TAAHLIAH's The Ultimate Angels

Glasgow’s TAAHLIAH, BBC Introducing Dance Artist of the Year 2022, shows no signs of slowing down. We chat to her ahead of her first live show, The Ultimate Angels, at SWG3: an artistic homecoming for the rising star

Article by Heléna Stanton | 19 Jan 2023

It’s rare to find an artist who so deeply cares about their practice. Journalists and punters can become complacent, consigning electronic music to the milieus of base hedonism, forgetting its artistic heritage. TAAHLIAH’s music is genre-less; her ability to manipulate music anywhere between club bangers and slow emotive pieces of sound is arguably beyond futuristic.

TAAHLIAH says: "I’ve been studying a lot of music theory; I have a deep thirst to understand music. I’ve always been an artist – my practice has just changed. I used painting to express and confront feelings that I found difficult, and once I had confronted those feelings, I didn’t really feel the need to paint anymore. Which gave me this freedom I suppose to be like right okay, now what can I do?"

For TAAHLIAH The Ultimate Angels has been an idea since her time at the Glasgow School of Art. The night’s name is an homage to Byron Newman’s 1984 book, a photo exploration of trans women working in the Parisian sex industry. She explains how the night is more than just a live performance: her work continuously comes back to angels as a motif. "I don’t necessarily consider anything I’ve done to be separate from what I’ve done before. Perhaps my work goes down a different avenue or perhaps it’s more elevated, it all follows a narrative. And, with this being the first proper live show, I knew I wanted to do something memorable."

It’s evident while chatting with TAAHLIAH that she has a strong affinity for Glasgow and its subcultures. The Ultimate Angels gives TAAHLIAH an opportunity to create something that encapsulates her work and puts it in a live setting, but also uniquely curated into a wider experience. "I was of course going to do this in Glasgow, I feel comfortable here, my pals are here, it would have been a disservice to everyone not doing it in Glasgow. I always want to work with people I admire, hence why I invited BABYNYMPH and Miss Cabbage. They’re unapologetically themselves, which is something that everyone should be. I connect with them both in that way, musically. I hope that [The Ultimate Angels] is something that people will remember. I’m not doing it for money, it’s to offer another experience. I want it to be as elevated as it can be."

The three remixes TAAHLIAH released in 2022 showcase her uniqueness in stamping her sound onto other projects. She tells how it’s difficult to place her music in a genre; a question often put to her. But through her recent refinement and agency in collaborating with other artists, she describes how she’s changed since Angelica’s 2021 release. "I hardly listen to electronic music at all anymore. A lot of the music I listen to is slow emotional pop. So, I feel like I’ve entered a bit of a different space. My music is less abrasive and a lot more ethereal. I make music with so much variation. I go through phases of wanting to make loads of emotional music, but then I’ll have things that are a lot faster – periods of exhilaration and excitement." 

After experiencing so much support for not only her music, but her notoriously energetic DJ sets, TAAHLIAH describes her relationship writing music and preforming. "My DJ sets feel quite separate [from my music] – I’m not going to start playing piano ballads in the middle of Warehouse Project, for example. That’s why there’s a difference between a TAAHLIAH DJ set and a TAAHLIAH live set. DJ sets are exhilaration, they’re like a tension, a way for me to expel something. Writing and making music is a way for me to nurture something. I’ve always loved hard music and its sonic aesthetics. But I’m glad that it feels like I have two outlets, that if I didn’t have one or the other, I’d be struggling artistically."

Following an adrenaline-charged 2022 full of performing and award winning, TAAHLIAH reflects on what 2023 may look like for her. "2022 was always meant to be about live performing and getting out there and I’ve done that; and I will continue to do so. But there’s going to be a bigger emphasis on being in the studio, exploring a soundscape that I’ve never really experienced before – I’m excited to write music."

TAAHLIAH's The Ultimate Angels with support from Miss Cabbage and BABYNYMPH, 18 Feb, SWG3