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Posts Tagged ‘London’

I could list about 101 reasons as to why I have not written a new blog since 2009… But the truth is, it really has been so manic, time and again it came down to either writing a blog or a new chapter for the book. A tough call when you’re on a deadline, but at the same time, I’ve missed blogging so much – it’s good to be back!

On the one hand, I’d love to write a whole update of what’s been happening since the back end of the year… But I wonder if it might be a handful to digest – and a fine line between enthusiasm and, quite frankly, narcissism. Ha, I’ll save myself the aggravation πŸ™‚

While I’m nearly halfway through the memoir with Chuck Taylor and my amazing agent, Colleen, music has really become the central point of my career – and quite rightly so. I feel that I’ve been blessed with so many different opportunities (and jobs!) over the past few years, I barely had any time to make music… Until I came straight back to what I love the most since the Kobalt Publishing deal knocked on my door in July of last year (shortly after Eurovision).

I’ve been blessed to have met so many wonderful songwriters and producers since then – and have written for some fabulous artists, which is an honor in itself, and a great source of fun and creativity, too. Would list their names but let’s wait for the records to “drop” in the digital stores first, OK? Particularly excited about the French cut AND a new record coming out in Britain… No escape from my London days, that’s for sure!

Before I dash off to my rehearsal on Memorial Day Weekend (Aww, did I mention we started rehearsing for the Broadway show? Yippee…) I’d like to thank you all for hanging in there and being so patient with my insane schedule — it’s all really falling into place now, hallelujah, I feel so blessed and fortunate… And so very excited, it’s surreal!

Do promise to try my best and stay in touch… And watch this space for a super-fun new website (official Tinatin Music homepage) in the works and due to be launched very soon!

Blessings to you all,

T xx

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There is place in Chelsea that I have fallen in love with… Not for any particular reason other than for its resemblance of another equally cozy and unusual place with the same three-digit name that I had so loved in London. Fashionable duds and charming antiques surround diners at this restaurant nestled within a designer clothing store.

It was the place where I had my breakfast every morning and enjoyed late brunch at weekends in Westbourne Grove… Every waiter, ever item on the limited but exquisite menu, every chair and every table are so familiar though across the ocean, nonetheless.

And now I have discovered the exact same spot in the heart of NY’s Chelsea – same menu, same building number (three-digits!) and the identical concept: a clothing shop, a furniture boutique and a lovely cafe/restaurant – all in one! Truly delectable!

Saturday morning over a cup of freshly brewed coffee, orange juice and scrambled eggs with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, a good book, and the one and only Blackberry – just enough to start a new day!

The worst part? My closest of friends I used to have these breakfasts with in London – particularly the one friend (you know who you are) … they’re still in England.

But there’s no going back – new friends, new songs and new projects – yet the favorite breakfast place remains the same on both sides of the Atlantic!

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For those of you wondering whether I’ve gone completely political and left the music to the clubbers and the promoters to worry about, you’re wrong!

I was so fortunate to spend fabulous couple of days in Philadelphia earlier last week – and even managed to tick one of the many to-do-list boxes of my life in the long run…

Years ago, when I first started taking my initial steps in music upon moving to the UK, I came across a song in a pile of my producer’s CDs (he probably gets hundreds of them per week from all over the world, I don’t know how he manages to hear each and every one of them – and he does!!) called “To Comfort You”, which I immediately fell in love with and so wanted to record when I first got into the studio back in London!

As it usually goes, due to a number of nuances that I won’t be getting into just yet (if ever), it never came to pass; however, an mp3 of the song ended up on my iPod from the very day I purchased the player at Heathrow Airport.

That was then, this is now – after all these years, I found myself recording this same song at the home studio of the writer who had sent the song to my producer for a different artist (a very very big one, actually – I’m amazed she didn’t do it!) back in the day and was now doing my vocals in the heart of Pennsylvania… Not an easy one to describe but yes, it was really something for me… An achievement of sorts, in a way. Do you even know what I mean? FYI I am completely obsessed with “ticking the boxes” you see, particularly when it comes to music.

