With Tatiana Hazel, What You See Is What You Get
Learning to love and let go is an essential life lesson, especially in one’s early twenties. It’s a theme that’s prominent in Chicago singer, songwriter and fashion designer, Tatiana Hazel’s, latest bodies of work—her debut EP titled Toxic, and her correlating second collection from her namesake clothing line.
What you see with Hazel is what you get, but the exciting part is that you never know what to expect from the burgeoning musician. Long time Hazel followers know that she got her start on Youtube a la many musicians, performing original songs and covers, but since then she’s continued—on her own terms, since she has always been self-managed—a seamless transition from indie-inspired, folkloric songwriting to dreamily catchy, but never shallow, pop compositions.
“I took my own same style from when I would do acoustic [covers] and just made it bigger and more refined,” Hazel says. “[Releasing singles before the album] was almost a way of testing my market and seeing what did well and what didn’t—and finally I just came up with a collection of songs that were different but similar enough to make a project.”
The path of Hazel refining her sound led to the creation of Toxic—a body of work that narrates the hurdles and life experiences Hazel has had to overcome during the past year (broken relationships, unfulfilling day jobs, the ever constant wondering of what comes next) as well as the physical fashion collection of her namesake line, which showcases the duality of her personality, heritage, and creative style.
The seven-piece collection mimics the EP’s seven songs, though no outfits specifically correlate with specific tracks. Half of the collection is composed of gritty yet youthful mini dresses, skirts and track suits with patent leather, metallic and chain detailing, serving as an ode to the rock and metal influences from the early half of Hazel’s life. The collection’s second half serves up more neutral-toned dresses, jumpsuits, and two-piece sets complete with fringe and florals, hinting at Hazel’s proud celebration of her Mexican heritage. The seventh design, a black and silver floral patterned asymmetrical dress that Hazel wore herself during the collection’s debut last week in Chicago, combines effortless components of both sides.
“[The previous collection] was so colorful and vibrant and fun but sometimes you don’t always feel that way,” says Hazel of the decision to go in a muted, neutral color direction for her latest collection. “So I decided to not do any colors, with it still being fun but relating more along with the theme of toxic things in your life.”
Though Toxic is inherently a pop album, Hazel’s connection with pop music wasn’t always present.
“When I was younger, I was into the most obscure artists,” Hazel says. “I feel like it’s a wanting to be cool thing, when you’re younger you want to fit in so you think [what’s popular] isn’t cool. But when you’re older you just actually like what you like. I was going back and listening to a bunch of pop music from a bunch of different [eras], and I was like this is all popular for a reason, it’s good.”
Though born and raised in Chicago, a city known for it’s barrier breaking breed of hip-hop, Hazel has felt more so influenced by the creative community that resides within it rather than the city molding her sound.
“[Chicago] has definitely influenced my life and the way I create,” Hazel says. “I’ve grown up around so many other artists, and unlike being in a smaller town where you don’t know anything about the music industry or how people work, if i wanted to work with someone here, I could. Just having other artists around made a huge impact.”
Fresh off the release of Toxic, Hazel prefers to prioritize fostering the connection listeners have with the record rather than the numbers that accompany the drop—EPs sold, streaming numbers, etcetera. Aside from making the album for personal catharsis sake, Hazel wanted to preach the personal lesson she learned herself over the past two years while making the project—to love, to learn, and to let go.
“[The EP is about] if anything negative happens in your life, you can have control over it, and sometimes you lose sight of that,” Hazel explains. “You can’t control the things that happen to you but you can control the way you react. [It’s meant to be] a motivator for people, no matter what negative things happen, if there are toxic elements in your life, you can get them out.”
Images courtesy of Dennis Larance
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