Tallulah Rendall by Alison Day.
Musician Tallulah Rendall is a super talented woman with an indomitable vision that inspires; launching her self-released crowdfunded third album The Banshee and The Moon with a very personal photo album and an accompanying exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery. In this intimate interview she shares the making of her new album, plus what it takes to go for it alone.
What inspired the lyrics of The Banshee and The Moon?
A huge transition in my life. After ten years of playing in bands, I decided that it was time to record an album on my own without the influence of creative collaboration. It was also at this time that I decided to move to Berlin. The move combined with my study of qi gong opened up many new possibilities and realizations. I spent hours alone playing bass, guitar and immersing myself in vocal harmonies. I didn’t have a piano so I would take myself off to the nearby piano shop to write. All these changes lead to my style of writing evolving. With my two previous albums, and EP’s unknowingly I had rested heavily on the obscure and often fantastical when it came too lyric writing. Metaphors about water nymphs, black seagulls amongst others.
Whilst I was writing this album there developed a sense of personal awareness and clarity that previously had been obscured. This arose in tandem with a story that I was exploring. The notion of the maiden, wise woman and crone as being three aspects of a woman that are always present within and this began to resonate deeply for me. I had never felt a connection to my own wise woman but I was beginning to grasp a sense of her within, and so wrote her story called The Banshee. The Banshee personified my wise woman. She was free, all knowing, vulnerable, powerful, wild, untamable all the aspects that I myself was aspiring to and above all she rode a beautiful wild steed across the heavens! She became my muse and the lyrics of this album tell both her story and my own journey to embodying her aspects within myself.
All photographs by Serena Bolton.
You have taken an unusual route to the release of your albums – what inspires your approach?
My mum used to run a nightclub called 7 1/2 in Portugal. When the revolution came she returned to the UK and set up a nightclub in Shepherd’s Walk called The Black Sheep which, then became 7 1/2. There are two aspects to this story that I love. The first is that this meant as a child I grew up with a basement full of amazing vinyl records which my mother had kept hold of and hours were spent listening and exploring the psychedelic artwork.
The other strand to the story is that she met many of the great musicians, from the Beatles, to The Stones, Cliff Richard.. and the story I love best is the day an unknown musician pitches up at her venue in London bargaining to use the venue as a rehearsal space for the two weeks leading up to the venue opening. They reach an agreement on the understanding that he would then play the first two weeks for free. Low and behold ‘Hey Joe’ goes to number one in the UK charts the night before the club opens and my mum has Jimi Hendrix playing her venue for her opening night and for free for the next two weeks. Allegedly, there are pictures somewhere of mum playing the broom with Jimi Hendrix..
So I guess the basement stash of vinyl was the main strand that inspired the concept of the books. I loved the artwork and am myself an artist. When it came to exploring how I wanted my albums to be released, I just wasn’t satisfied with a cd in a plastic case or a download, to me that lost so much of the story behind the musician and the music. And so I began to cultivate this concept of a song inspiring a piece of art, and then filming the creation of both processes. This naturally led to me: writing about the songs, the stories behind them, and the way of an independent musician, through crowdfunding, self-doubt and determination.
Initially I approached a label to see if they were interested in the concept and signing my first album/book Libellus but the response is why would we take a risk on an unknown artist. They thought it was going to be a really expensive process, which whilst it does cost more than a download to make in actual fact because the concept behind the projects is creative collaboration, everyone involved in the creation of the books has worked for free and in actual fact because I have released my albums as books and sold them for £15 I have been able to survive as an Independent musician at a time when most labels have been struggling to find ways of inspiring music lovers to by music. I am now hoping to find a label open to this way of creating music.
Tallulah Rendall by Gianluca Floris.
What kind of subject matter features in the accompanying book, and what is your favourite bit?
The Banshee And The Moon text narrates the story behind the journey from my band disbanding and my decision to record an album on my own and to play all the instruments on the record. It tells of my move to Berlin, my unexpected travels to India and then how I have ended up in the depths of Devon. Included also are the stories behind the individual songs, and the black and white photographs that were created in response to the songs. A huge thank you to Serena Bolton, Ben Heron, Akio, Paris Ackrill and Jim Kroft for collaborating with me and for taking such beautiful pictures.
I don’t really have a favourite bit of the story to be honest because every part of the story was integral to where I am now in my life. But if I had to pick one I would chose the picture of The Horse, taken by Serena Bolton and the quotation:
“In silence the teachings are heard; In stillness the world is transformed.” Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching
Well and meeting Ben of course!
What have been the highlights and pitfalls of crowd funding the album?
Crowdfunding is one of the most extraordinary experiences I have encountered. It challenges your self-belief beyond comparison but if you can get through that it is one of the most nourishing experiences. When I first began crowdfunding in 2006 for my first album, Libellus, no one had heard of it so it was pretty challenging but I had three amazing patrons and that gave me a head start.
For my second album Alive, I crowdfunded through Pledge Music. This was around 2010 I think and it was still a very new concept so hours were spent explaining to each person that I was not taking their money; it was an exchange. They could buy a piece of art, hire me for a gig, or commission a song. The fact that I was running the campaign through Pledge helped validate it but it was still three months solid work and at the end of it if I didn’t raise all the funds I wouldn’t receive any of the money so it was beyond stressful.
For this latest crowdfunding project for The Banshee And The Moon I decided that I would run it off my own website so to alleviate the stress of the potential of not receiving any of the funds if I didn’t reach my target. I asked all those who had been involved in previous campaigns and they all trusted I would deliver, and so it began. And ten months later it finished… It was a huge amount of work and because the financial situation had changed so much globally it was tougher than previously to get the large amounts. What in turn happened was nearly 95% of people who had backed me previously with smaller amounts backed me again but by giving 200% more that the first time.
