”Written byAlice Viskat
I remember the first time someone sang along to one of my songs, I just… It was unreal. That’s really what it is: creating that catharsis for someone else.”
The band finishes their set and thanks the crowd. They announce the next artist to perform, a musician by the name of Tallulah Gray. The crowd stills. People start picking the labels off their beers and shift around restlessly. A small girl picks her way through the crowd with only a guitar in her hand. Silently, she takes the stage and lowers the mic by several inches. She gestures at the sound technician, calmly adjusts her guitar strap and clears her throat. There is a moment of absolute stillness… Then she lifts her arm up and brings it down powerfully, strumming her guitar and releasing a hard, metallic chord that rips through the crowd. She opens her mouth and belts out her first note which rings throughout the entire venue. People sitting at the bar prick up their ears at this Amy Winehouse-Janis Joplin lovechild. Everyone is drawn to the stage and held there, hypnotised, until the end of the set when they are released from the spell and no one knows quite was has hit them.
At just 19, Tallulah Gray is powerhouse. Young but definitely not inexperienced, she took to the stages of The House of Machines and The Waiting Room at the ripe age of 12 years old doing solo sets opening for bands like Conduit and Witness to Wolves (those old Capetonian rock fans will know).
“I love being able to surprise people, especially because so many people assume that women in music aren’t going to make anything beyond very pop or very indie, especially in South Africa. It’s always fun to start playing at an event and for people to be like, “OH! Oh. She’s not just wearing that Pink Floyd T-shirt because she saw it at Cotton On.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that it’s so important to write music from your own perspective because even though you might feel that what you’re writing about has been said before, you might say it in a way that resonates with someone
She is well-known for her tornado-like stage presence that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until it’s over, and her characteristic vocals. She has a remarkable, bellowing voice that is at times gravelly and raw with emotion and other times light and crystal clear as she delivers her heartfelt lyrics. She bares her soul during each performance and leaves it all on stage.
“I’m a big film nerd. So often I’ll hear a quote in a movie and write something inspired by that that still connects to my life. I like to do homages to different films that I love but also most of my music comes from what’s going on in my life. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that it’s so important to write music from your own perspective because even though you might feel that what you’re writing about has been said before, you might say it in a way that resonates with someone. It’s crazy because you write the music for yourself but once it’s out there, it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It means a million different things to different people. I remember the first time someone sang along to one of my songs, I just… It was unreal. That’s really what it is: creating that catharsis for someone else.”
Going on 8 years of live performance, she has always been an ambitious go-getter. She’s worked in various industries since she was 14, when she got her first job as a manager at a games shop. Other than performing live and song-writing, she manages the social media side of Texx and the City, writes for a pop-culture blog, all the while studying history, politics and film at UCT.
“With any form of art, making it in the industry is nearly impossible so if you wanna do it, you gotta DO IT. And so many people underestimate how much of a commitment it actually is and how much work it takes constantly.”
“With any form of art, making it in the industry is nearly impossible so if you wanna do it, you gotta DO IT.”
But don’t take my word for it, go and treat yourself to one of her electrifying gigs coming up soon! Keep an eye on her Instagram page for more details! After a long lockdown she is ecstatic to be able to perform again and although it stole many performing opportunities from all artists, she maintains there are still silver-linings: “If lockdown was good for anything, I think people realised that the entertainment industry is so necessary! Because what did people do during lockdown? Watch movies, listen to music, read, consume creative media. Entertainment, in whatever form it comes, is such a necessity to everyone’s daily life and people really take that for granted.”
In the meantime, be sure to give her music a listen, particularly her latest release, “Poison”! Her music is available on all streaming platforms. She has a new single releasing soon coupled with an exciting music video (date to be confirmed) so keep an eye out for that as well!
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For more information on Talullah’s live shows, new releases, and everything in between go check out her Instagram and click here.
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