I had a great time recently speaking to Paschal Keogh of Blockleaders.io in depth about my background in music, some challenges along the way, TatianaCoin, and much more! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and thank you to Paschal for an interview that’s a little different! You can read all about our conversation from his new article below or here.
The singer-songwriter and founder of TatianaCoin and Crypto Media Hub talks to Paschal Keogh about liberty, guns, and Britney Spears.
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin
It’s February 1999. Bill Clinton is about to be acquitted by the US Senate on charges of Perjury and Obstruction of Justice. The impeachment of the US president has gripped the nation. The President’s wife Hillary has remained steadfastly by her husband’s side, even after he admitted to having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Fast forward eighteen years and Hillary was again defending her husband against a string of attacks from her fellow Presidential hopeful Donald Trump – himself no stranger to sexual misconduct allegations – who is determined to ruthlessly exploit any crack in the Clintons’ righteous facade.
The Lewinsky and Clinton affair will forever be associated with the stained dress that was the butt of so many jokes in the late nineties but a school girl’s outfit caught the public imagination as much as any other item of dress wear during that period. At the same time that Bill Clinton breathed a sigh of relief in the Senate that February, ingenue Britney Spears scaled the summit of the US charts with her debut single ‘…Baby One More Time’. Feminists who were angered by Clinton’s actions were further incensed by the video for Britney’s chart-topper, in which the then sixteen-year-old Spears gyrated around the hallway of a Catholic school in her uniform and pigtails.
For Tatiana Moroz, singer-songwriter and founder of the Tatiana Coin, the emergence of Britney Spears marked the death of music and the music industry. “I mean, Jesus, she was dancing about in her school uniform. Come on! How sleazy can you get? It was the start of the Disney Pop evolution in music. The arts are critical to the development of mankind, and they’ve been hijacked for a long time by this garbage music that says nothing about the soul.”
Her favourite period of music is the early seventies, when singer-songwriters crafted adult-oriented, literate songs with conviction and depth. One of the leading lights of that period, Joni Mitchell, voiced her dissatisfaction with the music business of the eighties and nineties. “Record companies are not looking for talent. They’re looking for a look and a willingness to cooperate.” Tatiana puts it this way:
“I can’t remember hearing a single anti-war song on the radio in the past twenty years. There’s a certain allowable dissenting opinion permitted in the music industry, and it doesn’t have to be my voice that wins, but there should be more opportunities for different opinions than there are now.”
Tatiana is drawn to the truth so manufactured pop is as false to her as the political system she decries. “When people voted for Donald Trump, everybody was like ‘the end is nigh’. There was a lot of hysteria in the media. In my opinion, what was really going on is that people know that Clinton is the most corrupt woman in the Universe. She is horrible. Her husband is terrible. Trump talked about the unaccountable media – everyone knows the mainstream media is a total joke. He seemed like the anti-war candidate. He was calling out corruption. People miss those key points of the message. So when I see Donald Trump elected, I think that there are rays of hope. And, if you are an anarchist-libertarian, which is where I lean, it makes the office more of a joke. I’m hoping that people are going to see it as the joke that it is because, while these idiots are having a pissing contest, there is a ton of amazing innovations going on in the tech world that offers better governance solutions than what we have going on in government. If they want to make it a joke, have at it guys, enjoy. They are just bringing about their own demise.”
Tatiana shoots from the hip. Speaking to me from her studio apartment in New York, she is deliciously entertaining company. Not one to hold back her opinions, she is plainly anti-establishment and has provided a platform for other blockchain anarchists through her podcast, The Tatiana Moroz Show, with deep tech sitting comfortably alongside discussion topics like “Can Anarchy Work”. Meanwhile, her PR company, Crypto Media Hub, has worked with many blockchain companies such as Bitcoin Magazine, Zencash (now Horizen), and Dash.
Tatiana first discovered Bitcoin in 2012, a few years after she graduated from the Berklee College of Music. It was a period of politicisation for Moroz, who identified Bitcoin with the Libertarian ideals espoused by Ron Paul. Indeed, Moroz became a regular performer at rallies for the then-Presidential hopeful Paul, performing Bob Dylan’s Masters of War and her own composition ‘Evolution to Revolution’. As her ideas developed, she increasingly viewed Bitcoin as a powerful democratising tool in the Libertarian fight against government aggression, the power of the Federal Reserve and the hedonism of Wall Street.
The music business was another centralised, top-heavy autocracy that Tatiana was eager to change. “I performed The Bitcoin Jingle at the Latin American Bitcoin Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2013. I had become friends with Adam Levine of Let’s Talk Bitcoin and we started to talk about how we could use cryptocurrency to disrupt the music industry. We decided to make the world’s first artist cryptocurrency, TatianaCoin. Once we created the coin we raised enough money for me to record my third album. Then we had to build a platform because having the coin was like having a car without roads. We had to build the roads ourselves. Adam went on to build Tokenly. On the record I made, I paid everyone in crypto. I still use the Bitcoin Jingle to tell people why the artistic community should embrace crypto. To me, artists need to be supported by their community, otherwise we are only going to get more manufactured music.”
