Tarah Who? is a grunge-punk band masterminded by Tarah G. Carpenter joined by Coralie Hervé and Joey Southern to form a trio. Their new EP 64 Women will be released on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8th, in reference to the 64 women who were incarcerated with her at the downtown L.A. immigration jail on November 2016. We spoke to the band to find out more about the release, its relevance and how they got to where they are now.
Authentic, loud, and raw. We don’t try to sound like anyone or to fit in a specific genre. We play what feels right, and with intention.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Tarah Who?
CH: I joined Tarah Who? in the summer of 2017. Tarah and I were friends on Facebook, we had common friends but we had never met, I sent her a message when I knew that I was coming to Los Angeles to study at the Musicians Institute. She messaged me when she was looking for a drummer for her band.
The rest is history hahahaha.
JS: I am the newest member of the band coming up on almost a year now. We met back in April 2018 via Facebook messenger…
“Hi Joe, I am contacting you because I am looking for a bass player for my band Tarah Who? If you like what you hear hit me back. Have a good day! “ Tarah…
Random, it seemed strange and went unanswered for six whole days. The idea rolled around in my head enough and I decided I needed to listen to the songs. Two weeks later we left on a west coast tour and we have been constantly working ever since! Each experience seems better than the last.
TGC: I started Tarah Who? in 2006. I had just moved to Los Angeles. I played drums and bass in different bands but when I found myself alone in LA, I made a demo of the songs I had written on the side. A producer noticed me on Myspace. (Yah no mistake here.. 2006 the myspace days :) ). He offered to work with me on making a good sounding first album.
13 years later, I have played with a lot of musicians and those years of experience took me to Coralie and Joey who are today, the best thing that has happened to Tarah Who? :)
Who do your take inspiration from?
JS: Living in Los Angeles surrounded by talented professionals who have the same drive and aspirations is inspiring. The three of us also inspire each other. I see how hard Tarah and Coralie work. That inspires me to work harder!!!
TGC: People and life events essentially. Human behavior and the brain fascinate me for some reason. Anything and anyone can inspire me.. I don’t really how or when it comes… I am either in tune with someone or a situation or I am not…
Why the name ‘Tarah Who?’?
TGC: This was totally random. When I started playing as a band, we had a bunch of shows lined up. We were going by my legal name at the name. Turns out, another woman named just like me, half vietnamese, half French was blowing up in France. She had a song release in a movie and she did not use her face to advertise.
So no one knew who she was. When I booked our shows, people thought that I was her. We either got the gigs because of that… but then they would be shocked when we got on stage and rocked their stage. Or we would NOT get the shows and bookers probably thought “why does she want to play in a punk underground secret venue?”.
I started looking for new band names. I sent an email with a list of names, and out of all the names in that list, everyone said: “ we actually prefer the subject of the email” which was Tarah Whooo??. We picked that, booked all of our shows with that name. It’s been 13 years… I think it’s a bit late to change now :)
How would you describe your musical style?
CH: Tarah Who?’s sound is a mix between rock/punk/grunge but at the same time is unique, I don’t really know to describe it. The three of us, Tarah, Joey and I, have really different musical background and influences so all of that is mixed in our sound.
JS: Its a touch of this and that, reminding you of the grunge years and the countless sub genres stretching to and beyond rock. Most importantly it is a breath of fresh air, original and meaningful. Every note played with a specific purpose and intention from dynamically soft to chaotically hard and that is evident in Tarah’s finger’s.
I have had fingers bleed as well over time, however Tarah’s fingers continue to bleed upon constant use and driving strumming. Tarah drives Coralie and I to play harder and louder than ever before. We play hard, we play loud and we play with purpose!!!
TGC: Authentic, loud, and raw. We don’t try to sound like anyone or to fit in a specific genre. We play what feels right, and with intention.
I make sure that Coralie and Joey know what the songs are about so that they can relate and feel the song. We are ROCK and all of its sub-genre depending on which song you listen to.
