Talia Keys is a rock star who recently released the visual to her single, “We’re Here,” in honor of Pride Month. As a lesbian, Talia wanted to create a song with an inclusive message. The music video features several Queer, trans, enby artists, and drag queens including Madazon Can-Can, who stars as a gender non-binary drag king, burlesque dancer and clown in the video. “We’re Here” is a feel-good, reggae-inspired anthem.
Talia Keys is both an activist and a musician who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. She has been playing instruments since early childhood. She recently discussed her career and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for music?
Talia Keys (TK): From a very young age, I was drawn to music. I used to bang on pots and pans and play air guitar with a tennis racket. I started with piano lessons at age nine and then drums at ten. I became obsessed with Elvis and used to impersonate him in front of my class. Leather jacket, slicked back hair… even back up girls in poodle skirts! Music was my favorite thing and still is.
MM: How did you break into the industry?
TK: I started by going to as many open mics, blues jams, open jams and local shows as I could find. An artist has to put themself out there to prove their worth. I played drums and sang lead in a band called Marinade for eight years, touring the mountain towns of Utah, Colorado and Idaho. I started to play solo so I could play more shows and that made it possible for me to tour even further. My current project, Talia Keys and The Love, have been together for about six years.
MM: How did you develop your musical style?
TK: By listening to other artists, for sure. I grew up with great music being played in the house and I went to a lot of concerts. My first concert was Kenny Loggins, then Oingo Boingo, which totally influenced me. My first show with friends was No Doubt. Seeing Gwen Stefani lead her band definitely made an impact on me. I also played a lot of shows and had to fill four hours a night at the bars, so I learned a lot of cover songs. I found what worked and what didn’t. Luckily more worked than not. Nothing like cutting your teeth in front of people.
MM: You are an activist as well as a musician. How does your creativity help you promote the causes that you believe in?
TK: For me, music is medicine. I use my music as a way to relay information, share my heart and tell my truth. I couldn’t make music that I didn’t resonate with, especially if it lacks substance.
MM: How did you come up with the concept for “We’re Here”?
TK: My partner Melahn and I have been creating music videos for a long time together. We often start with chatting about ideas and then seeing the best ideas to completion. I have always wanted to make a music video in a theater and it was a dream come true to film inside the legendary and haunted Capitol Theater. The song is three parts to me. Three personalities. I had met Madazon Can-Can (the star of the video) at our local Pride Festival and seen their talents. I knew they would be perfect to convey the message in a playful, theatrical and queer way!
MM: How long did it take to write?
TK: The song came very quickly. I started with the eerie clown riff and the outro and the rest just came out. It’s rare when that happens and when it did, I knew it would be special.
MM: How long did the music video take to film?
TK: We filmed in four hours.
MM: What was the atmosphere like on set?
TK: We had a blast on set but it was also all business. We had a lot of scenes to get and Madazon had three full costume and makeup changes. So, we were working!
MM: Which are the most memorable songs you’ve created and why?
TK: This one for sure. I have released three solo albums and they all have memorable songs for different reasons. Each one has a message or a story from my heart to your ears. But with, “We’re Here”, you can’t help but get the sing along sections stuck in your head and the riff definitely sticks around.
MM: What has been the highlight of your career as a musical artist?
TK: Touring the United States for six years was incredible. We have so much beauty and culture, and amazing food and drink! I never thought I would have seen so much of this country. I also really enjoy playing our Pride Festivals. Seeing thousands of queers in the audience, singing along to your songs, is the best feeling.
MM: What are your ultimate musical and/or career goals?
TK: I would love to keep doing this until I am gone. I would love to get management and a booking agent so I could spend more time on the creative aspects and less time at the computer. I would love to play in the theaters and large venues of the world.
MM: What is coming up next for you?
TK: We have some local (Utah) summer shows and we just released a new record in April. I would love to get back on the road and play these songs! We also have three more music videos to make for that record. So that will be fun to get back to creating visuals.
MM: Final message for fans this season of Pride?
TK: Be you, the best version of you. You have passion, power and purpose and your existence is a resistance!
Photos by Stefan Poulos