Getting Skin Deep with Tallsaint

After her brilliant debut set at Live at Leeds, playing on the Dr. Martens stage at Brudenell Social Club last week, my partner and I sat down with Tallsaint to get to know the Leeds artist better, finding out the thought process behind her songs, why her cat is her one true love and how The National are one of her biggest influences.

Tallsaint rocks up to us both in her lilac pant suit (a very strong look), after having texted back and forth trying to find one another for 20 minutes, realising we were both sat around the corner from one another.

V: How are you, thanks for joining us.
T: I feel really extra, sorry, I feel really giddy!
V: Don’t apologise you look great! So we thought we’d start off with a quick A or B  just to get things going, so Spice Girls or Girls Aloud?
T: Spice Girls.
V: Game Of Thrones or Line Of Duty?
T: Neither.
V: Dogs or Cats?
T: Cats, without a doubt.
V: Out out or night in?
T: Erm, in!
V: Duran Duran or Jamiroquai?
T:Oh neither, can I say Madonna?

V: So how we’re you beforehand? Were you excited or nervous?
T: I was nervous actually, I was very nervous, usually I’m good at supressing my nervousness with things like pacing and being over extra and talking a lot, yeah I was a bit nervous.

V: Well you didn’t come across as nervous at all! So I’ve been dying to know, what inspired the name Tallsaint?
T: Oh thank you! Well, Tall Saint is a song by The National, I used to take quite a lot of influence from them when I was first writing, the word, well I think they do it as two separate words, I just loved it, I loved the look of it, I loved the sound of it, and I really connected with it so I just felt it was very me!
V: I wouldn’t have associated The National as an inspiration because your music is quite pop-py.
T: Yeah it’s super indie isn’t it, I really like a lot of their drum stuff, my drummer Ste is really inspired by their drummer just because they have really intricate percussive stuff going on and their lyricism is just beautiful and so poetic I love that.
V: It was so good when we saw them last year.
T: Where did you go?
V: All Points East in London.
T: Oh yeah! I saw them last year but in Manchester.

V: Okay so what’s your favourite song (by The National) then?
T: ‘Lemonworld’, it’s really beautiful and because I write a lot of my songs about family and I write a lot of songs (it’s going to make me cry oh my god) for my sister, who’s sat there with the Ikea coloured bag on, and in that song it has a lyric that says you and your sister live in a lemonworld and yeah that’s my favourite.

V: So speaking of lyrics, your lyrics are quite focused on being a woman and romanticism, is there a reason for that or is it just natural?
T: Yeah, I think it is quite natural, I’m spurred on by small everyday occurrences I try to expand them and make them bigger. I was really inspired for ‘I’m A Woman (After All)’, I did some kind of little gig somewhere, and the owner of the venue, I can’t remember when it was it was ages ago, it was like a wedding, corporate gig that I was just kind of singing at years ago and the owner of the venue started screaming at me really close in my face, because the music that was coming out of the PA for all of the wedding guests was too loud. And he came up to me and was saying TURN IT DOWN, as if I couldn’t go and like turn it down. So I was like:
1: It’s out of my control.
2. You’re screaming at me in my face your face is going purple and I just felt, I guess that wasn’t a small occurrence that was actually a really big one. I went home and started writing, sometimes I write in poems, and I wrote a verse and maybe another verse and was like yep scream at me because you can tell me what I can do, but if I say anything back to you. So yeah, it’s just like little daily occurrences that build up and they do for me relate back to me being a woman in the world and being a musician and trying to navigate that as well, but a lot of my song topics are on family and relationships, like friend relationships, romantic, I try to make the songs kind of, what’s the word, they kind of, the concept clouds over all of those relationships.

V: Yeah because Warm Skin is about PJ Harvey isn’t it? (Her Cat)
T: I think I am going to cry now, my cat, she is my angel. Yeah, so that song it came from PJ, I have renamed her now she’s now P.I.J, PIJ, it’s just because it’s nice and Polly Jean Harvey, I’ve never called her that she’s never been that naughty. Yeah, so she jumped on the bed in the middle of the night and we went to sleep and her head was in my hand and I kind of expanded that into falling asleep next to somebody that you really love and being so vulnerable next to that person
it’s just so beautiful.

