Taura Lamb is a Pop/R’n’B artist, who is making waves with her debut album ‘Revisions’ and its throwback noughties sound. She has collaborated with a variety of artists from The Magician to Julian Perretta, but Taura Lamb’s ability to produce and sing has allowed her to make music of varied sound. We managed to grab an interview with Taura Lamb, discussing everything from how she coped with lockdown to who she thinks is worth checking out in a live capacity.
Your album ‘Revisions’ is more predominantly in the lane of R’n’B, but I also found there were influences from dance-pop, Latin-pop, and other variations. Would you say categorising artists by one genre is becoming obsolete in the modern age of music?
I don’t in general, I think there are broad categories. Talking for myself and not for other artists, in general, I fit into the Pop/R’n’B broad genre. At the moment now because we have so many ways of streaming music; it’s not like there’s 10 genres anymore, there are 100s and 100s of genres, and trying to label someone and pinpoint someone to that extent, I think is maybe obsolete.
You could obviously label a track in that way or maybe you can label an era as an artist or an album like that, but maybe not an artist in general because I think it’s so specific now that people are always going to have different influences and change their taste. But I think the broader labels still work and I think also nobody minds if you move outside of your box and you want to try something new and you just go well this isn’t a pop song and everyone’s like, cool, let’s have a listen.
But, I think a lot of people still have tastes that are specific to certain genres. So in terms of reaching an audience, I am happy to say my music is pop music because it is pop music. I know it’s pop music and I think that trying to get it out to people I know that like pop music is going to be the way to get it to most ears I guess.
I’ve asked artists this question before and some of them have said we have to use a genre as a marketing tool. I definitely agree you have more freedom in the modern age to explore different genres.
I think it can be used as a marketing tool and that can be annoying in some ways, but in a lot of ways it’s a great way. I’m making music in the hopes that I get people listening to it because I want to share it and I want as many people to listen to it as possible. So I think in that regard, it’s actually a really useful tool to have, to know your audience and to know that kind of side of things.
You performed when you were younger in Birmingham at 14 at open mic nights. How did this prepare you for future live performances and the ability to enrapture a crowd?
I started doing that when I was 14 and loved it. I think to be honest, in terms of a performance, I don’t know whether I have carried much through. I would say what I really gained from it was the confidence to be able to be on stage and know that I can do it, and know that I am not going to have sudden stage fright and not be able to sing and nothing’s going to come out.
I think it just inspired me a lot when I got (a) good reaction when I went on stage. It definitely inspired me and made me feel like this is something I could pursue and it wasn’t just like a pipeline dream and I was 15 playing in a pub. Obviously, it was nothing and I would get off and I would be like some people actually like that, that’s a really inspiring thing.
In terms of a performance, it was just me and a guitar and I was singing Rihanna songs, so I don’t know how much of that I have carried on through to now. In my latest show I love doing a little bit of a corner response and getting a little bit of an atmosphere going, and I never really did that when I was 15 and singing Man Down, it wasn’t going to work as well. But I think it just gave me the confidence to carry on going and the confidence to know that I can perform live.
To be honest, I think in a way I was better at doing live stuff then, then now in terms of vocals alone because I would do them so often. Whereas now because of Co-Vid, I feel like I have got some practice to do in terms of live performances because it’s been a while. I’ve done 2 recently and I absolutely loved them and I completely remembered why I love doing live shows. But before I would be doing 1 or 2 every week, so I think I was a little bit more comfortable, almost less nervous back then. But hopefully, I will get back to that routine of doing them way more often and get back in the groove.
You said you may not have some aspects of what you did before, but it’s given you that practice and (the) idea of what you need to do and you do stuff now which you didn’t do before because you thought ok I need to play more to the crowd now then sing very good. From what you said there it has definitely helped you somewhat…
For sure and to be honest, even I like to still do one cover or two covers in a set, because I think it’s fun and people just enjoy it. And I definitely learned doing that when I was younger that you don’t do a cover because you like the song, I do a cover because it’s gonna be like a crowd-pleaser.