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
CH: I’m a big fan of Nightwish, a symphonic metal band, so I’ll say them.
TGC: Honestly, I just discovered Bala, a duo from Spain. I am a little bit obsessed with them. I would love to tour with them, but yeah if we could do one song together I think it would be amazing!
Tell us about your new EP ‘64 Women’, released on International Women’s Day. How does IWD relate to the songs?
TGC: A few years ago, I was traveling back to the US from France. Immigration did not let me in because the officer was under the impression that I had overstayed my visa by one day: I knew I had not but I did not have a proof. I ended up going to an immigration jail that day until the next morning.
I spoke to one of the woman who joined me in the cell later. She told me a little bit about the women and the jail. She said that there were 64 women in that immigration jail at the time I was there. She told me a little but about those women. This is why the cover of the album and the ep is dedicated to them.
I just think International Women’s day was appropriate. For these women and the ep.
What’s it about?
TGC: The songs have different topics.
‘Linger’ is about boredom basically. Being broke and bored :) I thought of this song as a drum song to play with rhythm and timing. The live version is a little bit more hectic :)
‘Copycat’: well… It’s about being yourself and not wasting your time trying to be someone else that you will never be.
‘Hurt’ is about a friendship and betrayal. Someone letting you down.
‘Umbilicus’ is about men (but really people in general) who can’t take any responsibility for their actions. Who always think that their problems are more important that any others.
‘Numb Killer’ is about trying to make sense of an act of terrorism.
When did you write the songs on ‘64 Women’, and where did you record them?
CH: I had the chance to record the drums with the Master Thomas Lang, it was an amazing experience !!!
JS: I recorded the bass tracks with Jason Orme in his studio in Los Angeles!
TGC: I wrote the songs over the the past couple years I would say?We recorded the drums at Thomas’s studio like Coralie mentioned. Then we moved all the tracks to Jason’s studio in Hollywood and recorded the guitars bass and vocals. Matt Houdini from Lujuria joined us the last day of recorded for the backing vocals and some screams.
How does ‘64 Women’ represent your style?
JS: It starts loud and chaotic. On stage we play hard and fast but not every song is this way. The middle track on the EP is our newest single “Hurt”. It is more of a ballad and we finish the EP again loud and chaotic dishing up a fully loaded Tarah Who sandwich!!!
TGC: Again, we don’t try to fit in a category. We are independent so we get to choose and experiment. I have more songs that are ready but those felt right for this EP. I think the gist of Tarah Who? is in each one of our releases. It is definitely Rock, loud, and there’s at least one cute, slow, pretty song. There is a lot of sarcasm or humor too? You can’t listen to Tarah Who? and take all of the songs seriously!
What are your hopes for ‘64 Women’?
JS: Let’s get it on the radio!!! Anyone who believes in the music do us a solid and call your local radio station and tell them to play some Tarah Who?!!!
TGC: It is the first EP with the 3 of us. I really hope to get some more attention with this EP,so that we start recording a new one and continue our adventure. So far, all of the shows that we have played with the new songs are very promising.
How’s 2019 shaping up for you?
CH: Amazing!!! We have a lot coming up this year. We began with a residency at the Redwood in downtown Los Angeles in January, we are actually on tour right now to promote our upcoming EP ‘‘64 Women’’ and we will go to France and the UK to promote it in September.
JS: 2019 is amazing!!! We are currently on tour right now with Yur Mum (UK) and having a blast meeting new fans and making memories!!! TGC: 2019 is starting really good for us actually! We are very excited for all of the beautiful things coming up. CAn’t reveal too much just yet, but if you have not watched our music video yet, check it out:
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
JS: I would go back to 2011 when I first moved to Los Angeles and I would say, “You need to find Tarah G. Carpenter”
TGC: Hahaha Joey! I really don’t know… I love this journey. I learned so much from every experience (positive and negative) I would not change anything because it has made me who I am today. The not knowing is exciting, scary, and nerve wrecking at time but it would not be fun any other way.
For Tarah Who? news and tour dates go to tarahwho.com.