After releasing a debut EP as strong as Wax, Los Angeles-based musician Talker, aka Celeste Tauchar, could have easily bide her time and hidden away from the world with the pandemic putting a handbrake on most thing in 2020. Instead, Talker just got down to it and used her time the best she could looking importantly inwards for inspiration, all the while keeping an eye on the world at large. As a result Tauchar created a new eight-track EP In Awe of Insignificance which perfectly captured the exuberant spirit of a musician in the midst of redefining herself. That said, it is here on this new record that Talker’s humility or confidence, depending how you want to see it, continues to peak with the sounds of atmospheric indie rock, touches of electronic brilliance and a voice you simply cannot ignore.
I first reached out to Celeste Tauchar back in 2020 just prior to the pandemic. More recently, we reconnected to chat about her new EP. Here is some of what we talked about.
Celeste, the last time we connected it was just prior to the global pandemic really hitting us. What have the last couple of years been like for you? What did you learn about yourself?
I think the last couple of years for me have been pretty similar to everyone else – I’ve done a lot of soul searching and turned inward a lot. I was lucky to be healthy and not have any family that was negatively impacted by COVID, which I recognize is not the case for everyone so I’m really grateful. So keeping that in mind, I really used this time to try to figure out what was important to me and figure out who I really am at the core when career and “hustle” and all of that goes away. I learned that I really love simplicity, I’m extremely introspective, and I really have tried to become someone who can appreciate the beauty in the small things. That’s kind of what the whole record is about. But it’s definitely been weird coming back into society, because I feel like I’ve had to almost let go of some of the things I learned to get back to the pace of life, but I don’t want to let that go. So I’m trying to find a balance now.
It must have been quite weird for you to have the release of your EP Wax in 2020 kind of turned on its head, particularly your ability to tour. Do you have any regrets now looking back at 2020?
It was definitely weird! But that was universal. Unfortunately, my experience was not a unique one in that all of us were totally put out, musicians and non-musicians alike. But I don’t have any regrets. I played a ton of livestreams back before we all got tired of those, and wrote & recorded this record. It was honestly my most creative year because I stopped being so obsessed with everything external and really just turned inward and had more time than before. Not to make light of what a terrible time it was, but I think I really used it in the best way I could.
In 2021, you started releasing new material. That process started with Light Me Up when you teamed up with Crooked Teeth. But Sad Chick was really your big return. Was Sad Chick a result of the time you were having at the height of the pandemic?
I actually hilariously wrote Sad Chick on Halloween in 2019! So before any of us were aware of the pandemic or what was about to happen. Apparently I have always just been this way.
You followed up Sad Chick with the bittersweet Summerlin. I love its simplicity, especially your delicate vocals and that seemingly haunting acoustic strumming. What did it feel like to (so-to-speak) hold up a magnifying glass to your experiences during the process of writing Summerlin?
To be honest, it didn’t really feel like I was holding up a magnifying glass. It was more that, I literally wrote it while I was having the experience. The day that I got back from Vegas/Summerlin I wrote the song. So that experience of being “five days in” in Summerlin was like, the day before I wrote the song. The emotions were so raw and there was really nothing to hide. It felt really good to just allow myself to feel that pain and express it in an honest way.
In your own words walk us through some of the themes you explore on your new record In Awe of Significance? Moreover, was it important that your lyrics reflect the world around you?
The main themes are really all within the realm of getting to know yourself. Like really, truly, getting to know yourself really well. I think that during the pandemic a lot of us were faced with a bit of an identity crisis as some of the things that we attached our understanding of ourselves to vanished. I know that was certainly the case for me. So from mental health and depression, to figuring out how to process things in a healthy way, to letting go of relationships that don’t serve you, and inviting in the ones that do, those are all in the mix. I think my lyrics always reflect the world around me because the world around me is reflected in my life and my perception of it.
Celeste, you haven’t lost any of your indie flair. If anything I feel like you have captured exciting new elements on your new record. Was this a conscious decision or something that evolved in the last few years?
I think it’s just something that’s evolved! I hope to never stop growing and changing as a musician – though it was definitely a conscious decision in the studio to try to elevate the sound and really lean in even harder than we had before.
There are some surprisingly very real and honest lyrics on the new record, maybe no more so than My Meds. Tell us a little bit about that song?
I wrote that song with two great friends and writers – Lauren Reiner & April Bender. Lauren and I started the song, particularly the verses, and then April came in and helped us with the chorus (she’s an absolute beast with hooks and chorus melodies). I had been going through a particularly difficult time emotionally and was feeling very numb, and Lauren was also in the process of switching up some meds – I won’t get into it further than that because that part is her story to tell. But we were both in this place where we wanted to write about this experience and capture that feeling of apathy that can come from meds and also just from any sort of vice. Sometimes trying to balance yourself can have a negative effect, and it can be difficult to tell if it’s better to feel pain or to feel nothing.
Your latest single For the Sake of It you manage to merge pop and dance into the mix. How did you make it work for you so effortlessly?
I don’t know! Haha. I listen to pop, dance, indie, everything, and I will say I think writing a good hook is one of my strengths. This one kind of poured out really easily and felt really natural.
I think IRL is one of the most straight-forward rock tracks on In Awe of Significance in which your vocals and that guitar line in the intro really draws you in. Please tell me something surprising about how it came together?
IRL was written over Zoom with my friend Danny Murcia of the band Ex Mañana – they came in with that main guitar riff as an idea, and then we collaborated together for the concept and topline. Something surprising…..the guitar is tuned down 3 half steps, so the bottom string is actually tuned to C#, because when we wrote it we loved the melody but it was way too high! But in order to keep the riff as it was we had to totally change the tuning. So now when I perform it I have to bring a separate guitar tuned specifically for that song.
Ok, your favourite track on In Awe of Significance and why?
That’s honestly an impossible question because I truly love all of these songs so much. But I think if I have to choose one, it’s Growing Up. It feels like my magnum opus. I wrote that one entirely on my own and it was one of the most cathartic experiences, I had to get that one out. It’s also the most fun to play live.
Finally, if I can ask one last question before I let you go. Celeste, you have made a jigsaw puzzle that’s for sale using your Sad Chick artwork. What a wonderful idea. What was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! I really wanted to do something interesting that was different than just apparel. Something that stood out and was a bit more unique. I thought that since Sad Chick is about depression and staying in, it would be fun to have a merch item that you can interact with if you’re depressed and staying inside all weekend. For me, that’s a puzzle.