"I'm Still Fighting!" Tallia Storm Interviewed
Submerged into the limelight from a youthful age, Tallia Storm is no stranger to throwing on a pair of striking high heels and putting on a show.
The fierce entrepreneur, singer and all-round boss babe is also known for appearing on the likes of Celebs Go Dating and E4’s All Star Driving not to mention The Real Housewives Of Jersey alongside her mother Dr Tessa Hartmann CBE. Reputable for her feel-good energy, determination, female prowess, and undisputed sass, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter has recently followed through with her brand-new euphoric pop-funk track named 'I Am The News'.
When Tallia turned 13 she sent off a demo to a rather impressive name within music; Sir Elton John wasted no time in co-signing her vibrant sound and swiftly labelled her as “one of the most impressive soul signatures he’d heard in 20 years”.
Entering the big and bold world of music in a way which I’m sure many would dream of, Tallia went from being a fan to opening a concert of his with a selection of songs. Influenced by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Summer Walker and Ella and Dinah; soon enough, word of mouth got around and the legendary Nile Rodgers took to social media to state that the aspiring pop star was one of his “favourite new artists in the world” – the rest is history!
We got the chance to catch up with Tallia Storm over zoom and spoke all things music and more...
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Firstly, how have you been keeping? It’s been a strange time for us all over the past year.
When it first started, I was very grateful for that minute of peace like everyone was but when it hit that one year mark it was like “Wow, this is really our life now!” I had felt a shift, I have definitely grown up throughout this time and I have been looking at life so differently. I’m 22 now, no matter what area of life it is I’m thinking “Just do it!” or “Say yes!” – that’s my new mantra now, no matter what it is do it! Whereas before I might have questioned it, but if I feel it in my gut then I know it’s the right thing to do.
I am an R&B singer and that’s what I have always wanted to be, but my gut was telling me “I’ve got half a million on TikTok, these kids are ready to dance, I am ready to dance, I’ve been locked up for a year so let me just write that happy song that I’ve always wanted to do!” – so I did!
I’d love to take it back to the beginning with you, navigate us through how you were introduced to music and how it all began?
When I was 13, I passed my demo tape onto David Furnish who is Sir Elton John’s partner and 24 hours later he called my mobile and asked me to open his concert in front of 19,000 people! Every time I tell this story I’m like “This is insane!”, it was a complete chance encounter and when Elton called me, he said he loved my voice and the website which I had up at the time which was very pink and full of flamingos. (laughs) Six months later I opened his concert in Scotland. It still blows my mind! I’ll be scrolling through TikTok and I’ll see all these videos of him with millions of likes and when I was 13, I definitely didn’t understand the depths of what that meant, I knew it was a dream come true, but I didn’t realise what an idol and legend he is.
That’s amazing! I’m sure there are many people that would dream of entering the scene like that.
Yeah! I was so young and saw the world with such big eyes and because of this one event it changed my perspective on everything. I have not stopped since then. I am very ambitious, and I keep fighting for my “breakthrough” and if I hadn’t of had that experience my journey would have been very different. Whereas, because I saw how hard Elton was working, even when we were at the concert and he took us backstage, and he met my whole family; when you see it through the lens of someone that incredible you just want to do them proud!
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How did you go about discovering your own sound? We’re there any artists in particular that you looked up to.
When I was growing up, I was an Amy Winehouse fanatic, I was so in love with her! I think she is and was the greatest, her attitude to life in regard to not caring what anybody thought of her was always a big inspiration to me because I got bullied at school even before meeting Sir Elton John, for wanting to be a singer. That is why I looked up to Amy Winehouse, she was so fearless and that really inspired me. Even down to the lyrics in her songs, no matter what song you listen to, if you put on 'Frank' you will hear a new lyric – there are very few people that can tell such a story in a cool and unique way.
In terms of an all-round star, I was always in love with Beyoncé! I think that is every young girls’ aspiration in life, I love the fact that she always puts on a show and isn’t afraid to do it. I see everyone talking now, especially because it’s just been International Women’s Day about “Don’t let them dim your sparkle” and Beyoncé has never let anyone do that! When I first started and I had my big outfits and big hair, people would always say “that’s too much”, “you’re too ambitious” or “you’re too involved in the process” – I’m too nothing! We didn’t say that when Ed Sheeran was on stage doing his thing! I think we are entering that time now; more people are letting the girls fulfil their role, but it has taken time to do that.
You obviously started music from a young age, in what ways do you think you’ve grown as an artist since then?
Oh! So many ways! I have always been ambitious and hard-working but now more than ever like I said at the start if I want to make it happen, I’ve got to do it myself, if you see it you can be it and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions over the years because everyone always has something to say. I always used to take it on board and doubt myself but now I think there is no room for self-doubt – they don’t even know half of our story! It’s something that takes time, age and experience.
When I was younger and got my record deal at 15, it took months to sign and only six weeks into the deal my A&R got sacked! I was sitting in Scotland with my deal in America sitting on a piece of paper! It took me months to get out of the deal and I luckily never released a song with them so I’ve essentially never released with a label which helps because had I done it, it probably would have been a different story.
