South African singer, Tailor, wrote half of her album, The Dark Horse, in just one day. That the songs spilt out of her without any warning is as strange and striking as the debut LP sounds.
In early 2012, Melanie Le Roux, known under the moniker Tailor, set out to her hometown of Johannesburg to record half a dozen demos. She finished the session with twice as much material, as well as a newfound understanding of her inspiration.
“I began playing about on my guitar and singing lyrics that seemed to sail in to my head. I didn’t even realize I had written a song until the producer asked me to play it again because he hadn’t hit record,” she explains.
That song, the bewitching “Wolf,” is Tailor’s first single from The Dark Horse.
“One by one, new tracks just flowed out of me,” says Tailor. “No one could believe I hadn’t prepared them. It was a bizarre, spiritual experience. I felt as though I had floated out of my body and was watching someone else. I learned a lot about myself that day. I discovered a side to me I didn’t know was there.”
The lyrics, long floating in her subconscious, deal with personal issues—to escape, to break free, to start her life over, and to be honest with herself.
The need to escape drives much of The Dark Horse. It’s there in the acoustic guitar-driven “Ghosts,” in the sinister lyrics of the otherwise poppy “Step Back,” and at the heart of the oblique “Indian.” Even the album’s sunniest song, the glorious, handclap-backed “Love Anthem,” isn’t as happy-go-lucky as it sounds on first listen. For Tailor, The Dark Horse marks the end of her escape and the start of a new chapter.
The album, mastered in the United States at Sterling Sound by Grammy Award-winner Ted Jensen (Coldplay, Paul Simon, Sigur Ros, Florence & The Machine, Muse, Rufus Wainwright), flits from modern folk to blues-rock to pure pop and spooky soul.
“I love the drama in the album because it sort of sums up my life - lots of ups and downs, like a rollercoaster ride. It’s odd, but it’s also in your face. It’s not just like me, it is me.”