Oakland-based singer and musician Taara Tati has been officially dwelling within the mysticism and spirituality of the Metal Mother moniker since 2011 when she released her debut album Bonfire Diaries on her own Post Primal imprint. Drawing on influences from Cocteau Twins to Nine Inch Nails, Tati’s debut was awash in neon synths, tribal percussion, and her own inimitable vocals. Garnering praise for her unique sense of melodicism and the striking video for “Shake,” she embarked on a lengthy tour in support of that record. When looking to begin the process of writing the songs that would form the basis of her sophomore album Ionika, Tati traveled to the UK to delve deeper in her ancestral history. And considering her Celtic heritage, it should come as no surprise that Druid history and folklore play a large part of her lyrical and musical ideologies. Taking some time from her busy schedule, Tati sat down with Beats Per Minute to talk about some of the records which helped to shape the sound of her latest album. From industrial thrashers Skinny Puppy to the dream pop tendencies of Kate Bush, her influences are as varied as you might expect. Read about her choices in the latest installment of our On Deck series.
Basque – Radiate
When I return from a trip or have a hectic day, I like to do what I like to call a little ‘sensory recalibration’- essentially, I attempt to fabricate my ‘happy place’. We all know that certain smells, soundtrack, lighting, pampering- all nostalgic, can transform a mood. Basque is at the top on my mood-setting soundtrack list. Their music makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket of 90’s-consigned majestic mist; like I’ve stumbled upon an arcane, goth, ritual. With mostly just undecipherable, heavily sauced vocals, and dark, subtle, bass melodies, its ambient music at its best. Hopefully someday they’ll make another album to further assist us in fabricating our happy places.
Skinny Puppy – Vivisect VI
I feel like I can count on one hand the bands that have tastefully (to my liking) been able to speak to the issues of animal abuse, environmental degradation, chemical warfare, and political corruption, -and still experience commercial success. Skinny Puppy is one of the few, and from what I can tell, this album is the crudest statement they’ve made. It’s really sad to me that so few artists, or rather, so few people, have the courage to confront ‘the system’, and instead choose a highly glossed version of reality. In some circles it’s almost taboo to broach prickly subjects like these. So yeah, I really respect it when well-known artists talk about the environment and human injustice because it forces their fans to listen, regardless of whether it makes them feel uncomfortable or not. With or without the brash lyrical content, the relentlessly grimy industrial production is enough to make this album legendary.
Kate Bush – The Dreaming
Its hard to pick just one Kate Bush album, but if I had to declare my favorite, it would be The Dreaming. Her chanting “Can I have it all?” in the middle of ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ pretty much sums up her production style of this album. Its like she followed through on every one of her creative whims- listening in is like listening the brain chatter of a mad, 9-year-old, genius, goddess. Its obvious that she was still learning production at this point in her career, but any lack of polish is made up for with her extreme quirkiness and maximal-verging-on-psychotic orchestration and character.
Pet Shop Boys – The Best Of
Pet Shop Boys make the ultimate montage music. Ever since I got reminded of these guys when I heard ‘It’s a Sin’ in the Bronson soundtrack, I’ve been blasting their new wave wackiness when I’m running errands or cleaning or whatever. I’m pretty sure there aren’t 4 identical bars throughout the entire collection of 18 songs. I hear new instruments with every listen, which must be why they’ve held my attention so long. Neil Tennants vocals are really what make it for me though. His unlikely mix of innate sincerity and sarcasm is odd enough to make me forget its actually really popular music in the UK. Weirdly though, its almost like I allowed myself to take it more seriously when I realized that so many Flight of the Concords songs are parodies of PSB songs, and in contrast the original songs seem deeper or something.
The Brain Science Podcast
I’m endlessly fascinated by this stuff! This podcast is basically a nerds guide to self-awareness, where Dr. Ginger Campbell guides you down the engrossing neuroscience worm hole. She’s been a solid road companion as of late where. She discusses crazy research that shows how the bigger amygdalas of republicans are correlated with more capacity for fear, or how blind and paralyzed people have been found to subconsciously train unused neurons to reassign to parts of the brain where they’ll be utilized- which opens up a whole new field of research around ‘neuroplasticity’. Its interesting how so much of the information that’s talked about right now in this field is based on recent discoveries (within the past 50 years), and how often it seems scientific ‘facts’ are proven wrong.