Nov 20, 2014

Rebel Heart: The Tanya Montana Coe Interview

Tanya Montana Coe yellow dress wood sundown

Tanya Montana Coe is my little sister. We have the same parents, initials and matching wrist tattoos. It's adorable. Tanya has recently completed her debut album (produced by Shane Tutmarc) and, no surprises, it's amazing. Titled Silver Bullet, it is easily the best collection of songs released by someone named Coe since the mid-'80s. Knowing first-hand the property tax on that name, I couldn't be more proud of her for making this album.

*UPDATE: June 29, 2015*

I'm incredibly happy to announce that Silver Bullet will be released on my label, Thee Medea Complex, on August 30, 2015. When conducting the below interview with Tanya, I had no intentions of forming a label or working with her in any professional capacity.


Now, you might look at Tanya: daughter of David Allan Coe, born & rooted in Nashville, TN, where she's owner-operator of Goodbuy Girls, an internationally famous clothing boutique featuring a literal wall of cowboy boots for sale... and assume she makes Country Music. You'd be wrong. As this isn't an album review, I'm thankfully spared the task of summing up Silver Bullet in a tidy menu for you to digest. But, I don't know, imagine if Hope Sandoval fronted a Spiritualized as equally influenced by BeyoncĂ© & No Limit Records as by Delta Blues & Gospel Soul? Which isn't to say Tanya never would or indeed won't ever make "Country" Music. Because, after watching the official music video for the title track, "Silver Bullet," and reading the interview below, it's pretty clear she'll do whatever she decides she wants to do.

You have a Bachelor’s degree in accounting?


All right. So, you had jobs because of that. You were a “financial accounting software consultant.” How was your general outlook on life at that time?

At the time I started off being really happy, feeling like all the hard work I’d put in to school and working jobs that I hated - you know, waiting tables and all that stuff - I thought, “Okay, I finally made it.” I had a great job, great benefits, great money. But a few months into it, something emotional came over me, where I felt like I was living a lie. I didn’t know how to put it into words or anything. I was really unhappy and on auto-pilot, going through the motions at 22 years old.

Everything was set-up and I thought that I should be happy and content. In an economy like that, I should be thankful to have a good job. That’s what my education was for… I can’t explain it besides the fact that I felt like I wasn’t living my life the way I was supposed to be living my life.

You were so focused on working towards something that you didn’t have the time to think that maybe you didn’t want to be-?

I never thought about what I wanted or didn’t want besides that I knew I wanted to not struggle and I knew I wanted to see my mom’s life be easier, my brothers’ and sister’s lives to be easier; I wanted my life to be easier. To me, since not having money was so much of a struggle, that was the answer. I always made good grades. I knew I could do it, physically, and I knew I was good at it. But I never thought about how I felt or my emotions. 

What was it like to walk away from that and open Goodbuy Girls?

It was really risky and scary. The truth is that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew I couldn’t keep living like that. I knew I had to figure out what I wanted. I had to figure out who I was. I had to figure out what life meant to me.

It was liberating and great because I was forced to really dig into myself. But it was scary and a big financial change, for sure, because I’d set my whole life up to get to a better place, financially, and to set that aside to struggle again… [Struggling] even in worse ways because I was evaluating myself on a deep, emotional level...

I was going to ask you how and why you wrote your first song but I think the more pertinent question would be: Do you think there was ever a possibility of you writing that song as a “financial accounting software consultant”?

Actually, it’s really crazy… I didn’t really think about them [as being] in song form but I always wrote growing up, like poetry or free-writing. This is really terrible to admit... When I was working- I tell people now that I really only did a good hour or two of full-on accounting work. Most of the other time I tried to look like I was busy reading or working on the computer and I was really just writing my thoughts and my feelings on paper and hiding it from my boss.

Your boss thought you were an amazing employee?


That was a secret part of you, then?

It was entirely secret.

I think the way I grew up, going through some of the things I went through, never really knowing how to talk about them and feeling like I didn’t have a right to talk about them... My mom was in so much of a “survival” mode and I took on so much of the co-parenting that I thought what I went through was either normal or definitely not as bad as some people had it, so I just needed to suck it up and get over it and do what it took to conform to society- I just didn’t think about things. I was a straight A student. I listened to my teachers. I listened to society. I listened to people’s advice. I wasn’t rebellious. I conformed...

I would have never thought that I had creativity inside me. The songs - I didn’t grow up playing an instrument, never would have thought I’d learn to play an instrument well enough to write songs. It was the furthest thing from my mind. 

You talked about conforming. What does the word “outlaw” mean to you?

