When you think of Chicago music, you think of hip hop, you think of house—you think of Kanye and Chance and Vic—talented men in their own right who proudly rep Chicago, but what about the other half of the musical hub of this city—what about the women?
The women making music in Chicago right now are extremely diverse, talented and hardworking like no other.
One of the women making moves and standing out in the city’s male centric music scene is Tatiana Hazel, a 19 year singer-songwriter who’s lusciously trip melodies and raw lyrics are carving a new space for female musicians in Chicago.
When asked how long she’s been doing music, the Chicago native replies since birth.
“My whole life I’ve been singing and writing pretty much since I can remember. I don’t know if i ever was like ‘Oh this is my career’, but I always knew `that it was what I loved to do and it just kind of became natural to what I do in life.” she said.
Hazel notes some of her influences were artists she listened to whilst growing up—an adolescent soundtrack that includes the likes of Amy Winehouse, Elliot Smith, Angel Olsen, Nirvana and the traditional Mexican radio her family would listen to daily. But oddly enough, as big as her influences were upon her, her sound is still completely and uniquely her own.
“I feel like [my sound is] genre-less—just because each specific song could maybe fit into a specific genre but as a whole, but I feel that it’s all different and kind of varies,” said Hazel. “And I don’t write anything to be anything—it is whatever it is.”
The concept of “trying to be” is prevalent in Hazel’s life as a woman in male-heavy, hip-hop focused music scene. Trying to break through is a constant game, and there’s always unwarranted sexism seeping through the simplest of gigs.
“I don’t feel a lot of females are given the same opportunities or even recognition [as male artists] or they’re looked at just more for like physical reasons,” stated Hazel. “I definitely think that some of the opportunities that I’ve had that I’m grateful for—I don’t think they were because ‘Oh I listened to her music and I really think this is [cool]’. It’s just working a little harder to reach the audience that I feel would benefit from my music.”
Hazel isn’t sitting waiting for change to happen, however. Together with her best friend, Nina Clevinger, the two debuted a new music blog called “Crafted”, that was “created both to inspire women to achieve their dreams and to expose new music to people of all genders, races, orientations and age.”
Between managing the new blog and recording her first full length album, Hazel will continue to represent Chicago even if her musical endeavors take her elsewhere.
“I do love Chicago and I can see myself being here as a life thing in terms of settling down, but I do think at some point probably in the near future I’ll need to go somewhere else even if it’s just temporary,” she said. “As great as the hip-hop scene is it doesn’t have as many opportunities for what I’m doing so I feel that I just need to go somewhere that does. I’ll definitely always come back though. I’m from here and I love it here. Chicago is really cool in the aspect of not being so competitive but rather come here and share your art and I’ll share mine.”
photo by bailey renee