You wouldn’t necessarily pair grunge and pop as two musical styles that fit well together, but Los Angeles-based artist talker has proven that they certainly do. talker derives her moniker from her given name, Celeste Tauchar and the fact that people have always misspelled or mispronounced her last name. Her earliest musical influences ranged from Nirvana and Alanis Morisette to Led Zeppelin which she discovered through her parents. Throughout her youth, she dealt with her discomfort in displaying her true artistic self to others. She found that music helped her in discovering her true identity which led her to join the electro-pop group Frenship in which she played keys and sang background vocals.
This led to lots of touring, including sets at Lollapalooza, Life is Beautiful and Bonnaroo. From there, she branched off into doing her own solo work which has led her to this point in time. We spoke with talker about her career, her youth, her time in Frenship and her newest music. If you’d like to buy talker’s latest single “Intimidated,” you can do so right here.
Tell me a little bit about your history with music. How’d you get started? talker: This question really could have so many answers. I’ve played music my entire life, for as long as I can remember. My parents are both musical and my dad started giving me piano lessons when I was four years old. From there it just kept building, adding on new instruments and new fascinations in music.
talker just released her latest track “Intimidated.” Check it out!
You’re a multi-instrumentalist; can you talk a bit about what instruments you play and when you learned them? talker: Yeah! So like I said I started playing piano at four. When I was six years old I started playing guitar, but I was really mainly just teaching myself and dicking around with it. I started playing the cello a couple years later because I had to pick an orchestral instrument for school, and that actually stuck. That really helped me grow as a musician and I still play my cello from time to time - it’s so much fun. It wasn’t until I moved to L.A. after college that I really started messing around with the world of MIDI and what you can do with different keyboards and DAW setups, so that’s been something I’ve been getting more into as I shape my own sound and play for other artists.
What’s your songwriting process like? talker: It varies a lot. I’ll usually start with either a random melody or an overall lyrical concept. When I have a lyrical concept I’ll just start taking it as far as I can go and writing out a bunch of different lyrical ideas and poetry to see what happens. When I’m in a really good creative flow it’s nonstop. But when I’ve been mainly focusing on releasing music and working the business side of it, sometimes it’s a bit more of a deliberate process. I was writing a new song the other day and spent about two hours banging my head against the wall trying to come up with a chorus melody!
How has learning all those different instruments impacted your approach to songwriting? talker: This is actually a great question and one I haven’t been asked before in an interview! I think there’s good and bad to learning an instrument well, at least when it comes to songwriting. Knowing theory and the “rules” of everything on keys can be great because I know what combinations might sound good, what naturally will just work. But on guitar, because I’m self-taught, a lot of the time I don’t use very good technique or use a super weird pattern because I don't know the right way to do it. But that usually ends up sounding cool as hell and really different. I try to balance out using them equally so I never get stuck in too much of a rut either way.
Who are your biggest musical influences? talker: There are honestly so many artists that influence me for different reasons, so it’s hard to just narrow this into a simple answer. I draw a ton of inspiration from Ben Gibbard’s lyricism. There’s such a visual, poetic way he phrases things, turning the simplest scenario into an epic saga. Queen are a huge influence for me because as a performer, albeit with a completely different vibe, I am always left in absolute awe-inspired tears watching any live video of Freddie Mercury. And as a former choir nerd, A Night at the Opera has to be one of my favorite albums of all time. “The Prophet’s Song” makes me want to quit music because I’ll never write anything that good. I’m obviously super inspired by ‘90s grunge - Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole....that’s like my go-to music when I’m just listening for fun and catharsis.
When did you start doing live performances? talker: I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember! I’m a pretty understated person in normal life, but I feel super comfortable onstage and love performing more than any other aspect of being a musician. But obviously, those performances have looked different over the years as I’ve developed my sound and what I’m going for with this new project. Talker, as it is today, didn’t come together until this past summer.
How does your artistic approach change for live shows compared to studio work? talker: I think I’m less afraid for live shows. Not to say that I’m afraid in the studio by any means, but I think on a recording there’s less forgiveness for any raw, less-than-perfect sound. People want that from a live performance, though. You can just completely let go and let yourself feel and fall apart onstage. I definitely try to let my emotions completely consume me and just not worry at all when I’m doing a live performance. I’m definitely more meticulous and objective with my studio work.
Check out a few exclusive pics of Talker killing it live!
Did you ever have an “ah-hah” moment with music or performing that inspired you to fully commit to pursuing music full time? talker: I actually didn’t, because I’ve always planned to pursue music full time. It’s a really crazy and difficult thing, but I feel super lucky because so many people my age still don’t know what they want to do, or spend years trying to do something comfortable instead of pursuing their passions that they really want to do. I’m really lucky to have supportive parents who always pushed me to perform, go to music school, move to L.A.
