TĀLA - Best New Music
Written for The Telegraph [21/1/15]
TĀLĀ's globally-infused electronica is immersive, imaginative and good fun
Who is she?
TĀLĀ is a 25-year-old singer, musician and producer from south west London who puts a gorgeous global spin on electronic music. Championed by the likes of BBC Radio 1's Phil Taggart and Alice Levine as well as rising producer SOHN, last year the former BRIT school student came out of her shell to release two EPs. She also enlisted Jessie Ware's art director, Kate Moross, to direct her debut music video, for Alchemy, her latest single.
How did she get here?
Despite admitting that she was "awful" at sight reading aged seven, piano lessons were the catalyst for TĀLĀ's work. "Long before the piano lessons, though, I remember making up songs in my head to the Super Mario Land levels on my game boy when I was on holiday," she says. At the age of 18 she enrolled at the BRIT school where a friend gave her Reason software and told her to "start putting down ideas for songs." She signed to Brixton-based indie label Aesop in 2014 to release two EPs, The Duchess and Alchemy. TĀLĀ sees herself as both an artist and a producer, explaining that her writing process is "a bit of a mixture" of the two. Her long-term friends, producers Craze and Hoax (who have worked with Emile Sande) taught her the "the process of finishing songs" before she released any music, giving her the "confidence" she needed to share it.
TĀLĀ's electro-pop often intertwines the strands of Arabic music introduced to her by her Iranian father, which gives her songs a transportive quality. Think MIA without the rap or Grimes minus the warped vocals. On Alchemy we hear Arabic hums soar over bombastic beats and sultry R&B verses. Field recordings of a busy Middle Eastern market introduce On My Own In Hua Hin before colourful and fun rhythms erupt over buzzy synths. Her music is a vastly interesting fusion of western-meets-eastern pop music.
What influenced her music?
Her home life has been a big influence, with her parents coming from two cultures. TĀLĀ's British mother would spin hits by Tom Jones and Michael Jackson and her father would play music by Persian artists such as Googoosh and Dariush at parties in their house. "There would be dancing, daddy's famous Persian food, and tablas being played at 3am. It was magical", she says. Growing up, TĀLĀ was a big fan of garage and late Nineties/early Noughties R&B and hip-hop (Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Jagged Edge). She currently listens to AG Cook, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and the sounds emerging from London record label/collective, PC Music.
What does TĀLĀ say about her own music?
"It's like a melting pot of influences, emotions and experience. It's an unpredictable journey and it's honest and raw...my music sounds like my world."