An Interview from Radio WaWa
Polish borsch and Italian cappuccino
We talk with TANITA TIKARAM about her last album
"THE CAPPUCCINO SONGS"
Tanita, during our meeting, proved to be a very openminded, sincere and joyful. She often bursted out laughing, seemed to be a bit shy. She flied to Poland only for some hours putting up at the "Bristol" hotel. She was with her 23 y.o. friend on the way. During her stay in Warszawa, she met fans in one of music shops. We journalists were received in the sleeping room at the hotel apartment. We sat in the big bed and talked about her private and professional life.
How did you imagine Poland before your arrival?
Images of Poland? I live in London, and near my home is a Polish café. Pictures of Poland for me are cakes and cappuccino I drank there, some delicacies, so food. Yes, your country ... with food. I know also something about your history.
What do you know about our history?
What? [loud laughter] Sorry. You know, Lech Walesa, Poland fighted against Germany before. I met the Polish woman in New York with amazing low voice ...[laughter] ... all what I know about Poland.
The title of your new album is "The Cappuccino Songs", so you sing about Polish café.
As a matter of fact you are right, I had lunches in a Russian tearoom. The owners were Polish couple. That is very interesting story, later she divorced and married othe Pole and bought this Polish café.
[they play "Stop Listening"]
Did you eat any Polish dishes?
Here in Poland? No.
Do you live in luxury?
No. I live modesty. Luxury, what do you mean?
You know: to live in a good appartment, drive an expensive car ... [sorry, it is Poland - BJ]
No, I haven't a driving license. I failed five times exams so I can't drive a car, but have a nice appartment. I travel a lot, so I'm happy.
Is it big, has many bedrooms?
It's very nice. I designed it and made all works myself. It's funny, but I thought I won't live there long. But neede one and a half of year for all works. The appartment is very big, I destroyed all walls. It's very old English house. Walls are in basic colours: yellow, blue and red. A floor is from wood. It's in Malayan style. It lookes a bit like a house for kids, like designed by kids. And kids, visiting me, feels there simply safe. I have a big library and all books for kids are low, think it's a good idea. I rarely live in my appartment. When many people visit me they sit down around and talk.
Do you live alone or with somebody else?
With everyone who wants to stay there. [laughter] Sorry, I have so "open house".
Do you have any pet?
No, unfortunately no.
But do you like pets?
Yes, but it's hard to keep a pet travelling so much.
Could you tell us something about your family: your mother, father, brother?
My mother is very good, father is lovely and my brother works as a guide. We grew up in Germany. My mother visits me when I'm back and prepares dinner, Malayan food.
And now a question about your exotic beauty? Where are you from?
A bit of malayan, a bit of Fiji and India.
You were talking about eating? What's your favourite food?
I like Italian food, Chinese and of course Malayan. I said I visit a Russian tearoom where is also Polish food.
Did you try any Polish food?
Here in Poland no, but in England I eat everyday for lunch. I like Armenian salad, pies with smoked salmon and a borsch. It's a good restaurant. If you will be in London try.
Let's talk about your new record "The Cappuccino songs". Tanita, how much time do you need from writing first song to the moment when we buy it in shops?
It's depends on different things and it's not easy to measure. I first co-operate with other person. We wrote songs between other things we doing. So it may have taken us a year and a half, but remained much shorter. We did different things and then met for a month so it's hard to place it on any time scale.
Let's talk about this "other person" - your producer and composer Marco Sabiu. Who is he and what was his part in this album?
He was ... is good. Marco is an Italian and I like Italians. He was first person before I felt an equal. He wanted the same things as me. He had written songs together with me, then was occupied in producing the album. He was very good for me. We are great friends. I very like him and think in fact we will work together in future.
On this record is very rich instrumentation. Could you tell more about it?
There are strings. There are large and small instruments. [laughter] There is a Brazilian percussion, which has very exotic sound, it's the street instrument. There are big drums with intense sound. There are very specific tones. Drummers in Brazil are very important persons. They play during special events. I have never seen it earlier.
Another folk inspirations on the album?
Yes. In "I don't wanna lose at love" are samples of the string quartet from Finland. It sounds very celtic. Because I'm sure so music originated when the world had arisen. There is sound of the mad song.
Let's talk more about samples and loops. When I listen to this album I feel it's trans music. Did you plan this trans sound?
