While most people are struggling to make their dreams come true in one career, Tanerélle is polishing two. Growing up in Atlanta where trap more or less originated, the R&B songstress and actress was always submersed in hip-hop and heavily influenced by its culture. After releasing her first single “Single” in 2015, it was clear she wanted to create records with a meaning and a purpose. Read more…
Eventually moving to Los Angeles and obtaining her BFA in acting, she quickly shifted her focus from the scripts to the studio. Last year, her 11:11 project arrived and landed her a look on the Spotify playlists. Fast forward to 2018, Tanerélle currently holds over 3 million streams in her name on that streaming platform alone.
For those who don’t know, who is Tanerélle?
My name is Tanerélle, I am a singer-songwriter and an actress.
Did acting come first?
I’m an only child, so music and film have always been the core of my life. Essentially it all falls within the same passion, which is just storytelling. I love them both equally. When I came out here 6 years ago, I got my BFA in acting only because my whole entire life I’ve doing music, whether it was in choir or things of that nature. So I felt like I already honed in on that craft and I wanted to master the other one.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I feel like I’m one of the people that are floating a little bit in the midst, kind of on the edge of it. Because I love all genres, so I love doing it all. The good thing about my music touching on every genre is I’m able to bring that soul to all the genres and bring everything back home. Keep everything grounded to where I feel things started.
You’re from Atlanta, how does that play into your life and career?
I feel like Atlanta is like the mecca for music, for sure. It influenced me a lot because that’s what I was always around. Whether it’s my mom grew up randomly with T.I. and was friends with certain people, things like that. She always had her own inherent ties to music being there, so it was always such a huge part of our life. I guess that’s made it so natural for me to do it and seek it out.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
With my situation, it was important because I feel like when you change the scene or when you shake things up a bit. It keeps you uncomfortable, which keeps you grinding and trying to get to that space of comfort in a way. I feel like being from such a huge city surrounded by the entertainment industry, it wasn’t so much of a change in terms of that. But I feel like it pushed me out of my comfort zone which made me work harder.
But if you’re from a little town or something, then yes, the major cities like LA, NY, and Atlanta, you definitely need to try to branch out to get to those places. You need to do what you need to do.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
I love that you can have either the water or the desert, or the city, or the forest. I love that everything is here in terms of nature, because that’s just favorite thing in the world anyway.
What’s the inspiration behind your name?
It’s my name. My mom made it up. I’m actually on the only person in the world with that name. It’s funny. It actually rhymes with my father’s name which is Terelle. She just got creative. It just happened to work perfectly, because it could have went wrong real fast. [laughs]
“Siren” was a big single for you. How has your sound evolved since?
I want to say it’s matured. I was 20 when I recorded that song and I was 19 when I wrote it. I think that I’ve just become more comfortable in the woman that I am. I’ve become more comfortable with my sound and with my message, and more comfortable with composition, which has allowed me to write better. I stand more solid in who I am as an artist and as a woman, so that’s able to translate better throughout my music. But I haven’t changed a lot because at that point, I was still super confident in that as well. So I haven’t changed too much.
You also released your 11:11 project. What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I always say that my goal within my art is for people to heal, feel, and celebrate. When it comes to anything that you’re going through in life, good and bad, we’re always kind of rushing the feel part of it. Especially the bad stuff. It’s like “you’ll be okay, be positive, just do this,” which is all very important, but you still need to be able to sit within yourself. And sit within that isolation and acknowledge everything that’s going on in order to heal, and then to celebrate that. Celebrate the good and the bad. That’s what I put within my music. It’s that kind of honing in and staring at yourself in the face like “this is me, this is my life, and I’m going to celebrate it.”
Talk about your new single “Dreamgirl.” What was the creative process behind this one?
The funny thing is that I actually started writing “Dreamgirl” about half a year ago. I had just got the first verse down, but I wrote it acapella. It was just something that I had in a Voice Memo and Notes on my phone. A friend of a friend ended up sending me these demos, and I heard the one beat that just inspired the rest of the song. I was like, “Oh, I know what would be perfect for this,” so I went back and got that Voice Memo and finished it.
Which is always so interesting to me. The reason why I went back to what I already had because I get uncomfortable writing to beats that are already made. I like creating from scratch. It’s easier for me to kind of get the chords and build from there. It was this way of going “let me see what I already have to continue to build on.” It just happened to work out. I just wanted to make an anthem for confidence and loving yourself. Feeling like you’re it, almost like a god of sorts, and why everyone fiends for you in every way possible: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of that.
Can you talk about how you’re a role model for females?
Some people would beg to differ.
Why do you say that?
There’s a lot controversy when comes to the certain things that I stand for, which is the most surreal thing because I really just stand for equality and being yourself. I get a lot of hate online when it comes to posting certain things, whether it’s me naked or half nude, or suggested nudity, or things of that nature. But the message behind that is that just because you are in your flesh that you’re born in — we’re not born in clothes — that you’re not asking to be fucked. Your body is sexualized because of people being socialized to that standard.
