Madison Drew | 10/09/2023
Talia Mar is busy. The 26-year-old is an artist in many ways evolving from makeup tutorials and vlogs- to writing some of the biggest pop songs and one of the most exciting pop stars today. Recently topping the charts in 2022 with Sigala’s "Stay the Night"—Talia’s whole discography has amassed a million listeners on Spotify. Looking back to her musical beginnings, with music always playing an enormous part in her life, she is now a few years into her pop career with her latest single, "Forget About Your Ex". The singer-songwriter is already planning her next step into creating her own Taylor Swift-esque eras, whom she’s always admired.
HATC talks to Talia whilst she sits in the makeup chair with her notable signature-spilt dye hair and winged liner. We discuss finding confidence in her looks, the challenges of writing pop bops to the ballads, and her surprising new hobby to add to her already astonishing talents. And all of this whilst hinting at future projects- anyone fancy a Talia tour?
HATC: It's been a few years since your debut in the pop charts. What's it been like looking back for you?
T: Oh gosh. I don't even know. It feels so long ago now. When I think back to when I first released music, I was around 12. So, I prefer not to go that far back and pretend it doesn't exist. But it's so lovely to look back and see what I've done, how far I've come and things that I've wanted for so long actually coming to fruition . It's finally happening.
HATC: Having started with makeup tutorials on YouTube before jumping into your pop career. What was behind your decision to go for music?
T: I think it was just something that I was always doing. So, to me it felt like a small decision. But from the outset, it probably looked a little more dramatic than it was coming from me. I've been writing music for a long time so, it was more taking the leap of faith to move entirely over and ditch everything else. So, it wasn't as scary as it looked from the outside.
HATC: You grew up with social media playing a big part in your career. What's the effect of working in this environment, surrounded by all these socials?
T: I guess I'm used to it. For me it's been a good thing but there's going to be a lot of opinions. With TikTok it means if you have a good song, anyone can hear it. It gives people a chance to find music they may never have found , which is insane. It's also exposed me to so many more genres and songs I would never have listened to if I didn't have social media. I like what social media has given to newcomers in the industry.
HATC: Speaking of artists, is there anyone you’re currently listening to?
T: I'm always listening to Taylor Swift. I love listening to Raye and Flo too. I like a lot of the pop music in the UK right now. However I do look on my Spotify Wrapped sometimes and think oh, it’s just Taylor Swift.
HATC: What’s your favourite Taylor Swift era?
T: *gasps* I was a Reputation girlie, but now I'm an every-era girlie. I actually can’t choose physically… it depends on the week.
HATC: Who are some artists you loved growing up?
T: Growing up, I was a Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Christina Aguilera girl. I love the Divas' prominent voices and a lot of 90s R&B. That was what I exclusively listened to until I found Taylor Swift.
HATC: Being a female in pop music and coming from YouTube. Have you found it a challenging journey?
T: With every industry, there will always be differences being a woman but I've been super lucky with how I've been treated. Some of my peers have spoken about their experiences being different but I'm grateful that I have not found anything that's been truly tough so far. I've been pretty lucky. But that doesn't mean I don't see it.
HATC: Is there any advice you can give to anyone wanting to go into music?
T: My most extensive advice is to know what you love. Find something that is you through and through. And practice! You really need to sing every day if you’re a singer. Play the guitar regularly if you're going to be a guitar player. Practice, constantly do it, and make sure it is precisely what you want to do. Because when you're in a creative industry, there's no point doing it if you don't love it. If you aren't 100% in you’ll fall out of love with it extremely fast.
HATC: It can take so much practice to be so good at a skill.
T: It's so true, especially with singing. I feel like you need to hit a note badly to hit it right. It's little things like that. It takes years of training and practising, going to school, and studying. No one ever starts perfect. That doesn't exist. Perfection is an entirely flawed system.
HATC: Out of your music, gaming, and YouTube endeavours, what’s been the hardest out of the three?
T: I feel like I can’t even compare them. They’re so different. For me they all come naturally in various forms, so I don't think I could pick what's been the hardest or the easiest.
HATC: Has it been hard to balance them all?
T: I love them all. So much so that I wouldn't have time off from one; I would find my way to back to the other. So, some days, it might feel like I'm doing more one way but it naturally balances itself out because I've grown up doing all three.
HATC: We’ve seen a lot of your talents shine through. Is there a Talia hobby that we don't know about yet?
T: I've just started playing golf. I grew up knowing nothing about golf. I'm the sort of person if I see someone try something new, I want to try it as well. I have to! So when a bunch of people I know started playing. I was like, take me with you!
HATC: Are you any good?
T: *laughs* I’m in my practising era.
HATC: How does golf like that work?
