We’ve done another interview with an amazing musician and a human being Tara Kye. At the age of 24, whe was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 2B, moving quacking into stage 3. Life had been irreversibly altered. 25 years later, John Dean bought an 1878 Steinway Grand Pano and said we should write a song about how we first met and try to raise some money for Cancer Research…. Read more here
Lisa: Hello Tara, let’s begin this interview with, how are you doing, and what are you doing these days?
Tara: Hello Lisa, Thank you for asking, I am doing well. How are you Lisa? Just working on a new love song ballad, which is interesting because being single, I am not in love, so the song is literally what I imagine an ideal love would be like. Also, I am finishing up a cover song, “Love is Blue” to be released soon. Additionally, I am working to rework my videos that I have done in the past. So on YouTube, I have removed some of the older videos and replaced them with new improved videos.
Love is Blue is ready for release!
Lisa: That sounds great, I’m looking forward to hearing it. What inspired you to cover Paul Mariat’s song “Love is Blue”? Also, are you recording new videos, or editing the old ones?
Tara: About six years ago, I was playing my saxophone for extended hours, and I had a ganglion cyst on the back my left hand reappears. I had had two surgeries to remove it, but my doctor said just smash it with a heavy book let it heal and keep going because it seemed as though I was predisposed to have this pain and trouble with my saxophone. I had some fabulous private teachers and coaches on my saxophone, but nobody ever suggested finding a saxophone that “fit” better. I was lamenting my case with my friend whom I was playing music with and said I do not understand why they do not make ergonomic saxophones. My friend politely suggested maybe we could go to the local music store, browse around and see if there is a saxophone that might fit better. I said I am in so much pain that if I find a saxophone that relieves my pain while playing it, I will buy it instead of doing physiotherapy. So, we walked in and I tried a few saxophones, then I found this magic saxophone. It was perfect! My hands fit the keys beautifully, no more arching my left hand to fit the instrument, the keys were precision placed for exactly where my fingers were. Although, I could not afford the new instrument, the payment plan was less than what it would cost me to go to physiotherapy which never worked anyways…. so, I took the risk, and I bought the saxophone. Heaven! I played and played some more until the endorphins from playing overrode my pain then my ganglion cyst disappeared, and the pain went away without physiotherapy. My Alto Saxophone is a P. Mauriat Saxophone. Hand crafted, beautiful with carefully considered key placement, neck, and body design. I have never played such a thoughtfully designed beautiful saxophone, the P. Mauriat did fit the bill perfectly, a price I could afford, quality without a doubt, and beauty beyond compare. So, I went online and googled P. Mauriat to learn more about why he would have known how to create such a gorgeous saxophone and it sounded like he wanted to get the best out of his performers so designed better instruments for playing.
As I am also a singer, I YouTubed P. Mauriat and found Sylvan Vartan’s Love is Blue cover. I listened to the words, the arrangement, and loved the song. What I really love about Love is Blue is how such innocent words from the past can still accurately describe how painful, beautiful, and fleeting love can be. Love can be here in an instant and gone the moment later, it is so fickle. I love the playful dynamics of the lyrics, John and I played off that playful innocent vibe putting a downtempo chill vibe on the classic with the idea that we are a band working together every instrument has their moment in the sun and not just the vocals being front and center. Also, Love is Blue is an innocent song about love that family can use as a teachable moment about love.
I will be releasing the YouTube video tonight for Love is Blue and the official song release for Spotify Canada is Feb 13th, 2021. To hit the release radar hopefully the Friday after valentine’s day as Love is Blue is more about a love gone wrong than right.
Love is Blue inspired our next song, which if Love is Blue describes how painful love can be, let’s write a song about what love could be, the ultimate love song. A song about how I imagine the ideal love would be sung to somebody who might be seeking confirmation that the love that they have found is real and enduring. So, I Love how one song inspires the next song, I am profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to work with John Dean, my friend, master pianist, and really somebody who listens to me, understands me, then we craft songs true to the feeling or experience we wish to capture.
Lisa: It’s honestly one of the best covers I’ve heard recently! Thanks for sharing. It is amazing how the P. Mauriat Saxophone healed you. So “Love is Blue” has been published as we’re doing this interview, that’s great! 🙂 Let’s talk about your new song, “the ultimate love song” as you call it. How far is it from being released?
