Courtesy of Tara Lily

10 things you need to know about tara lily

Get to know London’s latest greatest neo-jazz sensation and her Lucien Clarke-directed music video.

by Roisin Lanigan
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22 October 2018, 11:42pm

Courtesy of Tara Lily

Tara Lily is a brand spanking new talent, but something about her seems uncannily familiar. Perhaps that’s because her sound is the perfect blend of new and old; of 50s parlour singers’ smooth jazz vocals over thoroughly modern background beats. The Brit School alum’s debut single, Who Saw Who is a stellar introduction to her personal, idiosyncratic brand of urban jazz, produced by grime legend Jammer BBK. The accompanying video sees Tara singing soulfully and wandering the moonlit streets of Brixton and Peckham. Think Lana Del Rey goes south London.

Check out the Lucien Clarke-directed video below and then meet Tara Lily via our 10 fun facts.

1. Tara may be only 20 years old, but she sees herself (obviously) as an old soul.
“I’m 20 but I would have liked to have been born in the 1940’s, when jazz swing was in its prime, which would make me about 78 now I guess.”

2. Growing up in Peckham helped foster her creativity and shape her distinctive sound.
“I’ve lived in Peckham my whole life and it’s shaped me in all sorts of ways. It’s always kept me real, it’s always been full of interesting creative people from different backgrounds. I grew up around lots of rappers and beat makers, but also classical and jazz trained musicians, which all heavily influenced my music and inspired me to train as a jazz musician and singer at conservatoire.”

3. And music is also pretty much in her blood.
“My first memories of music are really vivid because music was played all the time in my house. Growing up in a dual heritage and musical family, I was listening to such a diverse range of stuff from so early on. There were no boundaries where music was concerned -- we listened to everything from blues, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, Bengali folk music, Bollywood and hip-hop. Both my parents were self-taught musicians. My family never had much money but always managed to pay for music lessons and instruments, so my early memories were of making music.”

4. She’s throwing the traditional boundaries of musical genre out the window.
“The best thing anyone’s ever said about my sound is that it’s the start of a new genre, and I’m happy with that. Right now I’m calling it urban jazz.”

5. But she takes her inspiration from some of the great legends of jazz and cabaret.
“The fictional character I relate to the most is Sally Bowles from Cabaret, played by Liza Minnelli. I really relate to her freedom of expression and her fearlessness in the face of danger.”

6. She's worked closely with Jammer.
“Jammer is a musical genius, one of the originators of grime and one of the most open-minded producers I’ve come across. He has a way of keeping everyone on a high with the music and he’s always a buzz in the studio. He’s also very community- and family-orientated. He helps a lot of people, and when we were working we always had banging food at his mum’s house.”

7. Filming her new video was an adventure in the dead of night.
“Because Lucien’s a skater, and a real grafter, it’s normal for him to go out filming at any time of the day or night. He will drag me out and make me climb eight foot high fences at 2am just to film something under an arch in Peckham when it’s quiet. He’s really an artist as well as a skater and he just gets how to capture all that subliminal stuff on film, so it’s always interesting what he finds through the camera. He’s super talented but he keeps it quiet, and we look after each other, which is super important to me.”

8. Her music could be the perfect thriller soundtrack.
“I think my music would be perfect for a James Bond soundtrack. Or some sort of Pulp Fiction like movie.”

9. Having such an individual sound, Tara takes inspiration from all over.
“Right now I’m really inspired by Ethiopian jazz.”

10. And her best ever life advice came from her mum. Because isn’t that where all the best life advice comes from?
“My mum told me ‘no matter how much you want something, always be prepared to walk away. That way no one ever owns you.’” Wise.

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.