First times, green rooms, etc
My dearest darling love.
I’m sitting in a green room in Brussels. It smells like cigarettes. My mask is mercifully helping it smell less like cigarettes.
The beautiful sound of people laughing and enjoying each other in the next green room over wafting in like sunlight. So many people I love in that green room. For now I’m here, writing to you. And I am so grateful to be doing so.
I’m a little out of breath. I’m extremely emotional. I’m a little stunned.
I’m feeling all the feelings because I played six of the album’s song’s for the first time today. 16 minutes ago, to be exact, at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels.
José invited me to play opening sets on the shows in Brussels and Amsterdam, and tonight (today, accounting for matinee vibes), was the first time anyone has heard these songs. I’ll play another set in a couple of hours.
There was no time to prepare for this moment, because as you well know I have zero minutes on earth to myself (she says, typing a taalitalk about eight seconds after walking off stage). That meant I needed ringers in the band. I hired Tisha Smit, that epic student from the pop school we’ve talked about, on bass and background vocals. I found superstar drummer James Williams through mutual friends in Belgium. James and I met 2 hours ago.
Despite the lack of preparation it just … worked. I think maybe I’ll be able to talk about it more later. It’s hard for me to be sincere about feelings this pure, even while typing.
(But please know it was lovely.)
At the end of the set there’s a song, tentatively called “Ticket to Anywhere,” that I’ve been dreaming of playing for Europe.
It ends in clapping. On the album, it’s my brother Avram clapping. Tonight the audience clapped along.
They clapped along! They sounded so good!
It was beautiful.
It was beautiful.
It was beautiful.
The song is about leaving New York, or leaving places that ground us, whatever that might mean for the listener. Places we can’t imagine leaving. It’s about taking the terrifying, essential leap to believe in yourself. To believe in your partnership, your talent, whatever it is that you’re betting on.
To just … go for it.
And there is nothing, nothing to encapsulate how it felt when the Belgian audience knew to clap along with me at the end. I bit back tears and I finished the show.
Now I’m here writing to you, in the cigarette smelling room. I can weep now, there’s no audience to see me.
(Just me and you.)
Speaking of, we didn’t talk about Taali Talk gratitude last week. So let’s fracking do it.
Taali Talk started from a photo that I posted of my Savta.
It was November 2020.
At the time, I hadn’t posted on Instagram in a really long time. I was feeling out of sorts with the platform, which is a way I often feel.
(If not always.)
The world was on hold, maybe forever. We had put so much work in to Rainbow Blonde. 2020 was supposed to be this wildly triumphant year. Instead, in November we were living in my parent’s house, unsure if we were going to get a visa to Amsterdam. The outlook, as the song says, was decidedly blue.
It was November 2020. And I was just … out of gas.
Out of gas doesn’t really work in social media, which, as we’ve discussed, is not my medium of choice (for that among many other reasons).
Truly. I’ve never enjoyed posting pretty pictures of myself, even at the height of my accidental influencer phase. I’ve been fighting my whole life to be taken seriously for my intellect rather than my looks. Instagram is worst fucking nightmare status for a gal like that.
But the music business has taught me that I have to, and the pressure was enormous.
(Find a pretty picture, at the worst moment in your life!)
(Or, perhaps, you’d like to be performatively “honest!”)
(Write a post about how bad you feel, but make sure to put a question at the end, a call to action so that your followers engage!)
Still we’re all prey to this thing that makes money off us staying on it. There’s no getting out of it, either you’re on it or you aren’t. And I am. So, if nothing else, I had to keep the algorithm going.
I didn’t have any pretty pictures of myself left, so I chose to post a picture of my Savta. An absolute queen among mere mortals. Part of why I stayed so vigilant through 2020 was so that I could keep seeing her.
I posted a picture of my Savta. I sang her praises. And I asked a question: “Instagram is silly and necessary but ... Thinking of starting a mailing list on th’ol emails ... thaughtz?”
The responses were overwhelming.
I think I got 100 dms. Maybe more. And as a good millenial, I am nothing if not a sucker for positive reenforcement. Starved for love and connection, this felt like a life raft in the middle of a stormy ocean.
So I got to work.
I sat at my desk, surrounded by my plants in my parent’s house. I combed through the dms for ideas I liked about what I could write about. The first post was called, “Here we go, y’all.”
I didn’t really know where we were headed.
I didn’t really know what we were doing.
I just knew that I missed you.
It was November 2020. I was listening to Sufjan Stevens. I was dreaming of something I couldn’t imagine yet.
I hoped we’d grow.
(I didn’t realize we’d grow to where we have.)
I hoped Europe would work out.
(I didn’t realize I’d be playing to a sold out room in Belgium just over a year later.)
I hoped, I wrote, I reached out.
And now we’re here.
November 2021. There are so many of us! A lot of you have chosen to become paying subscribers, and I am deeply grateful for this support. I love that your support comes the way I need it to, which means simply support, no perks or anything. Whether you pay to subscribe or not, you get the same ttalk every week.
And I love each and every one of you.
More than anything, I love this space we’ve created. You have kept me alive all year. You have helped me build this perfect, perfect, non social media space.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here’s to another year of every Sunday.
More next week.