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Five Questions for Tanya Davis, star of Heartbeat

About four years ago, Haligonian singer-songwriter Tanya Davis and director Andrea Dorfman worked together to create a short film, which would become How To Be Alone, which combined a poem, with music and animation and some dreamlike sequences, and can be viewed here. Now, Davis and Dorfman return with a feature entitled Heartbeat, which played to a full house at TIFF, and is being released at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, as well as in Halifax at Cineplex Park Lane. We had the chance to speak to a very overwhelmed Davis during TIFF, (describing herself as an introvert, we remember walking into a hotel room where she was sitting on a loveseat next to a made bed). Over the course of the discussion, though, Davis provided some great insight into music, movies, and opening up to new experiences.

Did you have songs already prepared for the movie, or did you write some new ones?

It was a mix. I had songs that I had previously recorded, and released, even, on other records, but they happened to fit either sonically, or else Andrea had liked them and told me, or just lyrically, they just fit in with the themes, and I wrote some specifically for this film, and with the parameters and some of the film guidelines.

Did you find that difficult?

I found it fun, actually. I really liked having some parameters to work in, an assignment. I worked with a lot of them, at least on the instrumentation, with another person in Halifax, whom I’d worked with before, named Charles Austin, and we were in the studio together, and it was really fun to have some pure creation time.

Did you find the acting a challenge?

Yeah, I did. But I also really enjoyed it, and I like trying new things. I really like trying new things, because I’m curious about life. So I felt really vulnerable, and right before we started, I remember being quite nervous, and just wanting to do a good job for everybody, for Andrea, and for the producers, and for myself.

Were you playing the songs as yourself or as your character?

That was a mix. I drew on my experience as a performer, like to hold it together and make I was technically playing okay, so I did feel more like myself when I was playing music than the character, I think. When Justine is playing a song for the first time as Ruby, and she’s really nervous, I didn’t feel like myself then, I felt more like Justine. Trying to remember what it’s like when you haven’t played music much, and how it feels to show that to someone.

What do you think about the fluidity of Justine’s sexuality?

I think that it kind of speaks to what is luckily happening more and more in real life, people, at least in our culture are making less and less of it. For me, I would love it, where it just becomes a non-issue in life. In the movie, it was just about the people. I liked that a lot, actually. It’s just basic human behaviour.