Tallulah Gray talks career highlights and being the youngest participant in our Band Or Bust competition

In our forth instalment of introducing the 5 Finalists we picked to be a part of our first Band Or Bust competition in Stellenbosch on Saturday the 7th of March, I chat to 18-year-old alternative singer-songwriter, Tallulah Gray.

Inspired by grunge gods Nirvana, grandson, The Pretty Reckless and Paramore, as well as Halsey, Etta James and 5 Seconds of Summer – Gray’s sound is clearly a combination of alternative and rock with a dash of blues and jazz thrown in for good measure.

And after being invited to a million and one of her shows and missing every one, I’m excited to finally be able to watch her perform next weekend.

Texx: Give us a bit of background into you/your band – who are you and where are you from?

I’m Tallulah Gray, born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa. I started playing live when I was only 13/14, starting off supporting friends’ bands or filling time between sets with the only three songs I knew at the time. I would spend Tuesday Nights at Open Mic Night at House of Machines almost every week, arriving for school the next day no less than 30 minutes late. Eventually I got in contact with Jon Shaban and the guys at Sit the Folk Down, managing to secure monthly gigs with their “Unknown Legends” events which lay the groundwork for the future gigs I would secure. With a close friend as the producer, I was lucky enough to release my first two singles at seventeen years old and continue playing weekly gigs all while finishing my Matric year.

Texx: In your own words, what kind of music do you make?

I would love to say that my music is hard and true rock and roll, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I would describe my music as alternative, acoustic rock.

Texx: Sum up your live show in one short sentence?

Powerful and varied.

Texx: What’s been the highlight of your musical journey so far?

I have been incredibly lucky throughout my career as a musician in many ways, but especially due to my early start performing around Cape Town. This however, often meant that my friends and peers were unable to support me as they were underage and unable to attend the venues I had been playing. One of the highlights of my career has to be the first time my friends were able to come support me at a gig, the night after their valedictory. It was a feeling I hadn’t quite experienced before and gave me an energy and power in my performance that continues to drive me and my music.

Texx: What do you think you bring to the Final 5 that makes you stand out?

As the youngest and also only solo acoustic act I feel like I can provide an intimate but still powerful show to our audience at Band or Bust. This is different to the bigger bands I am competing against as I feel there is a more direct connection between myself and the audience.

Texx: Which act out of the Final 5 do you rate highly and why?

Champion Trees has an absolutely infectious energy and style that I thoroughly enjoy. All of the Final 5 acts are incredible and bring such variety and style to their music, but I definitely enjoy the feel of Champion Trees and am looking forward to seeing them perform.

Texx: Which part of the prize package is the most attractive to you and why?

The opportunity to record a single produced by Theo and Karen at Mothership Studios is absolutely the most attractive part of the prize package to me as I feel that I could learn so much. This would be an incredible chance to work with such talented producers and really curate the sound of my music.

Texx: If you could pick any of the judges to drink with who would you pick and why – and also what would we be drinking?

I would absolutely love to have a drink with Tecla as I greatly respect the work she has done as a music journalist throughout South Africa and I feel that it would be a great opportunity to pick her brain. I would love to be drinking a good South African Craft beer like Woodstock Brewery’s Happy Pills or something similar.