TĀLĀ

Musician

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TĀLĀ wears knit bralette and lace body Calvin Klein UnderwearPhotography Vicki King, styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell

TĀLĀ writes, sings and produces all her own material. In fact, complete autonomy is the default for the Iranian English artist, who has been making her own music since the age of 13. “I didn’t want to rely on other people, being self-sufficient is very important to me,” she tells Dazed. “As the years have gone by, it’s made me feel more resilient.”

It’s this fearlessness that characterises TĀLĀ’s sound, a melting pot of electro, R&B and Middle Eastern influences, which she debuted with her 2014 EP The Duchess. Inspired by the Arabic music her father used to play at home (songs she admits she sometimes ignored in favour of Craig David), the London-based artist took to Cairo for her 2015 EP Malika in a bid to delve deeper into a culture that’s helped frame her sound. The trip resulted in collaborations with Sadat and Alaa Fifty, two pioneers of Cairo’s underground electro/shaabi scene, but working in an unsettled political climate brought its own challenges. “Going to Cairo at the time was very tense, filling in mad risk assessment forms… It was difficult before we even landed. The problems going on in the world are probably what stop people from finding so much amazing talent. I am a risk-taker and I like an adventure so I was like, ‘Fuck it!’”

Next up, TĀLĀ will extend her cross-cultural discography with her debut album, slated for release later this year. For now, however, the musician is keen to remain receptive to as many influences as possible. “I feel like as an artist, you’re always wanting to explore more territory, you want to evolve. The best way to do it is probably to be open because then you’re not cutting off anything that could inspire you.”

Text Monique Todd