Orlando-based artist Talii’s musical background can be linked to the beautifully distinctive Caribbean rhythm that her blood carries. “The energy of West Indian music and culture is hypnotic to me and I love when we get to infuse those elements into the sonics of my music,” she told us in an exclusive interview. The Florida native was born to a musically diverse family–an influence that got her curious about piano at the tender age of 3. “Our family reunions always consist of jam sessions, live performances or studio cook ups. Music is in our blood and I’ve been surrounded by it since I came into this world,” she adds.
Talii’s sweet vocals can now be heard beyond family cookouts and lesson rooms–she debuted her song “Lost” in July 2018, produced by G.Bliz (Teyana Taylor, John K, Darion Ja’Von), and followed with “Mouth” and “Front Seat“, the latter landing her appraisal from Billboard. Early this year, Talii was added to Soundcloud’s March 2020 ‘Artists to Watch’, with an EP release coming in the next months.
We sat with the musical vixen to discuss her newly released video for her single “Good to Be Bad”, which feels like a spiritual journey of female sexual empowerment. Combining it with primal elements such as fire and water, the videography is transcendental and hypnotizing. ” ‘Good To Be Bad’ is the raw expression of releasing all the labels, constraints, expectations, and social constructs placed on the sexual nature of women,” Talii explains. “It was an amazing powerful feeling to express that with other beautiful, strong women and to visually bring this song to life with them.”
Check out the video for “GOOD TO BE BAD” below, along with an exclusive interview with the rising soulful musician.
You have Trinidadian heritage – can you tell us how your heritage influences your music?
I’m multiracial and blessed with so many different cultural influences because of my diverse background. They all influence my creative process but my Trini heritage plays a big part in my music! I grew up listening to Soca, calypso, dancehall, reggae… all that beautiful Caribbean rhythmic music that makes you have to dance. The energy of West Indian music and culture is hypnotic to me and I love when we get to infuse those elements into the sonics of my music. It’s also a beautiful way to honor my grandmother and my Trinidadian roots.
You began singing at age 3 and was playing the piano and writing songs by age 7, who were your biggest musical influences?
My piano teacher, Ms Flemming, was a huge influence on me musically, especially at that time. She had taught my father piano before me when he was little and was like another grandmother to me. I worked with her for 6 years and during that time she really solidified my love and appreciation for music. Because of her, I was able to create music for the melodies and words in my head. Because of her I fell in love with other genres of music and broadened my ability to create.
You were born and raised in Orlando, FL, was your family also musical and if so how did they inspire your work as a young artist?
Yes my father sings and plays piano. He was also involved in radio and other aspects of the music industry. He was my first musical inspiration and the first person to make me believe I was something special. Almost everyone on my father’s side of the family has some sort of musical ability – it’s amazing! My uncles, aunts, cousins, my grandma, so many of us sing or play an instrument. Our family reunions always consist of jam sessions, live performances or studio cook ups. Music is in our blood and I’ve been surrounded by it since I came into this world. My family is by far my biggest influence on my music and career as an artist.
When did you first start performing? Can you tell us about one of your most memorable performances or career highlights so far?
I started performing as a child in elementary school. Something about being on stage has always been exhilarating I guess lol. Some of my performance highlights have been performing at my first festival, the Florida music festival a few years ago. Some of my career highlights include putting out my first song in 2018, landing my first Billboard premiere in 2019, as well as my first major playlist hitting and my first 100,000 streams!
What was your inspiration behind your latest track “Good To be Bad”?
I was inspired by the feeling the track gave me. It felt very sexy and mystical when I first heard it and put me in the mindset of exploring those energies I was feeling in order to bring them to life within the song. I’m a very spiritual woman, I’m also a very sensual person and those are two things that have been discouraged for a woman to express in our society for hundreds of years. Yet they are innate to what the female energy is! And this song is like a tribute to that energy. It’s a tribute to being free and feeling empowered to express that.
Your new video emphasizes “sexual empowerment” can you tell us what that means to you?
I think we as women are just over it! We are over being sexualized and criticized our whole lives. Our bodies, our clothes, our choices, the way we carry ourselves… so much of that has been dictated by society on what’s right and what’s wrong…what’s good or what’s bad for a woman to do.
Well F that lol – GTBB is the raw expression of releasing all the labels, constraints, expectations, and social constructs placed on the sexual nature of women! It was an amazing powerful feeling to express that with other beautiful, strong women and to visually bring this song to life with them.
The choreography has a very spiritual direction, almost tantric – tell us about the direction and inspiration for the performances in the video?
I got to work with a wonderful choreographer, Deanna Leggett, for this. She also worked on the creative direction and really helped to take my vision for incorporating the magical aspects of the feminine energy into the choreography. I’m very into spirituality and so is she! So we were able to talk about what the song made us feel or reminded us of, and we were able to really bounce off each other to draw from different spiritual concepts.
We drew inspo from the Elements, the Goddesses, and different cultures. She’s amazing and really made this choreo embody the essence of the song sooo well! It was a challenge for me to learn in a few days so I had my work cut out for me! But I’m thankful I got to work with such a talented being on this!
Your video has a lot of cool effects with fire and electrics – what inspired the concept behind the fire eaters, flames and effects?
The song literally says to taste the fire in me. It also talks about water. So we quickly drew inspo from that and wanted to incorporate the different primal Elements. The fire and the different effects are a nod to those elements we included. It was Deanna’s idea to incorporate the fire eaters and my manager’s idea to incorporate the different effects! Everyone has a creative input in bringing this to life. We wanted it to be visually stimulating since it’s more of a dance based / performance based video and It all came together so wonderfully!
Body Positivity has been an important theme in your visuals and videos – can you tell us what inspires that and what you hope audiences take away?
I’m super happy you noticed that! I feel like my whole life I have struggled to accept who I am. I have looked outside myself for validation, always self-conscious about some aspect of my appearance or my personality. I have been in this constant loop of comparing myself to others and never feeling good enough in my own eyes. I would pick out everything about me that I felt wasn’t good enough. I only saw my flaws. It was only until recently in my life I started feeling worthy. It was only recently I started really practicing self love and really working on loving my body through all its fluctuations. I started to call myself beautiful and give myself the love I so freely give to others but wouldn’t so easily give to myself.
We can’t really have a fulfilling life if we don’t love ourselves for who we are and where we are NOW. I wish I would have had that instilled in me earlier. But I hope through my music I can inspire others, especially women, to love and embrace themselves and their bodies! To celebrate their beauty and feel empowered in who they are.
Your debut EP is launching soon, what can we look forward to from it? Do you have a release date set?
It’s going to be a project you can press play and listen to the whole way through. Long enough to get lost in it but short enough to want more. I wanna take my listeners on a beautiful ride with my first EP and we definitely have the songs to do that. We don’t have a release date just yet but I believe in divine timing and when it’s ready to drop, it will be the perfect moment.