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After decades as one of Minnesota's top rock 'n' rollers, Tina Schlieske has gone all in on singing standards. The tuxedo jacket, the jazzy arrangements, material from the Sinatra songbook.

"Singing jazz keeps you on your toes," she said. "I equate it to getting ready to run a marathon because your ears have to be wide open to where you're at and where you're going. It's a workout in a different way."

Schlieske is preparing for Friday's album release party at the Icehouse for "The Good Life," her new collection of standards. It's being issued on Shifting Paradigm Records, a label started by Twin Cities jazz guitarist Zacc Harris.

The project is Schlieske's first since "Barricade," her 2014 album with Tina & the B-Sides, the band that made her famous in the Twin Cities back in the '90s.

For her release party, Schlieske will be performing with some of the musicians from the recording, including keyboardist Bryan Nichols, drummer Pete Hennig, bassist/producer Cody McKinney and saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, as well as trombonist Matt Darling.

After flying in from Santa Barbara, Calif. (her primary residence), Schlieske rehearsed on Tuesday and then, in an interview, discussed her fears and fascinations with standards and her love of tuxedos. Here are excerpts.

Q: How did you get into singing standards?

A: Right before COVID, I felt, without sounding cliché, the world was such a dark place. The Trump years. So much hate and anger going on and all of a sudden I got drawn to these songs. Musically they're complicated but to sing a simple love song, I was craving that.

So in Santa Barbara, we had Tina's Tuesdays, where I'd dress up in a tuxedo and sing standards. It felt good to me. People were responding, too. And I kept taking it more seriously and started playing here in Minneapolis at the Dakota and then COVID hit. Before it hit, I recorded three songs for posterity's sake. Then I decided to take more steps and decided why not put [album] out.

Q: What's the challenge for you to go from rock to jazz?

A: It's such a challenge to play songs very slow. I'm so used to playing rock and it's energetic; this is a different experience in trying to pull yourself back even further than what I think would be slow and laid-back. I find it exciting to see how much space there is. It can be loud and there can be silence, which is off-putting for me as a rock lead singer. I want to make sure everyone is being entertained and feeling good. When you have big gaps, it just triggers every part of my people-pleasing [instincts].

Q: What artists and records did you study?

A: I had been listening to Billie Holiday since way back. She appealed to me because she has more of that bluesy, emotional approach to jazz. I am not and nor do I pretend to be an Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan [type]. I can't sing like that. I don't have that type of range. I love Nina Simone because she approaches music a lot like Prince: She takes her classical background, her blues background, her jazz background and she blends it all in and that's what comes out. And for me, Frank Sinatra, his vocal delivery and use of breath is a very good template.

I don't feel relaxed in this genre by any means. You have to sit and listen to each other [musicians] play. I miss that in rock because you just play. In jazz, I'm just another instrument in the band, part of the ensemble.

Q: On this record, you use different voices. You sound so delicate on "You Go to My Head." Have you always had those voices?

A: I grew up loving David Bowie and Elvis Presley. David Bowie, I always admired his different voices. I always longed to be that type of singer. Approaching the song more like as an instrument, not a belty, bluesy approach but a more withdrawn, held back [approach]. I wanted to end up being more flexible and having more diversity with my voices.

Q: Where did you find "Lilac Wine," an obscure jazz tune?

A: I became first obsessed by it by the Jeff Buckley version. Then I heard Nina Simone's version. I wanted to approach it right down the middle, a bit of Jeff Buckley soul rock and the more jazz like approach that Nina does.

That song took the longest for us to get [right]. We did a studio version and I didn't like it. So we went back in the studio and cut it live to have a little more of an emotional response to it. It's a very difficult song vocally and emotionally.

Q: With its double-time approach, "Them There Eyes" almost feels like rock 'n' roll a bit.

A: Yeah, exactly.

Q: You swing "My Baby Just Cares About Me." Is that an extension of your rock side?

A: Yeah. That part is hard to escape. I don't mind that at all. I am who I am. I'm not this hardcore jazz singer by any stretch. The last thing I wanted to do was like Rod Stewart, the rock guys who hit a certain age and all of a sudden decide to do the American songbook. I was a bit petrified. I never wanted to come across that way. This is me paying homage to the genre I always loved but I never had the courage to dip into that pool. So I have no shame showing the rock a little bit in these songs as long as there is a little bit more of the attempts at other vocal stylings.

Q: In your live shows of standards, you bring a lot of theatricality. Why?

A: I think when I first started that's probably what drew me in besides the melodies and lyrics. My grandmother sang in the Russian opera, one of the chorus singers. There might be some frustrated drama in me. I remember someone saying these jazz songs are like mini-operas. They're very dramatic. So I enjoyed getting into the theatrics and drama of it all.

Q: How many dinner jackets do you have and when did you get them?

A: Ha ha ha. I look at pictures when I was little and I loved dressing in a suit coat, my brother's hand-me-downs. Now I probably have at least 20. For my jazz shows, I've got about six. I love a good suit. Besides a good hat, a good suit is definitely my weakness.

The original black tuxedo, I had that custom made for my 50th birthday. I don't know what came first — the tuxedo or wanting to sing jazz standards? I still wear that one. After I did the New Standards [holiday show], they hooked me up with John Meegan at Top Shelf [in Minneapolis] and he made me a suit and dinner jacket.

Q: How often do you perform?

A: I haven't played in a while because I took some time off getting ready for this record and for my daughter's wedding. I play two or three times a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. The older you get, the choosier you get. It's easy to come back to Minneapolis and play. Between the audience and the venues, it's amazing here.

Q: How much time do you spend in the Twin Cities?

A: I come back at least once a month for a couple weeks. I do feel quite at home here. I never quite leave.

Q: What happened to your rock career?

A: That's my problem. I get bored so quickly I feel like I need to concentrate on giving my attention to this beautiful album, but it's been a while since I've done my originals. And I've got this side project with Molly Maher called Quatro. It's all women working and writing together. It's not too far off in the future for another rock album to come out one way or another. Slowly but surely.

Q: What's the status of all your bands — Lola & the Red Hots, Genital Panic and Tina & the B-Sides?

A: The B-Sides will be doing a big gig in May in Red Wing, the Sheldon Theatre. Lola? I don't know. Everybody's kind of dispersed for that. Genital Panic is always on the brink and the way this political year is going, you could be seeing Genital Panic a lot more than you have been.

Tina Schlieske

When: 7:30 p.m. Fri.

Where: Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.

Tickets: $30-$40,