Written by Dee Theart (@deetheart)
Photography by The Famous Frouws
Once in a blue moon a new local music star arises and you simply know that the whole world will take note very quickly. Tailor (born Melanie le Roux) is such a local artist. Why? Because you aren’t able to pinpoint one international artist she sounds like or tries to imitate. Yes, you can identify elements in her voice and persona that reminds you of international female vocalists. Her strong independence is reminiscent of Florence Welch, while her voice contains elements of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Sinead O’Connor. The fact that Tailor cannot be categorised and boxed in makes her the most exciting thing to hit the SA music scene this year. Her debut album, “The Dark Horse” is epitomic of the direction quality local music is heading towards – utter unique brilliance.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
Anything from Hip Hop to Opera to Pop. I really just loved every type of genre and still do.
How did you come about to choose the stage name Tailor?
I was sitting on my bedroom floor next to some Chuck Taylor All Star shoes and the name just stood out. It just felt right, ’cause everything that I was doing was now tailor made for me.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Truthful, soulful and real – Dark Pop.
Tell us about the day Just Music informed you that they are interested to sign you.
I was social networking like any other day, promoting Tailor and I received the email from Just Music saying, “We watched the train station Susan video you posted on our Facebook page and we really dig what you do. Would you be interested in meeting with us in Johannesburg?” After reading the email, I jumped up and down like a small child before Christmas. I was super stoked … the rest is history.
So I’ve heard that half of the songs on the album were written in one day in studio. What do you think inspired all the amazing new songs you wrote on that magical day in studio?
I felt very blessed that day in studio. My heart was overflowing with joy and happiness and therefore I could write non-stop about other people’s experiences and life stories.
Are all your songs very personal and autobiographical?
No, my songs are not always about me. Most of the time I’m telling other peoples stories.
What is the overall message of your “The Dark Horse” album?
Let go of the past and live in the now, but most of all be true to yourself.
What do you hope for “The Dark Horse” to achieve?
Touch people’s lives in a positive way. Help them see that even though this album seems dark at times (just as in life things get difficult), each song has a positive message. In other words, you will get through your struggle and become a stronger person because of it.
Coming from a band, was it scary starting out as a solo artist?
No, it felt good not having a band. It’s very liberating to be doing this on my own as a solo artist.
Do you have a ritual that you do before going on stage or how do you prepare yourself emotionally?
I warm up my vocals and box in open air almost like a boxer going into a ring. It helps to get the blood flowing so that I don’t pass out from nerves.
What has been the best compliment you’ve received from a fan or critic?
One fan has told me that I have changed their life in such a good way that they can finally live again.
Is there a difference in your mind between Tailor and Melanie?
It’s still me, but Tailor is the side of me I don’t show off stage. Tailor is the performer, Mel is the writer.
Who would you say is the typical Tailor fan?
Everyday people. We all have issues and things we need to get over and deal with our past and our future. People who wear their hearts on their sleeves will appreciate my music.
What is in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
Touring as much as possible to promote the album.
Would you ever move overseas to pursue your career there if the opportunity arises?
I’ll make that decision when time comes. I’ll do whatever is best for my career.
What local and international artist/band would you love to collab with in the future?
Yoav and The National.
Tell us something funny about yourself that we don’t know yet.
I played “teacher-teacher” with imaginary children until I was in standard 5. I even dressed up like a teacher and had a teacher’s voice which I can still imitate until today.
Most embarrassing moment on stage (if any)?
Touch wood … nothing yet…
Tailor’s “The Dark Horse” album takes you on an emotional journey. If Tailor is frustrated, you automatically become frustrated; if she is sad, you are sad too. Tailor carries her heart on her sleeve with every song and invites the listener to be her companion on this rollercoaster voyage. The first track, “My Faith”, sets the overall eerie atmosphere evident on the entire album. Her first radio single, “Wolf”,showcases Tailor sweeter girly voice, but is nonetheless twisted and chilling. Tracks like “Why Don’t You Love Me”and “Step Back”confirms her amazing vocal ability, blended with a good dose ofbrutal anger.
The piano driven ballad, “Shaped Like A Gun” is tender, vulnerable and stripped-down to the core. Although the tracks “Indian”, “Ghosts” and “Love Anthem” do not contain the stereotypical happy-clappiness, they somewhat lift the mood amidst the overall dark and deep atmosphere with the use of the acoustic guitar. “Where The Boys Are” proves that Tailor can use her femininity and sensuality to her advantage and “Lucky Lucy” is an ode to her Grandma filled with beautiful nostalgia. The dark element is brought back again with “I’ve Tried” and the album ends on a slightly lighter note with the track, “Alive”. Be sure to listen out for the heart-warming bonus track.
The album was produced By Matthew Fink who has worked with bands like Shadowclub, and was mastered By Grammy award-winner Ted Jensen, responsible for albums from Coldplay and Muse. It has to be said, that although the album is filled with complexities and shadowy depths, it is not depressive. It is clear that Tailor has found an escape and an outlet creating this album, and this naturally shimmers through to the listener. Her diverse voice and musical talent is simply mind-blowing. It’s pretty obvious that Tailor will continue to leave us spellbound in years to come.