Tara Lily

For her new project, ‘Last Flight Out’, Tara Lily takes listeners on a journey around the globe, as she marries the sonic terrains of East and West. “It’s about movement, freedom, travel, immigration and love. Working with producers Nana Kwabena, Dom Valentino, Akash Parekar, George Moore, Hannah V, Tara fuses together elements of jazz, Alt RnB, Indian classical, dance and much more. From bringing in her uncle to play tabla to recording sitar and jazz saxophone at Unwound Studios, Tara has worked in unique ways to bring her vision to life.

We start with ‘Hotel Amour’ as Tara recounts a turbulent love affair. Spellbinding beats and otherworldly piano riffs transcends you to the world of  late night Paris. ‘You Can Go’ pulls you in with Tara’s agile vocals, saxophones, hints of sitar and heavy dance kicks.  ‘Last Flight Out’ includes rhythmic flourishes of tabla.  Returning to her musical roots in jazz, Tara reworks ‘Naima’ by John Coltrane and creates an alluring listen. The EP takes an unexpected turn as it finishes with ‘Don’t Explain’. After uncovering a hidden gem of  90’s jazz inspired DnB,  Tara decided to sample the track. Its skittish beats play the backdrop to Tara’s improvisation of Billie Holiday’s iconic song, ‘Don’t Explain’, creating a nostalgic and hypnotising experience.

“I guess for me this project was about pushing the boundaries of jazz. So, you have a DnB track with trumpet, an Afro-Asian dance fusion, and some Indo-Jazz . They’re all about exploring the limits of the genre and stretching it into different spaces.”

Growing up in South London and coming from a Bengali family, Tara has always been immersed in a diverse cultural and musical world. Tara has spent her life absorbing different sounds and genres, from grime and RnB to traditional Bengali folk music and classical jazz. Having trained intensively at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, jazz is at the heart of Tara’s work.

“I’ve explored working with other sounds and genres as I’ve gone along. Whether it’s being influenced by life, relationships, people, or culture – I’m always exploring classic and modern music and making it relative to who I am and how I live my life today.”

It was this intriguing blend of sounds and her deep understanding of the worlds they come from which caught the attention of the likes of Gilles Peterson, Virgil Abloh and Motown Records UK, who soon signed her as their first British artist. Following on from her last EP ‘Lost in London’, Tara has continued to further her musical education and delve deeper into her South Asian heritage.

“I think between this project and the last one, I’ve worked with a lot of different producers, musicians and mediums which have helped me move forward and move on to creating new stuff. I’m being pushed out of what I was doing before, and I’m trying different styles.

Being a hardcore muso I’m always evolving.  Having trained in classical Indian dance as a child, I decided to study Indian classical music and start examining the relationship between Indian classical and jazz, which share a lot of similarities.”

As a means of expanding on her own musical knowledge and to share her discoveries with others, Tara has been hosting an acclaimed radio show on Worldwide FM, which has gained approval from Gilles Peterson. Tara wanted to use this opportunity to focus on the underrepresented: Women in jazz and world music. “I wanted to showcase the variety within South Asian women. The show was also about breaking down stereotypes of how we are seen, bringing people together and creating a community around that,” explains Tara.

“My style is always reflective of my music, and mirrors whatever I am immersed in at the time. At the moment I’m drawing a lot of tribal influence from my Dad’s indigenous side. When I was a child, my dad would put black bindis (markings)  on me for protection. I want to embody this and take on the confidence that it carries,” Tara says.

Whether it is musically or visually, Tara Lily is creating something distinct and personal. This project is set to be a rich and provocative musical education, as well as a celebration of strength, power and talent.