Talaya. uses space and time as a three-dimensional canvas, painting depth into her music with powerful instrumentation, lyrics, and a keen ear for production. After joining The Residency in 2017 with no formal training and YouTube as her teacher, she embarked on what is now a life-long journey of connecting ears with hearts. As a testament to her quickly developing artistry, in May of 2019 she released a five-track self-produced EP titled The Space Between.
Here's what Talaya. had to say heading into her Sound Off! 2020 performance, which is set for Saturday, February 29 at the Museum of Pop Culture.
What was your reaction when you found out you'd be part of Sound Off! 2020?
Talaya.: I was surprised because it's just something that I've thought about probably for the past year, two years. And I was always like, 'ah, I want to do it!' But I never really was like, 'OK, this is a goal.' Then when I applied this year, I was just kind of hoping. It felt like a long shot. [MoPOP's Manager of Public Engagement] Robert [Rutherford] called me and was like, 'yo, you made it.' I was like, 'oh! This is real. I really have to do this now.' So I'm really excited and very honored to be selected.
What encouraged you to apply this year?
Talaya.: A lot of the people that I know in the industry that are kind of in my circles have done Sound Off! and I've seen that it's done amazing things for them. I've seen them playing festivals, shows, and they seem like they really grew in their artistry after they completed Sound Off! So I've been hearing about it and I came from The Residency and they were always like, 'yo, everybody, apply, apply, apply!' It's been milling in the back of my mind.
How would you describe your sound?
Talaya.: I would definitely describe it as R&B soul for a genre. It's very elegant and sophisticated, but it can be fun at times. Sometimes I like to crack jokes, but I also have been talking about more grownup subjects, I guess you could say. For a long time I was writing about love and I was like, 'all right, I gotta stop that.' So now I've been writing about the things that really affect me every day and I've been really putting my everyday experience into my music. I'm really excited to share that.
Why do you make music?
Talaya.: It makes me feel like all the things that bother me about life in general aren't as important, or they don't have that weight that they would've had otherwise without music. It's a weird way to put it, but I just feel like when I hear music there's a sense of, 'things are going to be OK.' I feel like there's a lot of bad things that go on in the world, but when people are listening to music they are literally in the same common experience and you can't really get away from that because we're all hearing the same thing. It's just part of me. It's part of my blood, my family; a few of them were musicians or loved music. So I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do.
What are you hoping to achieve through your music?
Talaya.: I hope to inspire other women to make music, especially other women of color. I know that the industry is very male-dominated, but there are also a lot of women who make music that we just don't really see so much. So I'm hoping to just shed light, especially in the Pacific Northwest. There are dope women up here killing it, making amazing music.
If you could describe your sound or your music as an animal, what would it be and why?
Talaya.: A jellyfish, because jellyfish are beautiful when you look at them, but sometimes they sting and that's kind of what I want my music to do. Not in a painful way, but in a way of like, 'wow, I never thought of that before' and 'what she's saying applies to my life.' So I guess I want to kind of sting people and wake them up a little bit.