Tara Brooks is a name that is taking the electronic music scene by storm. She has forged her own sound and style and has seen her music grace labels including Bedrock and Get Physical, and her DJ sets are now becoming commonplace around across the globe. I managed to grab some time to talk about her music, the scene, her thoughts on social media’s impact across the electronic music world, and a new release set for early 2020 on a very big label…
When I spoke to Tara she was just about settled in her new home and getting over the Thanksgiving shenanigans, as well as planning on building a new studio. I began by asking Tara what was it that first got her into the sounds of electronic music? “My whole family has always had a huge passion for music; it has always been around me. Whether they play piano, guitar, or they sing. It has been a massive part of my life growing up. In terms of electronic music, I would say it was going to raves and weird after-hours parties.”
For those of you out there that are not familiar with Tara Brooks’ style and sound, I asked her to talk about just that… “Personality-wise, I find myself living up to my Gemini traits – energetic, strong, and all over the place. My music is a mix and fusion of unique styles and genres that call to me. Whether its sunrise, sunset, or 4 am at a dark warehouse, I’m sensitive to the energy, environment, mood, and the tone of the crowd. I’d say it’s a range from soulful, funky, acid, techno to trippy, melodic, psychedelic, ambient, mystical “out of dimension” kind of stuff, and then sprinkle a splash of breakbeats into the mix. In a set, I usually journey through 4-6 genres & that’s the fun part. Diving into the next adventure, flowing, & telling an interesting and unique story. I find a commonality amongst many of the different styles that I use to bridge genres, and take risks presenting these to the room.” I would say that is easily one of the best descriptions of someone’s sound I have ever heard (or read). Those of you listening to Tara’s exclusive mix whilst reading this will certainly be agreeing I am sure!
2019 has been quite the year for Tara with releases on Bedrock, Get Physical, Kindisch, as well as podcasts for Balance and Electronic Groove. Moving back to the early part of 2019 and Tara’s release on Bedrock, I asked her how the release came about and what it was like to hear that John Digweed wanted to sign her music…
“John Digweed and Sasha were some of my big inspirations at the beginning of my exposure to dance music. I have been a fan of John and the old Bedrock records for years.”
Tara continues.. “three years ago, I was booked to open for John in San Francisco, and I was really excited to finally share my music with him as I have always known in my heart he would get and appreciate me. John is thoughtful about how the opener leads up to him, he is not one of those artists that comes 5 minutes before their set. It’s refreshing to see a DJ who actually cares to see what is happening before, and how the flow of the night is going. After the San Francisco set, he invited me onto his Transitions show, and everything unfolded from there, to where it is now. I’m grateful he believes in me and invites me to play at selected events with him.”
The electronic music scene is as vibrant as it ever has been. I asked Tara her thoughts on the scene now and how she felt it has progressed from those early West Coast years? “I am so proud and excited to be part of the LA scene today. These days it is supported, appreciated, and nourished more than ever. The underground is flourishing here and in North America in general and the underground sound has become more popular. Overall, speaking for LA, I’m blown away by the love, energy, forward-thinking, awareness, and support from the community. It is absolutely fucking amazing!” This certainly feels like something we should adopt over in the UK and stop all the bitching! Apologies rant over… I went on to ask Tara if there was one thing she could change in the scene right now, what would it be and why? “Unfortunately today it feels like things have shifted. The focus is not as much about the true heart and soul of the music, it is how popular people are perceived. When an artist has a marketing background or understands how to promote themselves, they have an edge in today’s social media dominated climate.
“Today’s reliance on social media-driven campaigns creates a huge vacuum where some of the most talented artists do not shine as bright as they should, and we get a lot of mediocre artists rising to the top, and very quickly.”
I love Tara’s blatant honesty and feel the industry needs more people like her that fight for the right things. As she commented, way too much emphasis is put on likes and social media presence rather than actual ability. Whilst on that very subject, and for those of you that know me or have read my interviews before, will know I love a rant about mobile phones on the dancefloor. I asked Tara’s thought on this very subject… “The way social media has blown up so much, at such a fast pace, there’s really nothing we can do about it. You see far too many camera flashes on the dancefloor, and that can disrupt the vibe. It is so important to keep the night focused on the music and not “the show”. But everything has turned into a “show” with people forgetting to focus on letting go, listening, and connecting. Instead, people have become about capturing the moment of “self” and being there, and they lose being in the moment and being present. Thank goodness for clubs in Berlin like Katerblau, Sisyphos, and Berghain. They take it seriously and it’s not a surprise why they have nights that are so special.”
Moving on to gigs, Tara will be kicking off her 2020 playing at Rainbow Serpent with a rather large lineup. I asked her to tell us a little about the gig and what she is looking forward to… “Rainbow is a beautiful festival right outside of Melbourne. It’s like a fantasy land circus and just ridiculous haha. it is an open-minded, beautiful community gathering together to psychedelic, bass, house and techno with warm vibes all around. I love that it’s a place to get comfortable and showcase tripped out sounds and tapestries or forward-thinking soundscapes. Their attention to detail, paired with incredible sound and production creates a truly unique experience for the dancefloor. There is a feeling of space, comfort, and outlandishness, and when you pair that with the feel of the music and the energy of the crowd, it’s just amazing. You have to go there if you get the chance!”
Whilst on the topic of gigs I asked Tara about her very recent gig at Rakastella and how the booking came about… “Over the years I’ve fallen in love with DJ Tennis and his production. Having played before him at Envision Costa Rica, in Mexico, he had the chance to hear me play and has been kind enough to listen to what I have been up to over the years. Rakastella has chosen many insanely talented women in their lineup. I have actually never seen a lineup that has this many badass talented women on the bill. That being said, I don’t believe any type of musical experience should be booked or based on gender. It shouldn’t matter who delivers music but that it’s blowing your mind and being creatively and strategically programmed. it is apparent they have carefully selected music that feels like the right vibe for the festival. Another plus is how environmentally conscious they are. They are on board with a policy of no plastic cups and straws. This type of mindset sets in motion a huge shift for the amount of trash and waste festivals can create.” Certainly, something that should be taken very seriously across all music events and festivals.
I had heard on the grapevine that we could be seeing another big release from Tara so I snook in a cheeky question about her upcoming releases and she gave the news I was wanted to hear… “I have my second Bedrock release coming out in February 2020, remixes and other releases in the works. I’ll share soon enough.”
Before I let Tara get on with her day I asked her if there was one gig or show that changed her opinion of music in some way, that one life-changing gig, so to speak? “I honestly cannot pinpoint just one show, but so many over the years have inspired me. Movement in Detroit has a special place in my heart for expressing the raw soul of house and techno… back in the day it was raving and ecstasy that opened the door, while Burning Man really brings out the magic in all of us.”
Tara went on to add… “Thank you for having me. I truly hope the music community continues to grow in a genuine and non-egotistical way. I hope we can together come back down to earth and remember why we are doing this and why we are involved. At least for myself, I can say I do it for its healing properties. Healing for myself and for everyone around me.”
“This music is so powerful and has brought the most wonderful, kind, loving, talented, and creative people from all around the world together.”
Tara continued… “The more our music and positive energy spreads, the more peace & harmony there is. I have tons of new music in the works so stay tuned.”
Again, I would like to point out that I feel the dance music world needs more people like Tara Brooks. I would like to thank her for the amazing chat, and her beautiful mix that takes you on a journey through breaks, progressive, and techno. I (and the Decoded Team) hope you enjoyed the interview and the exclusive mix.