I have to say, through all the fun in and outside of the studio during those few days, it was so wonderful to be able to switch off from the rest of the world and all of the madness going on every minute of the day whether it’s hurricanes, politics, economy, or whatever else is on our minds 24/7 – inevitably so. I did a little bit of work, true, and spent ages on the phone to Georgia trying to arrange a certain “personal delivery” to a hotel for a special friend, but other than that – it was like running away and diving back into those old days of carefree music and musicianship.

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Those of you who are still here after myspacious soap operetta – welcome back! πŸ™‚

At times, the obligation that comes with being a myspace member (logging in regularly, checking messages, maintaining the homepage, etc.) can be a bit of a drag for some. But on the other hand, it can really turn into a wonderful tool if you use it the right away. Every now and then, you come across people, and particularly musicians, that you’ve been hearing of for ages but never actually met them (and in this case, I’m not talking about the celebrity spaces run by their loyal fans – we’re on to the real deal here!)

In my case, yesterday I connected with a musician, singer/songwriter whose self-written song became the very first professional recording I made when I started making my initial steps in the recording world upon moving to London.

Her name is Kit Hain. Kit was the vocal half of the famous duo Marshall Hain whose “Dancing In The City” was a European top 3 smash, and mind you, she’s written songs for Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Peter Cetera & Chaka Khan, to name but a few.

So when my producer, Chris Neil, initially played me Kit’s newly crafted “Never-Ending Story of Love”, I fell in love with it right away, and although Chris had in on hold for Celine Dion, I talked him into letting me do a version regardless. You can imagine my excitement when he told me that he was thinking of recording it with Celine – I was all the more ecstatic! πŸ™‚ But I was 17 years old, you see….

Just a bit of history here (can’t be as painful as soap operas, right?)

When I was 16 years old, I was introduced to Christopher Neil, the producer of Rod Stewart, Mike & the Mechanics, Cher, Sheena Easton and Celine Dion, among many, many others that I loved and admired as a little girl. You can just about picture me all thrilled and excited about meeting Chris Neil (I used to love his backing vocals on Celine’s “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” – apart from being quite an amazing producer and songwriter, Chris started actually started out as a singer – the first Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End, in fact, no kidding!) when ITV’s London Tonight informed us that they’d be interviewing him about my music for a special segment about a Russian girl (funny how at the time being Georgian was too confusing to explain to an average viewer) coming to London to make it in the showbiz across Europe. (For those of you who are interested, the video of the TV piece is actually on youtube accessible through myspace.)

To make a long story short, Chris invited us and the television crew to Metropolis Studios in West London, where at the time, he was mixing Rod Stewart’s ninth studio album, “Human”. I was not only blown away by meeting a hero of mine, but the recording studio made such a huge impact on my 16-year-old psyche, I made a promise to myself that one day I’d recorded in that very room, Studio D, with none other than the same record producer. Quite pretentious of me, really, and ambitious too. Oh, teenage madness!

I won’t be exaggerating if I say that it took me literally 18 months to get back in touch with Chris Neil personally and to finally work with him. Guess where? In the same studio, the same control room, with the same engineer, Simon Hurrell, who recorded Celine’s first few albums done by Chris (“Unison”, “The Colour of My Love”, to be precise.) Could I be more ecstatic?

Our first attempt was, in fact, this very same song, “Never-Ending Story of Love”… As I’m writing this blog, I happen to be listening to the demo on my laptop at the same time… So many memories, and it seems like a million years ago, honestly. The recording session coincided with my falling in love for the very first time, therefore, the experience and the outcome meant SO much more to me… teenage follies, first time in love, etc. Don’t laugh, it’s not supposed to be cheesy!

So when I eventually connected with Kit through myspace last night for the very first time, it brought so many more memories back, it’s quite incredible, and she asked me to send her an mp3 of the track – my very studio recording in the west with a world class record producer… How much more significant does it get for an artist? I’m a bit nervous about Kit hearing this demo – I was, after all, 17 years old, brand new to the whole process, really.

