Solo efforts can often result in tense, unfocused attempts to create something altogether new. But when it all works out, fans get an exciting glimpse into what makes individual members of their favorite bands tick. Taleen Kali’s debut EP Soul Songs has the garage rock vibe of her previous band TÜLIPS, but don’t fool yourself: this one’s all Kali.
Where TÜLIPS’ songs were more straightforward DIY affairs, Kali adds layers of drone and vocal effects you often hear in a more produced sound. Songs like “Half Lie” feature slick guitar riffs and soaring vocals; “Evil Eye II” creeps into the psychedelic with Kali’s voice reverberating against the walls. Sunset strip is only a short drive away when you’re listening to Soul Songs; it conjures up empty alleyways and crowded music venues where the cool kids hang out til the traffic dies down.
We sat down with Taleen to talk about going solo, life as an LA native, and how her many passions interact with one another.
AF: You’re an LA Native. What was the music scene like growing up? Were you one of those cool city kids who got to sneak out to shows in middle school?
TK: I am indeed! I don’t know how cool I was in middle school in the era of KROQ SoCal bands… Our moms would take us to see Green Day, Bush, and No Doubt. In high school, The Smell was always getting shut down so we’d sneak out all the time to The Roxy and Whiskey to see local valley bands. So I guess somewhat cooler? Haha.
AF: I grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, so that sounds very cool indeed. When did you first start to take an interest in creating music yourself?
TK: I remember writing songs on the piano when I was really young, like 7 or 8, but I didn’t realize it was “a thing” until I was 15 and I got a guitar. And then it took a few more years after that, during art school, for them to become fully fleshed out songs.
AF: You co-fronted Echo Park band TÜLIPS before striking out on your own. What was the catalyst for going solo?
TK: After TÜLIPS I spent a whole summer sitting in silence and just listening. I began to hear more parts within the songs I’d been writing, and different, newer parts for instrumentation were coming to me. I was beginning to think in more diverse musical arrangements that gave me the confidence to go solo and conduct my own solo musical project.
AF: Synths are a new edition to your music. How did you get into them?
TK: I was getting deeper into yoga and sound healing instruments, and I think my brain space and capacity for sound was growing in a whole new way and synths felt like an extension of that… to add to the drone, but also to manipulate it digitally. Plus my background is in piano and it was easy to pick up and start learning.
AF: My husband has actually gotten into building them. The underground movement is really interesting. Have they changed the process in which you construct a song?
TK: Oh that’s an awesome question! Not so far. I’d imagine they might down the line though, since the process is pretty amorphous/intuitive.
AF: You’ve also started performing soundscapes in addition to your more traditional punk rock shows. When did you first start exploring this concept?
TK: I first experienced sound healing in 2012 when I took a Yoga & Sound class at my home studio Yoga Blend in Burbank. I became enamored by certain frequencies and tones an started including them in punk rock playlists I’d post on my blog. I bought a few little instruments of my own shortly after that, and then I learned how to play a wider range at a sound practitioner training last year. Then finally I came into some large crystal singing bowls of my own this year. They’re pure tones so I can sample them in recordings too. Right now I have a D, F, and A bowl, a perfect chord triad.
AF: You are Editor-in-Chief of DUM DUM Zine and you also teach Punk Rock Yoga. You’re an inspiration for those who feel bogged down with too many interests. How do you balance such a wide array of projects?
TK: I try to remind myself that it’s all coming from the same source, that spark of creativity and inspiration. I try to find balance by giving love to each project according to what it needs or what events are going on around that time. I do writing rituals, yoga, and breathwork in order to stay in tune with my inner desire and outer focus.
AF: Your record release show is June 26th and we’re very intrigued by the lineup! Can you give us the inside scoop on what a concert-goer can expect?
TK: Of course! We’re going to have flowers, rituals, and punk rock…you’ll have to come to see what it’s all about! My BFFs Wasi are DJing the night, and we’re having a specialty flower vendor. As far as bands, I tapped my favorite female-identifying punk bands in L.A. to come be part of this night. Object As Subject is playing their punk ritual set with the amazing Paris Hurley, Emilia Ponysweat, Gina Genius, and Patty Schemel on drums. Blood Candy is bringing their angel goth shoegaze vibes.
I’ll be playing the Soul Songs EP in full joined by the Taleen Kali boys. We have some fun surprises planned during the set.
Preorder Taleen Kali’s new EP Soul Songs HERE. Check out her tour schedule below to see where you can see her LIVE this summer!
Taleen Kali Tour Dates
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)
07.01 – New York, NY @ Pianos
07.13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lot 1 Cafe (punk covers)
08.24 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick and Mortar