Like the stuff that you like, that’s why you write. I don’t write to please a crowd, I am writing because I like it and hopefully other people do too. Whereas now, I will do a cover that I will like to do, but definitely (I) did some weird covers when I was younger that the whole crowd were like, why is she doing this B side, Justin Bieber album? Like that’s not necessary, but yeah I definitely carried that through.
I’m sure that sort of thing is part of the learning experience, learning what the crowd wants and I think performing covers is definitely important, especially if somebody’s gone there with a friend who doesn’t know you.
For sure, it’s always fun to do a cover everyone in the audience knows every word to and it’s just a fun part of the night.
You studied Popular Music at Goldsmiths University, including a module called ‘Music in Film Composition.’ Did this help in your ability to produce music for yourself and did it allow you to look at music in a more methodical way?
It was actually the reason why I learnt to produce. I had not produced anything before that. I think I sort of knew, but I didn’t realise how much of the course would be production, otherwise, I don’t think I would have picked it, because I didn’t know how to produce anything. So I am very glad I wasn’t aware of that because it’s helped me out big time. In that course I had to learn to produce because basically the whole course was production; it was write these scores for this, this, and this, and I didn’t have an orchestra to play with, so I was going to have to fake that by producing.
That’s where I started, I didn’t follow it up that much, I didn’t carry on producing that much. I loved it and I was like maybe this is something I could get into, but never really thought I would produce my own stuff. Obviously, it’s a very different genre and I didn’t really think about producing the poppier side of things. And then it was when I got ill in 2018 and I couldn’t sing, that’s when I was like, hey maybe I will do more production and I will try and produce way more and that’s when I picked up those skills again and honed them a little bit more.
In terms of thinking it more methodically, I probably did the opposite. I used to think classical music was way more methodical and I would never really be able to compose in that way. I used to (do) a lot of classical music. I sung in so many choirs when I was younger like National Youth Choir and the CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) in Birmingham, and I played violin.
I did more the classical side than the pop side originally and not that I enjoyed it more, I way preferred the pop stuff, but I just did, I don’t know why. Then when I did the ‘Composition for Film Score,’ I was like I can just think of this in a pop mindset, this doesn’t have to be all mathematical and I don’t have to work this all out and it be the perfect film score. I can just write music that’s nice and fun and I think I flipped it and put the more enjoyment side and fun melodic side into the film score, rather than what I used to think, where I was like I would never be able to do a film score as I can’t compose. Actually, you’re composing when you’re writing a pop song, it’s not any different, you’re just not doing vocals and lyrics. It was the opposite way really.
The fact you looked at classical music and film music from that perspective is very interesting. I imagine it helped you get good marks in your essays, looking at it from a unique perspective. From what you’ve told me there, you seem to have a lot of musical talents and I can imagine that allows you to look at things and songs in very different ways and be able to come at them differently.
I definitely think the choirs and things like that, I have taken a lot from that, as I always add about 15 layers of vocals to every song ever. I think I’m just used to hearing a lot of vocals together. I used to find the choirs so boring and when we all came together and they were all singing, I loved it and I would be like yes, amazing. To me when it sounds good, is when there’s 7 harmonies going and I think that’s just from doing that from a young age. I definitely took some things through.
As someone who is breaking through in the music industry currently, who would you say has caught your eye recently, who is an up and coming artist and what advice would you give them?
I was going to say someone, she’s definitely much bigger than me right now. Somebody who I personally just discovered, I wouldn’t necessarily (say) she’s up and coming. I’d say she’s quite successful, but a girl called LEON. She’s just got the most beautiful, raspy voice and she’s just amazing. So she probably doesn’t need any of my advice at all.
Just to other artists, who would want some advice. I would, first of all, say reach out to somebody, if you’re self releasing or if you’re doing all these things from scratch. I know I felt like I genuinely just didn’t know what I was doing, I had no idea when to release anything or how to release anything or any of the publishing side vs. the masters’ side. I didn’t know anything at all. So I would probably say reach out to someone, even if it’s just on Instagram. If you have a small question, just say hey I know this is really random, but I know you self released and I am doing it. I have this question and I can’t seem to find the answer on Reddit or Google. What does this even mean?
