Interview: Electro-Pop Songstress TABOR Drops Creeping Ballad "Her"
If you haven't heard of TABOR yet, you're missing out, but don't worry: she's making major waves in the electro-pop world. After garnering a loyal fanbase for her YouTube covers, the Canadian-born, Los Angeles based songstress has been hammering out original tracks that will take your breath away. TABOR's tunes are heavy and poignant, blending eerie piano rhythms with otherworldly electronic elements for a mesmerizing sonic collaboration. On her new single "Her," TABOR stuns with matured vocals and expert production.
"Her" opens immediately with TABOR's drowsy alto droning, "She walks in wearing perfectly distressed jeans / And the most perfect fitted white t-shirt that I have ever seen." A steady piano beat rings beneath her vocals, growing with urgency as dazzles of percussion chime in. A minute into the track, TABOR delivers a passionate performance, revealing a rich vulnerability as breathy harmony and a low growl move through the wailing arrangement. The lyrical content is tough to consume, focusing on the insecurity that manifests inside ourselves upon recognizing our envy of another person. This raw emotion is obvious in TABOR's songwriting, but her vocal performance is also a stunning representation of such a complicated, taxing feeling. Her distinct voice is a vehicle for expression, thoughtfully conveying the trajectory from resignation to desperation to shame and pain, all in just over five minutes. Beyond the lyrical and vocal success is the instrumentation: deep, throbbing pulses of dark electronica tremble anxiously while the piano offers a stable bittersweet base, especially towards the end of the song when layers of shimmering percussion and howling guitars merge for a frenzy of dizzying rhythms.
On her newest single, TABOR gorgeously weaves a relatable tale of insecurity in the most vulnerable, honest, and devastating way. The result is an exceptional electro-pop ballad packed with details that make this track an obsession for the ages.
Listen to "Her" right here and read on for an exclusive interview with TABOR below:
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
TABOR: When I was 15, I basically just decided overnight that I wanted to be a singer. I had seen a few people posting covers on YouTube and thought it was so cool. I sat down with my untuned guitar and filmed myself singing my favorite songs (with my unmade bed in the background, of course). After a very slow start, my YouTube channel started to grow and I began connecting with people all over the world. As much fun as I had doing covers, writing and recording original music was always my main passion. I spent most of the past year writing and producing new music, and in May of 2017, decided to take down all of my old content and reveal [my original work as] TABOR.
The Music Mermaid: You were born in Canada but are now developing your career in Los Angeles. How do these music scenes differ and how have they inspired your work?
TABOR: There are pros and cons to both places, but in my experience, LA has a little more of an “every man for himself” type of vibe whereas Canadians seems a bit more supportive of one another. I love that Canadian radio stations and music platforms put focus on Canadian music. Los Angeles can feel over-saturated because there are so many people trying to do the same thing but there are also so many opportunities and resources here. Overall, I love being in LA at the moment but have a lot of admiration and respect for the Canadian music scene.
The Music Mermaid: You got your start posting acoustic covers on YouTube -- what do you love about covers vs. originals?
TABOR: Like I said, originals will always be my favorite but when it comes to covers, I really like taking songs that are completely unexpected and putting my own spin on them. It’s really fun to take rap songs or cheesy pop songs from the 90s and try to revamp them in a new way. I’m currently working on a dark, moody sounding cover of "Blue" by Eiffel 65 (yes, the “I’m blue da ba dee...” song) and I’m so excited about it!
The Music Mermaid: In what ways has your music evolved since you first started posting YouTube covers?
TABOR: I think the main difference between when I first started vs. where I’m at now is that I currently feel a lot less limited as to what I can and can’t do. I used to be really fearful about experimenting with different sounds or writing styles. I used to take everyone’s opinions very seriously and while I really value the importance of accepting help, I’m much less of a people-pleaser now. I still spend lots of Friday nights singing in my bedroom with my guitar but have also opened my mind to way more types of music and sources of inspiration.
The Music Mermaid: How has social media supported your music career?
TABOR: I think my music career would be nonexistent without social media. It has allowed me to connect with people that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. It has obviously helped with views, followers, and that kind of thing but more importantly, it’s given me a sense of connection. There have been times where the only thing that inspired me to keep making music or even to get out of bed in the morning was knowing there was someone out there that liked my music or related to how I was feeling.
The Music Mermaid: Can you talk about the production process behind your newest single, “Her”?
TABOR: The song starts off with an almost uncomfortable amount of focus on the vocals. I wanted it to feel really vulnerable and direct. There's a big contrast between the verses which are pretty bare and laid-back, and the chorus which is much more aggressive. I wanted a really intense ending and that’s where the big, dramatic guitar solo comes in. After recording it, one of us said “Perfect. Now let’s reverse it,” (one of our frequent bad jokes in the studio AKA my living room) but we actually did and it sounded even cooler. When I first started this project, I was so against having guitars on the tracks... now the giant reverse guitar solo is one of my favorite parts of any of my songs. Who would have guessed?
The Music Mermaid: What are the major themes in your songwriting?
TABOR: Lately, my writing has been really personal and the most vulnerable it’s ever been. I basically like to write about all my fears and insecurities. I write a lot about growing up and feeling lost, about time, and about feeling alone. Sometimes I write about relationships depending on where I’m at but most of my focus has gone towards self-reflection and the relationship I have with myself.
The Music Mermaid: If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be and why?
TABOR: I’d probably have to go with Lil Wayne. I’ve been moderately obsessed with him since I was 13 and I’m a sucker for a pop song with a good rap feature. James Blake would be a close second.
The Music Mermaid: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to know about?
TABOR: 1. Aairicia: Her voice is gorgeous and she has really cool production. To me, her music is pop music done right. Not to mention, she’s also Canadian! 2. T M T: An extremely talented songwriter and a personal friend of mine from Toronto. His song "Moonchimes" is heavenly. 3. EXES: Perfect for when you need to get wrapped up in your feelings and cry about your first love.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for TABOR?
TABOR: More of everything! I’m itching to play these songs live but I'm also writing lots of new music that I hope to start releasing in early 2018.