Tarah Who?

Hard rock trio Tarah Who? joins us at trendy cafe Art + Science in Pasadena to discuss their latest release 64 Women, gender biases in the music industry, and the importance of personal connection between bandmates.

Tarah Who? is comprised of:

Tarah G. Carpenter – lead vocals, guitar 
Coralie Hervé – drums, background vocals
Joey Southern – bass, background vocals

So, you guys have recently released your long-awaited EP, 64 Women. Wanted to say, “Congrats!” Would you care to give a little bit of a sneak peek as to what the listeners should be expecting when they take a listen?

Tarah G. Carpenter: So the title, 64 Women, let’s start with that. As you can probably tell from our accents, Coco and I are not American, we’re from France. A few years ago, before I had my papers sorted out, I was coming back to the US and the officer at immigration had for some reason thought that I had overstayed my visa. They took me to an immigration jail in Downtown L.A., I stayed there overnight, and then they sent me back home the next day. But while I was in that jail, I talked to some of the women, and they told me that they were 64 women in there with me. I cannot share everybody’s stories from that experience speaking with them, but this EP is for them and that’s why the cover is of women. For Tarah Who?, none of the albums or EPs that we’ve done have had a theme. This was completely autobiographical, an ongoing story of whatever I was going through or the life events that we had heard about. “Numb Killer” for instance, is about the terrorist attack in Manchester. “Hurt” is about a friendship that turned into a betrayal. “Linger” is about boredom. “Copycat” is about actually wanting to be yourself and focusing on doing the things that you want to do instead of doing the things that other people do. “Umbilicus” is basically about when you’re surrounded by people who are just oblivious to their responsibility and their behavior.

I’m sure we all know someone like that. *all laugh*

Tarah: Right!? They think that their problems are everybody’s problems, and they just put all of that on you. It just ends up being a fun song where you end up screaming like, ‘I’m not your mother! Go deal with your own stuff!’ *laughs*

Joey Southern: We officially released it Friday, March 8th, and it’s available on Spotify, Soundcloud, everywhere on the social…

Tarah: Also available at our shows.

Joey: Yes, also available at our shows. 64 Women is special to me because it was my first recording with the band officially.

Coco Hervé: Actually, this was the first EP that I recorded with Tarah Who? as well. *laughs* I had the chance to record the drums with Thomas Lang, who is like the master. That was a really cool experience, and he’s really cool. For mixing and producing, we did it with Jason Orme. He’s a guitar player of Alanis Morissette, and he did the lead guitar in all the songs. It was really cool to meet him, and to work with him.

Tarah: And Matt Peltcher!

Coco: And Matt! *laughs*

Tarah: We also had a friend from Argentina come in as a last second thing. I was like, ‘Hey, are you available? Do you wanna scream at our EP?’ He said ‘yes,’ so we picked him up, brought him in, and he totally improvised the backing vocals. It was really fun, and it sounded good. At least we think. *laughs*

Oh it does, don’t worry! Well, it sounds like you guys did a lot of relationship building during the making of this EP. How did all of you guys meet?

Coco: Good question! *laughs* I joined the band in the summer 2017, so it’s only been a little bit over a year now. I came to America in 2016 in September to study at the Musician’s Institute, and I was already friends on Facebook with Tarah, but we had never met. I think we had common friends in France. But yeah, I messaged her to say, ‘Hey! I’m coming to L.A. I really don’t know what I’m expecting. Do you have info about where I can see live music and stuff like that?’ She responds to me and everything, and then almost a year after that, she came back to me when she was looking for a drummer for her band. So yeah, that started like that! *laughs*

All because of Facebook!

Coco: Yeah! Facebook!

Joey: Yes, speaking of Facebook. I was literally in a rehearsal with another band when I get this Facebook message that says, ‘Hi, I’m Tarah! Do you wanna check out my music?’ I was just like, ‘Is this spam? Do I gotta pay money?’ *laughs* I didn’t think much of it, so I put back my phone and went on with my day. A couple of days later, I checked out the music because I just realized, ‘Wait, why not? Why not listen? What’s my problem?’

I mean, we do have a bot problem nowadays. It’s understandable to be a little hesitant. *laughs*

Joey: Exactly! *laughs* So yeah, I responded to her message, and within a few days of meeting I learned some songs, and then, like, two weeks later we went on our first tour together from San Diego to Seattle and back. We’re currently on our third tour right now! But yeah, it’s been one crazy year all thanks to Facebook. *laughs* And also Tarah‘s determination.