It was extraordinary. I would receive and still do receive daily emails, Facebook messages from pledgers encouraging me on. And now that the album/book editions have been sent out to pledgers the response have been incredible and many have reduced me to tears.
These responses make everything worthwhile the ten thousand hours spent crowd funding, recording, writing to press, battling with printers….
“Thank you @tallulahrendall for the amazing gift that is The Banshee And The Moon. Music to my ears and inspiration for my eyes. You are a wondrous woman” Leonora (UK)
“thank you so much for sending over your new piece of art – I’m totally blown away, your book is so, so very beautiful my dear!!!!! Congrats & “Very well done”, wonderful chosen photos, I love them all! And I think they fit very well to each song!” Pete (Germany)
“Dear Tallulah, thank you so much for this wonderful album and the personal words in it! It looks gorgeous and I hardly dare to touch it to avoid any fingerprints on this beautiful cover. Discovering my name after finishing to read your very interesting and touching text made me very proud. It is a great feeling having been allowed to be a small part of this impressing project. I wish you a perfect launch party. You really deserve it!” Frank (Germany)
“Dear Tallulah, I have just received my copy of your book and album today. Am flattered that it is both personally signed and that I’m noted among your supporters (delighted to be so). I shall treasure this always. Many thanks, Andrew xx”
“WOW, FANTASTIC, THANK YOU- Absolutely stunning” (Gill)
Can you tell us more about the accompanying exhibition to launch the album?
Rebecca Hossack and I met at a family exhibition last year. My younger Nick is an artist, and my other brother Max is a magician. We decided to put on an event together and I met Rebecca there, and she expressed a love for what I was creating and suggested we do something in the future. So in January this year I sent a message outlining my exhibition concept not really thinking I would get a yes. But I did. I am still slightly shocked that it is happening, but it is and it has grown like I could not of foreseen.
I have managed to get sponsorship from Grosvenor events, Sipsmith and Chase Vodka (big thank you to them) so each night there is an event from 6-9pm showcasing the art and from 7-8pm I will be performing songs from the album.
There will be 14 black and white photographs in the exhibition and each one is accompanied by a QR code streaming the song that inspired the creation of the image.
The performances are seated in keeping with the intimacy of a living room tour.
Last year I spent four months on a Living Room Tour travelling around the UK and Germany playing in summerhouses, a castle, a kitchen, sitting room, gardens a warehouse. Each night was hosted by a fan and they invited the guests. The nights were run by donation and so it was free entry, just bring a bottle or a dish. The response was incredible and totally inspiring. I had become slightly jaded after too many unpaid gigs in shit venues and had decided to explore other options which led to this tour. (I am now organising a new living room tour for 2014 so if you are interested in hosting please message me email@example.com).
The concept of donation seemed to open up a whole new way. The response was people gave what they felt the performance deserved and the result was I earned more over this period than ever before. Plus I was able to play long two-hour sets rather than 20 mins in a shit venue so it felt in balance.
But back to the exhibition at Rebecca Hossack runs from Wednesday 28th May to Saturday 31st May and will be open each day from 10am, and then in the evenings are the events from 6-9pm. I am trying to keep a tab on numbers so we have enough seats so am encouraging people to reserve them in advance from this link.
Talullah Rendall by Gareth A Hopkins.
You have been moving around a lot, where are you currently living and what brought you there?
The depths of Devon, in a wild valley next to a beautiful clear river and untouched oak forest. It is amazing. I needed to recharge after the touring and crowdfunding and to focus on getting this project out into the world. I was conscious that my health was so poor and after routinely being on antibiotics six or seven times a year because of a really poor immune system I knew that I need to make some changes which I have and the result is no antibiotics for two years major improvement
I also didn’t want to take on a PR & marketing company and so I have been doing everything myself. To keep some sense of balance it has been fantastic being able to focus entirely on the project and nourishing being able to step out into the wilds from my doorstep.
Your next tour will be hosted by fans, how do you find the right venues?
It is more about the people than anything because once in the space I can adapt it to work for the set up.
With the living room tour I did last year I had no idea until I walked in the door what the room would be like, which kept it really exciting. Also the audiences were completely different at each event. What was incredible was that it didn’t matter if it was accountants, artists, mothers, kids, or any age, my experience from all audiences except the one night I did where everyone was really just interested in getting as fucked as possible as quickly as possible, that was fair from enjoyable, but aside from that my experience was that once everyone was settled in a comfy spot I could tell the stories and sing the songs with a real open heart and everyone (except the one night of wasters) really connected with that. So it really is more about my willingness to step into any space and be as open and honest as possible.
What can the audience expect from a live show, and why do you enjoy creating a spectacle?
It is interesting because my live show has changed hugely. I love the fantastical of dressing up, lighting, film visuals but also for me now more than ever I don’t feel like I need the costume to hide behind.
So now it really is about creating beautifully lit and inspiring spaces, it’s about connecting with the audience on a level that hopefully empowers them to believe in their own creativity and vision.
My intention is to sing the songs from my heart and share what I have created without expectation.
I am proud of what collectively has been achieved, there are hundreds of people involved in enabling The Banshee And The Moon to come to life and right now it is all about celebrating just that.
Celebrating a dream becoming a reality, and my hope is that with each performance or each reading or listening of the book that people will be inspired to allow their own creative vision to have a space in their life.
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