The Challenger

Portland neo-soul singer Tatiana performs at the University of Oregon


The social media tag came the same day the post went up. In June, acclaimed hip-hop musicians Flying Lotus and Denzel Curry posted an instrumental version of their track “Black Balloon” online, asking rappers and singers to add their own vocals, part of a contest they called the #BlackBalloonChallenge. 

Social media friends and fans of Portland musician Tatiana Nguyen — who performs as Tatiana — knew both Curry and Lotus were favorites of the post hip-hop neo-soul singer, so they tagged her. 

In response, Tatiana sat down with a pen. She wrote and posted a verse and a hook within 30 minutes, and she won.

“I felt really accomplished getting such positive reception on an original piece of work that I put together so quickly,” Tatiana tells me in an email. “I’m a songwriter that’s pretty reserved about her lyrics. To get such positive feedback really gave me a boost.”

The win has helped Tatiana connect with producers and artists all over the world. “It was cool to be part of something that featured so many other talented people,” she says.

Tatiana plays a live streamed show Nov. 6 at the EMU on the University of Oregon campus, supporting her new single “Since I Left You,” available in early November on all streaming platforms. 

Limited in-person attendance will be allowed for UO students only, following all COVID-19 safety guidelines. Masks are required.

“Since I Left You” is a melancholy, soul-influenced contemporary pop song, made buoyant by a hip-hop backbeat and Tatiana’s indomitable and silky alto. With real commercial appeal, the song would slot nicely in any urban pop Spotify playlist, especially for fans of Rihanna, Beyoncé and SZA.

Tatiana was in the middle of leaving a long-term relationship when she wrote the song, and she hopes to include it in a future EP project about this transitional period in her life.

 “I was feeling a million emotions at once, but was super uninspired musically,” she remembers. “My producer was also going through his own messy breakup at the time and sent me a beat called ‘Crying While Dancing.’ Once I heard it, all of the words from ‘Since I Left You’ just happened naturally.” 

Tatiana’s been writing her own songs since she was teenager, idolizing singers like Lauryn Hill, Sade and Mariah Carey. These days, Tatiana usually writes her songs in solitude, either in a songwriting session or sitting alone in front of a piano 

“Lyrics will either come to me 100 miles a minute,” she says, “or it’ll take days for me to write one line. But to be honest, I’ve written all of my best songs while in the shower or while driving home from work.”

Tatiana’s Eugene show will be stripped down to basics: just voice and guitar.

“This is my first show in a long time, and with there not being too many people in attendance during these weird pandemic times, I wanted this gig to be super intimate,” she says. “It’ll be a chance for me to just hang out with the audience. That feeling of connection is really important to me when it comes to my music.”

Tatiana performs 7 pm Friday, Nov. 6 at the Erb Memorial Union on the U of O campus. The show will be live streamed free on Instagram, @UOCONCERTS, with a limited number of in-person tickets available for free to UO students only on a first-come-first-basis.  For more information search University of Oregon Music and Concerts on Facebook or Instagram.