Because I think I was always scared to do that, whereas if I got a message now, I would be like oh, of course, you do this, this and this. Don’t be worried to ask questions and I would also say just focus on the music and not worry so much about the artwork or anything else really. Don’t bother wasting your budget, because most people who are self-releasing have no budget and I think a lot of people waste money on a big photo shoot for cover art and video shoots.
Just focus on the music! The cover art can just be a photo from your iPhone, it doesn’t need to be a fancy cover art at all. It’s probably not going to make any difference to the song or how well the song does. I would just say focus on the music and ask questions when you need.
That sounds like good advice. I think asking questions is good advice just for life in general, as well as music. LEON, I feel like I have heard that name somewhere, I will definitely delve into them more.
I think it’s just one girl, but I am not sure. Her voice just stood out to me so much, she’s just somebody I found recently. It’s E with an accent, yeah she has 4 million monthly listeners, I think she’s ok. She seems to be doing pretty well. I recently heard her and I thought she was amazing.
I felt like ‘New Normal’ encapsulated the isolation and despair people have felt over the last few years. How did you get yourself through this period and has it made you stronger as a person?
I know everybody said this is our new normal and it became such a well-known phrase. I swear I wrote this song so long before lockdown and then it was called ‘New Normal’ and I was like I can’t change the title as it’s first of all fitting and second of all that (it’s) so clearly the title of the song. That’s the main hook it would be weird not to call it that.
It wasn’t actually about lockdown, it was about when I was going through a breakup and I was really ill at the same time and I didn’t know if I would be able to sing again and it was all really so stressful. I definitely felt more isolated and alone than I did in lockdown. I would say that I had the emotions of a lot of people during lockdown when I wrote that song. It makes a lot of sense that this crying on the floor is my new normal, was the concept behind it rather than this is our new normal of lockdown life.
Lockdown in general, I got through because I was just focused so much on music, and luckily I didn’t get ill during lockdown, well the first one anyway. I was able to really focus on the music side of things and just carry on as normal really. I wrote from home anyway and I can produce, which I was so grateful for in lockdown because otherwise I would have been really struggling, as obviously I produced all my own vocals for this album through lockdown. Literally, every single one was just produced at home through lockdown and then I would often make a little skeleton production and then send it to other producers who I wanted to work with and we’d work in that way. But if I couldn’t even record the vocals, this album wouldn’t be here.
So I am very grateful for that skill. I mean I found lockdown an interesting time, there would be times that I felt really creative and more creative than normal. And I would say that really started to dry up after a while and I was like I’ve done nothing in 4 months, how (am) I supposed to write a song, there’s nothing to write about! But, it would sort of come in ebbs and flows. I don’t know, I definitely feel a bit more creative now that we’re out of lockdown. It helped me get through for sure.
You’ve collaborated with a few artists, including edbl who is someone I personally like. Has collaborating with these people allowed you to explore music from new places and what was it like supporting edbl at his recent show?
Yeah for sure. My favourite thing about the whole project has been working with other people. My first EP was just me on everything, I literally did it all completely by myself, which was not planned, but that’s how it happened. So this time around I was just so happy to be working with other people and bouncing ideas off. There is definitely a limit to where my abilities are and talent is and being able to work with all these other people, made the music in my head able to come out, rather than me being like well that’s as far as I can go, as I am not that good at production or I am not (that good) at guitar. Just having all these different, various, talented people come in and put there little piece into it, has changed everything. That’s been my favourite thing for sure.
Me and Ed (edbl) have done a few tracks together now and he’s amazing. He is such a great person to work with. And the show was just so fun, the show was really really fun. (It was) The first time I sang ‘Nostalgia’ live and I feel like there was definitely some areas of improvement, because in rehearsals it was one thing and when you get on stage, ooo this sounds different to rehearsals, it’s always a whole different thing.
But, I think we’ll play live a few more times together, hopefully. We can master it, I am sure and I supported as well the show which was really, really fun. The crowd were great, I think he’s got quite a loyal fanbase already so everybody came along early and were really supportive, it was great.
