In Conversation With - Tallsaint
Tallsaint has just released her powerful debut EP ‘Hard Love’, she took a moment to talk to us more about the release, how Bjork inspires her and her plans for the future.
Your EP is called ‘Hard Love’, what is the inspiration behind the title?
Hard Love has been a title that’s been floating around since 2018 when the lead song from the EP was born as a demo. I think the words are quite attractive, sonically and to look at. The phrase ‘Hard Love’ truly did come out of that typical songwriter-y moment when you start to mumble syllables under your breath alongside a melody, I just really liked the two-note interval at first.
It wasn’t until I had all of the tracks together that I realised all four tracks are connected to each other in some way as an exploration of the ways one can feel a lack of emotional control and everything that comes with that in any given relationship. Whether it’s obsessively basking in the presence of someone/something/a moment you want to make sure you can hold onto forever and ever before it disappears again (Warm Skin). Being faced with your own attempts at trying to make someone notice you, despite you being held at arm’s length always (Hard Love). A flailing passive aggressive leap into communicating “what the hell has even gone wrong” to no avail but only fake smiles, and grim discos... (Skin Deep). And finally, a full blown I-give-the-fuck-up-moment in the form of my EP closer, Comfortable Silence.
The phrase Hard Love fit into all of these tracks so I wove them all together with this title. Basically, life is hard and relationships are hard.
Where was it recorded? Any behind the scenes stories?
I think you’d be at risk of being a little bored if I told you any behind the scenes stories. The EP was mostly created inside the box, so lots of bad posture sitting at laptops and curled over synths (genuinely having physiotherapy now). Lots of emailing my mix engineer Hugo phrases like “This song has to sound like I am sad but I AM STILL dancing”. I sampled my cat doing a really nice high-pitched meow for Warm Skin, that was eventful because I had to both record and lift her up to the mic at the same time…
The release sees you working with producer J O S H U A, how did that partnership come about?
Very organically and very naturally. I had started working with J O S H U A after I had a bunch of tracks together for Tallsaint (whilst the project was still being conceived) and he sent me the demo instrumental for my first single “I’m A Woman (After All)” and I didn’t really plan for Tallsaint, in the extreme baby stages, to ever sound like that being totally honest. In fact, I didn’t really know what it was going to sound like – I just had good songs interlaced with the starting’s of my production/soundscape exploration. I think when you meet someone that can push you ever so slightly to try new things and make bolder decisions based on style/instrumental arrangement and it feels honest, whilst pushing the vision/creativity of a project, it can only be a positive outcome. And that’s exactly what happened.
We’ve continued working in a similar way throughout a lot of this EP too, but it’s rare that we both sit and work on a designated song together. I’m quite private when it comes to essentially vomiting up my emotions and outlaying concepts/themes/lyrical content whilst other people are around, so we work quite well just sending each other stuff across the internet. We have folders and folders of 30 second instrumental ideas that I can pick up when I want and can blossom the track from there. Or the other way around, I might start something (Warm Skin for example) and not know where I should place the kick drum or the beat and I can trust J that he’ll know what to do.
It’s a big thing when you can work with someone that completely understands where you’re coming from in a creative/musical sense and also understands where you want to go in the future.
Bjork has been a huge inspiration for you, especially an open letter she wrote on sexism in 2016, what was it about that letter that had a huge impact on you?
She’s amazing. An absolute queen of concept. In the open letter she remarked on the fact that as a woman, she was conscious that her subject matter on Biophillia/Volta were not of common themes used by female artists, and that men had more open opportunities, within the gratification they would receive, to fluctuate with their songs themes and to quote “be music nerds getting lost in sculpting soundscapes but not women. if we don’t cut our chest open and bleed about the men and children in our lives we are cheating our audience”. My song concepts aren’t anywhere near as grandiose and other-worldly as the 2 aforementioned albums. But, it changed my perception on my writing experience nonetheless. I stopped feeling pressure about what was expected to be heard as a female writer/artist, and what might be a popular subject and I wrote about real experiences that I could fully zoom in on elsewhere in my life.
You have been collaborating with photographer Portia Hunt for a while now, what makes your partnership click? And what do you think keeps you two working with each other over and over again?
I’m surrounded by so many talented people. I think in a similar way to working with my co-producer and mix engineer for this body of work, Portia instantly is able to transform initial ideas, colour palettes and visual influences and directly make them over into exactly what I had in my head to sit alongside the music.
Now the EP is out there, what next? What are your plans for the next few months?
A couple of festivals, in particular ‘This Must Be the Place’ at the end of August alongside some absolute power house artists. As for the next few months, I’m already in writing/producing mode again. I’m feeling pretty unconstrained at the moment with the new stuff that’s cooking so I’m just looking forward to surrendering to that feeling a little more whilst building a new bank of tracks. I’ll also be correcting my posture from all the laptop + midi-key perching so hopefully by the next release I’ll be 110% Tallsaint.