You say about this last song [IDWLAL] or about all album. All album? No it's not intentional, but it happens when you work with rhytm, samples. Repeating the same rhytm it's very transy. But my aim wasn't creating this style of music. It sounded well, cos I'm not sure trans music is different type. I don't want to be classified to one type, e.g. this song is "drum and bass" and another "house". I lend some elements, but I don't create trans music.
[they play "I Don't Wanna Lose At Love"]
Your voice is very low, thoughtful and deep what contrasts with very cheerful album ... Is it a new style or only a temporary change?
I think I'm very happy person and you can hear it in my songs. Composing songs with Marco we joined Latin rhytms, cos he is Italian. Songs are light - he composes so songs. I cooperated with somebody first time and had more choices, cos I wasn't the person who play guitar. It changed everything.
The title of your last album "The Cappuccino Songs" suggests rather melancholy mood and lyrics written in the café with the cup of coffee. Why? It contrasts with the mood of your songs.
It's strange you say that, cos many people say the title is perfect. I think it's quite light title, not very serious, but I didn't want any serious title. It fits on the character of the songs which are like cappuccino: light and dark, thick and thin. "The Cappucino Song" is represetative for the whole album: light, but also deep.
[they play "The Cappucino Song"]
What's the difference between Tanita from "The Ancient Heart" and tanita from "The Cappuccino Songs"? What has changed during these 10 years?
Hmmmmm... I'm much more open, older ... much older. I'm not so nervous and shy as I was earlier. When you are 18, you are still kid. Today I'm 28 and I'm a woman who must be responsible for what you do. As long as you are 25 or 26 you are still not really adult. Later there are any psychological changes. The man notices "Oh, God, I'm adult". Then our reactions change. There is the a state of responsibility, which my 23 years old friend hasn't. [laughter] She will have it when she will be 28. It's hard to explain. But really till age 27-28 man is still kid. We don't want to lose any behaviour which is good for babies. Later we can understand how and why we did it.
What success changed in your life?
I'm a big appartment, many rooms and many colours. [laughter] I have a happy heart and a clear conscience.
What would you do not being a singer?
I would be probably a journalist. But I'm not sure.
Do you still think avout your emotional development? You were under the influence of American writers. What do you read now?
At the moment ... I'm reading a book by German writer who is unknown. But he is really good. He wrote two books. It's very strange ... I found his books in America and he has unusual talent to tell stories. In his book referring to Suskind's "Perfumes" you will find sign of good taste. I also like to read famous biographies.
Did you read any Polish books maybe?
No, probably no.
Any other hobbies?
I like to go to the cinema, theatre, to meet friends. That's not a hobby, but I really like to do it.
Any sightseeing in Warszawa?
No, in the morning I came here by plane, later they will pack me on the plane. I'dlike to see something, cos I have never been here.
You will comeback here in the summmer to take place in the Sopot Festival.
Maybe, I'm not sure yet.
Have you any plans to concert in Poland?
Yes, it's possible, but If I will visit Poland, I do it in the end of the year. Because I need much time for the promotion now. If I will concert I want to do it in very concrete way. I don't know the results yet, we must wait.
Tanita, we have for you very controversial question. In your interviews you say sex is very important in your life. I'm not sure there were your words or journalists' interpretation.
I don't suppose I said it. Perhaps answering any question, as a joke. I don't think I said just "sex is important for me", I don't imagine. But of course sex is important for me. Finding myself in different positions with different people. [laughter] No, sorry, I don't know. Sex is all right, finally everybody likes sex.
Is sex is always connected with love?
Are you in love now?
Yes, yes. [with desire and laughter (?) in her voice] I'm in love.
Could you say us something about this man, this relationship? Maybe a girl?
That's very good. Sorry I can't say about it. It's O.K. I feel like on a pyjamas party. Do you know what's it? In England or USA in age near 12 you invite schoolmates to stay at night. They dress pyjamas and gossip. For me this talk is just like from so party. [laughter]
Yes. Perhaps you are right, we are sitting in your bed, only women and talk about sex and men. Thank you ver much.
Monika Tarka, Monika Murawska
Warszawa. 26th June, 1998. Translated by Boleslaw Januszko
[It's sometimes more a translation than transcription. I used the article from "Gazeta Polska" 28/98]
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