Indianapolis native Tatiauna Matthews lives by the motto: “Stayin’ humble and determined is all I need.” It’s a motto that has earned the 25-year-old success and the respect of not just the music industry but her friends.
Naptown Buzz met up with Matthews, better known as Tatu, to talk about her recent deal with Round Hill Music and her journey to notoriety.
Naptown Buzz: OK, so where did your nickname come from?
Tatu: It’s my industry name. (She giggles and a grin grows across her face.) My publisher gave it to me. It’s just what I go by now.
NB: How long have you been involved with music? What age did it spark your interest?
Tatu: Since I was mmm about 12. I started in the church.
NB: Now you were born and raised in Indianapolis…I hear you have music in your blood.
Tatu: The Hamptons — they were jazz players. My mom is a playwright and choreographer, and my sister is a dancer and choreographer.
NB: You were raised by your mother…How did that shape you into choosing music?
Tatu: Being raised by my mother definitely changed me because my mom kept us singing in church. She kept us on drill team. There was always music in the house, and we were always dancing. If I would’ve been raised by doctors, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing.
NB: Where did your motto come from?
Tatu: Experience and my grandmother. My grandmother is always telling me, ‘don’t get too big-headed. As fast as God gave it to you, he can take it away. Be patient because everyone has their time. And work hard.’
NB: What came first — singing or song writing?
Tatu: I started in a rap group then ventured out into song writing. I didn’t even know there was money in song writing. I just wanted to do it.
NB: Who are your biggest influences?
Tatu: Missy Elliot — she’s dope and so versatile; Michael jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill
NB: Who would be your dream artist to work with?
Tatu: My dream, if I could work with any artist, it would be Michael.
NB: How did you get set up with Round Hill Music as a publisher?
Tatu: I didn’t even know to go to a publisher. I met a management group, Game On Ent., and they helped me out.
NB: What made you decide to sign with Round Hill Music?
Tatu: I really like them. They’re close — kind of like a family. I had like six deals on the table. I felt like Round Hill believed in me more and stood behind me more. It’s been great so far.
NB: They helped set you up with Eve, right?
Tatu: Yes. The publishers sent her songs. She liked it. I didn’t even believe it at first.
NB: And Eve kept your vocals?
Tatu: I did three hooks for Eve. I sang them but didn’t intend on her keeping them on the hook. She kept them!
(You can find those tracks on Eve’s current album Liplock (Never Gone, Zero Below, and Keep Me From You).)
NB: She’s not the only artist that kept your vocals for a track, right?
Tatu: The song “Colors” by Headhunterz released this summer. I recorded some vocals. Headhunterz decided to keep me on it.
NB: Anything else going on right now with your songwriting?
Tatu: The Vamps, a UK boy group like One Direction, recorded my song “Dream Away.”