What’s in a name? For TÃLÃ (meaning ‘gold’ in Farsi, ‘palm tree’ in Sanskrit, and a clap or rhythmic pattern in Hindi), it’s as multi-layered as the music that comes stamped with those four letters.
Growing up in Kingston (London, not Jamaica) her “frustrated musician” of an Iranian father littered their home with sitars and drums, while her English mother would listen to radio hits in the next room.
“My brother was a die-hard Prince fan; he had every single album, all the merchandise,” she remembers. “And when I was really little he’d put his Walkman on my ear for me, so he always takes credit for it like, ‘That’s what got you into music!’”
Not only was it this “chaotic culture clash” as she terms it, but also the era she grew up in that has shaped her production. Nineties artists such as Timbaland, Jagged Edge and Missy Elliott represented “such a fun time” for pop music, where “they’d play a completely different song in the middle of a music video, or tease a new one.” But it was also the “fusion of hip-hop and R&B with Eastern things... There was one Aaliyah tune (‘Don’t Know What To Tell Ya’) where Timbaland sampled an Algerian artist,” she recalls.
“I heard a crazy story about Timbaland, actually: he went to Southall once, raided a shop there and started sampling all these Indian tunes off the CDs. I just love that – it’s brilliant. No-one probably knew who he was; I can just imagine him rolling in like, ‘I’m just gonna buy the whole store!’”
Distorted international sounds flavour the BRIT School alumna’s production, which also tips its hat to rave and video game aesthetics. Without forgetting her own gold-dipped vocals, which have surfaced previously on T.Williams’ ‘On My Own’.
“Being self-sufficient is really important to me,” she reveals, when talking about a recent jaunt to Marrakech to shoot the video for ‘Serbia’, from debut EP ‘The Duchess’. “We blew our entire budget on flights there,” she laughs. “It pushed me out of my comfort zone. We went on a shoestring, staying at £3-a-night hostels… but we captured an experience.”
She pauses, then adds cheekily: “I love breaking the rules.”
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WHAT: A melting pot of layered percussion, gloopy synths and high-pitched vocals
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Serbia’ (video above), ‘On My Own In Hua Hin’, ‘The Duchess’
FACT: She once worked for a professional gambler, managing one of his offices where they would give out shady horse racing tips to gamblers. “It was just about legal,” she says.
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Words: Felicity Martin
Photo: Alastair Strong
Fashion: Ian Luka