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Interview: Tafari Anthony Talks Debut Album And The Inspiration Behind It

You already know that we’re Tafari Anthony stans first; human beings second. We had an amazing one-on-one interview back in May, but we’re so excited because we have another interview with the iconic, queer artist. In case you didn’t know, Tafari Anthony’s debut album, When I Met Your Girlfriend drops on November 10th. We’re so hyped that we obviously had to ask for details about it. And he delivered! So without further ado, let’s dive in.

You’ve written and produced for a ton of amazing artists! What’s your dream collaboration for your own music? 
I’ve probably said this far too many times by now but I’m trying to speak it into existence. So let it be known that if Kelly Clarkson ever wants to do a song together or even let me sing backup for her on an album, I’m 100% in!

We know you said you wouldn’t drop too many hints, the last time we interviewed you back in May. But what’s your favorite song off your debut album?
Oh boy! Now, part of why I said I didn’t want to drop any hints is because I don’t want to have to choose. Honestly, I really hope everyone listens to this album from top to bottom. There was so much work and thought put into how the album flows and the story. But because you’re asking such a direct question, my favorite song is constantly changing. Right now I’d have to say ‘Whiskey Bar’ is the moment. It’s dramatic and over the top and I would say is the breaking point of the album / story. I’ll let you sit with that for a bit.

You’ve mentioned that this album is kind of like a “musical diary,” What’s a diary entry you’d write for your past self when you first started your music career? 
Okay, I was not ready for this question, let’s get deep. 

If I was to write a diary entry to my past self right now about my music career it would be something along the lines of, “you’re going to have many plans and ideas of how you expect things to go. But the sooner you can let go of these ideals the freer you’re going to be with your art and the more you’ll be able to appreciate the things that do come to you. Even though they’re going to come to you in very roundabout ways and the path is never remotely straight forward or even close to your peers’ paths, you’ll realize that you’re doing something that’s non-conventional which will take time for people to see the vision. But you have all the power within you to show them, just trust yourself.”

Tafari Anthony
Image source: Joshua Rille

Your latest single, ‘Evermore’ has such a different vibe than ‘Falling Back,’ (which we love because it shows you have the range!) What was the inspiration behind it? 

‘Evermore’ was a very easy song to write, but a very hard song to get through. This one is about the first man I dated outside of my husband, and the one who opened my eyes to my more polyamorous side. Things moved pretty quickly with him. ‘Evermore’ came about after our first full weekend together. At that point we had been dating for about two months. The weekend was going great and then some trauma came up for him unexpectedly, which had him retreat inward a little bit. There was a moment where I had to check myself to realize that it wasn’t about me and find ways to support him in something that he wasn’t expecting to come up. 

It’s obviously been quite a while now since this song was written and the more I hear it, and the more life is happening it’s become kind of an anthem to me, and I hope for others on unconditional love. Really questioning if you knew what the outcome of a situation would be, even if it didn’t work in your favor, would you still support that person unconditionally? 

Did the writing and recording process for your upcoming album differ from the writing and recording process for your previous EPs? 
Oh yes, definitely! I’ve always strived to write very personal and honest songs, but a lot of my previous work has been looking back at past situations. This album was written in real time. As I was discovering myself, discovering my wants and needs, I was writing about them. So, I feel like there’s a lot of questions on the album because I’m literally in the process of asking myself those questions, asking my partners those questions, and just trying to work out what was unfolding in my life.Ezoic

On top of the writing portion of this, because it was worked on during the pandemic, I had to really learn how to record myself properly at home to get the work done. In my previous projects I would always do demos at home, but they would just honestly be sh*tty recordings and then I’d take him to the studio. On this album, I did a lot of recording on my own which I’m very proud of and I feel like it helped make things feel even more honest and raw.

Tafari Anthony
Image source: Joshua Rille

What do you hope listeners take away from When I Met Your Girlfriend
Again, I hope people will appreciate the album as a whole body of work. I know we’re definitely in a singles culture and many people will think I’m crazy for putting out an album, and frankly sometimes I think what is the point? But, truly it just felt right to do it this way and part of that is because I feel like there was a full story to tell here. I hope when people listen to the album they feel seen and feel that it’s okay not to just be one version of themselves. We’re multifaceted as humans and the album doesn’t just span one genre or vibe. It may seem all over the place musically but it’s just an honest representation of what I enjoy and what feels good to me. I think people should do more of that; what feels good to you, what makes sense to you rather than what you feel people want from you or what you feel like you need to be doing. 

You’ve said that this album is “unapologetically” you. Is there a song you’ve written that your past self might have needed, growing up as a queer person? 
This is going to sound so conceited to say, but I could have used this whole album growing up as a queer person. Of course, our stories were being told but often more behind the scenes with a more heterosexual lens presenting them to us. So, we’d have to really dive deep into the lyrics to try and find the meanings and relate it back to our lives. Ezoic

It’s almost a mission of mine now to just write openly. Sometimes I might include he/him pronouns or direct references to situations men dating men would experience, if that’s how I’m feeling in that moment. Sometimes it’s a bit more abstract. But I think the more that we can just normalize hearing music that talks about all kinds of sexuality and it just not be a thing that’s like, “Oh my, did he just say that?” I think we’ll all be better off for it.

The album references different styles of queer relationships; I get in touch more with my sexy and flirty side just as much as my romantic and bad b*tch side. All of these things make me who I am, and I think had I heard music from queer artists growing up that was allowed to be so clearly queer, me personally and my artistry would’ve benefited a lot from that.

Image source: Joshua Rille

Are there any artists in particular that influenced your sound for your upcoming album? 
I remember going back to a lot of albums that I loved as a teenager. Two of the albums I really took a lot of inspiration from was Daniel Bedingfield’s Second First Impression and Christina Aguilera’s Stripped. I don’t think sonically my album fits these completely, but what I took from them was how eclectic and open both albums are. They both span many musical styles and to me do it so well. There’s many, many more inspirations obviously, but I’d say those two as full albums was something I was striving to achieve in creating a full body of work.Ezoic

In a recent TikTok, you said that you took time for yourself and were offline. We agree with you, but do you think people should (even briefly) disconnect and why? 
The short answer is, yes. I don’t think any of us were built to take in this much information all the time and personally for me, it’s exhausting. I can appreciate that I need social media to help push my career forward, but there’s such an air of always being available to everyone all the time. And so, when do you get take care of yourself, truly? 

As much as I try to have honest depictions online as well, the fact of the matter is it is curated and everything is a performance, even if it’s honest. That can be exhausting, and I think it’s very important to take care of ourselves and know when it’s too much. The internet can and will survive if I decide I need to take a week or a month away to be present in my offline life. Regardless of what the entails.