely blank page. I like doing both equally because I feel differ from each other enough so that it remains refreshing to switch back and forth between the two forms, yet they are close enough that I feel when I do one, I am still enriching what I could potentially do in the other.
Could you share the inspiration behind “Twin Flame,” the track performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s wedding?
Tanis Chalopin: I met Princess Eugenie in New York several years before her wedding through some mutual friends. We were not in touch but one day I got a message from her asking if I could compose a bespoke piece as a gift to her husband as she knew I was a composer. We spoke about what she wanted the piece to represent and told me a bit about her then future husband, whom I had never met, and she gave me examples of her favorite pieces. And then with that I just put pen to paper and started to write. It was really an honor to be asked and a unique experience to hear your composition performed by such a high level orchestra.
Your albums “Blackout” (2019) and “The A.I.R Sessions” (2023) showcase different facets of your music. How do these albums differ in terms of themes, influences, and personal growth?
Tanis Chalopin: I think it is similar to my feeling towards my early singles, especially “Blackout”. They were songs I wrote when I was still a teenager so I was still in a stage of figuring out myself and my sound. As for the “A.I.R Sessions”, those were just live acoustic performance videos I did outside in places all around the world of the songs that were featured on my EP “Blackout”.
Your involvement in scoring the Inspector Gadget video game is fascinating. How did your family ties to the franchise influence your approach to its musical representation, and what were the biggest challenges you faced in its creation?
Tanis Chalopin: Inspector Gadget, especially its theme song, is so well known that it was definitely a scary role to take on! I think first of all, I am a fan of the original show and theme tune that was composed by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, and the game company, Microids, had obtained the rights to use the melody of the original theme. This meant that one of the pieces I did for the video game was an arrangement of the renowned theme and I really wanted to keep the spirit of the original while not trying to mimic the sound of a recording from the 80’s. Then for the rest of the game, I was asked to create 7 original compositions based around various elements of the game. The most important thing for me was to keep the whimsy and energy that exists in the original show but give it a slight touch of today’s sound world as well.
As a philanthropist and founder of the Tanis Foundation, could you shed light on the causes that are closest to your heart?
Tanis Chalopin: I do not believe there is a Tanis Foundation actually! I have done a few things over the years to support initiatives I care for but I just want to clarify that I do not have a foundation. I have always liked to involve myself in causes where I can either see or partake in the change and result. Having grown up in the Bahamas and spent a good few years working as a Scuba Diving instructor, protection of our marine environment has been important to me so I have done a few ocean clean up dives, picking up a scary amount of plastic and abandoned fishing line damaging our reefs. I also ran the NYC marathon in support of Project Aware. But I think the work that most impacted me was working with Blue Sky Healing Home in Beijing. I’ve spoken about it many times before, but what I loved about working with them, was that I could go speak to them and find out exactly what supplies they needed, how much money they needed to pay for a surgery for one of their orphans, and I had a clear goal so I could go out and hit that target and help a young child get a life saving surgery. Do not get me wrong, I am not against donations, and when I am stopped on the street to sign up for donations, I am honestly terrible at saying no to them. But unfortunately I always felt frustrated because I always questioned where these monthly donations were really going. For Project Aware and for Blue Sky, I was happy and proud to see the changes it made on a life and a place.
What role do you think musicians like yourself play in raising awareness about environmental protection, animal welfare, education, and human rights?
Tanis Chalopin: In today’s world of high visibility, I think all of us, regardless of our status and job, need to be responsible in our behaviors and what we do and share. Being Bahamian, I cannot deny how frustrated I get when I see disrespectful yet “viral” content spreading on social media that was shot in the Bahamas and in the waters there. We all should do what we love but not at the detriment of others or their homes and especially when we have a public profile that can mislead a wider audience.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about being a musician in today’s music industry?
Tanis Chalopin: So many things! We live in a world with more content and accessibility than ever but we also live in a much more risk averse world. Those stories that you used to hear about someone scouting someone completely unknown, taking a leap of faith and building them from the ground up don’t really exist anymore. Instead as artists we have to be a fully formed and already popular product before we get a second look. That being said, I love my job and I have always said, music is the only thing I have ever wanted and still want to do. I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Can you provide insight into any upcoming projects or collaborations that your fans can look forward to?
Tanis Chalopin: I cannot say too much but there is a beautiful project brewing and waiting to be released with some amazing accompanying visuals. Had the honor to work with some incredible people in the process and I really look forward to releasing them in the coming year!
What would you consider the most successful, proud or significant point in your life or career so far?
Tanis Chalopin: When a stranger sent me a DM to tell me that my song got them through a tough day and wanted to thank me. It is why I make music and hearing that, it is all I could ever ask for.
Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most, and why?
Tanis Chalopin: I am a studio person for sure. It is one of the main reasons why I love being a film composer too! Since I’m shy and more of an introvert, I feel very in my element in the studio and safe with my instruments to explore and create ideas. In a live performance, I feel very vulnerable, which is beautiful in it’s own way and very important, but it is definitely not my comfort zone!
What role does technology and specific studio equipment play in shaping your sound and production process?
Tanis Chalopin: The ongoing advancement of technology in music has really been an amazing feature in accelerating and facilitating putting together creative ideas and songs and it has been really important for me to stay up to date with the constant changes. I do, however, still like to compose songs from a piano or a guitar. Someone once said to me that the best songs can be stripped back to just a piano and a vocal and they should still sound amazing. So that’s what I try to do when I write, make sure the melody is still there and not overwhelmed by the arrangements and electronics.
Putting aside any accolades or criticisms that fans, the industry, or the media may afford your persona or music, is there anything about you or your music, you think people may overlook, underestimate or misunderstand at all?
Tanis Chalopin: Music and art is subjective and we like what we like so I have never felt attacked when someone didn’t like my work. They have every right to! I guess the only thing I can say is that a lot of people presume my family helped me towards my career, but as I said, no one in my family even plays an instrument. My father was a writer but he stopped that career before I was even born. If anyone thinks this career was gifted, it wasn’t. I have had a lot more people, including my family, who didn’t believe in me at first and I take lots of pleasure in working hard to prove people wrong.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Tanis Chalopin: Music keeps me happy. And as for the goals, I have a lot of them but we can talk about them when I get there.