voice on the verge #14: tallulah rendall
You know you’ve got a healthy pair of lungs on you when Dame Shirley Bassey personally invites you to sing at her 70th birthday party, but Tallulah Rendall is more than just the sum of her alveoli. With enough drive to make a fleet of Ferraris blush with admiration, Tallulah has leapfrogged the traditional major label route from the get go, hooking up with Australian filmmaker and arts benefactress Rebel Penfold-Russell to establish her own record company and somehow getting super-producer Marius de Vries (Björk, Madonna, PJ Harvey) in on the act that will ultimately unfold as her debut album, Libellus. A truly elastic performer who gusts between any number of permutations of singer-songwriterisms, from the sultry jazz stylings of ‘Lay Me Down’ to various alternately magical and malevolent art-rock compositions worthy of Carina Round, via, of course, one or two forays into the reliably lovely acoustic setting, like all good artists Tallulah defies easy categorisation. Her new single, ‘Only You’, is out tomorrow and if you get yourself along to Bush Hall the very same evening for the reasonable admission fee of £10 you can get your hands on a free limited edition personalised vinyl copy, hear this exciting new artist in her element, and also get to witness a trio of worthy supports in The Marzipan Man, Joan Coffey and Leon Jean Marie. What’s more, each copy of the vinyl comes with a unique download number to share with your friends, with the ultimate prize being a free copy of Libellus when it’s released for the person whose number is used by the most people. Ladies and gentlemen, the generous Ms. Tallulah Rendall…
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What’s your earliest memory?
Trying to fly using a broomstick off a garden wall and succeeding! I am still convinced I was able to fly around my bedroom. Around the same time I was trying to play Beatles songs on a battered old piano and I remember trying to work out ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, because someone had just run over our dog; she was called Lucy.
What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?
Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Sea, The Sea’. It gave me the title of my record, Libellus.
Are you multi-lingual?
In a way, yes. I speak Spanish fairly coherently. I have moments when it all falls apart though. We were at a gig in Spain, and I have these badges. Now a badge in Spanish is una chapa. Una chupa is to suck. So when I accidentally said to the audience at the end of the gig if anyone wanted a free chupa……
I haven’t written a song in Spanish yet. I will do, maybe when I finish these questions.
What’s your favourite poem and how much of it can you recite from memory?
Ooo, tricky. I have a few. Rimbaud’s ‘Her clothes were almost off, outside a curious tree beat against the window to see what it could see’. And Pablo Neruda’s ‘Your breast is enough…’; I can never remember the first verse but the second always stays with me:
“In you is the illusion of each day.
You arrive like the dew to the cupped flowers.
You undermine the horizon with your absence.
Eternally in flight like the wave”
What’s your biggest fear?
Being abandoned in love.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
Bar work. I hate it. I worked in a bar in Old Street where the boss used to fuck whores in the office whilst we were working (I didn’t last long).
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
The Doors, Portishead, The Stones, The Beatles, Nirvana.
What did you want to be until you decided to become a musician…if you ever did ‘decide’ that is!
Nothing, always a musician. You are born with it in your bones.
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
Tell us about your favourite instrument…
My guitar, she has no name. But she is older and wiser than I. I searched for many a day but it took to flying to the underbelly to find her. On Oxford St, Sydney. I paid a deposit and then sat and played her every day for a month before I bought her. She is very beautiful and sounds like someone is massaging your ears.
What’s your funniest studio memory?
Asking the man who sold booze in the car park if he took credit cards, was pretty embarrassing/amusing. There are quite a lot of those, me being a little bit vacant, that I could reel off.
What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your record collection?
‘Ghostbusters’ definitely. All AC/DC records…
Which artist would you most like to work with – your dream collaboration?
Never really thought about it realistically, but off the top of my head Trent Reznor.
What’s your favourite song to cover and why?
At the moment it is Billie Holiday’s ‘The Very Thought Of You’. My friend got married in Ireland and we were asked to sing an original and a cover. I spent ages trying to find the perfect one, and I think this is it. This is what love is to me.
If you had to pick one song from your repertoire to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?
‘Black Seagull’. I wrote it when I had no idea what I was doing, but there’s a sense of optimism in the song that I love. What is weird is I can remember writing all my songs except this one – some come in stages, but with this I feel as though I woke up and there she was, everything about it was effortless. Which is odd as it is such a weird track. It is really euphoric to play and my spine always tingles in the ending. Plus everyone in the band gets their moment to shine, and I love the drum pattern!
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Mm, well, the week before last was amazing – we flew to Majorca to support The Satellites in an old mill, then went to France to a Krug champagne vineyard to serenade some amazing characters in Yurts, and finally we finished the week by playing at Latitude where we had to take a boat across a lake to get to our stage.
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
A stoned one.
How would you describe your new single in 10 words or less?
Fragile and haunting versus neurotic rock and roll.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
I had a meeting with a press agent – they asked me to sings some songs in their office so I got out the old guitar and serenaded them. They really enjoyed it (or said they did!!!).
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