Spring 2022

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ROCK ROYALTY WRITTEN BY CHRISTIANA LILLY PHOTOGRAPHY BY WORLD RED EYE The Collektives lead singer, Tatiana Blades, marches to the beat of her own drum. IN THE WORLD OF BAR BANDS, there are the classics that always make the setlist: "Blister in the Sun," "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Livin' on a Prayer," "Blitzkrieg Bop." But when The Collektives are on stage, bar goers sway to Radiohead's "Creep" and The Cranberries' "Zombie,'' crooned by frontwoman Tatiana Blades. "We had to really fight to play those songs on stage," Blades says. "They really have a kind of heartbreaking honesty, and I think that's why everybody likes them. When people hear that honesty, they're like, 'Holy shit!' You don't expect to hear that." Formed in 2018, the Magic City band—composed of Blades, guitarist Eddie Gatoe and guitarist Joe "Smooth" Hernández, as well as rotating members—was a happy accident that evolved from casual jam sessions that turned into a formal band with gigs across South Florida and beyond. Most recently, they've turned their attention to original music with the release of their fourth single, "IDK What Love Is." Even in the studio they've had to fight for what they wanted, with a producer advising against the first line of "All Within Me," which is "Sometimes you feel like shit." Blades hails from music royalty. She's the daughter of Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Robert Blades, and the niece of musician and songwriter Rubén Blades, who has nine Grammys and 10 Latin Grammys under his belt. As a kid, she hung out at Miami's Crescent Moon Studios—of Miami Sound Machine fame—watching the likes of Shakira, Jon Secada, J. Lo and Diddy lay down tracks for their upcoming albums. Blades loved music—but not the box she was put into. She studied piano, violin and singing, but was drilled with music theory and traditional stylings. Many figured she would carry on the family tradition and pave her own road through the Latin music industry. But as a teen, she was more interested in the raw sounds of Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos. "Every time I would even try to get involved in anything musically, it was always met with, 'Do it this way, do it like this, sing it like this,'" Blades remembers. "I very quickly began not really liking music, and for me that was horrible because I really loved this connection that I feel with music." She ended up stepping away from music and founding Aura Entertainment. On the other end of the spectrum, guitarist Gatoe also came from a musical family but taught himself to play guitar and write music. The sudden death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994 inspired him to learn how to play the instrument. Later, he learned to read guitar tablature and soon began writing his own music. Hernández didn't start out as a percussionist. In sixth grade he struggled with the trumpet before toying with drums at a friend's house. After impressing his teacher when he sat behind the drum kit at school, he was promptly moved to the percussion section. Fast forward to their adult years, Hernández and Gatoe crossed paths as members of the punk rock band Dyslexic Postcards. In late 2018, they jammed with Blades at Sedici Cafe in downtown Miami, eventually forming a band they never set out to be in, a band that ebbs and flows on stage, each one taking turns being the leader. "I play a little differently, the way I play my stuff. My sound clicked with her voice, big time," Gatoe says of their first jam session. "By the end, we were The Collektives." 164 Spring 2022

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