27-year-old Talia Mar is no stranger to the internet, having made a name for herself online via gaming, makeup and of course singing. After making a name for herself in the dance genre, being featured on chart-topping singles from the likes of Sigala, her fans are intrigued to see the direction which her solo music will take her in.
Chatting to Clash writer Amrit Virdi, Talia shares some behind-the-scenes pics from her new video ‘Bored’, before delving into the past, her hopes for the future, and her love for Taylor Swift…
How did you first get into music? And where did you decide this was what you wanted to do?
Well, I came out the womb singing… joking. My entire family is musical. My dad’s a drummer, my mum also loves music and singing, so I was brought up doing it. I also studied music at the BRIT School when I was 16, but I’ve known from day one that I wanted to be a singer. I used to have a karaoke machine, then I taught myself to play instruments when that karaoke machine broke because I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to sing. It’s been music or nothing for me.
What are some of your earliest musical memories?
Christina Aguilera’s ‘Stripped’ album was when I first remember thinking, ‘this is what I want to do’. I think I was around seven and I remember listening to the album and just being obsessed with wanting the next Christina!
Which artists would you say are your musical influences? And you’ve said previously that you are a Taylor Swift fan – as I am too, I have to ask, what’s your favourite album of hers?
Oh, my goodness. I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. I don’t know if I could pick a favourite album… I always say I’m a ‘Reputation’ girly, but I could never pick just one.
But in terms of influences, I’d say a lot of the early 00s/90s R&B Pop like TLC, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce… anything from that sort of era are my main influences. Timbaland is also a massive influence for me with his style of beats.
Your collaborations have mostly been in the dance genre. Is this your favourite type of music to make, and are there any other genres you would like to explore in your music?
I’d say dance is one of the most fun genres to work in. It’s made to be live and it’s just a big party when you get to sing it at your shows, which is always really fun. But I’d say R&B is definitely a genre that I grew up listening to and I’ll always dip in and out of, as well as music in the pop space.
Your first track ‘Stolen’ is more ballad-like – are these roots something you would like to explore more in your future music?
Definitely. I wrote and produced ‘Stolen’ myself at home. You can’t get more authentic than something that you solely work on. As much as some of my music is becoming more production heavy, I’ll never get rid of that side of me as it’s ingrained in my brain. I love singing a ballad.
Are there any dream collaborations you have in mind? Or are you looking to release more solo tracks for now?
I’m trying to stay focused on sort of like solo stuff, and I love doing solo music, but I think Timbaland is someone I’d love to collaborate with one day.
Nowadays TikTok and social media plays a huge part in the music industry. As you have had a presence on these platforms for many years already, have you found this to be beneficial in forming your music career, or have the changing media landscapes made the music industry harder to navigate regardless?
It’s definitely easier in the sense that I know how to use the platforms. I’m lucky to have an established audience online who are super open to listening to new things and are really welcoming. But then equally sometimes, when people are used to one thing, sometimes a shift can be a bit daunting. So, being able to adapt is also super important.
What would you say your favourite platform is – Twitch, YouTube, TikTok etc? Does being online and seeing what your fans are saying help to shape your music?
Every platform is so different. I love consuming different things on different platforms. TikTok is one of the fun ones because you get quick payoffs. You watch a video for 20 seconds and then you’re on to the next one. I don’t think I could pick a favourite!
Does being online and seeing what your fans are saying help to shape your music?
They 100% go hand in hand for me. At my Omeara show earlier this week, I sang new songs and was keeping an eye out to see if there’s songs that they liked more than others. Those are what I would then lean towards putting out. Then if there’s other songs that they’re not gelling with as much, then we can park them for another time.
What is your typical writing and recording process like?
It’s so cliche to say, but it is different every time. One of my favourite things to do is work from a title or a concept, then work backwards from that, rather than starting with the music itself. I like starting with the storyline, and then turning that into a song. That’s my favourite way to write.
Congratulations on your wedding! As music is a very personal thing, are you careful to not overshare too much of your life and feelings in your songs when there already is such a big spotlight on your relationship?
Not really, no. When I’m online, I like to be a bit more private. But I think my songs are where I can say things that maybe feel a bit uncomfortable to say online. Some of the songs that I’ve written that are positive and maybe a bit gushy and lovey, I wouldn’t usually never speak like that online. But in a song, it doesn’t feel alien. So, I’d actually say it’s probably the opposite.
Your roots are also in gaming so I have to ask – what’s your favourite game soundtrack? Does gaming ever influence your music?
I wouldn’t say gaming influences my music. But I do think sometimes when I write, it makes me think of games and it then gives me ideas for maybe a video or sort of where the production could go. With my favourite gaming soundtrack, League of Legends has such great songs. I think they worked with K/DA on it as well which is really cool.
Make-up is also something you are known for – do you feel like visuals and aesthetics are an important part of bringing music to life? In terms of performing live, would stage setup and visuals be something important to you?
100%. The amount of times I’ve liked a song and then watched the music video, it just transforms it into something else for me. I think you get every facet of the song across when you have the visual and the audio together. When I’m writing new songs, I immediately think of the visuals and the colours that go with a song when I’m writing. Those elements are what make me decide on what I want to put out.
What message do you want to get across in your music? Tracks such as ‘Self-Portrait’ (my favourite!) are very empowering, which I love!
I think my main themes are self-confidence and self-belief. Being able to be the bad guy is something I’ve written about a lot – and it’s fine to play the part if it means that everything is going to work out in the end. It’s all just about trusting the process and being as authentically yourself (and as loud) as possible.
What advice do you have for people starting out in the industry? Specifically for women who want to enter the industry and may face more backlash at times?
I think one of the things you have to learn is to trust your own instincts. Sometimes, it’s easy to let other opinions like ‘you can’t do this, that wasn’t good, you shouldn’t be doing that’ cloud your judgement. That can make you fall into the trap of being moulded. It’s just about knowing where you’ve started, where you’ve come from and what was it that you originally wanted to do. Always trust your gut. She’s always right.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time? Are there any plans in the near future for a debut album too?
I’m going to start with an EP because I want to keep exploring different sounds and really know exactly what I want to put out before I venture into albums. And in 10 years, hopefully I’m still loving my life with music, singing and touring. I’d love to tour more, visit other countries and know that I’m still putting out things that I love.
I’m where little mini baby Talia wanted to be, which is just singing for a living.
‘Bored’ is out now.
Words: Amrit Virdi
Photography: Payne Design