Canadian singer songwriter, Tia Brazda, performed at the Glenn Gould Studio last week, where she wowed the audience with songs from her latest labour of love, Daydream. This album reflects her natural evolution as a songwriter from the vintage sound of her previous albums Cabin Fever and Bandshell, to a more pop sound. Tia’s performance at the ‘Jewel of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre’ is part of a long tour that will take her to various stops in Canada and the US. In the past she has taken her original sound to many cities around North America and Europe.
Born in Vancouver, Tia’s style is a balanced mix of jazz and pop, “sort of Ella Fitzgerald meets the Everly Brothers” to quote her. “I really have an appreciation for that old era, the music and the fashion mostly,” Brazda went on to say. The sparkly silver dress she performed in certainly supports her style preference.
After the performance I was lucky enough to sit down to talk with this rising star of Canadian music.
You seem to be moving slightly in a different direction from your previous albums more into a pop sound than before and less vintage?
Yes, as an artist you want to be growing, it’s a natural evolution. I don’t want to sound the same in every album. I like to expand, so for this album, I tried to make the best songs I could make and this is what came out. That was the sentiment behind it.
You have a tour coming up soon, where is it taking you?
I’m in New York state next week and the following week I’m in Nashville. As a songwriter I’m excited to go to Nashville as it is a major songwriters’ hub. I plan to spend some extra days there, so hopefully I will have the opportunity to collaborate with other artists.
Your album was released on September 7 and it is already no. 1 on iTunes jazz charts, how does it feel?
It’s pretty exciting. It was in BC when I got the news. I hadn’t realized that iTunes was on eastern time, so being behind in time, I thought the album was going to be released the day after whereas it had already been released. When I found out, I could barely contain my excitement to break the news. I knocked on everyone’s door — they had all just gone to bed — and we had a midnight celebration.
Who are your main musical influences?
I come from a musical family. My dad was a folk musician. He and my uncle had a band called The Brazdas Brothers. My mom would write songs. They always wrote their own stuff. The music that we listened to the most were bands like the Everly Brothers. They were one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, along with Simon and Garfunkel. I have always listened to songs with harmony and a strong chorus. Then I started listening to jazz, a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. I wanted to write songs that incorporated all those influences, sort of Everly Brothers meets Ella Fitzgerald.
At what point did you realize that music was your calling?
I wasn’t sure how to make a go of it. There didn’t seem to be a set program for it. And you don’t necessarily go to school to become a musician. At the same time, I needed to get a job that was practical. So, I went to university where I studied literature and some journalism. I was a student at Glendon College and became editor-in-chief of the student paper there. In fact, I am very familiar with your magazine. When I was looking for an internship, Women’s Post was actually one of the publications I wanted to work at. Anyway, I was writing articles for the campus paper on tight deadlines (as you know!) creating catchy headlines and writing the stories to go with them. Actually, if you think about it, writing an article is similar to writing song. A headline is a lot like a chorus, it has to grab the audience, and the verses are the actual story. Journalism helped me to become a better songwriter. However, I felt a bit depressed because I wasn’t playing any music at all. So, as I was preparing to do my internship, I got a musical opportunity and took it. I found that music always kept pulling me back. Then I decided that I didn’t care if I was going to be poor or if it was impractical and that I was going to do it anyway.
What is it like to perform at the Glenn Gould Studio?
Oh, it’s wonderful and such an elegant venue! CBC has been very supportive of me. My first serious jazz gig was as a back-up singer for another artist. CBC saw my name in the credits then found my music online and they played my song “Wild Jack”on the radio. When I heard my music on the radio for the first time, it was so exciting and now playing in the CBC building is great.
When did you start making music?
I have been singing since I could speak. I was five years old when I sang my first solo publicly. Coming from a musical family, I received a lot of positive reinforcement for it and it was something I seemed to be able to do. During the teen years, I sang in choirs where I received coaching and performed solos too. In high school, I was in a band and began performing my original songs. Writing lyrics is so important to me and something I love to do.
For all those budding musicians out there, what do you reckon it takes to make it as an artist?
Determination: sometimes you will struggle and make mistakes but you need to keep going. It’s a live show and anything can happen. Learn from your mistakes and just do better next time. Perseverance: There will be roadblocks and people who are better than you in some areas. You need to find what unique thing that you bring to the table and build on that. Finally, study and put in the work: Find the people that you admire and learn everything you can fr om them. Take all the workshop you can. Ask for help and advice from other women in the industry. Make a five-year plan and don’t be afraid to dream big!