With the launch of our weekly newsletter, we hope to give you an inside look at the personalities you’ve come to know at DittyTV. First up we have Tatiana Z, who you know from her show Tribes and also as a regular on DittyTV’s daily news, in addition to several other spot appearances on the broadcast. We hope you enjoy this Q&A session with Tatiana. Catch her on Tribes daily at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (@theTatianaZ). Oh and if you want to offer up theme suggestions for Tribes, email her at email@example.com.
You have a lot of roles with Ditty TV, one of which is host of the show Tribes. Give us a summary of what Tribes is all about and what you love about the show.
Tribes is weekly show that gives you one hour of your favorite Americana & roots videos all centered around one crazy theme, brought to you by … me! The title “Tribes” just means that it’s a collection of the same topic or idea—a tribe of videos that belong to a specific theme.
One week you might come along with me to the beach (videos that take place on a beach), one week we might take some road trips (videos that are about road trips or filmed on the road), one week we might explore black-and-white videos, or women of Americana, or troubadours (those lonely traveling poets and wordsmith men of Americana). One week we might spotlight all videos coming from a certain record label. One of my favorites that we can do several of is a flashback edition, where I get to feature all the folks I consider to be the fathers—and mothers—of Americana and Roots: Linda Ronstadt, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, etc.
I love getting to share our artists and music presented in a fun “concept” way and to be able to have freedom and flexibility to showcase the very wide umbrella of music that falls under Americana and roots music. It really vibes with my personality and I can have fun with it.
In addition to Tribes, we see you presenting the DittyTV News on a daily basis, occasionally co-hosting other shows, and hosting the Concert Series. You stay busy! Tell us a bit about the challenges and joys of wearing so many DittyTV hats.
The news definitely keeps me on my feet. People ask me “How many hours a week do you work?” I honestly can’t answer that with any one number as I am constantly taking in information: reading about record releases, upcoming tours, what projects artists are into. I’m reading label websites and press releases and event notices from all across the country and around the globe. That alone is a seven-day a week thing I do primarily on my own time.
Then to boil that all down to a one-minute daily form, takes some doing. Whom to select, what piece to choose, for which day, what’s Venus doing and where is the moon in the sky that week—it’s all very technical.
The producer hat is a straight-forward task in one respect. I gather the media you see for the news segments. That means, album art, venue pictures, logos, tour posters, official videos, and, in a lot of cases, not so official videos. It’s surprising how difficult it is to find high quality studio or live video for many artists and/or high-enough resolution images to put up on the network. It’s a full-time job.
There is a social media aspect of the job that includes cross posting on both my personal and business pages across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Even though we have a media company who handles such things broadly, it’s important for the VJs to develop their own brand as well as artist relationships. Individual fans and musicians alike re-share and thank me for the posts they are mentioned in, and it makes me happy to think I can play a little part in helping get the word out for them. I get emailed and contacted directly all the time by artists, publicists, and managers, so it’s important to cultivate those relationships when they present themselves to you and to get them in touch with the right person at Ditty if need be.
Then there is teleprompter/filming aspect, which is hands-down the most enjoyable for me. Oh and doing my hair and makeup! Very challenging. Need help. Any takers out there?
With so many different roles, do you have any really special moments that stick in your mind?
I absolutely loved doing the red carpet interviews at last year’s Americana Honors and Awards at the Ryman in Nashville. It was a special year for music and I simply had a blast with every artist and band who stopped by for a little Q&A.
I put together the idea for and got to coordinate one of my favorite Concert Series of the past two years—we referred to it as the Tulsa Takeover. I have a lot of artist friends in Tulsa and we were able to get a good group of them in-studio while they were traveling through Memphis to go make a record in Muscle Shoals. The outcome was marvelous. Six individual concert series and one “Tulsa Family Jam” show. It was awesome! I’m very proud of that idea and how hard everyone here at Ditty really worked to make it a reality.
Something else that is always special and different every time is filming the news with Sam (Shansky). There are lots of takes that people will never see but secretly I wish they could. There are literally moments off camera where I am crying because I am laughing so hard at something he has said, sung … or beat-boxed. Not kidding. I’ve had to redo my eye makeup mid-news. Actually they are on camera, as we film everything and then edit—so that comedy gold ends up on the digital cutting room floor of Isaac (Erickson)’s computer. Who knows, maybe they’ll make it on to a blooper reel one of these days. You’d never know it but Sam is the resident Ditty comedian. I think we could get a Netflix series out of this.
You’ve lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, so tell us how you ended up in Memphis and was it a major adjustment?