Tara: Oh Wow! You are so kind to say that about Love is Blue, Lisa!! Thank you! It is being released on spotify on Feb 14th, 2021
Yes, by exercising my “pain point” in a safe egonomically supportive fashion the P. Mauriat helped the ganglion cyst heal and go away. The cyst was an accumulation of lubrication fluid for the tendon over my wrist as my 1st saxophone made me over extended my wrist in an unnatural fashion whereas the P Mauriat saxophone has the left hand keys off center at the top which enables my left wrist to have a natural bend so the lubrication fluid no longer gets stuck in a cyst while I play.
My next release “the ultimate love song” is finished in terms of writing lyrics and music structure, John and I are in studio next week. Very exciting!!! So we will be releasing it likely in 6 weeks from now. Love is Blue is what gave us the creative idea to write about what we believe an ideal love would be like.
Lisa: Sounds good, looking forward to hearing it. Are you still driving your Harley Davidson Motorcycle? The last time we spoke, you said you also work on scientific studies, recipes, fashion styles, etc. Can you tell me a bit more about those activities?
Tara: My Harley Davidson Motorcycle, Bruno, is still insured and we are waiting for a break in the cold icy weather or rainy weather to get out for a ride. So until the sun shines we wait to go “Chasing Rainbows” https://youtu.be/jh-EywVbkRs I wrote this song for this time of the year when you look up into the sky, see the rainbow, ride towards the rainbow, to where the sun shines brightly and the rain is not.
Yes, I am still working on scientific studies, I am a biochemist and geneticist, founder of NPK Growing Solutions Inc, an agriculture consulting business in BC, Canada. Specializing in local crops such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, dairy forage, cattle pastures, field vegetables, tree fruits and vineyards. My work is continuously moving forward, right now I am working a way to incorporate reused waste products into commercial crops to maximize sustainability and yield while minimizing agronomic input costs. Agriculture has become big business at the expense of the farmers input budget at a time in which we demand price reductions in food costs. So, to keep farmers in the fields feeding us, we need to help them earn more money, finding alternatives to balance budgets so that they can afford the high priced tickets of ag inputs they do need. Returning to a more natural sustainable ideology, building soil health, replenishing beneficial microbial and fungal rhizospheres, excessive nitrogen is “desert”-ifying our soils into dust, reclaiming riparian areas, replanting new borders, and learning that our agriculture system managed correctly can become an equalizer in the climate change game as plants turn CO2 into O2. So, if we can use less tractor time, less chemicals, and get higher yields that is ultimately what our farmers want to feed their families and yours.
I have written a few cookbooks but never really published them. They are collections of the family recipes along with some of my favorite recipes. Do you think people would be interested in a recipe a week? People who have recovered from Cancer, often suffer from lymphedema, I have kind of discovered for myself that fad diets do not work for me as my chemistry and physiology are permanently altered, so I went back to the old food guide: dairy, fruits and vegetables, meats/proteins, and cereals. I tried to go vegetarian but found that I was not able to produce molybdenum due to the cancer damaging my liver and kidneys. I am not a saint; I would rather drink red wine and find molybdenum in my diet. I found the highest quantities of molybdenum are in dairy, beef, yogurt, cheerios, carrots, oranges; but that the highest amount of molybdenum is found in beef. I believe in kindness to all animals and people; I also believe we need a balance in life. The healthiest fields are grazed fields in which the cycle of nutrients is food goes into the grazing animal and the excrement feeds the crops which feed the animals. By choosing grass fed or pasture fed meat products, we guarantee that animals are living a better life and that the earth is experiencing a higher amount of recycled nutrition. Now as a society we need to consume less meat, more fruits, and vegetables. But I have tried many diets and become extremely sick, it is important to note that not all diets are right for all people, I am grateful to have the freedom to choose my own diet.
Fashion is always a fascination. Of course, during our lockdown we are not getting out much. I enjoy mismatching items that should not belong together such as a blue leather biker jacket over a designer dress with lots of bling jewellery. I love jewellery, leather, lace, and shoes. I would love to go back to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey to buy some of the amazing body jewellery, the hair jewellery, wrist jewellery, arm jewellery, and feet jewellery! I have a particular fondness for historic fashions of Knights, Kings, and Queens, my happy fantasy place. These items always make me feel so happy to wear! My fashion is more eclectic, and I buy pieces that feel good to me or express a part of my personality, I had especially enjoyed the fashions designed by a friend Laleh Fayaz of Greece until she retired. I had loved how the luxurious fabrics were gracefully designed into elegant ladies’ fashions that were flattering to a normal lady’s figure. I will never be a size 2 but I do enjoy looking good and being healthy.
I have a few future projects in the works right now in agriculture, personal development, and music; I look forward to releasing more details soon…
Lisa: That’s amazing! Sure, I think you should do a recipe week, people would love that. Chasing Rainbows sounds amazing! Now, have you considered experimenting with your music more? If yes, what genres would you incorporate?