V: So you played a new song during your set called ‘Skin Deep’, is it from the EP?
T:Yep, that’s off the EP that’s coming out really soon as a taster of the EP.
V: Anymore info you can share on the track?
T: Well it used to be called ‘Skin Deep Disco’, but I changed it just to ‘Skin Deep’, for one reason, because I wanted all of the songs on the EP to be two words, so ‘Warm Skin’, ‘Hard Love’, ‘Skin Deep’, but, it’s about a passive aggressive disco (laughs) all my songs I want to make people dance, just live it and dance, and I thought how can I get across passive aggressiveness, in a song? So in my head I saw it as two people who don’t really like each other, but they have to get on and
if you kind of dance next to someone you touch there skin right? So you’re just that little bit closer, so ‘Skin Deep’ is my kind of world of not liking someone but trying to get a long with somebody in the form of a disco.

V: It sounds like classic voguing from 1980’s New York, is it inspired by that?
T: No but I love it, I wish I could do it.
V: Same, I try but I can’t really do it.
T: Have you ever attempted to do a deathdrop?
V: Yeah and I almost broke my back.
T: My bestfriend who’s sat over there tried to do one once and he had to lay out loads of pillows.
V: I can duck work that’s about it.
T: Is that the (vogues), stop that’s amazing!

V: So what’s to expect from the EP? I imagine if all the songs are two words long I’m A Woman (After All)  won’t be on there?
T: No, the track we played after ‘Skin Deep’ (Comfortable Silence) was going to be on it, so it kind of moves your through a few different scenarios, but they’re all kind of inter related,
it’s a lot of exploration into small moments of relationships, so yeah ‘Hard Love’, ‘Warm Skin’, ‘Skin Deep’ and ‘Comfortable Silence’.

V: What’s the plan for after the EP? touring, working on more music?
T: Yeah I’ve got so many songs on my hard drive, it’s overwhelmingly exciting in the best possible way, so I’m going to spend the summer working them all up, there’s some really cool stuff that I’m really excited about. Now that we’ve got our live sound to a really exciting point, I’m so excited about that, I really feel like I know what it should sound like, the EP is a really great point for that, so I just want to expand and expand.

V: Now we’ve got some more fun questions
T: Oh is it A & B stuff? I love that
V: We can think of some if you want?
T: No, sorry go on, I’m excited!

V: Three people you’d love to collab with?
T: Max Martin, he did the ‘Dangerous Woman’ album with Ariana Grande, and he’s just oh my god, I love him! St Vincent, and I’ll throw an obscure one in there, Thom Yorke.
V: I feel like any of them would be a strong vibe especially you and St. Vincent.
T: Oh god I love her!
V: Annie just there on her guitar and you vibing out.
T: I’d love that, go away Dua, litearally that, go and cut my hair off.

V: Where would be your dream gig location? I.e a festival or certain venue?T: Oh my gosh, I would really like to, that’s really difficult but in a really great way, I would love to play something like Coachella, that would be really cool. Glastonbury? Home away from home, the Royal Albert Hall in Manchester? I would love to do that.

V: That’s something I forgot to ask before, are you originally from Leeds?
T: No I’m not, I’m originally from down south, I moved to leeds a few years ago.
V: Whereabouts down south if you don’t mind me asking?
T: Southhampton…
V: Oh that was one of my uni options actually!
T: Oh was it, Solent or Uni of?
V:I can’t remember it was 5-6 years ago.

V: So, did you have any other names for PIJ?
T: I was just going to start calling her booby, I’m just going to say that now because I’ve had three beers.
V: That’s a great name for a cat, do you shout that when you call her in?
T: Yeah!
V: Booby?
T: Oh my god, can I just record you doing that? I, well me and my partner were going to call her Maybe, from Arrested Development, but her original name when we adopted her was Polly and I just thought you know what, your PJ Harvey and that’s it.

V: Last one, why was 2000 your favourite year for music? The cover of Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate was banging.
T: Thank you so much! I love pop music so much, and like I was saying about my song topics, a lot of them are based on a big theme of nostalgia and I when I hear stuff like, so one of my favourite albums is Fever by Kylie Minogue and it makes me feel really nostalgic and really sad but happy at the same time, really melancholic, even though the music isn’t really like that at all, it’s proper banging, so I have that attached to it and I just think the songs are great. The songs from 2000 are great like garage and proper pop stuff.
V: You should do a cover of Fly on the sings of love.
T: Oh my god (starts singing the chorus) I’m going to write that down.

Tallsaint’s ‘Hard Love’ EP is out June 20th, through Dance To The Radio.

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