How Tiana Major9 Overcame Her Vulnerabilities on Her New EP

Tiana Major9
Ira Chernova

Tiana Major9

U.K. upstart Tiana Major9 is a risk-taker: whether she's trekking through the muddy terrains of various relationships or venturing to the United States to further her career, the singer-songwriter remains unafraid of fresh opportunities.

After inking a deal with Motown Records, Tiana transitioned from an independent artist to become a major-label R&B contender. Though she was initially hesitant about the decision, her latest EP, At Sixes And Sevens, proves her gamble was a good one.

A tasty collection of textures highlighted by the reggae-tinged "Think About You" and the hip-hop-flavored "Real Affairs," the nine-track collection allows Tiana's versatility to reign supreme. And when Tiana retreats back to her safe space of R&B, she executes sheer precision: on "Lucky," she rolls the dice on love and receives a result in her favor, while on "Exclusively," she preaches the importance of nurturing a budding romance. 

Billboard spoke to Tiana Major9 about her deal with Motown Records, her EP At Sixes and Sevens, and taking chances on love and music. 

How much of a confidence boost was signing to Motown Records coming from the U.K.?

I feel like on one hand, it made feel a lot more confident in who I am as an artist and more appreciative of my music, but, from the other side, it's a bit scary. It can be a bit scary because I went from being independent to signed [to a major label]. I'm still adjusting. It feels great.

Can you elaborate on that? Is it more of a pressure thing, or is it the transition from indie to major?

It's definitely the transition from being independent to now being a major artist, especially in America -- it's a whole different thing. The culture is completely different, and the ways people consume music is kind of different. So I feel that's kind of scary, just not knowing much at this stage about the music industry and stuff.

On "Open to Love," you say repeatedly, "I accept my emotions and I allow them to serve their purpose." How long did it take for you to give in to what you were feeling emotionally as an artist and as a person who admires love?

I think I'm still learning how to do that. It's a journey. I feel things very intensely, so sometimes it's hard for me to even give my emotions and energy and really delve into it. I don't feel like I'm all the way there. I'm still learning to accept my emotions. I'm trying.

How therapeutic was it for you to do those interludes in the studio? They sounded like peaceful affirmations.

Yeah, that's what it was initially for. It was for me to feel better and to show people how I cope. Also it was for people to have affirmations that they can repeat and use in their everyday life.

You have a record called "Exclusively" on the project as well. What does being "exclusive" mean to you in 2020 when it comes to dating and relationships? Because it could have a lot of definitions. 

I mean, I think you're right. Right now I don't think people have a constructive idea of what relationships are. I don't think everybody should have the same relationship structure. Having said that, in the song, I was expressing just being with one person only, even if it's in that moment.

Let's talk about "Lucky." From a scale of 1-10, how much influence do you think luck has on relationships and romance? 

Quite a lot. What's interesting about luck, and I might be wrong, but I think the definition of luck is when preparation meets chance, or something like that? Or when you're prepared and an opportunity comes your way. But yeah, I think it plays a huge part in relationships and love, because if you've done the work within yourself, you're more than likely to find a partner that you can have an amazing relationship with.

You mention in the same song not usually being risk-taker. When do you feel it's appropriate to take chances when you're interested in somebody?

I think that's from the beginning, to be fair. Putting yourself out there and making your interest in that person known. It starts from the beginning.

But you don't think if you put yourself out there too early that the chances of you getting hurt increases? Like if you tell someone "I love you" within the first two weeks, you're asking to get hurt. 

[Laughs] Yes, saying "I love you" that early can be off-putting, and it can be very scary to people,  but putting yourself out there in terms of giving that person the right energy and being present when you're with them needs to happen from the beginning and it should carry on. That's how I am.

The project features R&B, reggae and hip-hop. How important was it for you to incorporate all of those sounds into your EP? 

It was very important to me because I wanted to show people my range as a songwriter and a musician. All of the styles you mentioned with the reggae, the hip-hop, the R&B, and the jazz kind of vibe was "Exclusively." They're all genres and sounds that I love anyway. So I just wanted to show people my range, but also bring them to my world and see the kind of music that I love.

Do you have a personal preference that you gravitate towards, where you would consider doing a whole album of that one sound?

Definitely just a fusion. I feel like I can do a hip-hop album, too, but I would say my favorite song on the project is "Same Space." I would say it's R&B. I don't know if I can just do a full R&B album.

Why is "Same Space" your favorite? I had a feeling that was your baby. 

Because of how honest I was on the song, and how vulnerable I allowed myself to be in that session. That's why I really love it. You're right. That is like my baby.

Did you have any struggles with how much you wanted to reveal about yourself on this project?

Yeah, I feel like I struggle with that anyway in life, because I'm just like that. I'm a Scorpio, and I know people say Scorpios are secretive [laughs]. So I tried to make a conscious effort on this project to not be like that, because I'm like that in my life.

If you can pick one word to describe this body of work, what word would that be and why?

One word? This is hard. Can I say two?

I'll give you two, at max three. 

I'd say, the beginning, again. "The beginning again." I feel like I'm always starting again with everything that I release. Whenever I do things in the industry for myself as an artist, I feel like I'm constantly starting something new. So this is my start and my beginning again.

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