She’s played bass alongside guitar legends like Jeff Beck, virtuosos like Herbie Hancock, and even Mick Jagger. She’s performed in front of millions, opening for acts like The Who. She’s even put out her own album, an instrumental affair with a focus on her bass playing.
But Tal Wilkenfeld has another side to her artistry as well — and for the first time, she gets to show off her singer/songwriter chops, on her new album “Love Remains.”
Before that album’s March 15 release date, though, she’ll be previewing the new tracks at Mercury Lounge on Monday and Tuesday. So, we caught up with the 32-year-old Australian singer, songwriter and bassist to talk about singing and the influence of those megastars with whom she’s shared the stage.
This is the first time that your voice and lyrics have been at the center of your music. Is that exciting? Scary?
Definitely exciting, because this side of me has been brewing for such a long time, and yet so few people know that I’m a singer/songwriter as well as a bass player. When I first came onto the scene, a lot of people saw me playing bass with Jeff Beck or Herbie Hancock, and quite a few years ago I made a conscious decision to start working on songs with lyrics and putting a lot of effort into making this album. And people are going to finally hear what I’ve been working on for many years. I guess for some people they might think it’s a really huge leap. But for me, it feels like a natural progression. Instrumental music was another way of me speaking. Music is a language, so I did feel like I was communicating, just in a different way. So, it is nice to assign some words to my communications.
What do you do to prevent some of those artists from being outsized influences on your work?
I purposely shelter myself from other music, especially while writing, because I’m a sponge — we all are. I’m conscious of how much of a sponge I am, so when I’m getting into writing mode, I don’t listen to a lot of music. As of late, my favorite form of entertainment is comedy, because you get to hear someone’s point of view on the world with a comedic spin. It influences your state of mind, without putting notes in your head.
So many songwriters have fascinations, or ideas that they come back to a lot. What are yours? What piques your interest?
This current album is very much focused on love and loss, and I think that was a very necessary album for me to do. Now that that’s out of my system — something that’s always fascinating for me, and I’ve touched on in certain songs, is Eastern thought. I want to go to India and spend some time there. I meditate, and I’m fascinated with that aspect of living and perceiving the world. It’s hard to write about, but it influences who you show up as, and therefore your writing is different.
Tal Wilkenfeld performs at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday at Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St., $25, mercuryeastpresents.com