With fall now here and the weather turning crisper and cooler, now is the time to start thinking of seeing the leaves fall and keeping warm inside of your favorite local coffeehouse.
If you are my age (41) there was a time—especially during the 90’s—when a coffeehouse was more than just a place to get a warm frapachino or to meet that special someone for a date, it was the social nexus of your neighborhood to hang out, catch a hot up-and-coming grunge or alternative band.
Thanks to the popularity of coffeehouses as performing venues, notable female artists such as Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and Paula Cole crooned and perfected their craft in many of them.
Now, like all things, that era has come and gone.
Not to lament that time period of being able to see an up-and-coming talent locally, but in today’s corporate-controlled, auto-tuned, sexually-driven generation of music that lacks a true sense of artistic creativity and talent, that era of soulful, artistic and genuinely real type of music is nothing but a Insta-speck in the dustbin of modern-day music history.
Thankfully, that era—much like everything else from the 90’s—is coming back thanks to Daytona Beach, Florida-based indie/alternative singer, Mai Tatro.
Despite being just 17, the talented Sunshine State native has managed to make a name for herself in appearing in media publications such as the Daytona News Journal, Ocala Style Magazine and radio shows such as Dave Pratt World Music Stage Top 10, Country blast Radio and Frank and Tracy in the morning on Rock or Daytona 104.7 FM.
With a hauntingly smoky, yet entrancing sound, evident in her debut single, “In A Box”—available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play—and covers of “Simple Man, “Crazy”, ” Trouble” and her own original son, “Untrustworthy” evoke the styles of a young Nora Jones and Fiona Apple.
Below in my Q and A, I talk with Mai, as we talk about bringing back the 90’s-style coffeehouse, the state of today’s music, her love of it and the death of artistic creativity.
Name: Mai Tatro
Birthplace: Daytona Beach, Florida
Styles and Genres: Indie/Alternative
Notable Media and Publications:Daytona News Journal, Local Daytona Magazine, Narrow Magazine, Ocala Style Magazine Radio: Dave Pratt World Music Stage Top 10, Country blast Radio, The Josie show hosted by Josie Passantino, The Mike Kara show on Thunder 103.9 FM, Vern Shank show on Surf 97.3 FM, Michelle Brown Show on Surf 97.3 FM, Frank and Tracy in the morning on Rock or Daytona 104.7 FM, Indie Jams hosted by Elvi Natatis on WJHM 102 FM.
What first inspired you to become a musician and performer?Honestly, they were a lot of factors that influence my choice to be a musician first and foremost I’ve always had a love and a passion for music.
Secondly, and a very young age (5 years old) my grandfather who was ill gave me my first guitar and we started learning together it was a way for us to be able to spend time together and do something that wasn’t overexerting for him due to his health.
Last but not least, as far back as I can remember my family and I always watched the music competitions like American Idol on television and I can always remember watching them and knowing that I wanted to do what those people were doing.
You have a 90’s coffeehouse kind of sound and vibe. How did that come about? Well, I’m flattered that you pick up on the 90’s style of my music because I’m very influenced by 90s alternative music.
The coffeehouse vibe just kind of happened when I started playing and writing my own music. The coffee house style just developed. It’s the sound that I love and the style that I feel comfortable in live. In the studio for full production, the alternative 90s comes through a lot more than the coffee house…lol I can’t wait for y’all to hear it.
What female artists inspired you and your sound? I’m going to have to say as far as female artist go I’m most inspired by Avril Lavigne and Evanescence. In current musicians I’m really enjoying Alessia Cara. But to be 100% honest, a lot of my largest influences are male artists.
With a lot of today’s “music” being so poppy, corporate-controlled, auto-tuned and sexually exploitive, what are your thoughts on today’s music scene? That’s a tough question. As far as the pop nature of today’s music it is what it is if the music didn’t sell the radio wouldn’t be full of it all in all that says something about the consumer.
Auto-Tune? Don’t get me started when I’m in the studio with my producer that’s one of my biggest pet peeves I tell him not to autotune and if there is any pitch correction it’s minimal. I would rather sing the track a few times and get it right then sing it once and excessively digitally correct it.
