It would be a blasphemy to compare anyone to the late Amy Winehouse. But when I saw Téa Petrovic take stage in Toronto during Canadian Music Week, that comparison is what came to mind. Repeatedly. I spoke with Téa about her start in music, and where she’s going next.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): Can you talk a little bit about your start in music and how that start has influenced your music today?
Téa Petrovic (TP): I grew up in a home full of instruments – both my parents have always played guitar and piano, so being surrounded by music was something I became accustomed to at a very young age. Besides being exposed to the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, as well as jazz and blues ever since I can remember, I was also very involved in classical music as a pianist from the age of 7 until I was about 20. I am constantly to this day inspired by these genres and find that they have naturally weaved themselves into my own style and the way I approach songwriting.
RMM: You were born in Serbia and moved to Canada around your early teens. How was this experience influenced your music?
TP: The very 1st song I ever wrote (back in Serbia when I was about 13 or 14) was in English. I didn’t exactly know what I was saying but I sure thought it sounded fantastic! Moving to Canada and learning English and the culture behind the words has enabled me to express myself in a language that a lot of the world can at least understand a little bit, which I love.
RMM: You have studied the technical side of music quite extensively. How do you balance the technical side and the pure soul and passion that goes with it?
TP: Yes, I have my ARCT in piano performance and a BA in music from the University of British Columbia. Having said this, I feel that music, being an intangible and yet such a powerful phenomenon, cannot really exist without soul and passion, otherwise it’s just an aerobic exercise. People can be moved by what could be considered a very simple and raw performance and be completely unmoved by technical prowess without much emotion. It’s great to be able to technically execute a more complicated idea I might have, but it has to be done with feeling in order to create a real impact on the listener.
RMM: When did you release your debut, Method to the Madness?. What was that experience like? You recently released your second EP. How was that experience different from recording your first album?
TP: Method to the Madness was released in early 2008. It was produced by Howard Redekopp and I was excited and pretty pleased with how it turned out for a debut effort. I felt that it was a good representation of where I was at in my life up to that point in as much the new EP “Say Something” (coproduced by Howard and Krischan Grohne, released in March of this year) is a representation of where I am at now. I also like to think of each CD as a sort of an overview or an emotional summary of a certain period in life, with each evoking not better or worse, but a different feeling.
RMM: At Raz Mataz, we’ve been talking a lot about how musicians, especially independent artists, are responding to the rising trend of illegally downloaded music. How are you reacting to this trend?
TP: I am going to quote an artist named Joanna Chapman-Smith: “It’s good. It’s bad. It’s both.” I totally agree with this. If I really had to pick a side, given that CD sales are not really how most artists make their money any more, and if downloading my songs illegally will make that person check out all my websites/social media channels, come to my shows, and maybe buy some merch, I say download away! I’m also optimistic that it will all level itself out for the most part and fans will get used to buying songs online the same way they used to in the stores.
RMM: Can you talk a little about your songwriting methods? (ie, do you write alone, do you write from personal experiences, etc)
TP: I do write alone a lot and I also write with Krischan Grohne, who coproduced the “Say Something” EP. It’s quite a meditative process either way that requires letting the mind go into places where it doesn’t normally hang out. Most every song has at least a grain of reality in it, some more than others. Sometimes a real emotion, thought, or event can spark a much more elaborate, fictional story around it, and sometimes certain experiences just make for good lyric material as they are.
RMM: What’s next? (ie, upcoming tours, albums, awards, etc)
TP: We’re currently booking a West Coast tour from Vancouver to LA. It will be about a ten show tour sometime in August, so look out for us! Also hoping to record a few more songs towards a full length album in the near future…
RMM: Other comments…?
TP: Thank you so much for the interview! We had a lot of fun playing the Canadian Music Week showcase (and other shows) in Toronto in March and would love to come back to Ontario soon to build on what we’ve started.