Can you talk a bit about your new single “Intimidated?” talker: I could honestly go on forever about “Intimidated.” I’m super proud of it. In L.A. there’s this world of doing writing sessions with people all the time and writing with a ton of different people and just doing a lot of stuff that can work for synch and licensing, pitch for other artists, etc. And I honestly do really enjoy doing that, but I was getting a bit burnt out on only doing that and not really just sitting down and writing out my feelings alone in my room like I used to when I was a kid. With this song, I was having a really emotional couple of weeks and just let myself feel and not overthink anything. I wasn’t writing with any purpose, and I wasn’t trying to be commercial or to make the song “work” for anything. And what came out was a really honest, raw, cathartic song that is my favorite song I’ve written to date. And I think it shows.
How do you utilize the past work of your musical influences in your own songwriting while also fostering an individual sound? talker: I think the key to this is honestly just not overthinking anything. We all have so many influences and music we keep coming back to, and you’re naturally going to be influenced by everything you listen to and love. The key is to not try to sound like it. And to also not try to sound like yourself. Just write what feels good and feels natural to you, and that’s going to be some sort of combination of your influences and your own individuality. It’s definitely easier said than done as I’m a textbook overthinker, but I do think that’s the key.
Talker released a new music video for “Collateral Damage” this past summer.
Which of your influences would you say contributed the most to your creative process while writing “Intimidated?” talker: I guess any of my more songwriting-centric influences, like Ben Gibbard who I mentioned, and then a lot of my old emo obsessions definitely came into play a lot for that big ending section. But I definitely spent a lot of time with the lyrics on this one and focused a lot on that.
How do you maintain your affinity for grunge music while also creating a sound that still connects with mainstream audiences in the pop-era? talker: I think it’s really just the same thing I was talking about earlier. Just writing what’s true to me, because I do definitely write with a pop sensibility and listen to a lot of pop music, but continuing to listen to grunge and rock all the time and just let it naturally flow into my writing when it wants to.
What has your experience been like touring with artists like Frenship? talker: I’ve learned so much from touring. I was so so green and inexperienced when I started with Frenship, and I definitely have been through the ringer a bit now when it comes to touring and just the culture of playing bigger shows and working with larger teams. It’s definitely different on a case by case basis, but it’s been a really amazing journey and some of the most valuable friendships and relationships I’ve made are from touring. Plus it’s just fun to be on the road and play music in a different city every night, as exhausting as it may be.
You were a finalist in the national Guitar Center songwriting contest. What was that experience like? How did you go about entering? What was the timeline before and after becoming a finalist? talker: Oh wow, this was so long ago! It was great. It was a whirlwind because the actual thing was like two days. I just entered online on their website with a couple little videos I made and had friends vote and share the videos. I'd say it took like three months for me to find out I was even a finalist, and then it was just a couple weeks until all the finalists came together and performed at the Troubadour. That was a great experience though. It was kind of hilarious because it's very American Idol, very like, "wow this is Hollywood and you've made it now. This is every day in L.A.!" That said, the whole team was really great, and I've actually kept in touch with some of the other finalists from my year and have some good friends in L.A. because of it.
“Changes” is another recent release from Talker that we’re sure you’ll love!
What are your short and long term goals as an artist and performer? talker: Short term is to just keep putting out music, playing shows, and growing my following. If I can just keep growing and making more relationships and playing bigger shows, I’ll be happy. But long term I definitely want to take it all the way. With Talker, I’m definitely playing the long game and don’t plan on having it be a little one-hit blip (of course I have to have a hit first for that!). I want to have longevity and ultimately be headlining festivals and putting out records.
Which artist would be your dream tour collaboration? talker: God I’m obsessed with Dave Grohl and would love to open for Foo Fighters. I saw this band Starcrawler at School Night in L.A. like a year ago, and they’ve been getting a ton of good press and have been promoted really well, and they actually opened a couple dates for them. So it can happen! But that’s really just like the “I’ve been a huge fan of you since I was a kid” type of thing. Really, I’d absolutely love to tour with Wolf Alice. They’re a huge inspiration for me and they’re just cool as hell. I wanna be friends with them.
Are there any releases coming up that you’d like to talk about? Performances? talker: For sure! I’m playing my first tour date up in Walla Walla, Washington on December 7th opening for Yoke Lore, which is super random but also incredibly exciting. On December 11th, I’m playing a free show in L.A. at Madame Siam in Hollywood. But basically all of this is culminating an EP which I’m going to put out in late January/early February, and there will definitely be more music and more shows surrounding that. You’re about to see a lot of me.
Final thoughts? talker: Just want to say thanks for hanging and talking with me! Really excited about the future and want to just keep making as much music as I can.