INTRODUCING: Thallo

INTRODUCING: Thallo

Thallo aka Elin Edwards has been quietly building a reputation for evocative and rich, bilingual compositions.

Thallo takes her name from the Greek goddess of flowers and spring. With lyrics in both Welsh and English, her five-piece sound takes influence from the archaic lore and personal experience, crafting beguiling canvases borne of her elegant vocals and intricate arrangements: encapsulating elements of jazz, folk and electronic.

Thallo released ‘I Dy Boced’ in 2019, has performed at The Great Escape, Other Voices, Focus Wales and will be performing at SXSW Festival 2022. So we thought we would catch up with her to find out more about her life and work.

“I’ve just been doing lots of piano teaching, I’ve just been getting back into some work.”
Based between London and Penygroes, Gwynedd, Thallo talks about her life returning to some kind of normality after eighteen months of lockdown.

“I’ve just been doing some full band gigs in the last month. I’ve been really enjoying playing in front of an audience because a lot of the past gigs I’ve done have been really weird playing to no-one or in front of a camera. So it’s been really really special getting to have that connection again and do like a real performance,”
she says. It was the first time I played in front of a audience and they clapped and I was like what is this? It’s definitely still feeling strange, its going to take a bit of time to adjust but I’m loving it still!”

Recently released, her haunting new single ‘Pressed and Preserved’ is a delight. Rich and textured, this instrumental sweep is laced with Thallo’s poignant reflections on the potency of fleeting love and tragedy of cutting a relationship thriving perfectly in its prime. Like pressed flowers, preserved as immaculate memories.

“That was the whole goal of the song to make that rich texture!” Thallo reveals. “I started the arrangement with thirteen clarinet tracks. I’ve got really talented musicians in my band. I had to piece off the different parts to the different instruments.”

It was really weird we never got to workshop this song because we were in lockdown, so I was like ‘I hope this clarinet part suits trumpet’. I had to use viola instead of clarinet and I had to go for a lower instrument, they had to fit.”

The surreal Midsommar-esque visual in the song’s video plays the antiquated idea of the hysterical woman, something Thallo was branded on her long journey for acknowledgment and answers for mobility issues that shapes her music with light and shade. “It is a bit of a weird one, I have been having difficulty walking and standing since the first lockdown. It was a while back now,” she explains. “I guess I just found that it was really hard to be listened to by health professionals. Not being believed, that’s where the hysterical woman comes from, it is woven in the video. The woman in the video is having these feverish hallucinations while she is on her death bed so there’s different inspirations.”

The video shows Thallo thrashing in the bedroom of an old manor as she slowly expires, resigning to insanity and death. Amidst unsettling visitors and temporal confusion, in the closing moments her lifeless body is shown painted and framed preserved in memory and estimation. “The music video had to work around me and my limitations, so a lot of it is me lying in the bed so the concept had to work around me. There’s a few clips I’m dancing around the fire. That was the first time I had danced for a long time, it was pushing the limitations but I was glad we got to capture that,” she explains. “The crew doing the video were so helpful making the video, getting me to the location and and thinking what can we do with me lying down. So it was lying down in the lake, the crew were so great and considerate. I am glad I can do a really fun video despite the struggle making it.”

 

The title also has a deeper meanings, referring to a farewell gift to a loved one. A bittersweet memory of love to be preserved. “It was a really beautiful memory where my partner at the time, we had to break up because he had to move countries and I had to give him some pressed flowers and a memory,” she recalls. “It was unfortunate to have the relationship cut because we were very happy. To have the relationship preserved in the form of fresh flowers follows the journey of the story to the end.”

With a new EP in the works, Thallo talks about how she is channeling the frustrations of her condition and the limitations of recent months, into her new songs. “The new songs that I am recording now are all going to be about that. I have just poured all of my rage and worry into these new songs, they are going to be really angry upbeat songs, which is something I haven’t done before.” She shares how they will sound too. “They are less chilled than what I’ve done before. The lyrics are quite angry, taking from what I felt because of having that kind of chronic pain. I couldn’t concentrate at the time to write lyrics, so I would improvise lyrics whilst writing and recording demos at home by myself. I couldn’t go out to meet my band because I was housebound at the time so the writing feels different with these songs.”

Thallo’s classical and jazz flecked compositions including companion piece ‘The Water‘, possess a depth and widescreen quality inspired by orchestral arrangements, woodwind and clarinet. She reveals her newer works are moving in a more electronic direction though, a fusing of both the acoustic and synthetic sounds. A marriage of the two. “I’ve been enjoying getting more into synths and more electronic but mixing it in with orchestral arrangements, I’m working on new little songs for next year.” 

“I really love Fox Warren, its Andy Shauf and his friends. It’s really nice synths and there’s some woodwind and stuff in there as well. I like those two worlds together, those synthetic sounds and those really acoustic sounds. I have always been wary of electronic instruments, I first started on an acoustic guitar now I’m going to full band synths and woodwind. I need to get out of my comfort zone and try some new things – in a good way.”

With long COVID and COVID touching many lives, Thallo’s own health journey will speak to universal events in people’s lives in the last few years. “One of my friends the trumpet player in my band she got long COVID we had to change the parts because with COVID it affects your lungs,” she points out.

“I depend on others to help me at the moment, I am lucky to have that help, you don’t really often see people having any mobility assistance to festivals or gigs,” she confides. “Just getting to a rehearsal room is complicated. I have to plan everything in advance. A lot of the music venues I have dealt with have been trying their best to make it work, the help is there but its still challenging at times.”

With SXSW among the dates she has lined up for next year as well as a new EP, 2022 could be a big year for Thallo – a Welsh artist with a wealth of potential. “I’ve never performed in the US before. It’s going to be really interesting, what they will think of some Welsh language or bilingual music! I am really excited I’ve always wanted to get to SXSW, just to see people play not necessarily to play myself! I am doing a showcase for Focus Wales and doing other gigs around Austin, the music venues look incredible. There’s so many bars that look trapped in time like little museums, I have only ever done UK gigs its going to be a huge step for me. Hopefully next year I will have my EP launch show in Cardiff at Clwb Ifor bach!”

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