Tarah Who? talk about their latest EP, isolation and Alanis Morissette.
The LA-based female power duo is hard to define: are they alt-rock, grunge or punk? However you choose to describe their music, you can be sure that it overflows with rebellious energy and contains lyrical depth underneath their boisterous front.
Their latest album 64 Women is (out now) a passionate and personal record that showcases their fiery reputation.
We have a lockdown chat with Tarah G. Carpenter and Coralie Hervé AKA Tarah Who?
Please introduce yourself for those not familiar with your music. CH : My name is Coralie and I'm the drummer of Tarah Who?
TGC: Hi Everyone! I am Tarah, singer, guitar player. I started Tarah Who? in 2006 when I moved to LA. It started off as a solo project, then I worked with a few producers and musicians. Over the years, and after numerous changes, updates and whatnot, it seems like we have found the right recipe! Tarah Who? is a female duo. Describe your music in a few words.
CH : Tarah Who?’s sound is a mix between different genres like rock/punk/grunge but at the same time we have our own sound.
TGC: Yes, we don't try to fit into one specific genre. We prefer to go with the emotions and to stay true to the story of the song. This is the reason why we range from "simple" Rock to Punk, garage, grunge etc, it stays in the veins of Rock'n Roll, and we are loud. Our attitude on stage is full of energy and this is also the reason why people can't put us in Alternative Rock. How are you coping/dealing with the current Coronavirus isolation? CH : It’s a really weird time but we are trying to make the best of it, we cannot really practice together so we are practising on our own.
TGC: Coco and I rehearse a LOT, and we are used to seeing each other plenty as well. In that sense, it has affected us, but we text and call each other. Right before the lockdown, we tracked some songs, so luckily, we are able to rehearse individually. I am also working on new songs so I will be sending over demos soon. I have been catching up on a lot of things actually since the lockdown, and preparing the release of our new music video. The BIG bummer was the cancellation of our tour but it was totally out of our hands and every show was rescheduled for when buying toilet paper goes back to being a normal thing... You had to change your tour plans because of this situation, when can we next expect to see you on the road? CH : Hopefully when all of it is done.
TGC: Yes, as soon as we have the green light to reschedule everything for sure. We were also booking our East Coast tour and we had a few dates in Europe, but right now we just stay put so everything goes back to "normal" if it ever does, as soon as possible.
Has it changed how you view the world? TGC: I mean, in some ways, I think it is kind of amazing to see that in a time of crisis everyone runs for toilet paper and here in the US, in certain States, for a gun and Ammo. I have been choosing to focus on funny videos, of what people come up with and how creative one can be when they have time for themselves. I have had some days where I have thought that the chaos was actually kind of funny, but in the long run, this will have a pretty serious impact that will take some time to recover from. I like how musicians came up with live sessions on social media. Actually I have had promoters from our tour getting in touch with us to play our show on Social media instead and I thought that this was a very cool step. I think that this situation might actually bring us together more, in some ways. Hopefully, we will appreciate each other more in the future.
Are you working on any new music at the moment? TGC: Yes! So I am actually building a home recording studio and slowly getting somewhere. I am trying sounds out here and there. I have a few tracks from other projects I am working in that I have to send back but of course the new Tarah Who? EP will follow. When I work on an EP, I try to let it breathe as much as possible until I am totally devoted to spending all of my attention on it. Then I am going to demo it and send the tracks to Coralie, and we will be working together on it before recording it with Jason. (Jason Orme is our producer, we have been working with him for the last 3 recordings and we love working with him. He understands our sound so it is really easy to work with him.) Until then, we are releasing a few videos, including our music video for 'Pantomath'. If this whole Covid is still happening in a few months, I have a couple of other ideas in mind that I can't release just yet. Tarah, Jagged Little Pill was an important album for you – and a whole generation – what are the tracks that you can relate to best? TGC: Hehe! You have done your homework! Gosh, my favourite song on this album is 'Wake Up' . Now the tracks that I can relate to the most are "You Learn" and " Perfect" . I actually remember listening to AM when I was 15 and I wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics. I just loved the production and arrangements. (Go Glen Ballard!) Since English is not my native language, I can easily zone out and focus my attention on something else if I want to. This is what happens for me in music in general. I never pay attention to the lyrics. I hear the rhythm of the vocals and I like the voice or the way the vocals are placed, but I am not really paying attention the words until later. So this is what happened with AM, I liked all the songs, and I remember one day, I was actually listening to her words and I was like " Wow!! Deep!! of course!" or I remember wanting to write something about forgiveness, and as I was thinking about it, it reminded me of 'Forgiven' and I was like " Duh!!!' Anyway, those little moments in life when everything suddenly makes sense.
