CATCHING FLIGHTS NOT FEELINGS WITH TARA LILY
Peckham’s rising star Tara Lily talks to OffTheRails about her new 5 track EP Last Flight Out which transports you on a journey from east to west with themes of love, travel, immigration and movement. Tara’s unique sound of alternative R&B infused with Jazz is influenced by her obsession with music discovery, in particular from the under-represented genres of World Music and female Jazz.
From getting kicked out of The Brit School when she was 15, to overcoming her battles with ADHD, Tara Lily has risen and she is here to stay.
Your EP Last Flight Out has just dropped. What was the inspiration behind the title of the EP and is there a theme that runs throughout?
So the theme of the EP is travel, immigration, love, freedom, and there is a slight global feel to the whole project, all of the songs have come from a jazz place but evolved into a different style. So there is Dance tracks, R&B, Jazz, and then we have Indian classical influences.
There are a lot of different influences but they have combined into one cohesive sound which is Last Flight Out.
Do you have a favourite track from the EP?
I love all of them, but they’re all completely different moods. In my last project, they were all quite similar, whereas in this project they all have a cohesive sound to them, but one is like a dance record and some others are very chilled with an ethereal Jazz take.
You just released the music video for “Hotel Amour” last month, could you tell us more about the dancing that is featured?
I trained in Kathak dance when I was really young and it’s North Indian classical, it was an ancient expressive dance used to charm the kings and queens of the centuries and it’s very rhythmic. When I heard the “Hotel Amour” beat I was like, okay, I want to do something different with this. I thought to myself, I’m going to try dancing to it. I produce, compose and write, I do everything myself. I got to the point where I was like maybe I could compose a dance the way that I compose musically.
Do you have any other videos planned for the other tracks in your EP and do you feel like having that visual aspect takes your music to another level?
I definitely think it does. I’m majorly interested in the visual aspect of it. I think it’s just hard online now because things are like 3 seconds or 5 seconds long, so a lot of art pieces and art forms are getting lost on the Internet. Especially now with TikTok and all of these things, people want something very quick and immediately attention grabbing. Also things like film, I don’t know what’s happening with it because when I was growing up in Peckham there was a lot of people using film and it was very desirable, but now I feel like there is a move away from it because everyone’s just getting stuff out quickly.
I was actually curious to see if you’re on TikTok because of how detailed and considered your long-form storytelling was.
I’m being forced to be on it. (laughs) I’m now with a label, so we’ve got to post on TikTok every day, it’s part of the rules of being signed.
I think for me, Instagram in particular has got to a place where it has become very elitist and that’s the only thing I don’t want my art to be, elitist, which is why I’m on TikTok as well. I want to be able to reach people from all over and from different walks of life. A lot of the general public is on TikTok because they have moved to the platform and not just like the industry snobs on Instagram, which just feels like a lot of Instagram now. So yeah, it’s trying to get a balance because I’m from a very working-class background, that’s how I’ve grown up. Even though I’m very artistic and I’ve like evolved into being this artist, most people think I’ve come from money but I’ve come from a council flat, I’ve never gone to private school, I’ve never had that sort of money. So it’s more about what I have just wanted to do. It has been an odd thing for someone from my class, my culture, to do all of these things like go to the Conservatoire. But yeah, the main thing for me is I don’t want to get I guess stuck in being that artsy snob.
What is one of the biggest challenges you faced when creating this EP?
I feel like just getting stuff finished is very hard. I’ve got ADHD, so I’m not very good at starting projects. I start lots of songs, I start lots of amazing ideas and then I find it very hard to finish them. I’ve always been like that and it’s how I am. It’s just hard for me to get things done. So I might start something, but finishing it is very hard for me. So yeah, that’s definitely difficult. I think working with other people can be tricky as well. I think because I have very strong ideas about who I am and what I want.
Do you have a favourite way that you listen to music, whether it be vinyls, Spotify, or live?
Vinyl. I love vinyl and I’ve been doing a radio show for like the last year on Worldwide FM and I’m very sad it’s closing, it’s just terribly, terribly sad. I mean this is part of the thing you know, there’s no money left and there’s no funding. Musicians are working out of pocket and no one is making anything. So I understand that, at the same time, it is very hard because something like Worldwide FM is a global platform where I could be playing any sort of music, you know, world music like Bengali folk music, North African, anything. I’m interested I guess in the kind of niche genres because for me it’s just like, everyone else is playing like funk and soul. I’m not going to copy and put what is already out there. That’s not really what I’m into as well. I like to listen to it, but I want to do something that’s interesting and hasn’t really been done. For me it’s also about the listeners and how they interact. I really enjoy that because some of them will be like, oh, I know the song from my childhood living in a small village in Bangladesh and so I’m so moved to receive those kinds of messages.
How many vinyls do you think you have?
Maybe a few hundred.
How do you discover the tracks that you play on your radio show?
So a lot of the tracks I play are things that I’ve collected over the years and also that I have heard from my parents. Both my parents were self-taught musicians and so I grew up listening to a lot of different things. I listen to everything.
I like Punk, Soul, Folk and Bollywood music, and so for me, I feel like I got a really good insight into music. I could hear things quite quickly and kind of understand the style of the music or where it originated from.
I know that on Worldwide FM you feature a lot of under-represented genres such as female Jazz. Do you have any particular female artists that inspire your work?
So there is Suchi. She’s a really good artist. She is a European and Asian producer/DJ and I’m definitely watching what she gets up to. Plumm is also someone I like. She’s a jazz singer and producer from London. These are people that I follow online and I follow what they are doing and creating.
What are your thoughts on performing live and would you one day want to go on a European tour, is that something that’s on the horizon?
Oh definitely yea. Everyone wants to go on tour, it’s very hard to get on tour because it’s so expensive with the Brexit thing and all of this shit. It’s extortionate to get on the road so you can’t do it until you have enough fans in these cities that will then buy your tickets and at least cover some of the expenses because if you are taking a band, you are paying for all of the flights & hotels, it’s absolutely nuts. So of course I definitely want to, but I think it’s something that’s going to take some time to work towards. I’m definitely keen to get up to Scotland where my mum is from.
At OffTheRails we truly celebrate saying fuck you to the norms. What would you say is the most OffTheRails thing that you’ve done?
I think the fact that I got expelled from The BRIT School. (laughs)
Can you tell us why?!
Erm well because I just didn’t get along with the people there, the teachers and everything. For me, I just felt like musically I just wasn’t that into it. And yeah, I was definitely OffTheRails at that time of my life. I feel like everyone has their time. I think when I was in The BRIT School I was like 15 and that was probably the most mental time of my life.