For me, if someone said I was a role model, it would be because I stand for women being themselves and being strong and being who they are. And absolutely, unapologetically leading the life you want to live no matter what that looks like to anybody else. Because at the end of the day, when you transition or pass away, the only person that could have live the life that you wanted is you. No matter what they have to say or how they look in on you. That’s an important quality, to just tell people to be yourself. Be forgiving and give out as much unconditional love as you can. Live the best life for yourself that you can, and don’t give a fuck about what anyone else has to say.
Why do feel like it’s important to pose naked?
It’s the funniest thing because it’s not something that I strive to do, but sometimes I just feel like it. I’m like, “You know what, I don’t feel like styling would be best for this scenario.” Or “I feel like my skin is the best option.” It’s important because I believe it’s dangerous to sexualize the human form. It’s the same as telling someone “you shouldn’t have worn a certain shirt or skirt,” as if you were asking for it. I feel like it’s super important that we normalize how we were created and put on this earth, instead of having an excuse for every reason someone is asking to be violated. We just need to make it normal. Who made the rules anyway?
How important is social media for your career?
It’s extremely important. I feel like my career wouldn’t be where it is right now if it weren’t for social media. It would obviously get to that point, but it would take a little longer. Like my music is played in over 60 countries. I feel like that wouldn’t be a thing if I wasn’t able to put myself out there more, stretch myself out to more people, be able to message people, reach out to get things done for press, etc. It helps my branding and my aesthetic a lot too, as far as painting who I am and painting my world, and bringing people more into that outside of my sound. They’re actually able to see me and grasp who I am like it’s a physical presence.
I saw the pic you posted being featured in Blade Runner. Can you touch on this?
Well I wasn’t featured in it, but Blade Runner is one my favorite movies of all time, especially the original. It’s nice to have fan art and people acknowledge the things I admire and kind of placing me within those worlds I hope to be in someday as far as movies. Things like that are important because being a black woman, we’re not really placed a lot within the fantasy or sci-fi world. We’re not really placed in any world when it comes to TV or movies, and that’s something I would love to be a part of changing. I really love when people are able to see me within those roles and show me what that looks like. It’s really cool to see that come into fruition.
I saw your goal was to get placed in Spotify playlists. What other goals do you have for yourself as an artist?
That was about a year ago and that was a really big deal for me. When you’re an independent artist, you kind of just want that marketing and promotion because you can’t really get on the radio unless you’re signed. At the time, that was really important to just have someone be able to hear the music I have and go, “Look, all these people should be able to hear your music. This is great.”
Now, I would say having my music played on a bigger scale is still a really big goal for me, because I want people to hear it. I hear things and I know they’re great. I get the messages every day of people loving the music. It would be nice to be able to have more people be able hear what I have to say and offer. I feel like it’s a part of a huge healing session, what I’m able to do with my art. The more people that are able to hear it, the better the world would be honestly,
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
I wake up, I try for the first hour to not touch my phone. I feel like I got in this toxic space of the first thing you do is reach for your phone, go on your Instagram, see who’s messaging you, who did this and who did that. I feel like the way you start your day is how the rest of it goes. I try to wake up and meditate. I make a breakfast smoothie or hot breakfast, then I go with the flow of how the day’s gonna go. Whether it’s writing, reading, working on a script or song, going to the studio. I go to Sweatheory and sit in this infrared sauna every day. It detoxes me. Just anything revolving around self-care is typically how I like to spend most of my day.
It’s important. For a long time, I kind of neglected that and it reflected in my life. A typical day is full of self-care and creating honestly. I feel really blessed and fortunate for that to be my life now.
3 things you need in the studio?
1) Good energy. I like to sage places where I’m at and I’m going to be creating in, to clear the energy. 2) Room temperature water. I’m not a diva or anything, so I just be chillin’. 3) A great engineer.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Right now, Nina Simone.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
First of all, let me just say that saying the word fan is so weird for me. I usually call everyone who listens to my work, or watches it, my supporters. I just don’t feel like I’m in a space where I have fans yet. When I came out with 11:11, I had a listening party / my first big show at the Redbury. This girl drove down a few hours to come to the show, just this really beautiful and amazing spirit.
She was just telling me how she had just gotten into this college and all these great things about how I was inspiring her to keep her head up and to stay encouraged. It was a big deal for her to tell me all of these great things that were going on in her life. That really meant a lot to me because that’s what my music is all about, pushing you and encouraging you no matter your circumstances. It just blew my mind to imagine someone going out of their way to come support me.
There’s so many people that I want to collaborate with, which is so surreal. But being from Atlanta, I do have this idea in my mind of making music with all the Atlanta icons. Like this whole EP with T.I., Ludacris, Andre 3000, Big Boi. That’s always been this thing that’s been in my mind, so hopefully I’m able to bring that to fruition.