MC Tali talks touring, awards and shares her industry tips

Ahead of her headlining gig at The Koru Project, we caught up with Taranaki’s very own award winning drum and base artist, MC Tali.

Can you tell us a bit about the mahi that’s gone into the journey from returning home to the recent Vodafone awards?
In the last eight years since I came back to NZ I’ve produced four solo albums, eight Soulside Session mixes with Emma G and numerous collaborations with various producers from both here and abroad.

I had a show on George FM for a bit and have had guest mixes on Music For The People, and of course lots and lots of gigs!

From touring abroad each year to the UK and Europe (and more recently to America) and performing at all the major festivals across the country from Northern Bass and Homegrown to Rhythm and Alps and Womad.

What lies just over the horizon for your music journey?
I’m hoping to release another EP this year on Fokuz Recordings and have started writing for that. But also this year my very first album Lyric On My Lip is going to made available on all digital platforms for the first time ever.

In celebration of that I am currently editing together a documentary of past and present footage and interviews of myself and others in the industry that sort of follows the journey of that release and peoples reactions to it. 

I hope to do some more touring abroad this year and hit some UK/EU festivals during their summer – as I haven’t done that in a while.

What have been you’re favourite events nationally/internationally?
Northern Bass is always epic because heaps of my friends run it and work at it so it always feels a bit like a family affair.

I loved Rhythm and Alps last year as that was in a new location from when I first went and it’s so cool to see how much its grown. 

Splore is also a firm fav because I’ve played there several years running and there is always such a fun, festive atmosphere, a chance to dress up and get a little crazy and heaps of music that I often haven’t heard of – but leave being a fan of.

Internationally one of the best festivals is Sun and Bass Festival in Sardinia. I’ve played that twice and it’s in a beautiful location with all the DnB crew there and has an emphasis on the more soulful, deeper side of the genre.

Fusion festival in Germany was amazing although I didn’t play it – I went as a punter and it was just out the gate! Heaps of techno and house and no marketing or advertising. Even using your phone there is frowned upon.

What have been your favourite collaborations, and who would you most like to collab with in the future?
I’ve collaborated with so many amazing producers who have all bought out different sides of my musical personality, so it’s way too hard to pick one.

People I have always wanted to collab with are Lenzman, Calibre, and Spectrasoul. I’d also love to do tunes with Logistics or Hybrid Minds and Skeptical for something slightly harder.

 “I’ve collaborated with so many amazing producers who have all bought out different sides of my musical personality…”

In the quickly changing environment of the music industry, what pointers do you have for our young/up and comers for getting themselves out there and progressing from the small town to the big picture?
I think making yourself known is a really good first step. Go to the events and where you can – introduce yourself to the artists playing or the promoters.

In NZ because our DnB scene is so small and there’s not a lot of superstar attitude – artists don’t mind having a natter about music stuff with people who genuinely are wanting to per sue a career in it. 

Just make sure you’re with it for goodness sake. Nothing worse than someone chatting your ear off while they’re wasted trying to tell you about a new tune they’re making! Haha.

But yeah create those connections, if you can’t do it physically – message and send emails to artists or promoters asking them to have a listen to your tracks.

Send links, make your intro brief but concise, remember people usually get sent a lot of stuff and don’t have a heaps of time to listen to things. 

If you are a semi established act and wanting to –  apply for as many festivals as you can – most promoters will respond if you hit them up directly. 

Again send links, tell them what your vibe is and make sure you are easily contactable.  

Stay humble and grateful, no one likes a cocky show off – but at the same time, you have to have courage to know when to push for yourself. 

The music industry can be hard graft and a lot of the time you will be hustling to be heard and seen. If you haven’t the confidence to do that then hire someone to do it for you – otherwise you will get lost amongst all the other noise.

Take opportunities when they’re presented to you initially, even if they’re not necessarily the most well paid or the right fit. By getting your name out there and getting known as someone who works hard, is a professional and who is friendly – the right gigs start to come.

No one can hear or see you play if you’re too busy sitting there waiting for R&V to call. 

But at the same time  – have value in what you do. Dont let people take advantage of your hunger. Exposure is all well and good to a point. 

After a while if you have fans and people following you and your musics been played by DJs or on the radio etc – you should be getting paid well and or be getting a good time slot. 

What do you think New Plymouth and Taranaki need to do/have to become established as hub for vibrancy, and environment that helps nurture the creatives?
I think Taranaki has definitely established itself in this way already for sure! 

Having festivals and gigs that encompass lots of different genres of music is always good because the crowd out there see others making the music they like and are inspired to do the same.

The Festival of Lights is awesome for this. Womad is great too  – interestingly I played a DnB set there last year and our crowd was mainly young people who had been gagging all day for some beats they could really get down too. 

I think it was brave and cool of Womad to have a DnB act close out the festival. 

Workshops are also a good idea.

Having guest speakers come and talk about their industry and the challenges, ups and downs, gives people realistic expectations and again inspires them. 

I know APRA and MMF sometimes do these kinds of things in the province, but there’s always room to do more.

Tali will be performing at The Koru Project, Huatoki Plaza on Saturday March 7, 3pm – 8pm.