I’m sure you’ll iron out those kinks with a track, as you perform it. What I do like about his music is he does seem to collaborate with a wide variety of people like he’s collaborated with you, a rapper I like called Nick Brewer. He’s not afraid to go, I am going to do this type of song today, which I like.
I think it is always good to collaborate with people because getting a second opinion on something is always good to make a more well-rounded (track). It’s also going to put you out of your comfort zone a bit. It’s definitely good to collaborate and try to find new ways of putting yourself out there.
Definitely. Often, somebody would say why don’t you do this and because it’s out of your comfort zone, you’re like really? Then when you hear it and you’ve heard it a few times, you’re like, oh yeah that’s so much better than it would have been if we’d just gone my route.
If you could go back in time to one concert, who would you go to see and where?
Oh my gosh. So Leon Bridges did a show at I think (at) it’s called Under the Bridge. It was (through) Dice the app, you enquire for these tickets and you’d get free tickets; you’d win tickets. I don’t know whether it was the Under the Bridge venue doing it or it was Dice doing it. I applied for a few and I got (a) few. I got Rodrigo y Gabriela which were awesome, Lianne Le Havas which was awesome, and Leon Bridges.
It was such a great show and then at the end, he was just loving it and they had extra time and so he was like what should I sing and people were just shouting out songs and the band were just improvising. He didn’t necessarily know the words, he (would) just be going ‘da daaa da daa’ and then go into some words he knew. And it was such a fun night, probably one of my favourite live events ever.
Also, BANKS she is my ultimate no. 1 artist and I have seen her every chance I can get. And I would go back to any of those shows again. They always last the perfect amount of time, I think I never stand there thinking oh this is great, but I am sorta done now. I’m always like one more maybe and she just puts on such a good show, she has incredible dancers, her voice is amazing. I love all her songs. So either or, I am not sure (BANKS or Leon Bridges).
I think when you go see someone who you are not obsessed with, normally I find if it passes like an hour, (you’re like) this is super fun, but like if it ended now it would be fine.
I definitely agree, that concert you described with Leon Bridges, that does sound really cool and giving fans the opportunity to request certain songs, I imagine would have made them quite happy.
It was so fun and he was the opposite. He went way over time, but I was loving life.
The video for your track ‘Love Song’ saw you recreate the covers of a lot of your favourite love songs. But out of the ones you recreated, which would be your favourite?
I would say Katy Perry-’Teenage Dream’. I just found it so fun, it was colourful and I loved that album. The song (‘Love Song’) was really inspired by my love for pop music, back when I was 15 ish, that sort of time. So, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Rihanna; that like classic pop. In my mind, that’s the classic pop music, because I guess that’s what I had in my teens and I felt like the Katy Perry video brought back most of that in my head and fit the song best in that sense. So yeah I would say Katy Perry is my favourite.
What was your favourite music to come out in 2021 and how did it impact you as an artist and as a person?
I can’t remember whether Cleo Sol’s album came out, I am pretty sure it was 2021. Or when was Victoria Monet’s album, no that was 2020 (Cleo Sol), Victoria Monet’s was also 2020. Well I discovered it in 2021 (Victoria Monet), so I am gonna go with this. So the Victoria Monet full album ‘JAGUAR,’ I never stopped listening to it in 2021, (I) love it so much. I feel like I haven’t taken as much influence from it as I would have liked in ‘Revisions,’ and I think I am going to try and have it inspire me more for the next collection of works, because I think it will have somehow seeped in through my brain, as I listen to it so much in the ‘Revisions’ album; (sessions) that really fun R’n’B style. I’d love to try and create music more down that root for the future.
Do you listen to a lot of music when you create your own music, as I hear some artists do and some artists try to switch off from music, so they can make something that is unique to them. What approach does Taura Lamb normally take?
I actually would say I am probably more the latter. I would rarely go off a reference or I just want to make a song in this style or in this genre. I would sort of generally just start and see where it takes me. I wouldn’t not actively listen to music, but I don’t feel as if I consume as much as I can to get inspiration. I think if a song is going to inspire me, it will inspire me and it will just be from listening to it organically. I definitely don’t actively consume more to try and have more inspiration, I think it just hits when it hits.