Eavesdropping on the powerhouse producer and rising star.
Tender Central is a musician following an intriguing path. Classically trained on cello and piano, she has since spent time in Ben Howard’s band, and then collaborated on her own music with dancefloor-orientated producers such as Jakwob, who also released her first single, “Wake Me Up”, on his label Boom Ting Recordings.
The result of these sessions is intricate yet calming music. If a track has been granted a beat, it’s fair to say – as with “Wake Me Up” – it won’t be suffering a lack of invention. Her highly recommendable live performances showcase the wide variety of influences, and lay bare an artist looking to engage the heart and mind, before eventually getting you dancing.
Current single “Lava”, produced by Kideko, features a gorgeous guest turn from Matthew Hegerty of Matthew and the Atlas, and has been released as part of the Communion Singles Club. We sat down with Tender Central (real name India Bourne) and Jakwob to discuss their collaborations to date.
How were the early recording sessions between you two?
Tender Central: Brilliant.
Jakwob: It was different, because we’re both very different types of musicians. It worked because all the things I didn’t know, you knew, and all the things you didn’t know, I knew.
TC: I think we really complement each other in that way, don’t we? I really didn’t know anything about beats. My background was cello, piano and classical…
J: …that’s what I want my background to be!
TC: It’s like you had everything I didn’t! So it was really interesting. The way James (Jakwob) hears sound is so cool. I think all the songs we do are a great combination of instrumentation, but also space.
J: I like working with people that are trying to figure something out. They don’t know what they’re looking for, but they’re up for an adventure or discovery. I knew that India has so many ideas. There was so much scope for experimentation. But to be honest working with very good musicians is always a bit intimidating!
Any lessons learned from working with each other?
J: Get piano lessons! I think mine has been not throwing the kitchen sink at stuff. In between working with each other I was doing a lot of pop stuff. During the day I’d be throwing so much stuff into a pop record and then in the evening maybe working with India, putting the essentials in and really thinking about what you’re writing about. Let the topic of the song be reflected in the production.
Do you both have similar influences?
TC: We love the same tracks actually.
J: There’s not much we disagree on. In terms of heritage, we’re probably completely different. If we go back to how we both came into music, it was probably vastly different tastes.
TC: Playing cello growing up, I had to learn a classical repertoire, and I had to sing a lot of classical repertoire.
J: And then I was buying garage records probably!
TC: So there we go, our influences right at the beginning were probably totally different, which I loved. We were always going to come at it with a slightly different angle, but appreciate the same songs.
How would you describe the music you’ve made to somebody who hasn’t heard it?
TC: I’m really bad with the genre thing.
J: I think there’s no point in genres anymore. The only reason for genres is for inputting data when you’re uploading something to Spotify or Soundcloud. It’s all irrelevant nowadays.
TC: [The music is] quite vocal-led. Electronic… kind of tribal.
J: You live in the West Country don’t you? For me it sounds like Ancient England.
TC: Yeah… with a twist.
J: Very British sounding, I think. You’ve drawn from so many other countries.
TC: I’m influenced by quite a lot by Celtic melodies, but also listen to a lot of Indian music. I love the inflections of the vocals.
You’re playing a bunch of festivals, what can people expect from the shows?
TC: It’s really upbeat. Expect to dance. Dancing is my favourite thing, apart from music. I love music that makes me move. Hopefully I take the listener somewhere. I’ve so enjoyed researching these songs and figuring out what I really want to say. Hopefully the lyrical content and the instrumentation will be interesting to people. I just want to make people feel good. Expect a bit of a journey, and to dance.
J: You want to hear it at a festival. It’s definitely a festival set, for sure.