Interview: Tanika

I met Tanika at the Century Club in Shaftesbury Avenue to talk about her journey as an artist and her new EP ‘Fucking With My Heart.’ Other points of discussion were: the fact I live in Brixton-which was where she was bought up-so we got excited about eating at the same Caribbean place, True Flavours, as well as the fact we both share tattoos of a feather and birds. Despite going off track a couple of times I managed to get the goods for you and find out about her new EP and her plans for 2014!

Tanika, you wrote your first song at 9!

Yeah, it was called ‘Crazy for You!’

So fast forward a few years and you’re now a pro! Tell me a little but about your journey from being that 9 year old girl to a recording artist now.

I think the start for me was that day when I went to the studio with that song ‘Crazy For You’ and the guy told me I was going to be a superstar! And I, at 9 years old, believed it would happen over night. Obviously it didn’t, but I kept writing songs, going to the studio and recording…so by the time I was 14 I had found management, but I had no patience back then; I was living an illusion that I could be a superstar overnight.

At 17 I then had my son and then when he was a year and a half I returned to the studio and recorded 40-50 songs.

Wow, that’s a lot of songs right there!

 I had found new management and had just been developing. I knew myself better; I knew who I was as an artist so I felt ready this time. My songs started sounding great and people started taking an interest!

You then release your EP ‘Thoughts of Love’ what were you going through when you wrote this?

I actually hadn’t written in 6 months; I was in a bit of a weird space. So when I got to that session I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write music anymore! I felt I had nothing to say…I wasn’t in a relationship, I was single and there wasn’t much going on. So that is what it is with ‘Thoughts of Love’ I am literally dying with the thought of love!

And ever since I wrote that song I got my jagger back! I wasn’t even really writing for an EP, I was just sort of…writing! So each song is literally me, at a certain time of my life, me going through something. I then chose the best songs to go on the EP. I chose the ones that meant the most to me, not necessarily what sounded better.

 Anyone who is creative goes through those moments of self-doubt and you worry if you have anything else to give.

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But you had Charlie Sloth behind you! Radio 1xtra were supporting your sound!

 Yeah he’s a G! Him and CJ Beats have been holding me from day one, honestly. They were all over that EP and I wasn’t expecting that sort of love, and so soon!

Big love to Charlie Sloth, CJ Beats and MistaJam for their support!

Got to love them! You also gave that EP for free, is that something that is important to you; for music to be accessible?

 Yeah, I mean at the end of the day nobody buys music anymore, so all I can do is put my music out there and let them understand it’s coming from an honest place, it’s my craft and I want people to support it. But it was important for me to get content out there, rather than trying to sell it you know? Who am I? I’m still getting to know you (fans) and you’re still getting to know me.

It’s the second EP now that we’ve dropped to download on iTunes.

Yes, let’s talk second EP. ‘Fucking With My Heart’ you tell it like it is don’t you Tanika?

 You know what? Only when the songs come out do I think ‘Tanika, where does all this swearing come from!’ My swearing is so bad, my mum use to wash my mouth out with Imperial Leather!

She literally washed your mouth out with soap! Ha!

And I still couldn’t help myself! The other day I was at 1Xtra with Max and I had to stop myself from swearing all the time!

Yeah, you can’t do that on national radio, but you can here with me!

The EP has been released off the back of your single ‘Bad 4 U’ and I think a lot of people misinterpret that tune.

Yeah! Some people interpret it like I’m saying ‘Nah, don’t won’t to be with you!’ But it was actually quite sad when I wrote it. I was with MNEK, hungover and not feeling great and I was like ‘I’m just not good for you’ It wasn’t blasphemous, it was just me feeling ‘It’s just fun, I can’t give anything more.’ It was so honest and then MNEK topped it off with his amazing riffs.

So right now, ‘Fucking With My Heart’ you’ve done the exclusive stream with Popjustice and you can download on iTunes yeah?

Yeah, its on iTunes now and the impact date is on April 28th so we’ll drop the video before that. I’m also recording a stripped back version of ‘Fucking With My Heart’ for Vevo because the sentiment of that song is really honest and it is a very sad song for me; still hits home every time I sing it. It’ll be on Vevo but also on Soundcloud so everyone can listen to it.

Brilliant! I love stripped back versions; they always feel that little bit closer don’t they?

So what has your creative process been with this EP?

It’s weird because all the songs came around at different times; there is a song on their called Party Till We Fight, which I’d written about 3 years ago for Professor Green and the music was completely different. That track was also sent to G Fresh, so it had been lingering about for a while…so then I just thought ‘Lets put a verse on it, let’s get Yungen and Lady Leshurr involved, and do it!’

Then Runaway, which Emeli Sande wrote with Elle Varner and Naughty Boy, that was written like a four years ago. When I listened to it, it sounded semi-bashment so I changed a few words, did my vocals and loved it so much. I wasn’t sure if anyone would ever get to hear it but I knew that needed to be recorded!

Fucking With Your Heart I wrote when I broke up with my ex, last year, and it was a very personal, self-indulgent song which expressed a lot of what people didn’t know was going on in my relationship and again, I didn’t know if anyone would ever get to listen to it. But I kept going back to it and thinking ‘This song is amazing.’ So after much back and forth, we finally put it out.

Actually the original plan was to put the previous EP ‘Thoughts of Love’ on iTunes because it had never been put up there. But I said ‘No, I’ve got loads of songs! Let’s give more, let’s do another EP!’

Two EPs are better than one!

 Yeah, two EPs, why not? I’m all about the work rate and putting music out.

And it really sounds like this EP has come together in a very natural way, with a lot of songs that were just waiting for their time!

Yeah, these songs mean a lot to me. Some of them I thought I’d never release and now this EP…it’s here!

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So, what happens now? What you got planned for this year?

I’m going to come out with a new single for summer and I’m also on a Naughty Boy record

Yeah, you’ve done stuff with Naughty Boy, also the Krept and Konan boys.

Yeah they’re my boys!

So what other collaborations would you like to do? 

I want to work with people that I genuinely like as an artist so MNEK, Naughty Boy, Krept and Konan, Ella, Sam Smith. Sam and I started a new melody few months back called ‘The Thrill Of It All’ and that’s what I like, spontaneous stuff. I think there is a lot in the pipeline.

Obviously I’d like to work with people like Drake, Kanye! It’s endless, because I love creative people!

I’ve also got a song with G Fresh coming!

Awesome! Good luck with everything and we’ll be here supporting! Follow Tanika on Twitter for all her updates and check out her blog

Words: Irune Rue Chamberlain

Photography: Jack Lawson

Watch the full interview below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCp8_VSC62o