Increasingly moving in Libertarian and Anarchist circles, Tatiana became a close friend of Lyn Ulbricht, mother of imprisoned Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht. “I was doing a lot of interviews at that time, and I met Lyn Ulbricht. I became friends with Ross through her. I visited him several times in prison. The more I learned about his case the more I realised it was incredibly corrupt. There were so many things that were wrong with it on so many different levels. Ross is a symptom of a much bigger disease and I have been using my music to raise awareness of this. When I put out the record I used a picture that Ross drew as the album cover. I also wrote a song called ‘The Silk Road’. With me taking a relatively contentious position of supporting this political prisoner to some, a hero to others, a drug dealer to another segment, that’s a radical act and you can’t really do that if you are signed to a major label. So the artist cannot thrive or be freely expressive, and that, in my opinion, is dangerous.”
Tatiana has an innate suspicion of power, and particularly the power of governments. She has forthright views on gun ownership, a topic of American discourse that baffles Europeans. “I feel very strongly about this because governments are very untrustworthy. They are the biggest murderers of all. We’ve had a whole number of different rights that we once held dear unravel before our very eyes. Look at our prison population. We have a lot of considerations around freespeech that are going into the bin.”
For Tatiana, the recent controversy surrounding Trump Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct only served to mask a much greater problem.
“When you look at what’s been happening with Kavanaugh, I find it extremely disturbing that people weren’t discussing the fact that he was touting himself as a constitutionalist when he has some very unconstitutional views on government surveillance and he was allegedly the author of the Patriot Act. So when the government is throwing a bunch of people in jail and the rule of law is out, then you can bet your ass I’ll own a gun.”
But it would be wrong to characterise Tatiana as a poster girl for the American Alt-Right. She loathes the racism often associated with right-wing Republicans. To Tatiana, the American ideal of liberty is more than some lofty aspiration, it is the bedrock on which the United States was built.
“Libertarians don’t believe in aggressing on people. We’re very tolerant of other people, so long as they are not aggressing against us. So, we’re in favour of equal rights for everyone. I don’t care if someone is black or white, or straight or gay. A Libertarian position would be you believe in looking at people as individuals and in ensuring individual rights. I think that’s really beautiful and is something that people can get behind. No one wants to be seen as a collective, because we are all different people. Also, Libertarians are generally very non-interventionist, so they don’t want to go around and start a lot of wars. They believe in voluntary interaction and personal responsibility. They care very much about the poor, and believe the free market is the best solution to ensure prosperity for millions. I think that’s lost when people talk about Libertarianism. Too bad, because live and let live is a really good philosophy”
There has been a lot of discussion about the aggressive tendencies of men in American life of late. The Kavanaugh Affair was the latest of a long list of scandals that have rocked US Politics, and – before that – Hollywood, sending out ripples well beyond the United States through the Me Too movement. Tatiana thinks we need to have some perspective. “There is a lot of rapey stuff that goes on, and there are genuine social consequences to coming forward. That being said, it’s important to have evidence. The whole Kavanaugh thing, that was a bit of a joke, because she didn’t know when it was, most of the people who were there said it didn’t happen. He didn’t actually rape her. I mean, yeah, maybe he tried to push her down, it’s not that bad. Also it happened such a long time ago. I think when you have something like that it takes the discussion away from more serious claims. It should be easier for women to come forward, but when something bad happens, you’re not going to be thinking about preserving evidence.”
Tatiana is speaking from experience. “A guy who was running a tour I had been hired for tried to grope me. He put his hand on my leg, pushed it right up my inner thigh. I was so shocked. I clapped my hands together and said aloud to him: ‘pay attention’! I tried to just continue talking to him. It was in the middle of a party. Nobody noticed. And I was so shocked. I just walked away. Then, afterwards, a few of my friends didn’t believe me. I didn’t feel like I could take it forward because at that time I was launching TatianaCoin and I didn’t want any media just focussing on this one salacious event. So I have an understanding of that plight”
“But there are a lot of crazy chicks out there. The culture around divorce and how custody is handled by the courts is leaving a lot of relationship issues in its wake. I also find it rich when Hollywood talks about Me Too like they’re all really innocent victims. I mean, everybody knows what the casting couch is for. Some were on it and benefitted from it. Now, should it be there in the first place? Of course not, but everyone loved Harvey and the rest in public. Fawning over them. I just find it very disingenuous, you know?”
This is classic Tatiana. Open, self-effacing one moment, then brash and cynical the next. She’s never far from a self-deprecating laugh and I get the impression that she thinks as she talks: quickly, with wry humour and opinions that can change in mid-sentence.
But the overarching impression is of a woman with deeply held convictions and a striking thirst for justice. As the interview ends, I find myself humming Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. There are words there that defeat logical interpretation, but the images suit Tatiana, who – like Dylan’s Louise – “holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it”.