You're both classic rock and metal fans at heart, what album/song has had the most influence on you as people and musicians? CH : My favourite song is “Ghost Love Score” by Nightwish, it’s a 10 minutes piece and I just love it!
TGC: Ok so... little correction on that. I do like metal, but not so much Classic Rock. I am a 90s girl at heart, give me some grunge, punk, garage, make some noise! but I would be ok without 80s rock. Coco is the Classic Rock gal! When I discovered Brody, from the Distillers. and the early Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Motorhead, yeah, all of those bands. I like fast-paced guitars, I like to hear guitar noises over solos. 'Hall of mirrors' is one of my favourite songs, and 'Pretender' from the Foo Fighters was a big one, or 'All my life'. That live DVD that came out, during this album I have played so many times!! Tell us about what inspired the concept for the 64 Women EP TGC: I was in an immigration jail overnight because the officer thought I had overstayed my visa the last time I was in the US. I could not prove it so they sent me back. So I was in jail for quite a while and I was talking to one cellmate and she told me that there were 64 women in this jail. We talked a little bit about them, what some of them had done etc. I wanted to write a song about or for those women but I decided to dedicate this last EP in their honour instead. My friend Amber Ledet is a very talented painter, and I thought that she would be perfect for the job! She painted the EP cover and that is what we used for our EP. Numb Killer was inspired by the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, but it could easily apply to the Bataclan too? As musicians how did these events affect you? TGC: Yes that is very very accurate. As a matter of fact, any terrorist attack. We were playing in El Paso, TX and there had been a terrorist attack in New Zealand, 2 Mosques I think were attacked. When it was time for us to play 'Numb Killer' I could not shake it. I got really emotional and had a really hard time singing. I wrote 'Sirens' for the attacks at the Bataclan. First time ever I wrote anything in French as well. I actually was going to that EODM show but I had really bad cramps so I stayed home. My brother who is not a soccer fan at all had tickets
to go to the Stade de France. He intended to go but last minute we both ended up at my mom's eating pizza. A few hours later, our phones blew up from messages and phone calls making sure we were ok since we were supposed to be at those events. I did lose some friends at the Bataclan and it is still really sad to think about it.
I really liked how we all reacted over the events and still decided to go out after the attacks. I went to see a friend and we went for a beer on a terrace. It was really tense. Every car that stopped by, we took a moment before taking a sip of our beer. I don't like to live in fear, I think that we may need to be cautious sometimes, but we should not limit ourselves to do anything. One night after a show in Downtown LA, a few people were arguing and one of them pulled a gun that he actually pointed at us ( unintentionally, but still, he did) one mistake and things can come to an end, terrorist or not. When this happened at the Bataclan, each show that we played had a bigger meaning and was dedicated to the victims. Every time I play 'Numb Killer' or ' Sirens' I think of any of the victims from anywhere in the world.
The track has a really powerful video too, did you work on the storyboard and idea for the shoot? TGC: Well I had the message in mind, but the storyboard actually came from Maria Quintana and Vatsa Barot. I have been working with Maria for a few years now and I trust her for any visual that we need. Photography or videography. I told her " Maria! I have a song, it is about this, I want the message to be like this and then people can come up with their own interpretation. Now you!" Then she figures out the crew, and thanks to her, we have met Junbai and Jude Abadi who are 2 killer women in the movie industry. The three of them, Maria, Junbai and Jude, we call them the three musketeers. They are so in tune with everything that they do. They are super hard working ladies who know what they are doing, they are so passionate, it is a real pleasure to work with them and watch them work! We call them up every time we need a video. How did Tarah Who? go from a one woman show on Craigslist to being a full-on female punk-rock duo? TGC: Haha! I know right! I never wanted to be a solo act, or at least what I understand by that is the acoustic singer-songwriter. I want to be loud and Rock out. I want to scream and see people mosh! So I was not going to stay a solo artist. I have tried working with producers but they wanted me to be one of their products and that didn't go well. You tell them you like Alanis they think you want to sound like her. Then I started looking for musicians and trying the band thing, but that didn't work either because I have a really specific idea of sound in mind and if that is not it, then people's egos come out and if either give in and I am not happy about it or they give in but they don't play with their heart. Years later I finally find Coralie and this has been working really well for us. We save a lot of time going over songs together. She has way better technique on the drums than I do so once I get the gist of the song in (the feel) then I tell her "I m thinking about this for a drum solo" or "here we can do this as an instrumental" and she brings out her own style and swag and it sounds like Tarah Who? today! What's next? CH : We are gonna make more music and hope to be able to go on the road again and see you guys soon !
TGC: Next is the music Video for 'Pantomath' and other goodies coming up. In the meantime, I will be preparing those demos so that we can release a new EP sometime before the end of 2020. If you haven't checked out the docu-series and you are bored during COVID, by all means.