Tarah: I also found myself on Facebook. *all laugh* I’m kidding. For Joey, it was two weeks before we went on tour, and our previous bass player had quit the band for personal reasons. I started messaging a bunch of bass players on Facebook, social media, whatever, and I was just looking everywhere for a replacement. By the time I reached out to Joey, I was very tired of sending messages, so I was very direct. I was like, ‘Hi, my name is Tarah. This my music. If you’re interested, hit me back.’ *laughs* And he actually did! And then he asked me, ‘So, what’s the deal?’

Joey: I was like, ‘Oh yeah! Tell me more!’ And I end up getting this big long paragraph like, *raspberry noises* I was like, ‘Oh, she’s written this before!

Tarah: No! *laughs*

She was totally inspired and in moment with her response! *laughs*

Tarah: I was actually on the bathroom when I responded back. *all laugh*

Joey: It was like this laundry list of expectations that were perfectly reasonable for being in a professional band, you know? ‘Respect my time and I respect yours’ kind of thing.

You were like, ‘Oh she’s serious all right!’ *laughs*

Coco: Well the thing is, the three of us moved to L.A. to pursue music. There’s a time when you learn a lot, you meet a bunch of people, you think everything’s working out, but then time passes by and you realize nothing is actually happening. I mean, now we’re fine, but I was just tired of dealing with the people with big egos, or the ones that just want it for fame and don’t really care about the music. They say that they want those things, but everything must be done for them. That’s not what music is about. There’s so much more than just showing up on stage and doing what you do. It’s also really hard to find people who you can connect with not only musically, but also when you’re on tour and independent. If you don’t get along, it’s gonna be a long trip.

And the tension would be very noticeable in live performances.

Tarah: Exactly, exactly! It was very funny, on our first tour, *points to Joey* he had just joined the band ten days before we left, and we didn’t even think about what kind of guy he might be. At one point, Coco and I were like, ‘Well look at that! He’s not crazy!’ *all laugh*

Coco: We didn’t know him.

Tarah: Yeah, we don’t know him! Luckily, he’s actually the opposite of crazy, he’s a perfect gentleman, and he’s a great bass player. Everything worked out. Both of them learned the songs, and the thing is, not only did they learn the songs, but they’re so good at what they do, that we can go beyond that. It’s not just playing one song after another that they learn from an EP. We actually go into live edits apart from trying to entertain. The first thing that people said and noticed was, ‘How long have you guys been together?’ or ‘How long have you guys been playing together?’ And we’re like, ‘Well, actually, Joey just joined like ten days ago.’ And then they would be like, ‘Oh my god, what? You guys have such good chemistry!’ And after those two weeks, it’s really hard to come back from a tour. And it was just instant that we just became a family. It’s not quantity in time, it’s definitely the quality. Every tour, we’re just getting bigger, better, and stronger. Like Daft Punk! *laughs*

Courtesy of YouTube

Daft Punk, if you’re reading this, you’re an inspiration! *all laugh* Now going back to the EP, you had mentioned that the Manchester bombing in 2017 had inspired “Numb Killer” to be born. Why did you choose this track to be your lead single for the EP?

Tarah: I think it’s a powerful song. Also, we do music to hopefully inspire people. And if there’s a message that gives people some time to think, then I think it’s great! This song is primarily about the Manchester attack, but for instance, in the U.S., there are all of these internal terrorist attacks, with guns. Again, Coco and I are French, we don’t have guns. We’re not judging whatever people think of guns, but people really need to stop hurting each other. That’s the kind of the message that we wanted to give out because we thought it was important at this time.

Coco: I also think it’s a song that’s more ‘mainstream’ than other songs that we can have. We kind of wanted to have more people interested in our music by listening to this song first.

Joey: Yeah. It’s very direct, and something that I think music listeners need right now. We also have a music video for it available on YouTube. It’s not too graphic, but it still has a lot of really powerful imagery, almost a little slap in the face saying ‘Hey, we’re here!’ There’s purpose behind this. It’s not just music, it’s not just fun, it’s more than that.

That’s why music is such a universal connector, because people do relate to these heavy hitting topics. Not a whole lot of artists like to sing about them, but the ones that do, I think that they do a good job pouring their hearts and voicing their opinions. Speaking of your music video, what inspired the visual aspects that you guys chose to feature?

Tarah: For this we have to give it up to Maria Quintana and Vatsa Barot. They were absolutely amazing! I have a big crush on Maria’s work, she’s a super talented photographer and videographer. She first started with taking our pictures, and she’s the kind of person who sees things that you wouldn’t normally see. Sometimes we’ll be like, ‘Uh, ok, sure, if that’s your vision.’ But then whatever she does ends up coming out super cool. I trust her hundred percent with everything that she does, and we wanted to do a music video with her too. I say, ‘Maria, I want a music video,’ and she’s like, ‘Ok! What’s the story?’ So then I tell her the story, and she sends me a few things, and it turns out amazing! We had a tight budget, but we didn’t want anything too cheesy or too obvious with the story and the metaphors. And then because it was on a low budget, we tried to keep everything in one studio. We had twelve hours to do that video. That was just it. We shot from five at night until five in the morning. Vatsa is also very talented, and he was very inspired when it came to the shoot. He came up with all of those illustrations of the theme of the song, of being human. That’s why the Statue of Liberty is crying blood, you know? For him it was also about gun control, because at the time of the release, there were a couple incidents in schools. But also, when isn’t there one?

