Talia Stewart—the debutante of dark pop. With the release of her most recent EP (Alcohol) veering close to the bullseye, she has successfully thrown a dart towards the dartboard, hitting slightly off-center, but allowing her charisma to personify her lyrics. With a sound that is sultry yet buoyant and nails that extend for days…Talia paints cat eyeliner on the girl next door. With close to 10,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Talia has forged a new course in the arena for solo female artistry and lets us contemplate the paradigm between niche and mainstream more accurately. Ladygunn was interested to learn exactly what makes her tick.
How would you say that your relationships with music and alcohol differ…are they similar…do they impact each other?
They can both be an escape! However, to me, they’re very different. Music has always been an outlet for me to express myself, heal myself, and connect with others and while alcohol may seemingly offer those things to some, it’s always been a crutch for me. There have been periods of time in my life where I’ve completely stepped away from alcohol. Only recently have I gotten to a point where I’m able to have a healthy relationship with it. Music, on the other hand, has always been a healthy outlet for me.
What was the idea behind the styling in Alcohol?
The song is sung from the perspective of alcohol itself, so I play a personified version of Alcohol in the video. It’s always been very blue to me. I wanted the color scheme to reflect the nature of alcohol itself, so you see a lot of blues and blacks. We used diamonds and other jewels to represent the alluring nature of it. The headpiece I wear was inspired by a gorgeous design by Area. Me and my creative director Bernadine Gunderson handmade the headpiece and the mouthpieces worn by the dancers. I designed and made my nails. It’s always a very hands-on affair whenever we shoot videos.
At what point do you think pop veers into dark pop?
It definitely has a lot to do with the sonic landscape of a song (minor keys, dark samples, dissonant chords) but my love of dark pop usually lies in the lyrical content and overall tone.
What do you do to stay motivated?
Lately, whenever I feel unmotivated, I’ve been pausing and looking back on everything I have accomplished up to that point and thanking myself and the universe for allowing me to get to where I am now.
“My Heart Owns My Head and My Head It’s Gonna Roll”…
Was there an event that inspired this lyric?
Truly this lyric was inspired by my codependent nature/disposition. I am extremely empathetic and often times will make decisions that I feel in the moment are right but end up fucking me over.
As an artist, what is the main message behind your sound?
That life is crazy and wonderful and horrifying and it’s okay to feel everything all at once and not have all of the answers. That love is the most important thing and should be at the forefront of everything.
How would you describe the line between acknowledgement and appropriation?
I think this is an ongoing conversation that every artist should have with themselves. It’s a very fine line and oftentimes depends on the specific situation. In my opinion, acknowledgment is an intentional effort to recognize something that inspires you and appropriation is the negligence to intentionally recognize someone’s work/culture/art and the act of trying to pass that thing off as your own.
What’s your favorite movie, and has it inspired your current music making?
I have so many favorite movies that it always pains me to pick one, but I suppose one that’s heavily informed my art is one of my earliest favorites: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. I had bad anxiety as a child and this video always calmed me down. I think I liked the idea of a young girl being thrown into a world entirely foreign to her and still finding a way to manage, even enjoy the ride at times.
What is your relationship with fashion, and how does it help to define your imagery?
Being a very visually focused artist, fashion is super important to me. This video in particular pulls heavily from editorial and runaway fashion.
Do you believe in karma?
Ohhh yes. And she’s a bitch.
Who’s your favorite heroine?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Gel or Acrylic Nails?
Gel on acrylic nails!!!
STORY / ALEXANDER MAYS PHOTOS / NATIA CINCO
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