Tayna Davis

The lady explains ‘How To Be Alone’ and the video scores a mil plus lonely hits.
Story: Lenny Stoute
Photo: Killbeat Music

Video may have killed the radio star but it can do wonders for a poet’s career. Hottest testifier to that truth’s Tanya Davis, a reasonably obscure Halifax poet who’s currently blowing up like Justin Beiber with her video for a tune off newest album, Clocks and Hearts Keep Going.

See, she also has a career as a singer/songwriter going on which has yielded three albums and while her press stuff’ll tell ya she does both things with equal fervour, when pressed she admits to being more poet than songwriter.

“ I stared writing poetry before songs and I do tend to go there first with an idea. A poet’s job is to observe and report; song writing is more about interpreting. Lyrics are structured differently because you have to keep rhythms and tempo in mind. Generally, it’s better for a song if the lyrics are shorter so you come at an idea differently.”

Both disciplines have their strictures but Davis seems to enjoy more freedom of experimentation as a poet. The fact that she specializes in ‘spoken word’ poetry creates a natural springboard to doing music. ‘Spoken word’ is poetry written purely to be performed live, making for a different approach than the stuff intended to appear on a printed page. Its power is in being heard, not read.

No surprise then that Davis’ approach to a video would be steeped in the poetic. Which is about as accurate a way to describe the one in support of “How To Be Alone’. The Euro-Noirish video poem roots about in the many-splintered definitions of “alone”; how they don’t always equate with lonely, the diff between solitude and loneliness; and the various ways, masturbation aside, a person can actually get to enjoy being by themselves.

Combining live action, animation and spoken-word, the Bravo!FACT commissioned project, was shot, animated, and edited by award-winning indie filmmaker Andrea Dorfman.

At time of writing, ‘How To Be Alone’ has scored 1.8 million and counting hits since being posted late August, underlining the irony that a world of billions just makes for that many more lonely people. Or as Macca mused,” All the lonely people/Where do they all come from?”

“ I was surprised and encouraged that people are responding to the message. That it's not only ok to be alone but there are some definite benefits to it. I write about the emotions inherent in everyday life, about isolation, connections, relationships, the in-between moods. There are things you can learn when you’re alone, like the truth behind the cliché that if you don’t love yourself you can’t love someone else. Certainly I've found that to be true for me; being able to appreciate time spent alone has made my relationships better”.

The rest of the material on Clocks and Heart Keep Going pretty much lives up to that description. Davis says she doesn’t necessarily seek out life’s darker tones; it’s just that she won’t back away from exploring those that come up.

“ I don’t mind working with large subject matter. It isn't so much heavy as real; life itself is heavy. It’s more important to make people think. I don’t know that you can make people feel; you can make the framework, a context to generate feeling but the feeling itself depends to a large degree on how open you are to an experience.”

With active careers both as a poet and singer, Davis enjoys a wider range of responses to her work that most indie artists.
“ I really do enjoy performing for both audiences. The music fans are more raucous, more immediate in their response. The poetry fans pay attention; they’re there to listen to every word. There’s applause but it's not like in a club. And they don’t drink as much beer.”

Fans of Davis will get their fill of her patented warm vocals and cut- to-the-bone lyrics when she takes Clocks And Hearts Keep Going out for its debut national tour, starting Oct 16 in Ottawa, ON at The Raw Sugar