In the heat of this gorgeous (and sweltering) New Zealand summer, local musicians Tali and Georgie Fisher have jettisoned from their Auckland base to tour across the country. The pair’s press release promises the shows will “encompass a completely unique sound… channeling all of the energy and imagery of their shared electronica roots,” but as ye ol’ faithful readers will know, we’re not the biggest fans of press releases, so decided to get to instead get to know the women vibing to the beat of their own drum.
We caught up with Tali to chat Berlin, beats, and pre-show rituals.
You both come from such varied musical backgrounds... Can you tell us about yourcollaborative process?
We are performing live together on a couple of tracks - during our gigs, Georgie is playing guitar for me, and I’m singing some harmonies with her on some of her songs.
With regards to actually collaborating on a recording, we haven't had a chance to write together yet, but we are hoping we might have the opportunity during some of our days off on this tour.
Both of us actually come from very similar musical backgrounds. We both grew up listening to Seattle Grunge, Hip Hop, Trip Hop, Jazz and Soul music, and have both worked in the Electronic Music scene too. Therefore, we have a mutual understanding and appreciation of the other’s sound.
How would you define your collaborative sound?
Onstage, our voices work really well together. We both have a husky quality to our voices that blend well on harmonies, which has made us think we would love to be able to write and record an actual track together.
What’s your songwriting process like?
Georgie always starts with a concept of what she wants to write about, but tends to start with the music rather than lyrics. Chord structure is essential in creating the mood to match the content, and from there the melodies and lyrics flow organically. Georgie’s refined this style of writing over the years as she feels it is what creates the best results within her writing.
For myself, I have a much more flexible approach, simply because I have had to learn to write with what producers send me if it is a collaboration. So, firstly, I’ll listen to a tune and try to get a vibe from it, and go from there.
Sometimes I might have lyrics that I have already pre-written that I might try to fit into the structure of the track because I think they will go well. Other times, I just let the melody of the song determine what comes out of my mouth. There can be some moments where I have no idea where the song is going to go; I freestyle and then refine what is developing. When I write for myself, I often start on the piano or guitar - and again, just follow whatever melody I come up with, with lyrics that seem to fit well.
Do you think your personal prior experiences with the electronic music scene have influenced your live performance style in any particular way? I’ve heard that your new show is relatively electronically influenced.
For me, Electronic Music has been a part of my life for the last 18 years - so pretty much all of my live performances, whether MCing, or performing my solo stuff, is Electronic music. It’s more unusual for me to throw in an acoustic, piano driven track - but I will do, if I feel the mood of the venue or the crowd just works with it.
Sometimes, if the crowd is more rowdy, I’ll leave these acoustic numbers out. I tend to have two set lists to work with - one more downtempo and chilled for more intimate venues, and the other which is more hyped and beat driven.
Georgie’s set is acoustic soul, with her playing guitar. But that doesn't mean it’s super chilled - her energy and storytelling delivery (not to mention her shit-hot voice) always draws people in and gets them going. As Georgie also has a background in Electronic music (having worked with The Upbeats and TREi), she has adapted one of her DnB collaborations (Thinking Cap) into an acoustic version which will definitely be one for the 'Heads' in the audience!
What is the best thing about a live show?Do you prefer outdoor, festival shows, or more intimate shows like your current tour?
Live shows are amazing because it's taking all the hard work you’ve created in the studio to your audience, and to be able to share that gift with others is the ultimate in giving and receiving. To have people come up to you afterwards and tell you a particular song has moved them in some way is hugely rewarding, and reminds you why you do what you do, and go through what you do as a musician.
Festivals are obviously awesome, because if you’re lucky enough to have a few hours, or a night there, you can take in the whole experience and check out other people's music! They are often also like musical reunions backstage - for example at Northern Bass recently I reconnected with several friends from America, the UK, and plenty of my Kiwi colleagues too, which always makes for a great time.
However, intimate shows are also wonderful, because you can share with your audience more, both with regards to the songs you play and the stories you tell in-between. I think both are essential in helping a performer develop to their absolute optimal.
You’ve have been travelling all over the world with your music; how does it feel to come back to New Zealand and tour here? I know you’ve worked with some prolific New Zealand artists like Kimbra and Tiki Taane in the past.
I've lived back in NZ for about four years now, but this is my first full length NZ tour and something I have been working towards since I moved back from the UK. Since I was away for such a long time (10 years), coming back meant having to re-establish myself as a lot of my audience is new to my sound and don't necessarily remember me from my initial Drum n Bass days. So, it's taken a lot of work, releasing singles, getting out there and playing gigs - some successful, and some not so much!
Regardless, it's all humbling and it reminds me to keep my feet on the ground; I am not a commercial artist so I can't expect things to happen overnight.
I am excited for this tour, though, because I feel like the timing is right. My album 'Wolves' has been a slow and steady grower and I feel like I have really refined my set so I can give audiences the best experience.
You actually met each other in Berlin, and I know Georgie produced an album that was particularly influenced by the city - do you think much of your time in Germany has influenced your songwriting for this tour?
Absolutely, I actually have two new singles coming out this year that I wrote shortly after my time in Berlin. It’s a very inspiring city for musicians and artists in general.
While there is a vibrant street music scene that I spent a bit of time checking out, that’s only a tiny part of it. The Electronic music scene there is incredible, with House and Techno ruling the clubs - and Hip Hop and Soul are also very strong.
I just love that it a relatively small city to get around (in comparison to, say, London), it’s big enough that you can immerse yourself in many different cultures and scenes.
Do you have any pre-show rituals that you traditionally do?
Georgie likes a stiff drink before her performance, a whiskey or a beer goes down well.
I am probably the same - a drink to help steady the nerves. When I work with other people, I like to have a little pep talk before we go on stage, and give thanks to the Universe for the opportunity, and for bringing us together to do this thing that we love!
What is your opinion of the New Zealand music scene and New Zealand crowds, compared to those overseas?
I don't think I'm able to compare one place with another. Every country and city and town has its own vibe, and if you are flexible and go with the flow you will generally enjoy your experience wherever you go.
NZ has a great music scene, in particular I think the Electronic Music Scene is especially strong. I find it kinda funny that the music that is commercial here and given precedence isn't necessarily the music that is making an impact at the major summer festivals, or Internationally. For example, there are certain artists here who seem to rule the airwaves, and yet take them overseas and no one's heard of them.. yet take some of our Electronic artists overseas and they have huge followings, and they are the ones getting booked to rock huge stages and bring in the New Year in front of thousands.. Electronic Music deserves more credit for what it has done for NZ music both here and abroad.
Do you have a favourite show you’ve ever played?
It’s really quite impossible to name one.
I have been doing this for 18 years now, all around the world - so there are some shows that have undoubtedly have had an impact on me and I will remember forever! However, I think that some of the more special shows I have done recently are the ones I have been doing with my fellow females, such as DJ Emma G whom I do Soulside Sessions with - a Liquid Drum n Bass series - and Aroha, whom I have been MCing with the last year. After spending many years in the UK and working with mainly males, to come back to NZ and be able to link with these amazing ladies who are some of the best in the game is truly inspiring.