Joey: Always, right?

Tarah: Unfortunately, that’s how we feel. Actually, we played a show in Downtown, and when we came out there’s a guy pointing his gun at us. All because he was upset about something. We’re like, ‘Why do you need to do that? Anything can go wrong right now just because you’re upset, and you have a gun! This is not right!’ But back to the music video, we tried to do something a little bit more powerful, that hopefully makes people think while also giving them an opportunity to interpret what they want. But the song needed to be out there, because this happens so much now. We put the lyrics too on YouTube, and a lot of people were like, ‘Ok, now I get it. It might be a little intense for me because it’s not the kind of music that I listen to, but now that I know what it’s about, everything makes sense and I like it.’

And sometimes you do have to be in your face about these things, especially now. I feel like sometimes modern society is very dumbed, and this is coming from someone who’s still in her twenties.

Tarah: We were hesitating a little bit because of the blood and the Statue of Liberty. It is never our intention to offend anyone, but we have a message and we don’t want to change it. We decided, ‘Ok, let’s just go with it. If it has to shock people, it will shock people.’ But at the same time, the theme itself is shocking. If you feel comfortable watching this, you’re comfortable with terrorism. You know what I mean?

Joey: The whole thing should make you uncomfortable. 

Tarah: And for those who are into videography and all of that, Maria was using a RED camera. *laughs*

Photo Courtesy of Maria Quintana

So how was the recording process for this EP different than that of your past work?

Tarah: So I was a huge Alanis Morrissette fan when I was fifteen. I used to go to all of her shows, and then I got to meet Jason over the years. Every time he would recognize me because I was always in the front, and he’d be like, ‘Hey!’ *laughs* Anyways, we got to know each other, and now we’re just friends. We recorded Half Middle Child Syndrome in 2017, right before we met with Coco. I just loved working with him because he doesn’t judge anything, and he doesn’t try to change anything to make it sound more ‘this’ or more ‘that.’ He’s got great suggestions, he’s a great guitar player, so he comes up with great, catchy riffs, he has great backing vocals ideas, he’s just really good. It just works! We connect really well, so of course I wanted to work with him again for this EP. What was different this time, was that we did the drums with Thomas Lang, like Coco mentioned earlier. That was really fun, because working with one of the greatest drummers in the world is just amazing! She actually recorded all the drums in like four hours, and he was shocked!  He was like, ‘What just happened?’ *laughs* But yeah, it was really cool to get to play on his kit. And for the bass, we started recording the bass with Matt, who was still in the band at the time. And when he had to leave the band, we auditioned Joey and went on our first tour together. We were just getting to know Joey, and we’re like, ‘Ok. This guy…I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He’s too perfect to be true! He’s nice, he’s got a great attitude, he plays well, he has a great sound. What is wrong with this guy?’ *all laugh* Well, I still haven’t found anything wrong with him yet, and it’s been a year!

To the internet! Everyone’s dirty secrets lie there! *laughs*

Tarah: Fun fact, his mother and I have the same birthday, but that’s totally off topic!

It was a sign from the universe!

Tarah: I know right?! But with the way that we connected on tour, of course we wanted re-record the bass with him. That way we can promote something that we did, the three of us.

And with the way that modern music listening has been focused on streaming and singles releases as opposed full length albums, do you think that there’s a growing lack of attention span for modern music listeners where they kind of gravitate towards more singles-based or shorter EP releases?

Tarah: That is so interesting, because I’ve been getting this question a lot lately.

We’re finally starting to notice the issue! *all laugh*

Tarah: This is what I think, if you’re an independent artist, you should do whatever feels right for your art. If you’re the kind of like, dreamy, style, it might make sense to have a full-length album if you have to get people into your world. Or maybe you’re a punk rock band that does one-minute songs, two-minute songs, and you can just have twenty songs on that album. You know? It really depends. For us, what I think works best so far is to do the EP thing. because financially, we can record in a weekend. It’s five songs, we can just do that quickly. Then we have something that we can release. We have a consistency on our promotions, because we do everything on our own. We don’t really care about what’s going on, because we’re not signed, and we have the freedom to do whatever we want. I think as long as we have that freedom, we’ll just keep doing the eff of what we want. I already have ten more songs written for our next recording. *laughs*

Joey: I think now, like you said, if you wanna put twenty or 153 songs on an album, it doesn’t matter because it’s all digital anyways. The thing about us is that we play out a lot. In order for us to meet halfway is to compromise and really give our fans something to take home instead of a single. It’s not like you can be like, ‘Here you can go and take one song.’ *laughs* Maybe we can’t afford to do the full-length album, but we play out a lot, and it’s great to have something that you can take home. You get five tracks, some stickers, and some pictures if you want.

