China Underground > China Views > Interview with Tanis, Singer & Film-Scoring Composer

Interview with Tanis, Singer & Film-Scoring Composer

Tanis is a multifaceted musician and citizen of the world.

Tanis Chalopin is a French-Singaporean singer, songwriter, and musician. Daughter of traveling parents, she lived in different places around the world. Her multi-cultural upbringing has greatly influenced and inspired her music. She gained recognition at the age of 14 when she wrote the theme to the Disney Asia movie “Trail of the Panda” (2009). Since then Tanis has continued to explore film composition as well as her songwriting journey. She studied at the New York University Steinhardt School Department of Music and Performing Arts, becoming a complete artist. She plays four instruments: piano, cello, guitar, and drums. Tanis launched her career as a singer-songwriter in 2015 with the single “Ce n’est pas moi”: the song features on the soundtrack of the 2017 film Thoroughbreds, followed in 2016 with her second single “Losing my mind”. Her 2016 single “Blackout”, from the EP of the same name, saw notable success. In 2017, Tanis composed and produced the music for the C4 production short film Killing Hope. She released her latest single, “Would Be You”, on 19 April 2019. Tanis is also a photographer, while she lived in China, and to this day, she has used her photography helping and donating to a private medical foster home called Blue Sky Healing Home, that takes care of kids from all walks of life, especially children with special needs.

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What’s the story behind your motivation to study music? What are your best childhood memories related to music? Was it a childhood dream to carve a career as a singer, songwriter, composer, and musician?

I definitely do not have musical inheritance. Both my parents are not musical and none of my family members come from the music industry. But my father enjoys music and I grew up in a household with beautiful variety of sounds from Mozart to Ella Fitzgerald to the Beatles. He also collected musical instruments though he played none. Having a house full of musical instruments may have sparked my passion for music.

Being a singer, songwriter and composer is definitely my dream job. I love what I do. I believe if I want to be good at something, I have to seek out the knowledge and participate in the learning process. To this end, I studied music in high school, learned to play the piano, drum, guitar and cello, and went on to complete my undergraduate studies in Music Composition at the Steinhardt College of New York University with a concentration in Film Scoring.

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Tanis has released “Losing my Mind” a committed and green song that sets the record straight on the precariousness of our environment. Diving and ocean conservancy is an important part of her life.

I read that when you were 13 you met the composer Ennio Morricone can you share that memory with us?

I never actually met Ennio Morricone but I attended his concert in Beijing at 13 years old while living there. He opened up a whole new world to me where music can converge with image. I saw then that with the right and delicate touch, we can bring together images and sounds to reveal strong emotions without the need for words.

What do you enjoy most about your work? What limits of life did music help you overcome and what did it help you strengthen?

I like to believe that music is important in our lives. It can help raised one’s mood, get one excited or make us calm and relaxed. This is what music does to me. I had a nomadic childhood and lived in many countries and music was my constant companion throughout all my journeys. It has helped me navigate through happy and difficult times. The most meaningful message I received from a fan was how my song got him through a really difficult week and he just wanted to thank me. This is why I make music. I truly hope that my music can be a companion to others as much as it has been a companion to me.

She grew up in different places and cultures from around the world, in the Bahamas, in the country-side of France, in Switzerland, and Beijing. She went to a classic English boarding school in the UK and then spent her college years in New York City.

You play many instruments: piano, guitar, drums, and cello. What motivated you to learn to play each one? What does each of these instruments convey to you?

I started playing piano at the age of 5 and honestly, it was only due to my parents insisting that both my brother and I needed to learn how to play an instrument, and like most kids, I didn’t particularly enjoy piano lessons where I had to play scales and Hanon exercises, but what I did fall in love with was the piano itself. My favourite thing to do when I came back from school would be to improvise at the piano and search how to translate the melodies in my head instead of practicing the pieces I was meant to before our next lesson. As music gained more and more importance in my career, I realized that it was important to have a broader understanding of different instruments in order to write for them which is why I began learning other instruments. I hope I can continue to add more and more instruments to my list as time goes on.

