We chat To Uma about inspirations, the creative process, and creating a community in the wild world of music
It sounds like staring up at a cosmic sky. An ensemble of intergalactic synths fizzing beneath the regiment of a consistent beat. A voice with the power of a siren instructs us “only trust a liar”. And we are drawn into the heart of ‘Tārā’, another of Uma’s “sonic worlds”.
The Barcelona-based artist describes ‘Tārā’ as “a flow of conscious and unconscious thoughts coming in and out of focus”.
We caught up with Uma to discuss the roots of ‘Tārā’, exploring everything from her inspirations and creative process to the release of her forthcoming mixtape.
T: What inspires your music?
U: Life? I feel like my songs are quite autobiographical. Yeah, the kind of darkness and lightness of life and finding joy in the sad bits. I really love building sonic worlds from my environment. It’s something I have been delving into deeper recently.
T: You describe ‘Tārā‘ as a stream of sort of consciousness and unconsciousness. How do you go about turning that from a thought into like an actual musical expression?
U: Having my amazing collaborator, Luca, in the room who is able kind of translate that stuff into sound. Luca has produced this whole project. We’ve been working together now for three years. He moved out here during lockdown and we’ve just been building this body of work together. It’s a really beautiful safe space where we’ll go into writing. We both jump in and out of lyrics and production, to communicate the sonic world.
Yeah, it’s a very fun process, but also a very easy process. For example in ‘Tārā‘, he had brought up a very basic instrumental and I kind of spilt out all of this stuff over it. He was able to translate these feelings in a way that I wasn’t at that point. Since then, ‘Tārā‘ evolved of course, but that was the starting point. This process has taught me a lot about myself and it just promises me complete freedom. A totally safe space to just be able to explore.
T: How would you describe your style of music? If you had to, what genre would you put it in?
U: I think that’s a really hard one. So I am really enjoying not thinking about it too much because I think each project is going to be its own Sonic World. And I find that almost the most exciting part about making music is being able to say “okay, well, maybe for the next project mixtape or my first album, I want to go into 80s pop” and I value being able to just do that. So yeah, I don’t know.
T: So, let’s talk travelling because you’ve travelled a lot, haven’t you? How has travel impacted your music?
U: Oh, I think it’s bought perspective to my understanding of the world. Being around different people whose realities are very different to mine, whose language is very different to mine is so enriching. It’s such an incredible world we live in and to be able to have the opportunity to experience just a fraction of it makes me feel very lucky. I think it has directly impacted my music.
It’s led me to a more ethical and philosophical way of approaching music making. Having an understanding that I’m very lucky to be able to do this job in the way that I’m doing it right now. I have also learnt that what I want to say is important and it matters. You can have various degrees of impact through how you use the space you have in this world – I think that’s very important to remember.
T: Would you say that travelling is something every musician should do?
U: Even if you’re not a musician, travelling is so important. It’s great immersing yourself in other cultures because it makes you feel less like there’s kind of ‘us’ and an ‘other’ and that’s important in this kind of social-political climate.
T: What was your biggest inspiration for this album in general?
U: I wanted to feel free. I think in the past i have just felt trapped by my own shyness and COVID really took that away. I was very far from London and I felt like I was very outside of that person I was there. It suddenly opened up this possibility to be able to be a bit more daring and experimental. That’s a weird thing to say now, because although when I first wrote ‘Tārā‘ it felt like such a big change for me lyrically, retrospectively it’s not. But in the moment I had never written something that felt so very bold. And that’s kind of what I wanted to do with the whole album. I was choosing to experiment and I wasn’t doing it out of fear.
T: Do you have a favourite track?
U: You’re not supposed to have favourite children, but one of the next singles is definitely my favourite…. you have to hear it to know.
T: What about a favourite line?
U: Oh, that’s harder. I’m not sure. I’ve kind of fallen in love with all of them. But one of the lines is: “You don’t have to be scared. Nothing has to be scared of you.” That carries a lot of meaning for me.
T: So, you’re in your Barcelona based home studio and you host a lot of song writing camps. Why did you choose to do that?
U: We’re so lucky to have a space to be able to make music and I really wanted to invite people to share it. People in who maybe don’t have that possibility because they have day jobs or because they’re in the middle of writing another project and they don’t have time to just step away and be playful with their creative process. This is really important for an artist to be able to do. The camps are a great way to create a community that maybe is not localised, but is still there and supportive of each other. It’s amazing to witness.
Listen to ‘Tārā’ here:
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