Tara: Nice! I will try that one recipe per week. Thanks for the kind words about chasing rainbows. I do really enjoy experimenting with our music and our sound, right now we are working on a ballad, but I love piano in orchestra/orchestral rock, prog, dance, edm, jazz, blues and fusions. Ultimately I aspire to be genre-less more pop like a Lady Gaga, she is my hero! The lyrics and the heartbeat of the song are the most important aspect of a song, how it makes me feel to write it, sing it, release it, and ultimately the experience that my listener has are the most important aspect of music to me.
Lisa: Yes, I also think that music generally is moving towards being genre-less. Please tell me more about that ballad you are working on.
Tara: Yes, music is becoming more about the feeling of the song than about the style which I kind of like.
Well, every new song becomes a sacred little place to escape to while I am creating it with John. It’s like a magic little oasis free from judgement of bad note choices and we have had some pretty hilarious outtakes. John likes to record these and play them back at me. Groan… the time spent creating a song is like nurturing a new episode of life or chapter of a novel. John and I both get lost in the new song.
This song is a ballad about love, which John laughed and said to me how are you going to write about that? John has been my friend through some pretty rocky breakups. So, I decided to write a song about the ultimate love that I imagine that love would be like if I were to fall in love for real. We mapped out the chords, lyrics, now its time for me to rehearse my voice, and for John to compose the rest of the music around the song map. I love this process of creating songs, it’s always such a joyful experience to release creative energy.
My mom, says very few musicians ever make the big ticket or “top hit” sales… I always reply saying it’s better than buying a lottery ticket, cause it only takes one song to get noticed, but I get a lot more enjoyment from singing and song writing than I do from buying a lottery ticket.
We are going to take our time producing this ballad, we have some dreamy dynamics, a big vocal run and amazing piano by John. I am excited about this song, but it needs to be better than any other song we have written before, we push ourselves always to be better than the last song…
Lisa: You have worked with John Dean for 25 years, and he’s a big part of your life. You’ve talked about him in our previous interview extensively, but you never mentioned how you actually met. And for the second question, what has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career?
Tara: I met John at a Piano store in Surrey. I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my big white wedding was cancelled to become a small immediate family affair, and my parents wanted to buy me a digital piano to play in my apartment so I could pursue my lifelong dream of playing the piano. The digital piano was meant to give me something other than my illness to focus on. John Dean was the music teacher at the piano store that we bought my Roland RD-500 Digital Piano from, I asked John if he could drive to my apartment to give me private lessons if the chemotherapy made me too sick to drive.
John Dean agreed to drive to my apartment to give me private piano lessons at times during my chemotherapy in which I was too sick to drive, but we tried to work mainly at the piano studio.
Then I heard on the radio Courtney Love’s Hole “Violet” somehow screaming the song like she did made me feel alive and vital while I was doing my chemotherapy, so I said to John if she can sing so can I! John said well you’d need to take some lessons from a vocal coach, so I did. I studied with two coaches, the first coach kept trying to acquire my piano business so I got a new coach, Gary Zeller, who taught me the natural voice technique. Gary Zeller was a tenor who used to sing with Joan Sutherland while she toured in Vancouver, BC.
Then I branched out and sang in a local punk rock band “The Pet Fairies”, then an experimental band “Concentric”, but that was too much for my polished perfect British husband, he gave me the ultimatum, that I choose our marriage or my music. So I tried to save our marriage, but the damage to our bond was too much from surviving the cancer, it changed us both in polar opposite directions so our marriage ended.
Then I went back to John and Said hey, let’s write an album. So then we started writing songs, lyrics, and music together. Our split is 50/50 because I don’t want to focus on who did what I want to focus on writing the best songs. I went with 50/50 because it felt right for me, but that includes John 100%. So if my strengths in marketing, PR, move songs forward we both benefit from that as well. When we sell merch we will again be 50/50.
The biggest surprise for me about music is how different it is from other industries. The artist gets paid so much less than the platforms their music gets played on. The media companies seem to be making massive profits but that isn’t getting shared with the artists. It used to be so much different where the artist got paid very well when we had records, CDs, physical pieces of music, such as Queen, Elton John, etc. Now that everything is digital it is easier to promote your music, but there is no paycheque, most artists have 2nd careers not just day-jobs. I am a biochemist and geneticist from UBC, I have a fulltime career as an agriculture consultant, in addition to my 2nd career as a musician. If I didn’t have a primary career I would never be able to afford to live nor invest in my 2nd career music.
