Teddi Tarnoff (Queen Diamond, Misstallica, Teddi and the Northern Lights) interview

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How old were you when you first started listening to music and what were the first bands/artists that you listened to?

Until I was about 10, I listened to whatever my mom listened to, which was usually something traditional in the Celtic or Greek sound. When my friends started talking about their favorite artists, I realized that I didn’t really have any of those. I started listening to the alternative rock station and I think that my first favorite band was Nirvana.

What exactly was it that you initially liked about music?

I was singing before I started talking. It was such a natural and primal thing for me. It was never a choice. Music has always been at my core and I was lucky enough to have a mother that nurtured those early signs of what is now my life.

Who are some of your favorite bands/artists and why?

There are so many. For bands, I would have to say Pink Floyd, Slayer, Led Zeppelin, Jane’s Addiction and Fleetwood Mac. For artists/singers: Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. I know that’s a wide spectrum but all of those artists have that thing, whatever it is, that when they play, it’s like the world stands still and everything’s as it should be. Or nothing’s as it should be. But that’s the point and you can feel it with their every note and word.

How old were you when you started both singing and playing a musical instrument? And what was the first instrument that you played?

I was an infant when I started singing little melodies I would hear. I was one and a half when my mom started me on violin lessons and 5 years old when I began studying voice classically.

As a singer/vocalist and as a musician, who are some of your influences and why?

Everything around influences me. Whether it’s something I hear and love, hate or some variation, I can take something from anything.

How did you come to be the singer/vocalist for Queen Diamond, your King Diamond/Mercyful Fate tribute band?

It was a joke to start, with one show to kind of say “look, here it is” and be done. But it took on a life of it’s own and gave all of us an outlet to perform at a time when I, at least, was still figuring out what direction life was taking me. It’s way fun though.

What are some of your favorite King Diamond and Mercyful Fate songs to sing/perform and why?

While I love it all, I do prefer Mercyful Fate. There’s something so old school and creepy about those songs. They send chills up my spine and the lyrics are so dark. It’s really just all around great music.

What are some of your favorite King Diamond and Mercyful Fate albums and/or songs and why?

I love Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath and my favorite King Diamond album is, of course, Abigail! They kill all those nu-metal guitar riffs and the illegible band names. Just truly dark and heavy music.

Discuss Misstallica, your all female Metallica tribute band.

We’re all girls (yes, all 4 of us are female) and we play Metallica songs. First 4 albums only, with a few of their cover songs thrown in for fun.

What are some of your favorite Metallica songs to play and why?

“Orion”, of course, is my favorite Metallica song. But not just because of how glorious the bass is. It’s really just a great song, a true testament to the musicianship in that band and the dynamic.

What are some of your favorite Metallica albums and/or songs and why?

My favorite album is Ride the Lightning. I love the compositions of the songs especially on that album, the guitar tones and the ferocity.

Discuss Teddi and the Northern Lights, your all-original band.

Yes, the material is all original. The songs are all written by myself, my former writing partner Dan Nitz and me, or myself and my current writing partner, Gina Gleason. We are currently trying to get into the studio and record like a real band as all of the recordings that I have now are acoustic on my computer microphone.

I couldn’t help but notice on your official website that you’ve played with quite a few alumni of Frank Zappa, my favorite artist/composer of all time. Discuss your work with them.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few of the Zappa alumni, including Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ike Willis. Joe’s Garage and Roxy & Elsewhere being my two favorite Zappa albums, it was a treat to work with both of those artists. I’ve gotten to tour with Napoleon and I have sat in on live songs as well as in the recording studio with Ike many times.

Who are some of the bands/artists/musicians that you’re most proud to have shared the stage with and why?

I am most proud and humbled to share the stage on any night with all of my bandmates. Over the years, I have played with so many amazing people and gotten to do some really great things. But it’s the people who keep getting up there with me and who I get to keep creating that energy with that keep me going.

Feel free to discuss any of your other endeavors (musical or otherwise) here.

Teddi and the Northern Lights is trying to get into the studio in the next few months. We’re recording with Julie Slick, bassist in the Adrian Belew Power Trio. In the next few weeks, I will be setting up a Kickstarter to help fund this recording project, so any and all interested in finding out how they can help little ol’ me, please check out my website (www.TeddiTarnoff.com) for info!

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