Tarah: Earplugs?

Joey: Earplugs! T-shirts! But I think that’s why the EP works for us. We can do it on our budget and still get it out there. The main thing is putting music out and to keep putting music out.

Well you’ve got ten songs in the works already! *all laugh*

Joey: More than that for sure! I actually heard a song the other day and I was like, ‘Coco, I’ve never heard this song, what is this?’ and she told me what it was. It was so awesome, like, I was sitting in the van listening to a new Tarah song that I’ve never even heard of!

Photo Courtesy of Maria Quintana

To get into the ever prominent topic of female fronted bands, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful? And, everybody can answer this question, Joey doesn’t have to sit out because he’s not a girl. *all laugh*

Tarah: It’s actually really interesting to ask that because I am doing a documentary right now that’s about being independent in the music industry right now, and also women in the music industry. What’s funny is that even though Coco and I are both women, we have had different experiences with starting in music. I started as a drummer when I was fourteen, and man, I don’t know if it was because we were in France or because they were not used to seeing girls drumming, but I was definitely not accepted. It started with my dad when he asked me if I wanted to play an instrument, and I said that I wanted to play the drums. He told me ‘no’ because it was not ‘lady-like,’ but I did it anyway because I never listened to what my parents told me to do. *laughs* But anyways, I took two drum lessons that I got for free, and then they kicked me out because I didn’t have enough money. I ended up teaching myself how to play the drums and the bass. I remember going to stores in Paris, and they would just not take me seriously. I went to music school, told the drum teacher that I was interested in drums, and he looks at me head to toes and goes, ‘Do you even own a drum set?’ I was like, ‘Umm, yeah.’ And he was like, ‘Well, why don’t you start playing drums with songs that you like, and then let’s see in a year or two if you’re still interested in learning.’ What kind of response is that?! I also remember that when I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, before I taught myself of course, this guy said the same thing! Well, it was a little different because he was older and my mom was like, ‘I just don’t feel good about this guy.’

Momma’s instinct!

Tarah: Yeah! Momma’s instinct! Exactly! She was just trying to protect me for a different reason. But I called him and asked, ‘Hey, so you think that if I taught myself, do you think I could play somewhere?’ and he bluntly said, ‘No, I give you two weeks and then you’ll just put your guitar on the side.’ And I understand that could be a fair thing to say, but that’s the kind of thing that I hear that makes me want to show you that you’re wrong. And I guess in a way it worked.

Joey: Don’t dismiss me! *all laugh*

Tarah: Ah! I hate when people do that so much! And Coco will tell her story too, but with female fronted bands, or female musicians in general, gosh you know, we’ve just been playing with amazing musicians! We’re always like, ‘Why haven’t more people heard of them before?’ We’re on tour right now with Yur Mom, who is an amazing band, female fronted, powerful, definitely know how to play, but it’s same thing where people aren’t as familiar with them. I don’t think women need to use their bodies, or whatever, to market their music, you either believe in what you do, or you don’t. Again, be yourself, and that’s all that should matter.

Coco: Even for me, I have a really different story with learning music than Tarah. I didn’t study playing drums. I was ten when I told my parents that I wanted to play drums, and they never said anything about it. They were like, ‘You want to play drums? Yeah sure! Go for it!’ When I moved to Paris to pursue my education, I went to a school and I was with only guys, but they would not treat me different, so, that was really cool. At MI, it was same thing. I was kind of the only girl, or maybe one of two. But I’m just so used to it, so it doesn’t affect me. As long as people don’t treat me any different then I am happy. *laughs*

Joey: Now let’s talk about the road…*laughs*

Coco: Oh yeah. *laughs* On our last tour in the East Coast, we were really tired because we flew from L.A. to New York, and then drove to Pittsburgh after that.

Tarah: It was a red eye flight too, so we didn’t sleep.

