Part 1

Name: Tara Nome Doyle
Nationality: Irish/ Norwegian/ German
Occupation: Musician
Current Release: “Alchemy” on Martin Hossbach
Recommendations: Book: Ariel - Sylvia Plath
Music: Colour Green - Sibylle Baier

If you liked this interview with Tara Nome Doyle, make sure to follow her on facebook.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

When I was about 11 years old, I loved watching Hannah Montana and was so fascinated with songwriting and performance. My early songs were definitely inspired by the Disney bops but songwriting quickly turned into a very valuable form of self-expression that allowed me to communicate my thoughts and feelings with others.

Sometimes it is easier to sing something than to say it. It’s also very difficult to lie when you’re singing, because you need to be able to put all your energy behind it to make it a meaningful experience - both for yourself and for the listener.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?

Most days after school I’d come home and learn to play cover songs of my favourite artists. I loved listening to big voices and tried copying what they were doing. I’d usually have to make some adjustments to make the song suit my own voice and over time that led to me finding my own style of singing. Even though I barely ever play them nowadays, I feel like it was very helpful for me to play so many cover songs and understand their structures and techniques.

What were your main compositional- and production challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

I used to try and fit 10 ideas into one song, which made it quite difficult for the audience to follow along. Getting feedback has helped me learn to divide the 10 ideas up into 10 different songs and give them room to breathe and grow.

What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

My first “studio” was my family’s living room. I still love playing my mother's old upright piano. It has shared so many moments with me, both good and bad.

My current set up is a Nord Stage 3, a harmonium and two guitars. Most of my songs are still written on acoustic pianos, because that's just what feels the most natural to me. I’d say my most important piece of gear nowadays is the Nord Stage 3 because it allows me to experiment with so many different sound scapes.

How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?

I’m personally not very inspired by technology, but I like working with people who are. Right now it is still manly a tool that helps me amplify my acoustic world. I’d love to experiment with different production techniques in the future.

Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

I feel like beautiful instruments can be a strong catalyst for songwriting. Most of my songs wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for my mothers upright piano. Instruments are like people, some of them inspire you endlessly, while others leave you hanging mid-sentence. I haven’t experienced that kind of a positive relationship with a software yet.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas? 

Playing with more experienced musicians has taught me a lot. There is so much I don’t know and I’ve been blessed by being surrounded by artists that share their knowledge freely. More recently I’ve been collaborating with different instrumentalists on my own songs and though I feel very vulnerable opening up my songs to them, it can be extremely rewarding to have someone understand and add new facets to your work.

Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

Everyday is different for me. The only constants are my relationship, family, meditation and music in various forms. I’m definitely still struggling to find the right balance between creativity, business and my private life. It’s very difficult to separate yourself from what you love doing.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?

Diana - Dandelion (2018): My songwriting process usually starts off with a lyric idea. I think I was listening to a podcast and someone said “predisposition”. All of a sudden I thought of the line “eyes glued to the ground, we stood there facing the crowd. Predisposition put us in this position” and so I hurried home and started thinking about how to package this line.

I decided to make it into a song that talked about my experience with playing a bipolar mother in a musical while I was going through a difficult time with my own mental health. This musical character, called “Diana” decided to stop taking the medicine that numbed her down and chose to abandon her family instead. She’d rather be her crazy self than the person people wanted her to be. After researching a bit more about the musical and trying to remember how playing Diana felt for me at the time, I sat down wrote the rest of the song.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

My ideal state of mind is the free flow of energy. Purposely focusing on getting inspired through reading, poetry, painting, listening to music or mindfulness can help me get in the right mood to express myself. Being isolated in nature gives me space to sort through my thoughts and connect ideas that have been lying around for a while. The worst distractions tend to be stress and the mindless consumption of entertainment.

How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?

I love writing songs and over the years I’ve started enjoying live performance. Being in the studio is more creatively fulfilling, whereas being on stage can be very emotionally and socially fulfilling. There is something about changing up old songs to keep them feeling fresh on stage that is such an interesting challenge.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

My main instrument is my voice and I’ve found so much joy in experimenting with the different colours it can take on. I’m currently working on a new project that was entirely inspired by me discovering a new vocal sound. In most of my other songs it usually takes some time to find a vocal sound that expresses the emotions of the songs best, so it really goes both ways.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?

Music is a catalyst for so many forms of expression. I particularly love the combination of visuals and music, whether it be live visuals, music videos, posters or photography. It fascinates me how we as humans can decide whether a picture, smell or taste goes with a sound. I think it says something about the interconnectivity of all our senses and how art can help people bring them together in a powerful way.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

For the longest time I felt ashamed of choosing to become an artist, when there were so many other jobs that seemed more useful to society. I even started studying psychology, thinking I could still make music on the side. But I was miserable at university and it helped me realise that what society really needs are passionate, happy people. We don’t need depressed lawyers and doctors that wish they could be doing something else with their lives.

I think I can add the most value to the world by sharing the joy of creativity with others and lighting up their days or even just an evening. You never know how many people that might affect in the long run. Do more of what makes you happy, whether that be art, music, political work, business or psychology.

It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?

Music fulfils an innate human desire to connect, so I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere. The shift in the music industry through artists self-publishing their work and connecting directly to their listeners will enable more and more alternative artists to build a sustainable income through their music. Art pop still needs a lot more support and appreciation from the government for what it does to the local culture. I also think that more women becoming part of the industry will shift the over all culture in a positive way and hopefully make it a more inclusive space for all types of people.