This past weekend at Vancouver’s Beaumont Studios, a well stocked cash-bar and a small elevated stage set the scene for the release of local musician Talia Udsen’s debut EP infiniteme. One imagines that similar words have been spoken about countless aspiring artists; a select few, having gone on to great success, might wistfully tell the story of their humble beginnings. Meanwhile, a far greater number speak, with perhaps even greater nostalgia, of the time they performed for a room full of friends and family and were made to feel like stars.
Where this particular artist will land in terms of commercial success and artistic accomplishments is anyone’s guess, as even the brightest talents often don't shine for very long. Nevertheless, it's always exciting when a youthful new voice makes itself known and demands to be heard.
“I've always known what I wanted to do” says Udsen, “when I was ten I wanted to be Beyonce's backup dancer. And as I started getting a little bit older I realized I wanted to be Beyonce.”
Homeschooled in Alberta, Udsen trained extensively in dance, music, and piano and upon graduating high school a year early, moved to Vancouver in order to advance her career. “I thought I was moving here for dance…But I realized that with the dance community here, I will always be trying to mold myself into a role and trying to portray myself as something that I'm not so that someone will like me and give me a job… So I decided that I didn't want to be fitting myself into all of these molds anymore.”
And so, through her affiliations with the Vancouver-based dance crew TwoFourSeven, Udsen connected with producer Jayme Mcdonald and began work on the two songs—‘youyouyou’ and ‘catch22’—that would become infiniteme.
“infiniteme is exactly what it sounds like,” says Udsen. “I am infinitely myself and that’s what I want to portray with this music. I want to bring a level of honesty, and authenticity that I feel like we’re missing a little bit. I just want to be real with myself, and I feel like that’s what’s going to connect with most people… So infiniteme for me is just about being true to yourself and being honest with yourself.”
With these ideas in mind, Udsen took the stage Saturday evening to the delight of a crowd filled with many friends and admirers. Opener Ryan Morrissette warmed up the crowd with two songs from his album Just Breathe. With playful lyrics and a flow that was, at times, more than a little reminiscent of Eminem (perhaps it’s unfair that all fair skinned, post millennium rappers are destined to suffer such comparisons, but in this case the comparison is both warranted and complimentary), Morrissette performed his songs with the confidence and charisma of a seasoned professional. Morrissette was followed by visiting Calgary rapper Lemmy who offered a slightly more chaotic—but nevertheless energetic and entertaining—hip-hop performance before the stage was set for Udsen, whose live performance of her EP didn’t disappoint.
Up first for Udsen was “Us-22”—a piano backed ballad inspired by a moment in which staying in her relationship meant putting her own dreams on hold. The performance demonstrated Udsen’s clear voice and burgeoning potential as a singer-songwriter. Although some of the song’s lyrics come across as somewhat trite:—‘I don’t want you to go, can’t do this on my own/I can’t picture me without you/cuz you’re the only one my fire my sun/when the rain comes pouring down’— the youthful vulnerability of the sentiment offered a reminder of what it’s like to be young, in love, and on the verge of heartbreak.
Udsen’s second song, ‘youyouyou,’ offered a glimpse of where she might fit into the contemporary music scene. Udsen, backed by five dancers, performed the upbeat RnB song with a Beyoncean energy and ferocity that would have made her idol proud. Lyrically, the song captured the ethos and approach to music that Udsen has insisted upon as the song contains a short interlude in which she states “as humans we’ve decided that life is a competition, that the world is out to get us and that others are the enemy—maybe instead consider, that anything we see or hear or feel is a direct reflection of yourself.”
The evening appeared to be a great success and served as a promising start for a young artist who, despite her years of training, is only just beginning her journey. And while the recording industry can be notoriously demanding and fickle, Udsen, who teaches piano and works as a manager at a local restaurant to pay her bills, is determined to stay the course. “There’s really no other option for me—I will not be happy doing anything else…I feel like I was put on earth to do this.”