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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: TANAY

@rockstitute (instagram)

Tanay Kumta likes to describe his music with colors and his recent release “I CAN’T TASTE,” is what he calls “blue music.” While the song isn’t necessarily sad, it does deal with the harsh realities that come with growing up. TANAY recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar about playing with feeling, freestyling lyrics, and cherishing physical media.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

My musical history began with piano lessons. To this day, I credit my first real music teacher, Dr. Taras Filenko, for his insistence on feel and soul whilst playing music. His attitude and approach to piano was both charming and ambitious; something I came to cherish. In high school, I sang in choir and picked up the drums in my spare time using the school kit after-hours. Intending to leave music behind after high school, a year and a half into college, I started playing a hand-me-down acoustic guitar, eventually practicing enough to a point I was able to write my own songs. From that point on, I was honestly off to the races. I ended up taking a leave from school, maniacally writing demos, figuring out how to record on my laptop.

How do you describe your sound?

I’d say my sound boils down to a combination of all the music I’ve loved as a listener throughout the years. Inspiration was boundless for me growing up. I was drawn to bands like The Beatles, The Strokes, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, etc.. I maintained a strong liking for indie rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and Cage The Elephant throughout my middle school and high school years. Based on the tracks I have released recently, I’d describe my sound as blue. I like using colors as a point of description because it’s simple. I will say though, that after the blue material is all out, I plan to release several color themed projects this year: red, purple, orange, etc..

Tell us more about the song “I CAN’T TASTE.” What inspired you to write it?

Honestly, “I CAN’T TASTE” was a spur of the moment thing. At the time, I was hanging out with my buddy who played bass; he eventually went on to record the bass on the track. We were having a good time jamming and it sort of just happened. Overall, the track came to be about getting older and realizing that there are harsh realities to life and being an adult. As for what the track means to me? I think I’m still figuring that part out but I hope people can relate to that message.

What was the first album that really changed your life? 

The first album that really changed my life is a pretty easy answer: "Room On Fire" by The Strokes. It was gifted to me by my parents on my seventh or eighth birthday. I still love the album to this day, along with all of The Strokes records, but can’t really put a finger on why exactly those songs meant so much to me. At the time I think I felt cool to have possessed my own physical CD. My family owned this CD and cassette player that I would sit in front of and blast the tracks on. I loved every minute of it.

What’s the best part about making music in Pittsburgh?

I feel close to my roots. It’s the city I grew up in and have spent all my life in. Although new sights, scenes, and cities are inspiring in their own way, being close to my family and a few dear friends I’m sure has an intangible influence on my music. I’m fairly new to the scene here but everyone I’ve interacted with, for the most part, has been kind and helpful, too.

Which Pittsburgh artist(s) do you wish more people knew about?

I wish more people knew about savesomeone. Chris Ferree is a close friend of mine and I have witnessed his evolution along the past few years both musically and personally. He’s currently making waves in the hyper-pop community, blending elements of live rock with a very unique electronic production. A must-listen to artist though I’m sure more people will be knowing of him soon. We’re playing at the Government Center on the 28th of January!

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I mostly freestyle all my lyrics. The best material comes to me after I already have an instrumental recorded. It helps me set the context. Once I have a general idea of the form and sections, I do my best diving headfirst into it melodically and lyrically. It’s the only way I end up surprising and not boring myself. I like writing out short poems in my journal, but rarely do I sit down to write stuff. It ends up becoming way too formulaic to a point where the song loses its magic to me.

Learn more about TANAY here.

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.