T: So much of it is what club you’re using…honestly, the reason I like it is because it's a lot like gaming, but in real life. There's so much skill involved. So to me it almost feels like you're playing a video game, but in real life,
HATC: Now, let's go into a little bit of music. Tell us more about "Forget About Your Ex."
T: It’s one of my favourite songs because of how fun I found the writing process. And I think that comes out in the song because it's not the most severe lyrics you'll ever hear. It's not necerssarily something you put on to get into your feelings. I wanted it to be something you put on to enjoy and have a laugh with your friends. It's something you want to hear when you're getting ready, having fun, and wanting to be in that silly mood. In the studio, we wanted it to have good energy, especially coming out of "Self Portrait", which, when you look into it, had a deep meaning with self-empowerment, which I love. I wanted something that showed my personality more. And I think that's what you get with "Forget About Your Ex".
HATC: Do you find it harder to write happy up-tempo songs rather than ballads?
T: It is always easier to write something emotional, and I don't know why. It could be because music is like therapy for me. Sometimes, when you go into a happy song, writing something comfortable that doesn't feel cheesy it can feel hard. But that's why we went for the angle that we did. It's cheeky. I think that's the best way to describe it.
HATC: When it comes to writing do you prefer being in your own space or prefer going into the studio and seeing what happens?
T: I think it’s different every time. Sometimes you'll start with a title, or you'll start with a melody, and sometimes you'll start with literally nothing. I love that it's entirely different every time because once you get into a routine, you write the same things repeatedly, and it can get a little boring.
HATC: Looking at the music video for "Forget About Your Ex", it’s such great storytelling and visuals. What's it like creating these and your input in videos?
T: It's different for every song. In this song, I had such a specific idea. At the time I remember I sent a four-minute voice note to my management, not realising it gets sent straight to the director. I remember saying I want to do this. And then I want to be the waitress! And the mechanic! I wanted to be everywhere; I want to look crazy.
HATC: That look with your hair in the rollers and mascara running in the video is a vibe!
T: That was meant to be a blown-out look. But when I was in the rollers, it felt right. So, we did the blowout look for the mechanic instead of that. That was meant to be the soap opera star [look].
HATC: Speaking of looks, you are always in fabulous outfits and have great hair. What's the process like finding your style and deciding on your image?
T: It was an experiment growing up with how I looked. It was a joke at school, like what colour would Talia’s hair be this week? I would change [my hair] all the time as well as experimenting with makeup. For me the confidnce came from just about not caring what you look like. If you do a look and it doesn't look great move on to another."
HATC: Has being a makeup artist given you more confidence in looks?
T: Yes, with being able to say, “Oh, I prefer this.” or knowing exactly what I like from the other side. Being able to talk to makeup artists has been a blessing. I know certain things about my skin and knowing some products I like means it's been a much easier conversation and dialogue about what I love."
HATC: We've got to ask about your signature look! For those who fancy doing something similar, is your hair currently hard to maintain? Would you ever change it?
T: I've always said never say never. I'm a girl who loves changing my hair, but this is the hair I've kept the longest. One day I can flip it over and have black hair the other I can flip it over and have blonde hair.
But the maintenance could be better with the roots. You have to go in every two months. Timing is everything! If you get it wrong you'll get overlap.
HATC: What’s your best makeup tip?
T: Oh my goodness. *pauses to think* Wet your sponge! Don't use a dry sponge when applying your foundation.
*The dressing room erupts into discussing how everyone applies foundation: brush, dry sponge, wet sponge, fingers.*
T: Sometimes, I use a brush if I want full coverage. But if I want something a little bit more like glowy I use a sponge. Always remember to wet your sponge!
HATC: You keep busy. How do you relax and block out all the noise for your well-being?
T: For me, it would be writing songs. It's a space where I don't think about negatives. It takes me out of what's going on. Otherwise gaming as well. Just being able to scream at my computer.
HATC: What’s your go-to game?
HATC: Anything you can spill about what’s coming next?
T: We're working towards an EP for the project, which hopefully will be coming early next year.
I'm going to bring the early 2000s back.
HATC: Are there any dream collaborations?
T: When it comes to producers, Timberland is someone that I would love to do something with. As for artists I would love to do something with UK girls, like Raye and Flo. I Love them.
HATC: Could we see a Talia tour anytime soon?
T: Maybe sooner rather than later. Maybe next year.
Forget About Your Ex is out now on all streaming platforms!
Words Madison Drew
Photography Natalie Michelle
Creative Alice Gee
Styling Bethany Ferns
Make Up Caitlin Anne Duff
Hair Alicia Dobson
Assistant Hannah George
Assistant Madison Drew
Assistant Umbreen Rajah