Coco: Yeah! We could have, but we didn’t. Anyways, we arrived to this venue, and we were supposed to borrow the gear from the bands there. Already one of the bands left, so we needed to talk to the other guys. Joey and I went to the drummer and asked, ‘So yeah, can we use your drum? We’re supposed to.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, I can rent it to you.’ And I was like, ‘Uh…ok?’ Then he was like, ‘Oh, you can talk with my manager,’ and it was like his girlfriend or his mother, or something, I don’t remember. *laughs*

Is there a difference though? *laughs*

Tarah: Some girlfriends do end up being mothers. *laughs*

Coco: That is true. *laughs* Also, I’m left handed, so I need to put everything in the opposite way. I was trying to work with his kit, which was in this weird setting, and he came to me when he saw me struggling and said, ‘Do you even know how to play drums? Have you even touched a drum before?’

Tarah: Meanwhile, Joey and I are boiling and trying not to scream at him. But we wanted to play that show because we did just drive from New York.

Coco: Yeah exactly, so I just let it go. But after we started playing, I saw that he was enjoying himself.

Tarah: He didn’t want to show it, but I did see a couple of times that he was dancing. *laughs*

He was just threatened by your talent!

Coco: *laughs* Maybe! But yeah, at the end he came to me and said, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen a female drummer before! You were great!’  

It’s like, ‘suck it!’ *all laugh*

Coco: Yeah, so sometimes you have to deal with people like that, but it’s just a few people I feel like. Most of the time we’re fine, even if sometimes when we arrive at the bar that they don’t know that I’m the drummer. *laughs*

Joey: True. Anywhere we go they come up to me first and are like, ‘Oh yeah, so you’re the drummer, right?’ And I’m like, ‘No, but let me introduce you to the drummer, this is Coco.’

Tarah: So Joey, what’s your intake on female fronted bands?

Joey: Honestly, I really don’t see any difference in our band from, I don’t know, three guys in Motorhead, or three guys in Rush. I’ve played with a few female musicians in the past, but like I said, that’s not the way I look at it. At the end of the day, these two are the hardest working musicians I’ve ever worked with.

He’s gender blind! *laughs* That’s what we all want.

Joey: Thank you!

It’s definitely meant to be a compliment! So, unfortunately, it’s actually very rare to see not only female fronted bands, but all female bands, especially in L.A. Which is odd, because everybody moves here to do music. Do you think that there’s a reason why women feel that a solo endeavor is going to be bring them more success than a group setting?

Tarah: I think it’s changing, but like, when you think of the time that the band L7 came out, I think it’s very unfortunate to see that they didn’t get the success that they deserved. Unfortunately, that was just time with so many new bands coming in. I think women are definitely coming in force in every area, whether it’s movies, music, or anything really, where they’re finally getting a little bit of their voice out there. I think, unfortunately, in L.A. what I’ve seen is a lot in that female bands are more a marketing point than a musical thing. But we get really excited to finally hear and see talented women rocking out. In Seattle, we got to play with two all-female bands that were just great! But it’s the same thing as here, we only met a few all female bands. I almost think that it’s just harder for bands with females to stand out. I don’t know why.

Joey: Unfortunately, there’s a lot of push back. I feel like there’s a lot of, you know, *turns to Tarah* in your experience it was the, ‘Oh, come back in two years if you’re still interested’ thing But that goes the same way if you show up to a venue and people don’t take you seriously. If they beat you up, and beat you up, you might just give up.

Tarah: I think it’s funny, because when we were on tour, a few things happened. One, we are pretty calm. We come in, we take this as our job, we’re not just here to show off or whatever.

Coco: We’re not here to just have fun.

Tarah: Right. It is definitely a job for us. But when we come in, we’re like, ‘Ok, hello, so where do we put our gear?’ all calmly. I’m not gonna scream at them to do this, this is the way that I speak. But we noticed that a lot of people don’t really know what to make of us at first, you know? We’re cute, we’re nice, whatever.

Joey: I don’t know if this is the right way to say it, but it’s a little bit of a shock factor when we play a show. Tarah will walk up to the bar and say, ‘I’ll have a little Jameson and coke’ in this little whisper, and then she’ll thank them and walk away. Coco is same way, walks up to the bar, ‘One coke please? Thank you.’ I’m from the Midwest, so I’m a little loud. I guess I spice things up a bit. *laughs* My point is, when it comes time for us to play, and Tarah does her first, *roar sound* I see some mouths hit the floor. And they’re just like…

What is she?! *all laugh*

Joey: Exactly! They’re just like, ‘What…was…that?!’ *laughs* I guess it’s just unassuming because we don’t walk in with a loud presence. We’re very polite, and then when we hit the stage it’s mean face time, and we’re loud and we’re energetic and stuff.

Tarah: It’s hard to speak for everyone, you know? For our experience, we definitely see that, and then people change after the show and it becomes this open door. Hopefully things change and that we can be part of this change. Hopefully we can inspire people to take more steps forward and dare to do what they really want to do, because there are so many very talented women that want to be heard. Definitely give everyone a chance, because we all have something to say. And we should also be on the radio, not as Tarah Who?, but as women in music.

