23 year-old rising singer/songwriter Tanika is destined for big things in 2013. We introduced you to her back in December of 2012 and following the release of a number of viral videos, the south London-born beauty is due to release her official first single in April. We caught up with Tanika ahead of the release of her new video for Hooker Heels [feat. UK rapper Sneakbo] and her first single to talk about music, celebrity friends and her hopes for 2013.
Tanika! How are you today?
I’m good! I just had a huge lunch so I feel really good. A little tired but good! Happy to be here
Have you had a lot of interviews today?
LOADS! I’ve lost count, but it’s been amazing.
When I recorded it, I had been sent that song and it was different lyrics. The chorus is still the same. But when i heard the opening line “I’ve been running the streets,” I just wanted to write the rest of my story. So when I received it, I ended up co-writing the record and then recording it. Then I saw the visuals for the video and it had put a close friend of mine called Ham at the end, but the person who produced the video didn’t know that guy had anything to do with me. He just knew that the person was from Brixton and died, but I think that made me relate to the song even more; being able to say goodbye when you don’t want to i.e. To the “hood” and the stuff that’s going on in it.
Your first official single ‘Bad for You’ is coming in April. Who did you work with on that?
I wrote the song with a guy called MNEK and he produced it too. He’s incredible. From the first time I went in the studio with him, I fell in love with him and I continue to be in love with him because he’s incredible! I’ve never seen someone so… I can’t even comprehend it but it’s a pleasure to even have my first single with him because he’s just epic. I’m so appreciative to be able to work with him and continue to work with him. When we go in the studio and I come in hungover and a bit late, I don’t know why I always end up coming in late with him, but he’ll be like “I’ve got to go at 5.30!” And I’m like “OK, cool! I’ve got three hours.” And we just get it done! It’s an amazing song and I hope everyone else connects with it.
MNEK is also working with Mutya Keisha Siobhan (MKS) and it’s been rumoured that he’s produced their first single. Have you heard any of their material yet?
I’ve heard quite a bit from them actually. I know Keisha and Mutya well and I met Siobhan because I wrote with them but I’d know Keisha and Mutya from before that. I’ve heard a lot of their stuff and it’s wicked. I can just imagine what the hell MNEK has cooked up for them. He can go in the room with anyone, even if you can’t sing or write, you’re coming out with a smash because he just gets it out of you. He knows how to sing as well and I’ve actually featured on one of his songs, it sounds sick! I don’t want to speak too much about it because that’s for him to do, but I play it every day like it’s a Frank Ocean song!
You mentioned you’re friends with Keisha and Mutya plus you’ve become friends with MNEK. Would you say you have a lot of “celebrity” friends?
Yeah, I have a few “celebrity” friends, hypothetically speaking! [Laughs]
We heard you’re also friends with Emeli Sandé!
Yes! She’s touring in America at the moment, but she’s going to try to come back for my performance at ILUVLIVE. She’ll be back for the BRIT Awards anyway, so hopefully she can make it. Her mother is coming over to watch me.
(Emeli Sandé & Tanika at the BRIT Awards 2013)
Are you nervous about your ILUVLIVE performance?
I’m always nervous! When i did my first live performance, everyone came up to me and said “No, that wasn’t your first performance, I don’t believe you!” I was like “Do you know how much I was shaking!?” I was walking up the steps and thinking “Tanika! Don’t F this up!” and when you’re on stage your mouth goes dry and… Yeah, I’m nervous but I’m really excited at the same time to even get the opportunity to now let everyone know what I’m about and who I am. It’s just me, my vocals and my emotions!
How did your friendship come back?
Well, Emeli was published by a guy that’s looking after me called Riki. He put me in with a session with her and from that day we just built a friendship. I literally love her! She helps me, she inspires me, if I’m feeling in a place where I don’t want to write or I’m just getting frustrated at what’s going on, I just message her. She’ll be like “its ok mama! It’s ok!” It’s just incredible to watch what she’s achieved and it’s so surreal, just like it’s surreal for her, it’s the same for me.
Did you attend her wedding?
I did! I got to go.
Let’s talk about you now! You’ve got your viral video Casualty with UK rapper DVS out at the moment. What has the response been like so far?
It’s gone down really well! The video’s got around 14,000 views now and it’s been out for a month. I can’t really complain. The response has been really good; I’ve had people say to me “Oh your vocals sound really good on it!” I did the song so long ago it’s shocking to see people’s reactions to it now. Casualty is actually one of my older songs that I’d written and listening to the songs I wrote back then to what I’m doing now it’s totally different. It’s still a vibe though, I love the song and I love the energy. It’s amazing that people even have a connection with me because when you do music, it’s a gift and a curse, you don’t know if anyone is going to connect with you. You just go in fearless because if you like it, you like it. If you don’t, there’s nothing I can do. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not or write something that I don’t dig.
What would you say has been your favourite album of the last year?
It’s got to be ‘Our Version of Events.’ To me, it’s got to be Emeli Sandé. And the creation of my album. I listen to myself a lot and if I don’t want to pump my song any more I think “Oh, I’m not sure about this one!” But I didn’t really listen to a lot of other albums last year apart from Emeli. I had heard those songs over and over again for god knows how long, but when the album came out it was like I had just heard it all over again.
Do you have any further collaboration planned?
We’re trying to get someone on ‘Bad for You,’ but I don’t want to give it away yet. Hopefully, if Thoughts of Love and Hooker Heels does what it needs to do in regards to getting things tight and packaged right then we’ll get that person, but for the rest of the year, I’m trying to give Tanika. It’s easy for someone else to come and get you a buzz; it’s easy for Tinie Tempah or someone like him to jump on a track but I’m trying to establish Tanika and have a connection with me. I ‘d love to work with Sia though. Her and Emeli in my opinion are the two best writers right now. James Blake, his whole sound, his lyrics, his writing… Just out of this world. And I 100% need a summer tune with Wiley. “I wanna see an Ice Cream van on the road.” I can’t comprehend how sick he is! I can’t be pissed off, hear Wiley and still be upset. It’s not possible!
Are you looking to tour this year or is it going to be just gigs?
Hopefully! I’m supporting Joe Budden on March 13 and that’s going to be crazy. But it really depends on where we’re at when the single is released in April. But I think the general aim is to get my music out there and performing and getting Tanika known for 2013 so when next year arrives it’s not like “Oh, who is this girl?” It’s “Oh my gosh, where’s your music?”
What do you want people to take from your music?
If I want people to get anything from me, it would probably be honesty. If I’m writing a fun song, I’m literally having fun; I’m picturing myself in that moment or I’ve been in that moment. I don’t write for the sake of it. If I’m writing a sad song, I’m sad. If it’s a love song, I’m 100% loved up or someone around me is and I’m inspired to write about it. I heard an amazing saying and it’s “Music is what feelings sound like” so if you’re listing to my music, and you can or can’t relate I just want you to tap into that place and feel it. Like a Bob Marley vibe or Adele. You might be happy as Larry in your relationship but when you heard ‘Someone Like You’ you wanted to cry because you felt it. If anything, I want people to hear my music and just feel it.
What are you looking forward to in 2013?
I’m really looking forward to getting my music out there and just growing! I’m going to be 24 this year, my son is growing older, I’m looking forward to making my mother proud and my sisters happy. I’m looking forward to everyone who believes in me and anyone who ever believed in me to be able to look at me and say “I told you so!”
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