It’s 1PM and Tallsaint has just finished heating up some tomato lentil soup. While we’re talking on the phone, her boyfriend quietly passes her a chunk of white bread. She’s just got back from the hairdressers, and now she has a bob. She tells me she used a photo of Dua Lipa for reference, and now she can’t stop swishing her hair around, watching it glint in the mirror.
All of these things sound like very ordinary things. The Leeds-based musician – now 28, real name Louisa – has a familiarity about her. She could be your mate from uni, or that person you share a smoke with at work. The music Tallsaint has created from this world isn’t ordinary though. Specifically, she has a knack for taking tiny intimacies that all of us can recognise – the feeling of warm skin on skin, a fleeting emotion someone might conjure up – and zooming in on them, blowing them up into a bright pink world of warm synths, heartbeat electronics and lyrics glistening with imagery and vulnerability.
The reason we’re chatting is because she’s got a new track out, “Hard Love”, premiering above. Like much of her music before this (she’s released three songs, “I’m A Woman (After All)”, “Touch” and “Warm Skin”) this one is preoccupied with human connection – in all of it’s unsettling, euphoric and multifaceted glory. “Keep you around me, keep you around me, put your eyes on me,” she sings, her voice in layers, like layers of skin or emotion, the soft keys and beats building up into a crescendo. The result sounds like part diary entry, part thumping warehouse club-pop track. She takes the small and personal, and makes it huge; transforms a bud into a swirling blossom.
But what else is there to know about Tallsaint? Who is she? What's the deal? Here's all the info I gleaned from our conversation, which lasted approximately the length it takes to prepare and eat some soup, plus a little bit more.
SHE WAS IN TWO BANDS BEFORE SHE BECAME TALLSAINT
“My first track as Tallsaint was nearly a year ago – it still feels fresh. I've been part of two different bands before, whereas this is my baby. The first band was super guitar-led, it was likened to The Kills, kind of grunge-y but electronic. The band after that were a bit poppier. And from that, I've worked out what I'm good at songwriting-wise. I feel comfortable and at home now.”
SHE HAS A BLACK AND WHITE CAT CALLED PJ HARVEY...
“My cat woke me up at 5AM because she spewed everywhere in the doorway, so I stayed up with her. She’s called PJ Harvey. When I was looking on the adoption centre website for a house cat, her name was Polly. So she’s now Polly Jean Harvey. But she doesn’t look like PJ Harvey. She’s slightly plumper. She was 7.5 kilograms when we first adopted her because she'd been fed too much.”
… BUT SHE'S ALSO A FAN OF THE OG PJ HARVEY
“I used to be influenced by her a lot more musically than I am now. I used to use guitars on loads of stuff, but I’ve kind of stopped doing that. Lyrically, her use of imagery is an inspiration point which I often go back to. Her poetry also really inspires me. I think Nick Cave as well. He released his complete lyrics as a poetry book and I thought that was the coolest thing.”
1999, 2000 AND 2001 WERE MAJOR YEARS FOR HER
“In terms of my own music taste, I listened to loads and loads of pop music. The era of music that sticks out, or the years, when I was a kid, was 1999 - 2001. I loved everything about then. Kylie Minogue. Nelly Furtado. I loved the album with ‘I’m Like a Bird’. And Shakira. I used to watch the film Amelie a lot too. It used to make me feel so happy. I watched Mean Girls, Legally Blonde and listened to Sophie Ellis Bexter.”
“HARD LOVE” IS ABOUT WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S ABOUT
“As I boiled down to the meaning, more and more, I felt like it was about being left out of people’s lives, while you’re still crawling back, and trying to find different ways to be included. I think I wanted it to cross over to all scenarios – friendships, family and romantic things. For me it was an emotion that I was able to pick from all three of those personal relationships.”
MUSIC IS A WAY TO BE VULNERABLE. IT'S HARDER IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE.
“I don’t think I’m very good at being vulnerable in my everyday life. Even on email. But in a song setting, I still think it can be scary to say something, in a blunt conversational way, but I definitely think that would be my place to say something I wanted to, even if I covered it up in loads of imagery. I think there’s something about the latter end of your 20s when you’re just like… ‘oh fuck it.’”
HER DEBUT EP WILL BE ARRIVING THIS YEAR
“I've got a track called 'Skin Deep' coming out in May, and then an EP coming out in June. I'm so excited. And then I'm going to spend the summer writing and producing. It's all sat on my hard drive right now, waiting.”
OH AND SHE'S A VIRGO SUN WITH A LEO MOON, IF YOU WERE WONDERING
“I've looked into how these two things work together, and I'm like... 'this is a clash!'”
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