Photo Courtesy of Maria Quintana

Very well said! And going back to the social media aspect, do you feel that artists nowadays have more opportunities for success because of social media’s dominance over the marketing industry?

Tarah: So, it depends on what you define as ‘success.’ I think that building followers is one thing, but does not mean that they will go and buy your music. It depends on each band and each musician what their definition of success is. We’re pretty lucky with our social media because we’ve met a lot of people at our shows who were followers and introduced themselves. They’d say, ‘Hey I saw that you were playing here so I came out!’ It’s great to meet people, and in our case it’s really helped us. Now, that’s not my definition of success, but it’s an extra push that helps us get the word out there. It’s a free tool that we can us and have fun with in order to put our music out, but I definitely want more for us.

Coco: I think that people think that social media is everything, so they put all of their life in it. I think that it can be useful for your music, but it can easily not be too. There can be two sides.

Tarah: I mean, why do you follow a band? Is it because you heard the music and you liked them? Or, is it because they look cool? It’s all those factors that mean more when the followers are really into your music.

Joey: Thankfully because of social media, *turns to Tarah* like you said, it’s a free tool, and if we use it the right way it’s great. But if we’re being honest, you’ll see on our social media that we’re just being stupid and goofy, and having fun with each other making music. We entertaining each other in those little snippets just like we do on stage. I think without it, wow, what would we do? We would need a lot more money.

Tarah: What I mean is, it’s a nice tool that we can use, but I don’t think it’s the definition of success. You can be really good in social media and have a ton of followers, but it doesn’t mean that you’re up there making millions, you know what I mean? And that’s very different when promoters or bookers book a band because they see the followers. It’s worldwide! It doesn’t mean that you’re going to come out with 11,000 people at your show. As long as the bands understand that it’s just a tool to get yourself and the name of your brand out there then I think it can help. But, you still need to keep working really hard because that is not what defines your music. It’s not enough for fans, it’s not enough for the band, it’s not enough for the labels to look at. You can’t be judged because you have two hundred followers, or because you have eleven thousand, or twenty thousand. We were just at NAMM, and we were trying to get endorsed. Some of the responses were like, ‘Do you have 20,000 followers? Because we’re not interested if you don’t.’ And we were like, ‘Oh well. Thank you for your product, we’re not interested anymore. We’re trying to build a relationship here.’ I will not tell which brand, but I hope that they recognize themselves.

What’s funny is that sometimes companies don’t realize that people can buy followers. They’re not taking the time to do the research.

Joey: Yeah, and that just goes along with what I’m trying to say in being true with your social medias, not leading people on. We’ll play shows with people and they have 10,000 followers, but they don’t really take the music seriously when you get there. There’s a certain etiquette with how we all communicate in the community, and when people don’t follow that it’s really sad.

Do you feel that social media kind of adds a pressure for you to constantly be doing something like, new music or touring or even just expressing certain aspects of yourself to your followers?

Tarah: Honestly, I love Instagram because it’s really easy for me to post there. I am actually not a Facebook fan at all. I really just have it for Tarah Who?, but I usually post through Instagram and have it go to the other ones. Twitter, I don’t get it. *laughs* For me, I don’t think there’s pressure, even though we’ve been told, ‘Oh, maybe you should post this or maybe you should post that.’ That’s not how we work. Again, we try to be authentic, and I’m not overly saying that. If I don’t feel like doing it, I will just not do it. *laughs* What we post is what we feel and who we are. And that whole thing about, ‘Oh, you have to post at this time on this day!’ is just silly to me. It’s like, honestly, I just need to post right now because I won’t be available at that time. I think if people need it, or if it’s supposed to happen, they will find it. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe that’s not the way that it should be, but again, we’re independent, so we make our own rules.

Coco: I think that for some people it can be pressure because they see that they have to keep building their followers. They can think, ‘Oh, I need to have more. I need to post at a certain time during the week to keep them entertained.’ For musicians, or other people who are endorsed, I know that people from the endorsement can ask you to post about your endorsement at a specific time or in a specific way. I feel like stuff like that can be pressure.

*point  to Joey* He’s like, ‘I don’t wanna open that can of worms.’ *laughs*

Joey: Oh I completely agree with what both of them said. I would just be paraphrasing. *laughs*

Photo Courtesy of Erica Torres

Now you guys have toured in many places around Southern California, as well as domestically, and internationally. What are some differences you have seen between all the areas that you’ve been to perform?

Joey: *turns to Tarah* You got this one, right? *imitates banjo*

Tarah: *laughs* Yeah, I’ll take this one first. It’s really funny, because we tend to forget that we live in a bubble out here. We kind of forget that being accepted for who you are here is not the same everywhere, especially when you go to places like Boise, Idaho.

