Brixton singer Tanika might come across as quite ballsy and brash, but hidden behind the excitable bad gal personality is a vulnerability, which she expresses in the pulsating urban pop music she has such a knack for creating. Years of musical struggle and frustration led up to her signing to Virgin EMI Records in 2013, and the release of her first official single ‘Bad 4 U’. Having worked with MNEK, Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and countless others, Tanika has only just released her Fucking With Your Heart EP, but is already anticipating her debut album, which she says is due in January.
We had a chat to Tanika about being run over by a lorry, a chance encounter with Kanye West, and her track ‘Nines’ which might be the biggest hit of the century.
You premiered your new EP on the weekend, tell us about that?
A lot of the songs were made at different times, but they all represent a part of me and I wanted it to show that. The EP is called Fucking With Your Heart, and I wrote the lead song in November, which is a really personal song for me, and obviously it’s really self-indulgent but I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to share it with everyone. Every song has its own identity and its own sound and I wanted to get that across rather than be musically pigeonholed so early on. So the EP is the opportunity to do what I want.
What was weird, is that I wrote ‘Party Till We Fight’ about three years ago, and it was a chorus I had for ages, but it got forgotten about, but I happened to meet Lady Leshurr in a session a few weeks prior to when we were doing the EP. I was in a session and she came down to EMI studios and I met her and she was just so nice, and I automatically loved her, I already loved her music and what she was doing so when I had done the song I was like ‘I want Lady Leshurr on there!’. So I asked Yungen if he could do it and he sent it back the next day, I asked her if she could do it and she literally sent it back by the same evening, and it came back and I was going apeshit like ‘YEAH!’.
So, ‘Party Till We Fight’… Are you good in a fight?
Potentially. No one would even want to fight me though, I’m way too cool for anyone!
A lot of pop music is about sob stories when people get dumped and bitch about their ex, but in ‘Bad 4 U’ you’re basically saying people should stay away because you’re nasty. Are you actually that bad?
I’m not a bad person, but I’m kind of at that stage now where I don’t have the time to love anyone, I don’t have that kind of energy to invest, so I guess that’s how it came about. I guess it does make me the bad guy but I have got to prioritise, so no broken hearts over here.
Your ‘Bad 4 U’ video saw you getting run over by a truck which was quite cool. Was that truck Bad 4 U or Good 4 U?
Do you know what, it was good and it was bad for me. To shoot it was so fucking scary, I swear, we had to do it like a thousand times and I was scared that the truck was going to touch me. It was like, god, I am trusting this driver with my career right now, and he nailed it!
It would have been a bit unfortunate if he’d run you over.
Can you imagine? ‘So yeah she was working forever, and it was her first official video, and she’d put all her energy and her work into it and then the truck fucking ran her over’. Can you imagine?!
Have you got an equally exciting idea for the ‘Fucking With My Heart’ video?
Yeah we’re shooting that next week. I wanted to be really honourable and honest, and really arty as well, because ‘Bad 4 U’ with me and a truck is a bit out of the box, and that’s what the ‘Fucking With My Heart’ video is going to be like. I wanted it to be really vulnerable because ‘Bad 4 U’ portrays me as this hard girl, but I want to show people that I’m human as well, and went through heartbreak. ‘Fucking With My Heart’ is an honest song and it comes from that place, so I kind of wanted to show that in the video, because every time I hear it or perform it, it still takes me back to that place. Obviously I’m still haunted by my ex, so I wanted the video to show that, that artistry, and that vulnerability.
Now that the EP is out, is there an album in the works?
Oh hell yeah! I’m literally still writing and recording it but we’re looking to get it out at the beginning of next year, beginning of January next year hopefully.
Have you got a song which you’re keeping back which you know is going to be the hit of the century?
Oh good lord, yes I do! It’s called ‘Nine’. We wrote this song so many years ago. I was in a session, and it’s like when I first joined the Naughty Boy camp, and I was with him, he had Grey Goose, it was an early sunny afternoon, and I had a session with these guys called MOJAM and a girl called Maiday who wrote ‘Don’t Go’. It was her in that session, and I was pretty tipsy and off it, and she looked at me like ‘who the hell is this girl?!’ and I offered her some vodka and she said no, so I was like, okay cool, and I was just lazing on the sofa drunk. They played the beat and I was laying there and I just sang ‘There are 9 billion people in this world, but I want you’ and everyone in the room, their faces just lit up, they were like ‘OH MY GOD’, everyone just went mad, and the song was just based around that, and we called it ‘Nine’. That was the song that A&R got interested in as part of my deal, and it’s still the first single we’re going to come with now, so that song I am so excited for everyone to hear it. I did it years ago, and I still listen to it now like, oh my god when is this song going to hit the radio! ‘Nine’ is my most exciting song, I can’t wait for the day that it comes out.
There are so many names it’s unreal. I want to get a song done with Sam Smith because we’re good friends and he’s really busy at the moment but I want to create a song with him. Tinie Tempah, Kanye West… my fucking imagination, I want to work with everyone.
Imagine you and Kanye. That would be good.
I met him when I was 14, he asked me to sing for him but I froze because I was so obsessed with him at that time as well, and he started singing, for me to sing along, but I couldn’t! But I was like, one day, I’m going to get a fucking record deal, and I’m going to reach out to him and be like, ‘do you remember me from years ago with your mum?’ and he’ll be there like ‘oh my god’.
You could have been Kim Kardashian!
OH, DO NOT REMIND ME! I can’t believe I let my opportunity go!
What are your plans for the summer?
I’m trying to sort out my own headline show, hopefully if we get some momentum going we can sort out a headline show and I’ve got a record coming out with Naughty Boy this year that will be part of his repackaged album, so that’s going to be one of the singles, but he’s doing a lot of the festivals so I’m not sure if I’m going to be singing ‘Get Lucky’ with him or the new record that we’ve done. But hopefully I should be doing all the summer festivals with him this year, and hopefully get some of my own to do!
Listen to the Fucking With My Heart EP below: