Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: TALIWHOAH

North London’s genre bending singer-songwriter on LGBTQ rights, cultural appropriation, and why 2019 is going to be a great year.

Top URBAN OUTFITTERS, Jeans FILLES A PAPA

Top URBAN OUTFITTERS, Jeans FILLES A PAPA

How did you first get into music?
I’ve always known that I would be in music to some extent. I didn’t envision it being from a singer’s aspect at first, I originally wanted to be a dancer. But my mum’s a singer, dad’s a singer, auntie’s a singer, so I guess it’s just always been embedded in me.

When did you realise you wanted to be a singer and not a dancer?
I believe it started happening when I was about 21. I had just been released form the agency I was with, and I wasn’t really booking as many jobs, or as enthusiastic about it in general. I was also homeless, and my friend offered me to stay at a studio, if I helped out with some of the sessions, and if I contributed some of my writing. That’s what really propelled me into it, just needing a place to stay and more to do than sit around thinking about how homeless I am!

Who did you listen to growing up, aside from your parents’ stuff obviously?
I grew up on a lot of reggae music, so a lot of artists like Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, that era of 90s reggae music. But we listened to a bit of everything in my house, from the likes of Merengue to Jazz, so it was a really blended musical family for me.

You’ve got a single coming out soon, could you tell us a little bit more about it, or it it all top secret?
It’s called “Love Cycle”. I’m really excited about it, as I directed the video myself, and it’s just telling a story about the challenges you face when it comes down to who you love and what your decisions are, and honouring your love with this person. Specifically speaking from a side which deals with the LGBTQ community. I really just wanted to take an opportunity to talk about something that I’m very well versed in, and can relate to quite well. I’m excited about it!

Top and jeans FILLES A PAPA, Shirt TOMMY HILFIGER

Top and jeans FILLES A PAPA, Shirt TOMMY HILFIGER

Do you think enough is being done in this country at the moment for LGBTQ rights and spaces?
I think we’re definitely in a transitional period where these voices aren’t being silenced as much anymore. They just can’t; we’re seeing so many different trans people in powerful positions, a lot more same-sex marriages…it’s really about acknowledging that we’ve always been here, we’re not going anywhere, that this is something we’re going to have to speak about and get comfortable with. It’s a part of our world, and it’s not something we should fear, it’s something we should understand so that people have the freedom to make their own decisions. So I don’t think we’re at the end point, we’re just getting started really.

You’re from Tottenham, does London inspire you creatively?
Absolutely man. Being from London, and being so exposed to different cultures and different traditions has helped to mold my approach. I want to be as relatable and as open as possible, so I try and be inclusive with what I talk about, in terms of topics and experiences. I’m really open to working with other people in different genres; I’ve had so many different things contribute to what I believe in and what I stand for, so I definitely want my music to be a reflection of that.

As well as being from North London, you’ve got Nigerian-Lebanese and Jamaican parentage – does this multicultural identity also have an affect on your sound?
Definitely. [Being Jamaican, Nigerian and Lebanese] is already such a big melting pot – I just always want to be someone who shows that you can put a bunch of ingredients together and get a great meal (laughs.)

Your sound has been described as everything from free Jazz to Reggaeton to smooth R&B…how would you describe your own sound?
I would say I’m very genreless, or all genres mixed into one. Genre bending, and fusing sounds. Appropriation is something that we can talk about now, and also stop from happening in negative ways, if we just learn about what it is we’re getting into, and respectfully credit all our inspirations. That’s really what I want to do in my music, to credit all the things that have contributed to what I love.

Top URBAN OUTFITTERS, Jeans FILLES A PAPA

Top URBAN OUTFITTERS, Jeans FILLES A PAPA

Do you give more importance to the production on your songs, or do you prioritise the lyrical / songwriting side?
It’s definitely a bit of both. It depends on how I’m feeling honestly – we need to start crediting producers for cultivating sounds, and giving us a direction, so it’s important the producers I work with are people I connect with, and have a strong sense of respect for. So it starts there, but it’s definitely a blend of both.

Your video for Soul Food was amazing, where was it shot?
In Cuba! In Havana. It’s so beautiful, it’s like a time capsule, the people there are beautiful, the tradition is beautiful.

Do you enjoy that side of being a musician, the more visual side?
It’s really the only thing that matters to me. If I can’t visually portray what I’ve written, I’m almost not as interested in the song. Every song that I write, I know is going to be great, because I visually see something – it moves me in a visual direction.

Soul Food featured Arin Ray – do you like collaborating with others? Who would your dream collaborator be?
I do. I’m such an energy sponge, so I’m fortunate that my collaborations have all come from a very organic place, and I really enjoy collaborations for that reason. It also allows you to exist in other spaces that you might not have gone to naturally. I really want to work with Elton John!

What’s next for you?
We’re getting ready to release the album in early 2019, which is very exciting. Then, lots more collaborations. I’m getting ready to do a collaborative project with L-Vis 1990 from Night Slugs, and we just shot the video for a single we’re doing with him. So yeah, lots more content! 2019 is looking very very good.

Top URBAN OUTFITTERS, Jeans FILLES A PAPA
Photography
Marta Literska
Fashion
Jessica Gardene
Words
Francesco Loy Bell
Hair
Kei Takano using Bumble and bumble
Makeup
Sogol Razi
NEW NOISE: TALIWHOAH

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