Joey: Yeah, when you start getting into Middle America, it changes. When we walk around here, no one looks at you in a weird way. But when you walk into a gas station on the road somewhere maybe in Idaho or Oregon, just out in the middle of nowhere, there’s a huge difference in how we’re treated. Like, we’ll walk in, and I’m this corn-fed white boy from the Midwest so they’re super sweet to me. But then,  the same shop people will walk around following these two *motions to Tarah and Coco* thinking, ‘Are they gonna steal? I see tattoos, your head’s shaved, what’s going on?”

Tarah: Are these even women? *laughs*

Joey: *imitates Southern accent* ‘Y’all ain’t from around here!’ But then we walk outside, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, they were nice right?’ and the look on Tarah‘s face makes me realize that we just had two different experiences. It dawns on me that they had come out from behind the counter and literally walked us out the door. It’s so crazy!

Tarah: How about that Wendy’s story? Well, first of all, I cannot stand that food. But that was the only thing that they we had available.

It was out of desperation.

Tarah: Exactly! *laughs* So it was kind of like a movie scene where you walk in past the saloon doors, and everyone stops and turns around to look at who just walked in. They’re just missing their cowboy hats, you know? Anyways, we’re in line, and there was a super rude woman at the register. No ‘hello’ from her, so I give it a try, and I’m like, ‘Hi, I’d like that fucking cheese burger that I won’t like, but that’s all you have! Here’s my money!’ No response, just rude. I don’t think she said a word actually. And I was like, ‘Wow, what an awful woman!’ But then Coco‘s right next to me, and she greets her, and I just lost it! I said, ‘Oh, she gets a ‘hello?’ What the hell was wrong with me then?!”

And Coco’s just standing there just like, ‘ah!’

Tarah: Oh yeah, she thinks it’s funny, but I don’t. Or like, when we were at a gas station, I think it was a time where I was a little tanner. I tan easily because I’m half-Asian, I guess. So people see my tattoos and my darker skin, and I realized as we walked into that gas station, that again, everyone is staring, because I’m the darkest person at that gas station. I’m like, ‘Really? Keep doing what you’re doing! What’s wrong with you?’

Joey: It’s just the eyes too. Everybody’s glued. You feel so uncomfortable.

Tarah: I even got yelled at by an older man when I was just putting gas into the van! I think my phone was probably inside the car, so I just go grab it while I’m putting the gas. But the thing was that I was also topping off and I knew that this was not the right thing to do, there was a big sign for it, but whatever, that’s just what I do. And then this old man comes to me to say something, I think he was either going to yell at me for the top off or because I grabbed my phone, because you’re also not supposed to grab your phone or be on the phone when you’re in the gas station. But then he goes even beyond that and he goes, ‘Do you know that you put us all in danger right now?! Haven’t you read the sign? Just by going back in your car with the static, you could have exploded the gas station!’ And I’m just like, ‘Dude, I’m tired, leave me alone.’

Joey: This was in Ohio by the way.

Tarah: I’m like, ‘You better not go to California because everyone’s going back and forth!’

He’d hate me! I’ll start my gas, I hang out in my car and play around on my phone. Like, I’m not sticking around in the cold or in a sketchy part of town. Nope!

Tarah: Exactly! There was one day I went to put in gas, and I forgot to turn off the car! *laughs* It worked though!

The look on Joey’s face right now is priceless.

Joey: Whoops!

So a fun little question for you guys. If you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name your tour? If you all have different tours in mind, our ears are open!

Joey: I know what Coco‘s waiting to say. She already knows hers. *laughs*

She’s bursting with excitement! She’s like, ‘I wanna answer!’

Coco: So of course, for me it would be…

Joey: Nightwish!

Coco: Yes! *laughs* So yeah, Nightwish for sure. Maybe Ghost, and then Beast in Black. I think that would be my tour. The name I don’t know though. Maybe I will have an answer at the end.

Tarah: I wanna go on world tour with Yur Mom, I wanna meet Bala from Spain and see if they’re cool, if they’re cool girls then I wanna go on world tour with them. So, it would be Your Mom, Bala, us, and I think we should bring Dry Can along. Yeah, the name of the tour would be, Bala, Yur Mom,Tarah Who? and Dry Can. And then a name, hmm, what does that do? The ‘United Color of Benetton’ Tour. *laughs* I don’t know, that’s hard!

Coco: Yeah, the name is hard.

Joey: My tour is called ‘The Tour of all Tours.’ And it would be Tarah Who?, Tool, Primus

He’s really going for it!

Joey: Yeah! *laughs* And the last one would be Motorhead if the original members were still here.

