In the world of music, where emotions are woven into every note and lyric, there exists an artist who effortlessly tugs at the heartstrings of her audience. Meet Teddi Tarnoff, known as Teddi Mercury when she takes the stage. A singer-songwriter whose melancholic melodies are a poignant soundtrack for those who find solace in sad songs. Teddi Mercury unveils her journey through music, her deep connection with the Las Vegas artistic community, and her pursuit of authentic self-expression.
Thank you for being our Creator of the Week! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello, my name is Teddi Tarnoff, I go by Teddi Mercury when I perform. I am a singer/songwriter newly and once again musically solo. I sing sad songs you’ll miss your girlfriend listening to.
Tell us about your background and the road that led you to pursuing your chosen your art medium.
Both of my parents are musical and theatrical. I was in music lessons early on at 2 years old. I don’t know that I “chose” music so much as it has always been a part of my identity. I sang before I talked (it was the Jeopardy theme song, haha). I’ve studied violin and voice classically and even got to train under the same operatic vocal coach as Maria Callas in Italy the summer before my senior year of high school. I went to college for Jazz but contemporary and Rock have always had my heart. I was the bassist in Misstallica, the internationally touring all-female tribute to Metallica, and that group had another band Queen Diamond tributing the music of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. When they were active those groups were super fun, but I always leaned into original creation. The Northern Lights (later known as Teddi and the Northern Lights, and then Mother Mercury) was the band I fronted for most of my adult life. Collaborators have come and gone and my own voice has shifted over the years too. Words have always come easy, but Songwriting is a craft I’ve needed to cultivate and have been since my teens. As challenging as it’s ever been, I’m thankful for the outlet music and writing has provided to not only express but, at times, expel emotion and energy that might otherwise be trapped inside.
How does music impact your life, and what role does it play in shaping your personal expression and identity?
I am lucky to feel the impact of music across all fields of my life and livelihood. As an enthusiast and student of music, I am a life-long learner always listening for the next beautiful melody or rhythm to lose myself in. As a facilitator and Regional Manager of School of Rock here in southern Nevada, I get to help shape the next generation of musicians. And as a creator, I try to hold peaceful space for myself without trying to overly demand of my artistry. All of the roles music have played in my life have been challenging at times, battling feelings like “I’m not as good as them”, “I’m spending too much energy promoting others”, or worst of all and most persistent “I’m not doing enough”. It’s taken most of my life to find a healthier balance to meet me, the person and musician, where I am, and to be present for every moment of this journey cultivating my ever solidifying identity as an artist.
What role do you believe local artists play in shaping the cultural identity and vibrancy of our community?
I don’t believe a vibrant community can exist without art, and diversity in that is imperative. Vegas does some of this beyond well – shoutout to I.S.I. and the immense mural arts presence, in particular, we are so lucky to have. It has always been artists leading the way through revolution imaging a new more beautiful way of life. Sensory appeal can often be the catalyst for someone to open their mind to a provocatively brave idea that might otherwise feel undigestible. Artists share that innate responsibility, to give back and propel forward within their communities in response to and as much as those communities have inspired their expression.
How does our local community influence or inspire your artistic process? How would you like to see Las Vegas evolve artistically?
The sheer volume of artists in Vegas is as daunting as it is inspirational. It feels good to be immersed in community that values beauty and promotes creation. Within the music scene across Vegas, cover gigs are the largest bookings. I think our next move should be towards diversifying local venues so there are more opportunities for original musicians to perform. That initiative would hopefully extend to younger musicians as well so performers under the age of 21 have more places they can play.
How do you stay motivated and inspired? Are there any rituals or practices that help you maintain creativity and overcome creative blocks?
I try to allow my creativity to flow as naturally as possible and jump on any moment when inspiration hits. Once I capture an idea, it is easier for me to revisit it until fully formed but that initial spark can be hard to come by amidst the rest of life. I feel the most in tune with my artistry when what I’m ingesting is in line with my values. Stimulating books and visual arts breath the most life into my process even in the glummest of times.
Can you share a memorable or defining moment in your artistic career so far? What made it special or significant to you?
I don’t know that their has been ‘one’ moment, but it is special each and every time someone finds meaning in something I’ve written. Truly, there is nothing more significant to me and I honor those connections most of all.
Tell us about a collaboration that has contributed to your artistic journey and growth.
Not the truest meaning of “collaboration” but the friendship I have with local artist B. Rose has been a key contributor in my artistic journey. Her voice and talent is incomparable and her songs evoke so much feeling, their gravity plunging you into their depths. But her musicality is only one piece of the story. Our shared experiences and challenges have helped me to feel less alone. We hold space for one another, share wins and joys, and we are fiercely protective of each other’s peace while navigating an industry that can sometimes break you down. I am inspired by her on the daily, the way she promotes herself and brand, and how honest she is in their representation. Her strength is compelling and our support of one another has allowed me to flourish on my terms.
Looking ahead, are there any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to and how can our community support you?
My former band Mother Mercury recorded 3 singles before we parted ways. We are hoping to release those by the end of the year. Beyond that, I would love to see some new faces out at shows. Don’t be shy, say hi! I’m a big weirdo on stage but so enjoy meeting people who vibe with what I do.
What is your interpretation of a Raw Femme?
Raw Femme is a much needed space to celebrate and promote artistic womxn, and to offer paths of connection within the community. I have followed along since its inception (I believe) and have been introduced to so many spectacular artists I might not have otherwise known about. I’ve been energized by their stories and works, and I could not appreciate more this opportunity to be included amongst them. Thank you, Rawky, for this and all you do <3
Teddi Mercury is a force to be reckoned with, a storyteller whose music resonates with the deepest recesses of the heart. As she continues to evolve as an artist, the community eagerly awaits the unforgettable journey she will take them on next.
Check out Teddi’s upcoming show on September 12, 2023 at The Griffin in Downtown Las Vegas.