Brooklyn-born Talia Goddess is busy creating a cultural legacy of her own.
For her entire life, Talia has been surrounded by creativity. First introduced to music by her parents, a DJ and a singer, she and her nine siblings were always encouraged to follow their passions. The artist spent her early years as a dancer competing in shows, which was where she first developed her own relationship with music, going on to experiment with singing, doing covers and rapping proverbs. A natural performer, she would often steal the limelight at family functions, competing against the other kids. “I have a really big family — lots of cousins, aunts, all of that. We’d have a lot of family gatherings where there was always music. When I stepped foot in the place it was like a performance. I would just enjoy being in the centre and it kind of became a dance competition. Performing was the core of what really got me into music. This was in New York, before social media.”
Recognising how our consumption of music is constantly evolving through the latest technology and devices at our disposal, Talia credits her curiosity as the fuel that ignited her passion for production. “I would beg my mum for gadgets and just fuck around with it. We had an electric keyboard which had different sounds, so that’s kind of how I started producing,” she explains. I would layer the keys and add some drums, then add the bass, some chords and it just kept evolving.” Innovative and observational from a young age, Talia enjoyed experimenting through multiple channels and seeing what she could create.
Raised in a Caribbean community and going to her local elementary and middle school, Talia was predominantly surrounded by Caribbean music. It wasn’t until she went to high school that she found herself in a much more multicultural space. “As diverse as New York is, I wasn’t around that growing up. As I started to be around other people, I realised how my identity as a first-generation New Yorker, Caribbean, Black person in America shaped me in a lot of different ways. That it translates to my style or just the overall appreciation for the diaspora.”
Talia noticed that the prevalence of Caribbean music meant that her community wasn’t really in touch with other sounds. Taking time to research the many intersections that exist within Black music, she began to pay attention to the way different cultures and communities interact with it. “I find that there’s a lot of Black Americans who don’t really get into Caribbean music, they don’t know how to whine and that’s crazy. Similarly, with the rise of afrobeats, that’s a whole new thing to me too. But it’s not new, it’s just different cadences,” she says. “Growing up, I was listening to house music and seeing that it’s kind of gentrified in a way. You’d go to these white people clubs and hear the ‘oonts oonts’, but if you do your research, the ‘oonts oonts’ stemmed from Black music.”
Through her practice, Talia aims to challenge traditional narratives that exist by exploring the many genres that resonate with her. “What I hope to convey is authenticity and individuality in terms of production, just sonically, how it sounds. I’m trying to express my culture, my heritage and the things that make me who I am. It’s also a bit of an experiment to see what resonates with certain people. I do pop, I do rock. I’m really keeping it open. My target audience is real music lovers. People who can just appreciate the story and the artistry.”
Being in a culturally-rich environment like New York, Talia was exposed to many sections of the creative industry. From going to a performing arts school, to attending and throwing parties, singing and producing music and learning how to DJ, she’s already experienced a 360-degree view that many others her age could only dream of. With a talented network of artists around her, Talia came up with an idea to bring everyone together and do projects outside of school, by creating her own label and creative agency. “At the time, I was in high school around all these creatives — art, dance, drama, instrumental, vocal. I went to LaGuardia High School. Nicki Minaj went there, Timothée Chalamet, Alicia Keys, etc. So I’m thinking to myself, ‘Damn we should do some shit’, because you had your curriculum, but it wasn’t really current or relevant to what was actually going on in the arts, especially with streaming or digital art.”
Forming a creative network with her peers, Talia helped to facilitate projects and events around the city, from art murals in Brooklyn to poetry nights and writing sessions. As a full-time student and teenager juggling the complexities of life, she decided to put her project on pause. “Then Covid happened. It’s crazy, because I didn’t know my last day of high school was my last day of high school. I didn’t see a lot of people ever again to this day.” Concluding that the cost of attending college virtually wasn’t worth the financial value, Talia made the decision not to attend. Using her free time to reflect and research, she decided to rebuild the label and agency, refining it to focus on music while still intertwining other creative sectors.
“I rebranded it to TRANCE, and that was launched in 2020. It’s been a really cool network, and sort of a growing legacy through the events and quality of the content that’s produced,” she says. “It’s really nice to collaborate with other creatives, who at this point are either in college or doing their own independent thing. It’s also an extension of myself and what I feel is lacking in music, specifically from a sonic aspect. Even in nightlife, with the palette of music, there isn’t that community aspect. Everyone just wants to feel like a celebrity.” Collaborating with new artists through music videos, production, visuals and events, Talia and her team have their finger on the pulse and are taking New York by storm. Dedicated to amplifying the creativity of young musicians of colour, TRANCE pays homage to the multicultural city it was birthed in, helping to pave the way for future generations to come.
Last year Talia booked a one-way ticket to London, staying at her grandfather’s house. In the midst of fashion week chaos, she and a friend decided to throw a spontaneous party at The Jago in Dalston. “It was dope,” she tells me. Fast forward one year and she’s speaking to me from the north-east London flat she’s just moved into, curious and determined to explore what the city has to offer. As for her next steps? “I’m working towards an album. I wanted to draw up March 23rd 2023, so I’m kind of working backwards to figure it out and have it ready for then. I’ve been making a lot of really cool ideas and sort of just throwing paint on a canvas, and now I’m just trying to figure out what the picture is.”