When I was younger, I used to think getting a record deal would set me. My heart does ache for this new generation of kids on TikTok that think it will happen over-night because most people do go viral at least once on there, but they need to realise that it is a long journey. You must be careful what you sign up for, I don’t look back at it for a second, but I have so many friends that have regretted it.
So yes, viral sensations are amazing but I’m coming up to my ninth year in this and I’ve still not made it but I’m still fighting, and I will keep doing so.
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International Women’s Day recently passed, and I think with someone like yourself who is an entrepreneur, independent and all-round fearless woman... how has your experience been in both the music and entertainment industry?
There is definitely two sides to this industry – you’re either a female or you’re a man. If you’re a man you can be Justin Bieber and get all the young girls to fancy you, if you’re a girl it’s like: “we need to understand what you are, where you are, where you’ll fit, who your demographic is? Are you wearing short skirts and high boots? Are you wearing big dresses for the younger girls? How much skin are you showing?”
I love the Little Mix girls, the stick they have had over the last 10 years is insane and they’re still working there socks off! There are two sides to everything and there is no level ground in this, but what I’ve learnt over the last few years is not to feel sorry for myself because we get treated differently but instead rise above it and work even harder! I will work 10x harder than the man or boy that is in the same A&R meeting as me for the same role, we are all fighting for the same spot and had we all just worked together we could do it but they don’t want to play that way.
A lot of younger women and men look up to you both as a person and as a musician, what message would you like reiterate to them in regard their strength or confidence. We live in a period in which social media like you said with Little Mix can be detrimental.
Don’t look backwards and only look forwards! Everyone is going to have something to say, they’re going to gossip and laugh – the reality is, is that it will always come down to jealousy because they don’t like the fact that you have the confidence to do what they wish they were doing. It’s really hard and it’s a long road but the number one thing to do is to keep going – just do it!
When I first started, I was obsessed with just doing music but as I got older, I had to start funding myself and I need to keep this ship afloat so then I started doing TV, influencing, TikTok and all these different things. The labels used to laugh at me like “Oh my gosh, she’s doing TV!” but now they are desperate to get there acts on TV. Now that I have been doing it for so long, I know all the heads there and they say, “they’re trying to get so and so’s artist on”.
If you stay true to yourself and do what feels right, everyone else will come running to copy and follow, so thank goodness that I started TV and influencing earlier on because it would have been so much harder if I just started now!
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You’re dropping your latest single 'I Am The News' this week! Tell us a bit more about your approach with this single?
I really wanted to write a song that represented me in terms of who I am, I love bright clothes and to make a statement. I love being over the top and just having fun! If you’re any of those things, you are automatically a diva – you’re either the girl in her bedroom that writes sad Pop songs or you’re the diva, there is no in between! I thought “If you want to call me a diva, then let me write you a “diva” song!” – I am who I am, so let’s just celebrate who we are! I thought this is it “I am the news!” when we walk into the room and you are judging me, keep going and take it in because you’re a fan.
I had so much fun writing it, I want to dance in my bedroom with all my girlfriends to this song! Most of my songs are very slow or R&B so I wanted a song that I could that with. I set off with this idea in my head and we got it!
I was on Clubhouse and in my bio, it says ‘5th most Googled musician in the world in 2018’ – that’s a fact, anyone can go and look it up! A very famous entrepreneur was in this Clubhouse room, I was just a viewer because my friend was on it and he says “Tallia Storm, 5th most Googled musician haha? Why is she lying? Can anyone check that?” – this is such a prime example of a young boy trying to do his thing and feeling slightly inferior but someone who is just listening... I didn’t even comment or anything and feels the need to put me down and embarrass me in this Clubhouse room in front of everyone.
I thought how ironic and that’s where the title came from, I was like “Yes! I am the news! I am it! I am Number Five in 2018 by Google Analytics and NME – it is there in fine print!”
What’s your creative process like?
I have a home set up! I was working on my piano in lockdown, I love sitting at my piano and freestyling, I feel like I get it from Amy Winehouse because that’s where she got her melodies from. The lyrics are always there in my head, so it’s just about finding the rhythm and flow! I then jumped into the studio with my partner in crime and producer Alex who I do all my songs with; I had the picture in my head, I wanted disco balls and everything they told me not to be! It just happened and it was really easy to write!
What about collaborations? Is there anyone you’d still really like to work with?
Oh, my goodness yes! When I get going, I’m just going to collaborate away! (laughs) I would love to collaborate with Pa Salieu! At the start of lock-down we were talking on Whatsapp and I sent him a song, he sent me a voice note back of him on the song then two weeks later he blew up! I love my Brits, I’ve done D Block Europe which I love, my dream has always been to work with Bryson Tiller, 6LACK and all of the R&B boys!
In terms of girls, I would love to do a track with Lizzo! I’d love to do more female collaborations but there are very few independent females and when they’re signed the labels can be really strict because they see other females as competition and it’s really sad because you see guys collaborate all the time – there is always a Stormzy or Jay1 collab, but you never hear many female ones!
What else can we expect to hear from you this coming year?
A collaboration! I am sitting on one right now so definitely one of those! I really hope there will be some festivals and live performances – hopefully Covid will allow it! More TV appearances and tonnes of music!
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Words: Elle Evans // @elleevans98
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