Where do you find inspiration when starting a new song? What do you want to communicate with your songs?

I find inspiration from all over. Sometimes it is from my own personal experience but more often it is from people I talk to. Listening to others is a gift to journey more experiences than your own and so much to learn from. Same experience but different perspective is even more fascinating.

In September 2016 Tanis gave a TED talk on Visualizing Music for TEDxBeaconStreet.

You speak English, French, and Mandarin. Thinking in different languages influences your way to sings and write new songs?

I actually speak Italian too. But I write most of my songs in English and some titles in French. Each language has its own beauty and its own expression. I am not sure how much it influences me, but what I hope is that the end product is a distinctive style of my own.

Since childhood, you have lived in different parts of the world. Which were the biggest advantages, which main differences did you notice during your stays that helped you to grow as a person and as an artist?

Appreciating diversity by respecting and accepting that each country/individual is unique and embracing the differences is my greatest lesson. Being of a multicultural heritage myself, definitely made moving around easier in my opinion. Having lived in 7 countries over 3 continents, plus travelling the globe with my creative and nomadic parents, I have learned to take with me what I like most in each place. This is the richness I have had the great fortune to accumulate and probably makes me who I am today.

I read that when you moved to the Bahamas you went into scuba diving and you are a scuba instructor. What were the biggest challenges at the beginning?

I was actually raised in the Bahamas and learned to swim before I could walk. When I start something, I am not satisfied with half the way. So, when I started scuba diving, one level of certification led to another and eventually I became an instructor. Having always been very comfortable in the water and being a competitive swimmer through my school years, I didn’t feel it was a big challenge. In fact, I highly recommend it. I think if you are calm and want to explore the sea, it is a very accessible activity. It is a very unique and humbling experience to be in this vast underwater world. The most difficult part of the job is dealing with clients. It is still a dangerous sport if we don’t follow strict protocol. Unfortunately, common sense is not always common in some cases.

Can you share with us a meaningful story from your scuba diving experiences?

We have inherited a magnificent underwater world and we have to take good care of it and not to destroy its natural eco-system. My favourite experience in diving was learning about sharks and working with them in close proximity. These creatures are so feared around the world and they are so misunderstood even though most people have never had a personal experience dealing with a shark. I remember, when I was training in my shark awareness course, one of the reef sharks, that we saw on a daily basis who had a large scar on her jaw from a fishing hook injury, slowly came towards me as I was kneeling on the bottom of the sea bed, and placed her nose against my knee like a dog waiting to be pet. I then proceeded to lightly rub the end of her snout to put her into tonic immobility, a kind of trance-like state a shark goes into when you trigger the sensory pores located on their nose. It was the first time I was able to practice tonic immobility on a shark and it was really one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.

Tanis is the talented daughter of French producer and writer Jean Chalopin and Singaporean former model Ethel Fong

You are also a photographer and you decided to use your photos in order to help and donate to a private medical foster home, Blue Sky Healing Home that takes care of kids. Can you tell us how do you start this project?

My journey into Bluesky Healing Home began when I met Micky in Beijing, China in 2008. Micky was abandoned at birth. For reasons I can’t personally comprehend, he was left in the freezing cold on a hillside in Shandong Province. Micky was nearly completely frozen when he was found. As a result of frostbite, his left toes had to be amputated. Unfortunately, Micky was also diagnosed with a congenital complicated heart disease. Micky fought through all kind of illness in his first year of life. His little courage was my inspiration and my photography book project was my first step towards helping him get well. Sadly, he passed away few days before the delivery of the photography books. The total proceeds from the sale of my first book plus my subsequent book and exhibition went on to help other children at BlueSky. Thanks to Micky and Bluesky, they set me on a path towards helping unwanted children, abandoned not only by their parents, but also by a society in search of the minimum responsibility and involvement. It changed my life forever.

Photo courtesy of Tanis and
A special thanks to Brittany Bowler | Music Publicist

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