In pop music, bigger is better. That’s the view of fast-rising Kreuzberg singer and songwriter, Tara Nome Doyle.
Reflecting on her early musical start in life, the 22-year-old Berlin native says she took up the piano aged seven. This quickly evolved into covering singers such as Adele, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. “I just wanted to play cover songs. It seemed like fun,” she said. By 11, she was writing her own compositions. “I’m lucky that I started when I was very young. Writing music never seemed like a big deal.”
Listen closely and you can hear some of the blockbuster techniques employed by her idols appear in her own haunting tunes. “I do love the melodrama of a good pop song,” Tara admits with a laugh. “But I was no Christina Aguilera. The songs were just so epic. I had a gut feeling and I wanted my voice to sound natural.”
After becoming the go-to name for a wide array of Berlin artists, both live and in the studio, the bubbly singer has now moved centre stage, with the soulful songs that adorn her debut album, Alchemy. “I have a huge thing for the big tunes,” she says. “And not just for the sake of it. I really want to convey the emotions.”
Tara’s video for recent single, ‘Neon Woods’ is a fantastic example of her ability to conjure up a vibe. In her most elaborate production to date, she’s pictured roaming through a moody maze of urban walkways, parties and lifts as she croons enigmatically: “We watched the last train move to the streets / Like a caterpillar moves to Belize.” Shot with a 16mm Kodak Vision 3 in Berlin, the city provides a fitting background for her powerful singing and surreal lyrics.
Born to a Norwegian mother and an Irish father, Tara often spends her summers in Norway, writing some of her newest songs in a remote blueberry field. Returning to Germany, the backing tracks for Alchemy were laid down in a studio in Buch, while she recorded many of her vocal tracks in Kreuzberg.
Despite confessing to being an “introvert”, an ambitious German tour looms in March. Her transition from a bedroom chanteuse to headliner feels “weird”, she says. “When you’re backstage and see artists you listen to, nothing seems so distant anymore.” Nevertheless, she confesses that performing live is one of her greatest joys. “Live music is very special for me. It changes my mindset. I like to share that with other people. It’s both social and emotional – which is good for the brain.
“I really try and give everything I can. I hope people can feel the energy I feel when I perform. It’s very comforting to be out of control and let things happen. I get into a bubble where anything is allowed.”
Sharing is hardly proving difficult for Tara. She’s racked up more than 1.5million streams on Spotify with just a handful of tunes, while her videos have attracted hundreds of thousands of views. But despite these impressive numbers, she’s not getting ahead of herself. “Those are just numbers on a screen,” Tara says. “It doesn’t do anything for me. I’m honoured, but there’s a huge gap between streams and getting people to come to a gig. There’s no personal interaction in a stream.”
As for her upcoming German tour, Tara says, “I’m very honoured to be given this opportunity. Previously, when I’ve performed as a support act, my role was clear. Prove yourself. Win the crowd over.” While headlining gives her a whole new “freedom and confidence”, she adds, “I feel much more connected with the audience. They’ve come to see you. That’s amazing.”
Currently, her favourite venue to perform is closer to home – the Silent Green complex in Wedding. “It has great acoustics for singing. It both sounds and looks beautiful,” she said of the former crematorium.
With Alchemy only hitting shelves in late January, the consummate musician is already focussing on her next project. “It will have a different set of sounds,” she promises, “and be more theatrical.” That’s partly down to her recent singing lessons, which have “opened up different areas” of her voice, she says. “And it’s important to have a healthy way to sing.”
The future for Tara is looking very healthy, indeed.
Alchemy was released on January 24th.
Live: Roter Salon der Volksbühne, March 6th
Photos by Sonja Stadelmaier