Taleen Kali: “I love punk as much as pop and goth as much as psych…” (5/16 at KFN)

Taleen Kali and I have been Twitter buddies for a few years now, so I was super bummed to have to miss her debut performance in the City of...

Taleen Kali and I have been Twitter buddies for a few years now, so I was super bummed to have to miss her debut performance in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection when she played Ortlieb’s last October…  However, she and her band will be back in the 215 this coming Tuesday, May 16th, when they play Kung Fu Necktie (with Doused and Flatwaves providing support).  Since the last time they were in town, Taleen Kali released her debut LP, Flower Of Life, this March via her own Dum Dum Records.  I recently got a chance to chat with Kali about her new album, recent live shows, and some of her favorite things…

Izzy Cihak: You recently released Flower Of Life, your debut full-length.  Have you had any favorite reactions to it, whether things you’ve read, things fans have told you, or reactions you’ve gotten from live audiences?  I know you played a bunch of shows throughout March.

Taleen Kali: One of my favorites was, “If Blondie and Ride had a love child.”  Someone also told us we sound like a, “happier My Bloody Valentine” live.  We got compared to Curve and Cocteau Twins and Sleater-Kinney and Breeders a few times, too, which I think is awesome.  So many bands and sounds we love and respect that have inspired us to create.

Izzy: How do you feel like this LP compares to your previously released EPs?

Taleen: The EPs were true experiments…  With Soul Songs I was trying to go dark and heavy with these very poppy songs I wrote toward the end of my time in TÜLIPS and its aftermath.  Songs For Meditation was pure improvisation with my bandmate Miles Marsico in a warehouse, a product of playing ambient soundbaths and wanting to offer them freely via recording.  The new album, Flower Of Life, feels like integration to me, of so many years of figuring out not only what I wanted to sound like but also the different types of songs I’ve always wanted to write.  I love punk as much as pop and goth as much as psych and it feels so amazing to be able to stretch into all these spaces within the span of an album.  It gave me space to explore different time signatures and arrangements that I’d only dipped my toe in during the EPs.

Izzy: I know you worked with Jeff Schroeder and Josiah Mazzaschi on the record.  How was working with them?  What do you feel like they brought to your sound or process?

Taleen: Josiah is a brilliant engineer.  We would not have been able to make such a big, monster, widescreen sounding record without him, both as a producer and mixer and engineer.  A true legend.  And Jeff?  Omg.  He’s been a good friend for years and it was so expansive to collaborate with him creatively.  Iconic unforgettable guitar master of our time.

Izzy: While we’re talking about debut albums, I’m curious if you have any favorite first full-lengths from throughout music history?  My holy trinity is New York DollsNever Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols; and Tigermilk by Belle & Sebastian, but there are a ton of others that are right up there: In the Flat FieldUnknown PleasuresSurfer RosaCutThe Stooges

Taleen: Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin I.  Chapterhouse Whirlpool.  My Bloody Valentine Isn’t Anything.  Ace of Base The Sign.  Madonna Madonna.  Garbage Garbage.

Izzy: Despite the fact that your debut LP just dropped, you’ve been doing your thing as a solo artist for a little while now.  What have been some of the personal highlights of your last five years or so?

Taleen: Opening for Ex Hex, playing Treefort Fest and SXSW, getting to do our first 2 national tours, and we’re about to play with Astrobrite this spring!  I’ve been so grateful to be able to work with some incredible producers like Smashing Pumpkins’ Jeff Schroeder, Josiah Mazzaschi (Bizou, Light FM, Child Seat), and Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls).  I also started my own DIY label, Dum Dum Records, a few years ago, which has been an amazing way of rediscovering community and meeting some amazing kindred spirits who make music…

Izzy: I know that, in addition to music, you also work in various other artistic mediums, so I’m curious who or what you consider to be some of your biggest influences outside the world of music?

Taleen: Flash fiction, poetry, collage, mixed media, performance art, photography, and zines all play a part.

Izzy: You actually played Philly last year at Ortlieb’s, but I had to miss it because I was covering The Joy Formidable.  How did the show go?

Taleen: It was amazing!  It was our first time in Philly and it was our labelmates’ Flatwaves’ record release party, which made the night extra special.  So many IRL and virtual friends came out and so much headbanging happened, haha.  Can’t wait to come back!

Izzy: You’re going to be playing Kung Fu Necktie very soon, which I’m super excited about.  What can be expected of the live show this time around, both in terms of setlist and just the general vibe of the night?

Taleen: We’ll definitely be playing a lot of Flower Of Life and some songs from Soul Songs, with a few surprises…








Info + tickets: www.taleenkali.com

Izzy: You play a lot of different kinds of venues.  Do you have a particular setting that you most like to play, or that you feel is most conducive to your sound and live show?

Taleen: My favorite kind of show is playing a DIY space with a sick sound system, or a nightclub that’s community-minded.  We had the best of both worlds at Opolis, our show in Norman, OK, which was an artist run co-op space (also with dope sound, lol).

Izzy: Finally, you have really amazing sartorial style, so I’m curious if there’s anything you’d especially love to see fans wear out to the show?

Taleen: I think people should dress however they want to express themselves!  Though it really gets me stoked when people dress up for shows like go all out…

*Get your tickets here.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.