Lisa: Amazing story! Yes, there are some things that need to change in the music industry, so many artists are underpaid. Do you miss live performances, and do you think they’ll begin this year? Also have you thought about doing a livestream session?
Tara: As Live performances for a struggling artist do not pay the bills that a primary career does, I was in the process of ramping up for live performances when COVID hit, this was going to be a very simple voice over pre-recorded music sung live. There is a limit to what I can afford to invest in music both time wise and financially, while paying my bills, and operating my primary agriculture business. Unfortunately, an unknown artist such as myself might have the opportunity to have my music streamed for free on platforms which pay the artists when there are enough streams, so focussing on securing a venue, promoting, getting an audience, selling tickets are daunting challenges. In the olden days, a label would have done this for the artist, so now an artist has to learn new skill sets if they cannot afford to pay a professional.
Livestreams are something that do require an investment in time, learning, and to pay for the platforms to launch from. I am a biochemist and a geneticist, not a computer programmer. So now, guess what? I am learning computer programming and likely by the time I am proficient on livestream, we will be back to normal.
One thing to note is that an artist really should be able to earn a reasonable living, so maybe the platforms are operating at a price that is too low to support the artists’ that are on their platforms financial best interests and that is a choice made by the platforms, not on how it might benefit the artists, maybe the business infrastructure on the platforms is paid way more than the artists are? I don’t really know, but I feel like the music industry is broken and it seems like only the people that are computer savvy, management, promotions, and on the platform side are earning multiple millions of dollars whilst artist scramble and that seems to be an unbalanced scale. Maybe I am just naïve.
Additionally when COVID-19 hit, the artists who were touring and making money on live performances stopped touring. These same multimillion streaming play artists are also competing with indie for livestream, film, tv, placements. Some famous artists are hosting online classes, other famous artists brand names’ are being featured to market new film, TV, Movies and Gaming applications.
So in an industry which was already management/platform rich and artist poor, the really famous artists have moved down into the business world in which many indie artists used to be able to thrive.
I don’t know how to earn money in music. I wish I did
Lisa: I totally understand, and agree with you on the subject of underpaid artists, and I hope things will change. On the other hand, what can you do but keep engaging and building the audience, I mean one advantage of technology is that your song can go viral overnight. For the last question in this interview i would like to ask, what do you expect in the next few months, music wise and generally?
Tara: Sorry, I didn’t mean underpaid artists, what I meant is the fact that artists are being completely overlooked in being compensated at all for what they went to school to be: artists. It’s not about being underpaid, it’s about levelling the field so that everyone can succeed together and build a strong musical community. A strong musical community will continue to evolve and do what it has always been meant to do, lift the soul and spirit, express feelings and share moments.
Music learned as a discipline when young, needs to continue to be valued. Not just learning how to program sounds, but actually play real instruments and sing. Its time to put down the phone and learn a skill you will value for life! This type of creative expression must not be loss in the business worlds’ massive greed to succeed. Music teaches rhythm, discipline, motivation, self control, health, happiness, and to live better lives. Most musicians I know don’t chase the millionaire lifestyle, they love their craft and every creation is better than the last.
I love writing songs with John Dean! We escape from reality and we genuinely enjoy creating music and moments. I am always pushing myself to up my game to be a better creative writing and vocal partner as I am greatly honored to work with somebody as talented as John Dean. Learning the music business angle is tough as it is much different than the agriculture business angle, but I view this as a challenge and I am getting better.
Our new “love song” I believe has the makings to go viral overnight, and I remain optimistically hopeful! But I need to do the work, so I am hooking up a digital microphone to my personal computer so that I can record myself and rehearse every single note, evaluating attack, release, and sustain of my vocal performance. I want to be as perfect as my idols in this romantic zone such as Sarah MacLaughlin, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Barbara Streisand, Olivia Newton John, Linda Ronstadt, Shania Twain, Tarja Turunen, Doro Pesch, Simone Simens, Sharon den Adel, Elize Ryd, Charlotte Wessels, Amy Lee, Izzy Hale, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Sinead O’Connor, Kate Bush, Sade, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Camilla Cabellot, Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift, Avicii, Alison Krauss, Carley Rae Jepsen, Whitney Houston, Darby Mills, Lee Aaron, LeAnn Rimes, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Bonnie Tyler, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson and Melissa Etheridge. Sorry folks, I am a lady and I am trying to sing like one.
As for next projects: Primarily my focus is on my singing and song writing with John Dean while growing my agriculture business. During Pandemic times I am learning to take this more online and have found some new business opportunities….
Lisa: Thank you for amazing communication, I hope we do more interviews in the future, and follow up your progress.
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