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Most Memorable Song Midyear: talker’s “irl”

talker photo by Trini Sin

Photo by Trini Sin

Two Story Melody has kindly granted me permission to do a story on the best indie pop song I’ve heard this year. And the winner is…talker’s “IRL” from her new EP In Awe Of Insignificance.

talker is the indie rock project of Los Angeles-based Celeste Tauchar. In Awe’s eight songs run the gamut from irresistible emo (“Don’t Want You To Love Me”) and lost-love laments (“Summerlin” and “Little Bird”) to a rousing rock anthem (“Growing Up”) and an emotionally raw look at how mental health meds turn the world monochrome (“My Meds”).

My favorite song, however, is “IRL” – social media shorthand for “in real life.” For starters, the beauty of its melody stops you dead in your tracks – just like the first time you heard The Beach Boys’ “’Til I Die” or The Beatles’ “Because.” The lyric is brilliant, too: an exploration of relationship congruence that rarely happens in real life.

There’s impressive power and passion in talker’s vocal on the song. I don’t think Liz Phair or Susanna Hoffs could have come close to this performance.

Fresh off her role in Netflix’s current #1 movie Purple Hearts, the future looks bright for Celeste Tauchar. If there’s any justice in the universe, talker should be opening next summer for the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Maggie Rogers. Yes, in real life.

What’s the backstory on “IRL”?

In April 2020, I had a Zoom writing session with my friend Danny Murcia of the band Ex Mañana. I’m obsessed with their band so had been wanting to write together for a while. Danny came in with this really cool riff (the main riff you hear in the song) and thought we might be able to do something cool with it. At the time, I was getting back together with someone (the same person that “Don’t Want You To Love Me” is about), and was feeling like things were going really well. But it was also the start of the pandemic, when the world was totally shut down, and we didn’t have any external distractions, scheduling conflicts, or lifestyle differences to tear us apart. The last time we had tried to make it work, our schedules were totally out of sync, we couldn’t support each other emotionally, and it didn’t work. So I felt like while things were great now, it didn’t really feel like real life. All of our synchronicities, “seeing eye to eye”, “reading my mind”, etc., felt like it wasn’t going to happen anymore once we got back into real life.

We worked on the verse together, and then the chorus just naturally flowed out of me. I just sang it right away and it felt right. So it all came very naturally!

 Can you tell us more about some of the Salvador Dali/surreal images in the video, e.g., the dangling phone in a tree, the milk flowing backwards, etc. How do they tie into the song’s theme about a relationship where both people have the potential to be wildly “all in” and attuned?

These came together as I was creating the concept for the video. I knew that I wanted it to have a psychedelic feel and be other-worldly, but I didn’t necessarily have any specific images for it yet. As I found the locations and saw what was possible with each of them, the props and more specific setups came together.

All of those images are really meant to capture that feeling that we’re not operating in real life. In theory, the people have the potential to be “all in” in the song, but the point is really that we never actually do that in reality, once the honeymoon phase is over. So I wanted this to feel like that moment and feel very much not like real life.

There are at least four songs on “In Awe” that allude to a relationship that ended abruptly. Is there a chance it still might work out?

We actually got back together very shortly after all these songs were written!

When you take the vocal up a notch at the end with “burn it down,” what’s the “it” you’re referring to? (“burn it down until there’s nobody else around”) Is it a call to burn down the conventional relationship and replace it with the willingness to “jump into the sun” in total commitment?

It’s really like, we could burn everything down around us that hurts us and our relationship. All the responsibilities, external pressures, that can wear on a relationship. We can burn everything down and live in our own little world. But again, that’s not real life.

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