And yet, I can remember this session in such great detail – every take, every break in-between the takes… I could not believe it was really happening to me. And little did I know at the time that it was only the very beginning of a rather adventurous journey………

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Some of you probably heard about the Euro 2008 soccer semi-final results – Russia got completely swamped by the Spanish team. In fact, they met twice during the tournament, and on both occasions, Spain pretty much outplayed Russia, particularly in the semi finals.

Now, fear not, my friends, this blog isn’t about football (sorry, I should say “soccer”!) but rather about sometimes – only sometimes – actually feeling like you miss being home, in my case, back in Europe.

One of my best friends in Moscow sent me a message on Facebook this morning and we had a brief chat about the Euro 2008 – she couldn’t believe that I missed all of the games, except for the highlights (Russian cable TV made us, the viewers, watch the scored goals a million times over and over again!) – “It’s time you come back home,” she added, jokingly.

And then I realized something…

A lot of my friends – both in Russia and Georgia – have never really approved my moving abroad. Not only because we don’t get to see each other that often (I visited Moscow, where my parents are still based primarily, last September, but believe it or not, I haven’t been in Georgia for… 4 years… shocking!!!) but also due to a simple fact – you’d be surprised how many of my friends and relatives strongly believe that one should live and die in one’s very own homeland. An admirable kind of patriotism, no doubt, and as much as I love and miss both of my homes and the family and friends, I sometimes wonder if I could ever go back for good, having lived away from home for so long now… Should I feel guilty? I’m not even sure if this is good or bad.

Ever since I was a little girl, watching all the Hollywood movies, listening to what we used to then call “The American music” ranging from Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, Whitney, etc. I had an inexplicably strong urge to one day live in this country and do what I love the most (and have always loved, in fact) here, in USA. A part of this fascination was definitely an offspring of my parents’ ultimate dream for me to live here someday.

When the first group of ex-Soviet people were finally allowed to cross the border into the Western world, my parents came to the States to visit some friends on several occasions, which was pretty much unheard of at the time. So every time they went away for a couple of weeks to the Land of Hope and Dreams, my cousin (it’s weird calling Ketuta my cousin, she’s my sister, for God’s sake – after all, we grew up together!) and I used to mark the days of their absence on our individual calendar as our grandma had suggested to keep us entertained and out of mischief… πŸ™‚ We were rather impossible, particularly when we were plotting the next “disaster” as a duo! πŸ™‚

Back when the Soviet System Collapsed and people were hopeful and excited about the future back home, my dad, was offered a very tempting and creative job in NY with a Green Card, refurbished home, etc. to go with it, and had my mom not insisting on going back to Georgia (“How can we ever leave our home, family, friends???”, she was definitely against it!) I’m sure we would have moved right away. But we stayed back in Tbilisi, and guess what? A year or so later, a civil war broke out! Good timing! πŸ™‚

The next opportunity was also turned down, but this time by none other than yours truly. When I came to New York to perform at the Alan & Marilyn Bergman show several years ago, my agent strongly suggested – no, he actually insisted – that I stay in the US and pursue my career here, except not in the pop world but on Broadway, instead. Because of all sorts of reasons, I declined the tempting offer and stubbornly made it clear that I wanted to live in London and that was it.

Well, I did move to London some time later, and I have to say I never ever regretted the teenage decision, although deep down, I always had a quiet urge to one day move here, to America, but this time on my own terms. How was it different from the previous offer? It was actually a great offer, now that I look back on it, but somehow I didn’t feel prepared at the time and don’t ask why – who knows! Immaturity being one of the issues, for sure πŸ™‚

So when I think about the struggle and a long path that perhaps could have been easier and shorter, after all, under different circumstances, I don’t for a second want to go back and leave all of this behind, especially being half way “there”, it would mean betraying myself in many ways. And as much as I love and miss my friends back home, there’s a constant will power and a passion for what I do and why I do what I love in a country that was always an ultimate dream destination for me – and there’s no way I could let it go. Those of you who had to make that journey at one point will surely understand what this is all about…

I don’t think I’d be so passionate and so madly in love with all of this had it dropped on my lap too easily and too quickly… Doubt it.

