The Tracks That Influenced MC Tali

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mc tali influences

Alongside a digital release, world-renowned drum & bass MC Tali has just released a documentary around her legacy and groundbreaking 2004 album ‘Lyric on My Lip’.

MC Tali captures her achievements and the impact the record had on the electronic music dance scene in the early 2000s through the documentary, with a range of names including DJ Marky, DRS, Bryan Gee, Roni Size and more helping to showcase the story of one of the few females MCs in the industry at the time.

First released on Bristol-based Full Cycle Records, one of the most important drum & bass labels of all time, the New Zealand native Tali made her mark and this can be seen across the documentary’s entirety.

To celebrate, we caught up with Tali and she chronicled the ten tracks which ignited her love for music and helped spark her decades-long, and multi-award-winning, career within the world of music.

Soul II Soul – Get A Life

It was hard to pick between this, Grace Jones, Sade and Neneh Cherry. All these British vocalists were hugely influential on me and my singing style. I finally went with this song because I remember being captivated by the message Jazzy B raps about, and the snippets of London scenery you see in the music video… This is what set me on a love affair with the idea of one day living in London.

Tricky – Overcome

Whenever I hear this tune I am instantly transported back to the first time I listened to it. A friend in my Drama group at University had just bought the album and was raving about it. He lent me the CD and I took it home to my little student flat in Wellington and listened to it with the lights down low. The whole album blew me away, but this song, in particular, has such moody, cinematic vibes.. it appeals to this side of my personality. Special mentions to Massive Attack and Portishead who all introduced me to the ‘Bristol sound’.

Goldie – Inner City Life

One of the first Drum n Bass tunes I ever fell in love with. It conjured up images of driving through London, staring out the window at the buildings and lights, underground raves and cobbled streets in East London. I hadn’t been to London yet when I heard this song, but I could see it all so clearly in my mind. A beautiful orchestral tune with Diane Charlemagne’s voice rising above it all.

Reprazent – Brown Paper Bag

When I first heard this track I was mesmerised by the funk!! That double bass line, and Dynamite’s lyrics, the Oohhhhhhh from Onnalee that signalled the drop. My friends and I were mad for this track, and I was fascinated by how this was also a brand of the “Bristol sound’ albeit a Drum and Bass one. I thought that city must have magic in the water!

Burial – Archangel

I used to listen to this on the bus or the tube in London on my way home. It reminds me of when I lived in Hackney. Again its layered, scratchy, cinematic vibes appeal to me so much… When I’m listening to music in my ears like this and out and about, everything feels like a film set and the music the film score.

SBTRKT feat Little Dragon – Wild Fire

I chose this tune because it features two of my favourite artists SBTRKT and Little Dragon. It’s such a weird and warped sounding tune, super engaging and experimental in production and vocal delivery. Special mention must go to Sampha whom I also love and who was inspiring me around the time this came out too.

Kwabs – Perfect Ruin

To me, this is the perfect ballad. Every time I hear his voice, that glassy piano and the driving drums it cuts me like a knife. I cried the first time I heard this tune.

The Weeknd – House Of Balloons/Glass Table Girls

My husband and I used to have this medley of tunes on repeat. An amazing cover of Happy House by Siouxsie and the Banshees, combined with a menacing, super sexy drawling track in Glass Table Girls. As someone so eloquently puts it in the comments – This tune makes you feel what taking drugs might be like, even if you never have.

Vinicius Honorio – Desolate

I am actually a bit of a Techno fan. I like hard industrial Techno, the kind that sounds like a rubbish bin being hit with a steel bar. This tune has the right combination of that, with an excellent vocal sample, and a slight whiff of funk in the background.

Skeptical – Imperial

If Drum and Bass were a Techno tune it would be this track. That might sound a bit weird but read my above description of the kind of Techno I like and then listen to this track. Menacing, driving, cinematic… whenever I play this in the car, I catch myself speeding. Special mention to Kiril and his track ‘Minimal Instinkt’ which has the exact same effect.

Hannah Helbert
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