(Photo Credit Shervin Lainez)
We had the opportunity to interview art-pop singer/songwriter Taali! Taali recently released a new music video for "Hear You Now" via Billboard (found below) and a remix to "Hear You Now" produced by Grammy-nominated electronic artist starRo (Shinya Mizoguchi), listen to the remix of "Hear You Now" here. Check out what she had to say in our interview below!
1. How did you come to pursue music, how long have you been at it, and when did you decide to go “all in” with music? How has your life changed since you made that decision?
I've known I wanted to pursue music since I was 8 years old. I was a boisterous kid (a handful), but around second grade I finally met a teacher who changed my life named Linda Azif. Mrs. Azif saw that I was bored, and also she just loved the bejesus out of Mozart. She encouraged me to pursue my creativity, and once I sang my first note, it was a wrap. Any second after that was spent in service to music. I'd say that the decision to go "all in," though, came when I temporarily relocated to Los Angeles in 2017. At some point, you just have to put it all on the line, and it has to be your own skin in the game. LA did that for me. It was the moment where I finally took a real risk, left my lifetime home of New York City, spent a ton of money that I didn't have, and made a bet on myself.
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
Because I'm also a songwriter for other artists, my process often varies depending on if I am writing for myself or someone else. If I'm writing for myself, I generally start with a sentence and a melody. It often doesn't make sense, and it almost always doesn't fit, but I've learned to trust that little silvery first idea. I go home, I sit at a synthesizer, and I put chords underneath that first line. I usually sing what my dear friend Solomon calls "yogurt lyrics" (indiscernible syllables), and the idea begins to take shape.
I never, ever, put demands on my own musical creation. I don't ever go into a song thinking, "This will be a breakup song," or, "This will be an empowerment song." However, when I'm writing for other people, the opposite is almost always the case. Here, it is my job to facilitate a way for them to sing what they need to sing best. I think of myself as somewhere between a contractor, therapist, confidant and healer in these cases, even if the song's material isn't "serious." I always like to hang with the artist first and get to know them, and then once I'm in the room with them, I adjust to their flow.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
Leonard Cohen, Iris Apfel, Paul Simon, Ava DuVernay, Georgia O'Keefe, Sufjan Stevens, Ana Mendieta, Thelonious Monk, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone. I could go on for this entire website's capacity, but I'll stop there. I lean towards artists with strong identities. Artists who have the ability to live in the sweet spot of honesty, vulnerability and fearlessness. That's what I strive for every day of my life, and I look to the greats to lead me there.
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
I am obsessed. OBSESSED. OBSESSED. With my Yamaha reface CP. When I first met my Yamaha family, this was the first synthesizer that they gave me to "test" my waters out for leaving piano, and I've never left it. What can I say, I'm a loyal gal. It is tiny, portable, has incredible sound and boasts a speaker, computer hookup... I could go on for every single hour about the reface CP. I wrote my whole album on it, use it in my live show (with a TC helicon pedal), and bring it to every session.
I'm also an Ableton artist. Ableton has changed my life. It makes me feel like I'm wearing 20 foot wings. My lifetime mission as an Ableton artist is to get it into the hands of as many female producers and songwriters as possible.
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
This is a great question. My live show vibe, the way I see it, is that you are in my living room with me. I grew up with a big, loving communicative Jewish family. And I see every show, whether there are 10 people or 1,000 people, as everyone sitting together in my living room. We laugh, cry, make jokes, sing and clap together. My favorite part of doing a show is the connection with other humans. The respite that we get from the world for that hour and a half. It is my medicine in a world that currently hurts.
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
I see my music as corporeal, or of the body. It is claps, voices, sighs and breaths, and signifies my own return to my body and my ancestry.
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
Yes! My first ever album as an artist (not songwriter), will be coming out in early 2019. Excited to let you know more details soon!
FMI on Taali visit her website here.