by Inda Yansané

Q & A: Tali

by Inda Yansané

Q & A: Tali

Auckland MC, singer and songwriter Tali Sheppard released her new single Powerful today. Raising money for domestic violence charity Women’s Refuge, Sheppard hopes that the song’s messages can motivate some social change and get New Zealander’s to think about the impact of objectification and shaming of women. Inda Yansané caught up with her.

How obvious and gradual was it to build bridges between all your fields of expertise – singing, songwriting, producing, mentoring, teaching, writing a book, being a celebrant? Is it just one big artistic endeavour with different aspects to it?

I have never set out to add so many strings to my bow, I guess it is just a case of I am a person who loves to try new things, push myself and follows whichever flames ignite my heart. I have always been a writer since I was a little girl and this kind of goes hand and hand with songwriting and singing. Writing a book (and completing it) has always been an ambition of mine – it was just a matter of finding the time to do it! I am also writing an autobiography which I am releasing in blog form at the moment,

I hope to eventually compile and release this in book form also.

Learning production came from my impatience in waiting on producers to come through, and my frustration at wanting a particular sound for a song, but not being able to create it myself. I thought ‘If you want a certain sound then make it yourself!’ so I set about learning how to produce, which while at times was just as frustrating and challenging, was also incredibly liberating and empowering.

I got my teaching degree before I left NZ for the UK simply to appease my parents as they felt it was something I could fall back on if the MCing malarky didn’t work out. I actually never wanted to teach but it turns out I am rather good at it and enjoy it – and you know the saying – ‘Those who can – teach’! I feel I wouldn’t nearly be as good at it as I am though if I hadn’t had the experience as a full-time recording artist and touring musician. This has also meant I have had a lot of ups and downs and therefore this led into inspirational speaking and mentoring.

I can usually relate to a lot of the issues that other musicians are going through!

With regards to being a marriage celebrant – that just led on from public speaking, writing (as you have to write the couple’s ceremony) and my love of romance and marriage!

You have been back in Aotearoa for six years – after more than ten years spent in the UK – how much does your UK stint still influence your work today?

I still make music with UK producers, release music on UK labels and go there every year to perform, so it’s still very close to my heart. As well as this – so much of the Drum’n’Bass that I love still comes out of the UK (and some from Europe) so I am undoubtedly influenced by certain producers and vibes in creating my own music.

Many female artists complain about misogyny in the music industry: are the DnB and EDM worlds particularly misogynistic and/or surprisingly supportive?

It’s interesting because there have been moments when I have felt incredibly supported and not really felt marginalised at all – but then when I look at the scene today, there is still very little in the way of Female representation and most obviously hardly any MC’s. I used to get a lot of hate when I first started out, predominantly from men in particular, who were furious that I dare enter this ‘man’s world’ of DnB and MCing. But I was always treated really kindly by my colleagues who stuck up for me and were very protective of me, and who genuinely believed in me as a talent and an artist.

There have definitely been times over the years when some promoters or DJs have made comments that I deemed inappropriate or incredibly ignorant, but I am not a wallflower and have always, and will always call people out when I feel they have overstepped the line.

I am still incredibly frustrated by male dominated lineups in DnB and EDM. I think it comes down to laziness on the promoters par and a lack of understanding what inclusivity means for the future of the music.

People always bring up the argument that if you are good enough it shouldn’t matter if you are male or female, but at the end of the day I think this is bull shit. If you really want quality then why are you booking that white male EDM producer who makes average music that sounds like a bunch of other dudes?… Yet if you’re booking a female she has to be exceptional, or extra unique, and god forbid there be another female on the lineup who makes the same genre of music! I mean come on!!!

I applaud those who try to think outside the box when booking acts. There are definitely some promoters in NZ who need to pull their socks up and not just think about $$ but there are also others who understand the positive effect inclusivity means, and go out of their way to book talented female artists, to create a (semi) balanced lineup, some of them even breaking new talent in doing so!

You have just released a single called Powerful whose proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Refuge. Which practical steps can a young female artist take to avoid over-sexualisation and objectification today?

It isn’t really about the artist in this case. I feel It’s society as a whole that needs to stop objectifying Women and seeing sexualisation as normal. The media and advertising have a lot to answer for. They socially condition young Women to think they are not good enough, that they need to conform, to be sexier, be desirable, be better, be ‘more’.


I say – just do you. Look how you wanna look. Be sexy if you wanna own that, be fierce, be quiet, be romantic, be masculine, be innocent, be strong…whatever! And most of all – be original. If you are doing you, your music and your sound will reflect this and stand out as it should.

Powerful‘s video shows your husband and yourself in a tender embrace twice – how can society emphasize healing and reconciliation instead of conflict between men and women?

The reason why I have my husband in the video is because I truly believe that while we should be able to feel powerful and strong independently of others; When we have a loving, sensitive and supportive partner behind us, we can be unstoppable! I think in order to emphasise healing and reconciliation, we need to teach our children from a young age what love and respect truly means, and to recognise when it is coming from a healthy place. We also need to teach that we are not the definition of what happens to us, that cycles can be broken, that new habits can be learned.