Just bring them back from the dead. We’ll do some weird hell raising ritual. *all laugh*

Joey: Perfect!

Tarah: I think I know the name for my tour! I would call it the ‘Uh-oh Tour.’

Joey: The Uh-oh Tour!

Tarah: Because you know that I go crazy! *laughs*

Coco: For me, I would call it ‘The Dream Team.’ You know? It’s like cliché, but it would be funny. *laughs*

Photo Courtesy of Maria Quintana

What do you hope your audience will take away from your music?

Tarah: I hope that they can relate our music to whatever event they’re going through in their life. I hope that when they come to one of our shows, that we’re entertaining enough so that they’re in the moment and they can forget whatever. If you don’t need to forget about anything, just have fun, be you, and let go and have a good time. And if you’re going through something, maybe one of our songs will help you get through whatever you’re going through. That’s my ultimate wish for playing music.

Joey: I hope that it shows that our music is done with a purpose and a meaning. It’s not just music. It’s not just rock. We want it make a connection.

Tarah: I remember a guy at that was at this bar who talked to us, and he was from the military and was not at all into kind of music that we play.

Joey: Right, right. And even though he’s not related to that kind of music and doesn’t listen to that kind of music, he saw the passion that we were playing with and that was what resonated with him. If we can exchange that, it’s important to us.

Coco: Yeah. I hope we can inspire people to do what they love, or to do the music that they want to and to not be afraid of being judged.

Tarah: I think it’s really important that people dare to do just what they want to do in their life, not only music. We’re musicians yes, but we don’t only want to inspire other musicians to do what they want. I hope that through our words and screams, maybe it will just hit them like, ‘Oh my god, why am I stuck in that job that I hate? I actually have this talent. I gonna dare to do this.’ We actually started from scratch. We don’t know anyone in the music industry who can help us, we do every single thing ourselves. If you believe in something, you’ll make it happen. If you hear us, hopefully you’ll hear our voice and you’ll want to do your own thing.

Coco: Do what you love and live your life!

Life’s too short!

Coco: You only have one!

Tarah: Why do people take so long to finally do what they really want to do? ‘Bills, I have to pay my bills!’ Yeah well, we all do. Make it happen within the 24 hours that you have in the day. We do it. We don’t sleep! *laughs*

That’s what coffee’s for! *laughs* Shout out to coffee, the universal life source. #ad! *laughs* I’m kidding, or am I?

Tarah: Let’s all be sponsored by coffee! *laughs*

So apart from the release of your guys’ EP and being on tour, what other exciting things should we be expecting for you?

Tarah: We’re planning to do this music video that’s going to be pretty big. We can’t really talk about it now because we’re still on the works for everything. The documentary will hopefully be released soon. And what else? I want to work on the new songs so we can release a new EP next year. I want to work on an acoustic release. And in September we’re going to Europe to play some shows in France and the UK, so hopefully we’ll also go to our hometowns to play some shows.

Check out Tarah Who? on their Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify!

About Art + Science Cafe

I’m happy to say, that for the many years that I have called Southern California my home, the city of Pasadena has provided me with more pleasant experiences than I can even count. Well, it looks like I will be adding my visit to the posh, fairly new to the neighborhood cafe Art + Science to that list! If I could, I could go for paragraphs just raving about their wonderful coffee offerings, but I’ll do my best to not ramble. For the classic coffee aficionados, you’ve got your cold brew, single origin drip, and a range of espressos to fit any customer’s taste. But if you’re looking to discover your next favorite drink, I would highly suggest taking a good, long glance at their delightful specialty espresso drink menu that they have as you may find something that may not have thought you would love. They’re not afraid of adding new recipes to their menu, and I happy to have came in to try their recently debuted Cookie Monster Latte, which was surprisingly not too overpowering on the cream or the sweet (aspects that I think would have killed the latte). Top it all off with cute latte art lined with small cookies (I literally almost didn’t want to drink it) and you’ve got yourself the perfect drink that will just really hit the spot on a relatively brisk day.

Now, moving on to the atmosphere of Art + Science. To me, I think they really nailed their aesthetic with their modern grayscale-esque color scheme implemented into the furniture and design choices. However, it’s their hint of fun quirkiness showcased in little baubles tucked away in various parts of the shop along with golden eye-catching shark and t-rex heads mounted to the walls for all who walk in to see. A soundtrack consisting of light-hearted indie rock music and slower paced pop music sets the mood for intimate conversations without being too exuberant to disturb the busy bees stopping in to get some work done, overall giving the shop a calm yet enjoyable ambiance. Plan accordingly, because with limited seating for groups larger than two inside along with growing popularity, you could just be fighting tooth and nail to get a seat.

Check out more about Art + Science Cafe on Facebook, and Instagram.


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