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A lot of my friends have been asking me both jokingly and seriously over and over again: “Why aren’t you on American Idol?” Well, I have never tried it on this side of the ocean, but I did audition for the original Pop Idol show in the UK a few years ago… Without even knowing what Pop Idol was all about!

In autumn of 2002, as an aspiring 17-year-old singer, I finally decided to make the big move to the UK and really focus on my music career. With nothing to my name but “a voice”, I embarked on a journey that would take me to some of the most exciting, thrilling, even somewhat scary places…

On my way to Sheremetyevo International Airport of Moscow, I got an email from DJ Neil “Doctor” Fox, a dear friend, great champion, adviser (you name it!) suggesting that since I was going to be in London anyway, I should pop over to the final off camera audition for an upcoming ITV show called “Pop Idol” – a new television contest that was about to hit primetime TV in the UK for the first time.

I had no idea what the show was all about, so I called Chris Neil, someone I have immense admiration for and really looked up to from day one (he later became my executive producer.) “Just do it, you never know, you have nothing to lose!” he encouraged me during the long-distance call.

As soon as I got off the plane, I literally rushed over to the ITV studios with my dad and a family friend of ours. I barely made it in time for the last call of auditions – and had to talk my way through the security, as I was already too late by then.

It was nothing like what we see on television – completely off camera, intimate, equally stressful but still somewhat relaxed… We made sure that by the time I showed up at theΒ  audition, Foxy was no longer there, so it wouldn’t look like a set up or a name-dropping contest.

And there they were: Nicki Chapman from 19 management, Pete Waterman, the producer of Kylie Minogue, among others, and THE Simon Cowell from BMG. I have to admit, at the time, nobody outside of the tight circle of the music business in the UK knew anything about Simon, so to me, he was a complete stranger!

The three potential contestants lined up, I was the last one… Two other girls were sent home within minutes… I got a bit scared, I thought: “That’s it, bye-bye, Tinatin!”

By the time it was my turn, I stood center stage in the spotlight and started chatting to the judges, the most charming of whom was Simon, in all honesty. I sang “The Power of Love” and I was amazed when they didn’t stop me even when I got through the second verse!

The most critical of the three was definitely Nicki – she said I looked somewhat tired, so in response, I started recounting my flight details, but Simon quickly cut us off: “Come on, Nicki! She has a great voice. You’re really good. Tell me more about yourself…”

I must have spent at least half-hour, if not more, just talking about music, who I was planning to work with in London, etc. and Simon and I really clicked. The best part of it was that because at the time Pop Idol was still completely unknown as a project, and so was Simon Cowell to the general public, I didn’t feel the need to “please” him or gain his approval – I could be myself and let the rest take care of itself.

It was unanimously decided that I would enter the final selection of contestants before the TV show kicked off (at the time, it was done mostly off camera) – but then Simon verified my citizenship… Oops! “You have to be British in order to qualify, I think, but let me check…” So they looked into the rules and regulations and the contract confirmed his fears – no Russian idols (nor any other nationality) allowed, gotta be a Brit 😦

I was slightly disappointed, especially because I had no clue about the show and who would have known back then that it was going to take over primetime TV!

Instead of worrying about the legalities, Simon immediately suggested that I get Chris Neil, whom he had known for years and who was also about to become my producer, to contact him and arrange an A&R meeting independently (at BMG) outside of the Pop Idol framework.

Before we knew it, Pop Idol took off within a month and Simon Cowell became the biggest TV star in England, so when the meeting was moved once again to January of the following year, Chris and I laughed and politely thanked Simon’s assistant.

Although, I have to admit, Simon was the most charming, warm, gracious gentleman, so every time I see the really nasty Simon on American Idol, it makes me smile… He was far from it when I met him, and to be honest, I don’t for a second believe he’s changed that much – but it’s a great TV personality that surely achieves its goal for what it is.

Fond memories, though, I always smile when I remember my Idol experience… Didn’t regret it for a second, but on second thought, I don’t think I would have signed up for it now, even though it was fun and exciting at the time – and adventurous, too!

So, my dear friends, I did American Idol before it was American Idol – in fact, before it was even on air πŸ™‚ All the more to tell the grandchildren!

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