Last but not least, the sexually exploit of lyrics of today’s pop music I find disturbing. When I write a song I want to make my listeners feel something real something deeper than the surface I want my music to empower people further than their bodies,their appearance, and their sexuality. I want my music to lift girls and women up.
Despite being 17, you seem to be more mature beyond your years, who helped make you seem so much more of an adult at an early age? Hahaha. I take that as a compliment. I’ve always been mature for my age but I think the fact that I’ve never been treated like a “baby” is a huge contributor to that. My family always spoke to me like a person not like a child.
I was allowed to have my own thoughts and speak openly and honestly.
Also, I have been pursuing my dreams in the industry from a very young age. I started performing live at age 10. So being on this path for nearly 8 years already I guess his made me seem more experienced and mature. But all in all, I’m still a 17 year old girl with a dream.
Is there any one artist you’d love to do a duet with, if so who and why? Hands down Ed Sheeran! He’s just an absolute phenom if you ask me. He as an artist has been able to take the simple solo show of a guy in a guitar and bring it to the Forefront at a time in this industry where digital music has been in the lead. He inspires me to do what I do.
He shows that a girl and a guitar or an acoustic trio like my band, Moonlight Drive In, have a spot in this industry and can do it! If I ever got the chance to meet him face-to-face I would just simply want to give him a hug and tell him thank you for cutting a path for musicians like me in a digital age.
You’ve got quite a growing reputation and name down in your native Orlando,Ocala, and Daytona Beach, what venues have you enjoyed the most in performing at?OMG! I couldn’t pick just one. I love every show I play. Every venue has something about it that makes it special.
If you had a chance to perform live on TV or in front of a studio audience, where would you like it to be? Well, I guess I would have to say my current short-term goal is play the main stage at the House of Blues Orlando. I have wanted to play there since I saw my first show there at 12 years old. I would die to book Warped Tour someday and then I mean if we are talking dreams it would be absolutely amazing to be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Or, like Live Lounge on BBC Radio 1.
Money, fame or love? What inspires you to do what you do? Love 100%. I love music I love performing I love being in the studio I love the looks on people’s face when I sing a song that makes him feel something. Money is a necessary evil. Fame my mom is always told me fame is a byproduct if I love what I do and I share it with the world I don’t get to pick whether I become famous the people that hear my music do fame has never been a goal of mine. I
mean of course I wouldn’t mind but I’m a musician because I love it.
Describe how excited you are to be teaming with Alex Budzilek and Luke Putting? I’m beyond excited about working with Alex and Luke. I’ve been performing as a solo artist as long as I can remember and other musicians have offered to play with me but it just never really felt like an option to me. Then I met Alex and something just clicked.
There hasn’t been a doubt in my mind since we first started working together(he is producing my solo EP) that it was a perfect fit then he and I brought Luke in as a drummer and when we all got together it was magic. I can’t even express how excited I am for people to hear and see the band. “Mai Tatro with Moonlight Drive-In” is everything I could ask of a band.
How would you best describe your vocal style and sound? Really I have no way of knowing how to answer that. I’ve been told by many people that I have a warm inviting tone to my voice and people comment a lot that they like the raspyness of my voice.
Outside of music, what are your hobbies? Well I’m a figure skater. I love being on the ice. I don’t skate as much as I used to because I’ve been so busy but it’s still one of my favorite things to do. I’m also very interested in art I draw a lot. And I’m also going to school for cosmetology and advanced makeup it’s like art in a human form I just love it.
Any favorite sports clubs or teams? I’m kind of hockey fan. My favorite team is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Any future projects lined up?Well, I’m currently in the studio recording my solo EP. But there have been mumbles between the band and I a recording some stuff as the band when the time is right.
Should we expect to see you on the cover of Rolling Stone one day, thanks to your talent and uniqueness in being different from the norm? I sure hope so!! I can only hope that my commitment to staying true to myself and my unique and individual Style will get me to that place. Isn’t it every musicians dream to make it there?
Special thanks to Mai and Sandra Tatro for their time and assistance during the Q and A interview process. All images used with permission and are the rightful property of their respective owners.