“Outlaw” means someone who is true to themselves, at whatever cost. They don’t rebel just to rebel. It’s not about doing bad things or being a bad person. It’s more about being true to yourself. A lot of times that means you’re not going to be accepted by society or the majority. You keep being yourself, regardless. 

Is that pretty much how you feel about the word “rebel,” as well? Specifically, as it pertains to your song “Rebel Heart.” 

I think that a rebel does have a little bit more of… … ...

“Fuck you”?

Yeah. I think there’s definitely more of an attitude, as in, you know, a rebellion. I feel like it’s the action behind “outlaw.” You’re an outlaw because you’re true to yourself but you become a rebel when you have to take action to protect that or enforce it or prove it. 

So, “Rebel Heart”?

…what about it?

A lot of people- A lot of my friends say, “What does that song mean?”

I guess with “Rebel Heart,” I looked at it like the truth always reveals itself. The chorus says, “These years to come, they won’t lie.” The truth always reveals, so it’s better to be honest up front. I think [on] the verses it’s this - I say girl, coming from a female standpoint, but it could be he or she, anyone - it’s someone who’s finally letting loose, letting go and becoming comfortable with who they are. They’re ready to put everything on the line for that. To me, that’s what being a rebel is.

Tanya Montana Coe yellow dress woods

What are the opening lyrics to your song, “Warrior”?

"Well, you could say I was born this way but my momma told me that a man won’t stay."

Did your mom tell you that?

Eh… In a roundabout way. She raised me on Lifetime movies.

I’m going to take a turn here. How much Radiohead and Pink Floyd have you listened to?

Uh… You know, probably just whatever songs of theirs are on the radio? I’m not really good with saying song titles and stuff like that. I mean, I’ve heard some Radiohead songs where someone told me, “Oh, that’s Radiohead,” and I’m like, “Oh, I like that song.” Or, you know, Pink Floyd, there’s a couple of their songs but it’s really rare that I ever dig into bands or artists and look up everything.

I know Pink Floyd's overall sound and Radiohead’s general sound and... I like it.

Ok, more broadly then, what about 50’s doo-wop, Motown and Chicago blues - the music that bands like The Rolling Stones drew from?

Yeah! I think that stuff is always what got me racing. You know, I love hip-hop. I love beats, rhythm. The Motown influence - it felt like you could dance to it, move to it. You could just feel it.

I guess that’s always the music I’ve really been drawn to. I mean, music changed my life in that way. That’s why I was drawn to certain songs or certain artists, because that’s what made me realize that I did have emotions and needed to figure out what they were.

How do you feel about the music scene in Nashville?

I’m probably not the best person to judge or talk about the scene because I don’t even really feel that involved with it. I definitely have lots of friends who are singer-songwriters and they’re on all different levels and scales of financial success or awareness - things like that...

A lot of people complain about the music scene in Nashville. I think it’s just a hard place because it’s an oversaturated market. Everyone here is trying to do the same thing, so you don’t get appreciated, you don’t get valued. It’s more dog-eat-dog. No one really takes anyone else seriously. It’s always compare-and-contrast and size yourself up to someone else.

It’s sad because it seems like there’s more of a scene of it being a competitive market than it really being something that brings people together. 

What sets you apart from that? Is it that you don’t care to be involved in competition?

I’m here to build people up and support people.

I’m a competitive person - of course I like to do well - but I also care about other people doing well. I’m all about me being the best version of myself and being supportive of other people being the best version of themselves. I don’t get competitive in the fact that I don’t like to look around and see what I can take from other people or use from other people to get to where, supposedly, I want to go or be.

Overall, I think what sets me apart- It’s hard to say something sets me apart because there are plenty of people I can relate to in Nashville, or who can probably relate to me. Maybe it’s just that I’m doing this for myself? I’m doing this for, potentially, maybe, the one person or the few people out there that maybe would hear this and it change their lives like these songs changed my life. I guess I just want to help. I want to help myself and then maybe that will help others. 

Cool. I think that takes care of the last question I was gonna ask-

What was the last question?

What do you want your music to represent in the world and to the people who hear it?


My heart goes out to females- I mean, it goes out to everybody but I think about women all the time and what I can do to help. Growing up in the South- sometimes I feel like so many people move here from the West coast or New York, where women are more empowered. People don’t realize how suppressed women still are in the South.

Sometimes I feel like my mission and my love for women and wanting to empower women and free them is something where people go, “Isn’t that already done?” But it’s not. It wasn’t for me and that wasn’t my experience. I feel like that’s a big part of my purpose through this music - connecting with people and relating, letting them know that they’re not alone and there’s always hope. You can always change. 



  1. yeah!!! loved this interview. keep writing!

  2. Anonymous7:31 AM

    that single is rad! going to buy the album - thanks tyler