I moved to Memphis in November 2016 with my then boyfriend. This is his hometown and we met in L.A. After a few years he suggested we try living in Memphis, mostly to be closer to the music for him, and I was down to try a new town. After 13 years in N.Y., 4 years in Paris, 24 years in L.A. I was like, “Cool, let’s go!” I am always open to new adventures and moving isn’t a daunting prospect for me, even though I have a whole home full of things. I knew no one here except for his friends and family and had no job but wasn’t worried that it wouldn’t work out for a moment. You have to make things happen and I found that Memphis is a town that’s ready-made for that. I met some wonderful people who introduced me to this town and welcomed me and made some beautiful friends who connected me to Ditty, and voila. As for adjustment or culture shock, that never really happened. The only thing that takes getting used to me for me was a) the mosquitoes in spring and summer, with whom I am in mortal combat, and b) the weather is still a bit of an adjustment. Though I was used to the very cold while I was in NYC, most of my life was lived by sunny, warm beaches and really that’s my vibe. It gets downright freezing here, so I am constantly cold and always waiting for summer.
You’ve been an actress and dancer and have worked at some major radio stations. What are a few of your best memories from those jobs?
Yes dancing was my first love and is what I will always look to for strength, centering, and leisure. And radio in L.A. was pretty unforgettable, too. Some of my best memories? So many: belly dancing in a U2 tribute show on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore looking out across the city; herding crowds of audience members between moving set pieces and through the bustling dance floor of Mr. Oberon’s dance hall as a “Disco Girl” in “The Donkey Show” off-Broadway in NYC; working Sunday nights as the phone operator at KROQ in L.A. during Steve Jones’ shift for his radio show Jonesy’s Jukebox (oh, the stories); getting to chat with Rodney Bingenheimer on those same Sunday nights when he would come in to prep for his midnight show; Noel Fielding telling me how much I reminded him of Kate Bush and watching him draw my face on our dry-erase board; seeing The Rolling Stones at Angels Stadium in Anaheim from the front row of the pit with my K-Earth co-worker many years ago even though I am pretty sure we were only supposed to have outside access—oh well. Those are some pretty special ones.
When you’re not busy with Ditty TV, what other personal projects are ongoing?
I have a line of all natural, no-oil, body scrubs that I’d really like to get off the ground. My recipes are ready to go, my designs ready, and I know what kind of packaging. I’m ready to pull the trigger and get the website live to start taking orders. Just need to find an investor.
I have also written a children’s book aimed at kids whose parent or parents travel for a living and are “on the road” or away from home a lot. I’d like to get that out there, too. It’s a teaching book about all the different cities one might be visiting or from where mom or dad might write home, or FaceTime home. It’s from the point of view of character that is very dear to me. His name is “Clyde the Tour Moose.” I’m sort of at the publishing point—which way do I go—self publish or traditional? What do your readers think? Write in with suggestions! So many projects, so little time.
How about when you want to just catch your breath or have fun, what do you do?
Oh my gosh, two things: 1) sipping an oat milk latte from my pals at Low-Fi coffee on South Main (one of the owners of which happens to be host of DittyTV’s “GPS” Bailey Biggers) and 2) Netflix/Hulu/Amazon and chill.
Oh and the beach. Travel to a warm, sunny coast and sit on the beach. Three things.
Though, there is one more thing I’d like to do. I still have not gone to Raiford’s, an old-school disco here in Memphis. For the love of God will someone please go with me?
Tell us what excites you most about the future of DittyTV.
Ditty is really evolving every day. I am excited to see what it will become because I know what it’s capable of. We’re more than just “like vintage MTV for roots and Americana.” We’re definitely that vibe—which is a no-brainer hit format—but it’s so great that we have this grass-roots—not controlled by the labels or radio stations—approach to the music we play. In other words, we really have our finger on the pulse of what’s happening day to day in Americana and roots music. You’ll be hard pressed to see the same video on the hour every hour. We don’t do that. We’re presenting the music our way, getting back to what DJs used to do years ago, playing what they thought was important, what they thought was good. That’s Ditty.
In the age of streaming channels, and not yet being a part of a cable network or a media conglomerate, we are in new territory marketing-wise. Getting the word out in an organic yet profitable way is definitely a challenge but so exciting to be a part of and observe as people catch on that they can choose to watch a real music channel again, and not just a bunch of reality show dreck. There is always a future in helping artists achieve their dream, and that is exactly what Ditty is built on: sharing the music. Being a VJ on this network, getting to share music with my audience—building an audience—is exciting. Getting to host the live concert series as more and more badass musicians pass through our halls is exhilarating! The level of talent is extraordinary and I feel really lucky to just even see it happen.
Thanks for your time, Tatiana. Just one final question: What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?
That’s kind of a tricky question because I believe I signed myself up for “Cassette-of-the-Month” Club—remember that service? It was like 10 cassettes for 99 cents and then they got ya on shipping and handling. But I think my very first one was Swing, Swing, Swing—a “best of” Glenn Miller and his orchestra—big band swing music. Can you believe it? And you could choose LP or cassette. I went for the record. And loved the heck out of it. Still have it!