How Growing Up In Chicago Inspired Singer Tatiana Hazel | WBEZ
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How Growing Up In Chicago Inspired Singer Tatiana Hazel

Chicago-born singer, songwriter and fashion designer Tatiana Hazel was just 13 years old when she started making music videos. As her following grew, and evolved, so did her music.

Hazel, now 21 and based in Los Angeles, has developed into a confident pop songstress. She melds modern R&B sensibilities with electronic music and Latinx rhythms, singing in both English and Spanish. Hazel released her debut EP Toxic last summer, with a new project around the corner.

Reset caught up with Hazel during a recent trip to Chicago to talk about her new music. She’s performed a free Halloween show at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.

On growing up in Chicago

Tatiana Hazel: I think there's a lot of accessibility to music and live shows, so I was always able to go to shows growing up. I just knew I wanted to be on stage and I was able to see other people do it. And I was able to meet a lot of other creatives. So I definitely think that's helped me a lot.

On being a homebody

Hazel: I’m such an introvert … I kind of learned everything on my own and had my own methods. But now I'm more collaborative and I'm able to take the things that are mine, but like also apply other people's methods to it.

I just feel like socially I'm an introvert. Like I would rather stay home and work on music in a room for hours than go out and mingle with a lot of people. Once in awhile I want to go out but … I love performing but that doesn't really feel like socializing to me.

On her creative process

Hazel: I first started posting to YouTube thinking nobody would see it. So then people there was like a community of people who would always post and say, like, oh, I love this, it's almost like I got used to the validation. So it's harder to work on a project because it's like nobody's really going to hear these songs until it's done and it's out.

It's more just me kind of trusting myself and my own instinct.

On her new single, “Mi Amor”

Hazel: I really wanted to release something in Spanish for the people who listen to me only in Spanish. I want to try to keep doing both. I really try and write empowering lyrics when I write things in Spanish because growing up … the music I heard in Spanish was really male dominated or .... women that are overly sexualized. So “Mi Amor” is like … if you want my love, you need to give me love in return.

On being a fashion designer

Hazel: My designs are pretty out there. I like a lot of rhinestones and glitter and chains. I just really like to do the most because I love that stage look. Whereas my personal style is pretty like out there still, but not quite as much.

Normally I do a bunch of different outfits for based on a show or shoot that I have. But when I have a project coming up… like for Toxic, I did seven looks to go along with the seven songs. I try and design everything at the same time that I'm writing the music. So it feels like it's coming from the same place.

On moving to L.A.

Hazel: It's been great. It's been really eye opening to see again how many ways I can support myself through music. I've been doing a lot of songwriting and there's just a lot more job opportunities out there while I'm working on my own music as well. And just a lot more collaboration happening because everybody's like in the creative industry.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire conversation.

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