Drum'n'bass diva

The New Zealander MC Tali has put the spotlight back on dance

In the wake of the success of Ms Dynamite, record labels have been scouring underground dance-music scenes for female talent. From garage and drum'n'bass, the quick-fire rhymers Shystie and Est'elle have been tipped for diva status. Yet while A&R men were scouring London's badlands, Bristol's own Mercury prize-winner Roni Size hooked up with an MC from a sheep farm on New Zealand's North Island.

With a vocal arsenal that ranges from crisp rapping to a powerful singing voice, Natalia "Tali" Scott can outstrip any UK competition. On her debut album, Lyric on My Lip, she moves effortlessly from boastful MC-ing on the track "Blazin'" to the melancholy soul of "Grey Days".

She hails from the remote province of Taranaki, and her story is testimony to drum'n'bass's global reach. "My closest best friends lived quite far up the road, so I spent a lot of my childhood on my own," Tali says, in an odd accent that combines a typical antipodean clipped rhythm with the longer vowels of the West Country. "I used to sing to myself and talk out loud and tell stories. As I grew older, those stories progressed into raps."

Before succumbing to the charms of drum'n'bass, Tali wrote soul songs and performed them in TV talent competitions. "It was a way of proving myself against other people, but I did win a trip to the UK," she says. She discovered drum'n'bass at raves in Christchurch. "Rhythm had been really important to me," she explains. "I was heavily into hip hop, reggae and rock music such as Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I guess you are always looking for music that has the same characteristics as yourself, and drum'n'bass was down-to-earth, sexy, funky, but still soulful."

That was in 1997, right in the middle of drum'n'bass's golden era, typified by the success of Goldie's album Timeless and of New Forms, the Mercury-winning album made by Roni Size and Reprazent. Tali was drawn to them and their Full Cycle label, so when she began promoting drum'n'bass events - before she had the confidence to MC - she invited the Reprazent members Krust and Die to DJ in her home country.

Tali found the courage to perform when she left for Australia's creative capital, Melbourne, where the Kiwi made a name for herself as the country's only female MC. "Everyone knew me back home, so they wouldn't take me seriously. I always said I wanted to work with Reprazent, but no one would listen."

Her ambition became reality thanks to a chance meeting backstage at a Reprazent gig in Melbourne. Tali was persuaded by friends to perform an impromptu audition for Size, singing and rapping into his ear. He was impressed enough that he promptly ordered his MC-in-chief, Dynamite (no relation to Ms), off the stage so that Tali could take on the crowd. "I bust up the place, went mental," she recalls, "then partied with them for 24 hours. We talked about music and what directions we wanted to take. I said I was going to look them up, which I did." Tali came to London in 2002, where she took up teaching for a few months, before she moved to Bristol and hooked up with her heroes.

The album Lyric on My Lips is a collaboration that is recognisably a Reprazent joint, with the trademark live drumming and fierce electronic sounds. But Lyric is much more than another drum'n'bass record. "Grey Days" is reminiscent of Portishead, whereas the slowed-down beats of "Don't Let Me Wake up" and "Take a Look" create a hybrid closer to the stripped-down production of contemporary R&B. "On those two tracks, I was consciously feeling an R&B flow, but all the rest are just whatever we came up with at the time," she says.

Anyone familiar with the bloated New Forms and Reprazent's similarly overlong 2000 follow-up, In the Mode, should be relieved to hear that Lyric weighs in at a digestible 12 tracks. Tali admits that she is probably unrecognisable to anyone familiar with her earlier incarnations, having developed in response partly to her producers' ideas and partly to the astonishing adventure she has been through. "The great thing about Lyric is it's a reflection of this journey that I took," she says. "Before this, I wouldn't have written anything like 'Grey Days'."

It helps that, despite coming from opposite sides of the globe, Tali and Reprazent share a musical philosophy. "I guess with me they see opportunities to try out things they haven't done before," she explains, "but when it comes to the music, we're feeling the same vibe. We go into the studio and never need to compromise."

'Lyric on My Lip' is out now on Full Cycle; Tali supports Roni Size at the Carling Academy Islington, London N1 on 13 March (www.mctali.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century