Calling fans of Guns N Roses, Foo Fighters, and Elton John. In need of a bright and bold modern rockstar to spice up your playlist?
Well, 25-year-old independent artist TALK from Ottawa, Canada is just that. Plus, he writes, plays all instruments, and produces his own tracks.
TALK joined TikTok in March and now has a following of 100k in just 2.5 months. His rise in popularity began with his cover of “House of the Rising Sun,” which has over 600,000 views.
A couple weeks later he posted a teaser of his first original song “Run Away to Mars” and the track saw out of this world success. It was added to 20 editorial playlists on Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music and is being used widely on TikTok, from Australian Olympic divers to an Elon Musk interview soundtracked by Run Away to Mars that has hit over 5 million views.
Fresh off the release of his new single “Train,” we sat down with TALK to….well, talk. Learn abut what inspires him, what drives him and how he got started making music.
Beyond the Stage Magazine: What inspired you to learn to play so many instruments? What was the learning process like for them?
TALK: I think lack of attention span played the biggest role. My parents didn’t really know what to do with me, I don’t think. I couldn’t stay focused on one instrument, so I played everything. In terms of learning process, I hated lessons when I was young. I liked doing my own thing and didn’t like to be told what to do. I think that hindered my theoretical knowledge to a point but helped my creativity blossom and made me the musician I am today.
BTS: How long have been pursuing a career doing music? Did you always know it was what you wanted to do?
TALK: As far back as I remember, I always imagined being on a stage. My brother is an extremely talented musical theatre performer and a part of me always wanted to be like him; just with different music. I’d say I’ve been pursuing this career for 10 years and full-time for the last three.
BTS: What is the inspiration behind “Run Away to Mars?”
TALK: I wrote Run Away to Mars when I was at a real low point mentally. I was super lonely and I felt isolated from my friends. I felt like I may as well be the farthest place I could imagine, which in my mind at the time was Mars.
BTS: What was the process of creating your upcoming EP?
TALK: This EP, with the exception of a couple songs, came together at the start of the first quarantine. I was back at my parents’ house where I grew up and I had nothing to do except write and record songs. I fell in love with a girl on the internet and that’s where songs like “Talk To Me” and “How Long” come from. I had a lot of emotions to deal with and it sort of became the perfect storm for great songs. I had two or three weeks of great material that flowed out.
BTS: What is your songwriting process generally like?
TALK: Usually I hear a melody of some type of maybe a group chant, often times when it’s least convenient – like in the shower or cooking or something. I’ll usually hum it for awhile to make sure it sticks in my head until I can get to a phone or computer to record it. Then I find chords that fit over that melody and work out the rough arrangement and other melodies. I’ll often produce it out as I’m recording it. Shaping things all at once as a cohesive thought has always felt important to me. It helps me service the song rather than service myself as the artist and I find that it yields greater results.
BTS: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music?
TALK: That’s a question I run into a lot and I don’t think I’ve found the right way to describe it. I feel like my sound is versatile and explores a lot of musical areas that have inspired me over the years. Everything from Crosby Stills and Nash to Coldplay to Elton John to the Foo Fighters and The Shins. The list is immense and ever growing. The most important thing to me is that it’s timeless. I don’t try and follow trends or what’s hot in music. I just make things I like to listen to.
BTS: What is one main message you’d want fans to take from your songs?
TALK: I think a lot of the songs are very personal and filled with a lot of emotion. I think the take away should be that it’s important to express how you feel to friends or family or a therapist. That keeping things inside can lead to a lot of problems, and that and being vulnerable is completely ok. I want people to feel like they’re part of something when they listen to my music or come and see me play. That they are never alone.
BTS: What drives you to keep creating music?
TALK: If I could sit in a studio 24 hours a day not needing to sleep or eat, I would be in heaven. I love every single aspect of writing and recording and producing. I’m sure other writers and artists feel the same, but it’s an addiction. You chase songs all day every day trying to create the next great song. I think most importantly, I create songs I love listening too. I make stuff I wish existed in the world already. I don’t plan on ever stopping. I love this all too much.
BTS: Who are your biggest role models in music? If so who and how did they impact you?
TALK: My number one hero and greatest inspiration is Chris Martin of Coldplay. I credit him with saving my life. I was at an extremely low point in my life and his words and melodies and outlook on life kept me breathing. He’s always spreading the most positive, lovely messages everywhere he goes. Next would be Dave Grohl. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace shaped how I arrange songs. I love that album as much as any I’ve ever heard. All of the songs on that record go somewhere and that’s something I still try and do to this day. Last but definitely not least would be John Chandler of a band from my hometown called Amos the Transparent. He was the first writer/producer to hear my stuff and give me the time of day. I had listened to his band growing up and always loved the stuff they made. He was my first and most important mentor, and gave me the confidence in myself I needed to pursue this career.
BTS: Where does the name TALK come from?
TALK: Two places! The first is that I never stop talking. Ever. Second is that talk was my favorite Coldplay song for a long time. I thought it was appropriate to carry a piece of Chris Martin with me because he’s my hero and I credit him with saving my life.
BTS: Your cover of “House of the Rising Sun” gained over 600k views. What did it feel like to get that notification?
TALK: That was the start of all this. I remember sitting on the couch with my roommate and watching it hit 25k and I said “I won’t be happy till it’s at 150k.” Then that night before I went to bed I hit 250k. That’s when it became clear that this was going to grow more than I ever imagined.
BTS: How has TikTok impacted your relationship with music? With your fans?
TALK: I think TikTok is one of the greatest tools artists can use to get their music to people around the world. It only takes one video to change your life. When I had videos start to blow up, the comments were so beautiful and supportive. I can’t remember a single negative comment. Thousands of people telling me how much they loved a song that wasn’t even released yet. It impacted me in a huge way. I still try to reply to every comment and every DM. A lot of people poured out their soul and connected with the song and they all deserve recognition.
BTS: What’s next/on deck for you?
TALK: So much more music to come! I’ve been waiting years to show everyone what I can do and I have hard drives full of music ready to be heard. I think getting on the road and playing these songs live will be awesome too. No concrete plans there as of yet but stay tuned!
BTS: What can fans expect on the new EP?
TALK: I think versatility is a huge strength of mine and I feel like people are going to hear a bunch of different approaches to songs, but they all feel like me. I’m involved in every step of creation and so no matter what I make, it all sounds like me. There’s something for everyone and I’m excited to share it with the world.
BTS: Anything you’d like to add?
TALK: Yes actually! I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has listened to my songs. If you commented nice things and shared my music on TikTok or anywhere else and you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you infinity times a billion. I love you forever. I have so much to say and show you and I can’t wait to play these songs live for you. Love you!