With a head of wild curly hair, a deep sultry voice and an infatuation with the English language, it is no wonder that Talia Billig is a bright fixture in New York’s vibrant and groundbreaking singer songwriter scene. Her crystalline sound binds together her grace at the piano and a deep love for words and storytelling. Her music sings subtle hope against despair, expressing a generous spirit reinvented in songs that incorporate pop melodies, jazz harmonies and unconventional song structures.
Talia makes a point of not taking anything too seriously. A virtual live wire, her infectious laugh and consistent humor are pervasive throughout her electric live act. And, as you’ll realize within minutes of knowing her, she hates to stay still.
Movement and adventure were built into Talia Billig’s young DNA. She likes to affectionately refer to her background as “the ultimate lineage of wandering Jews.” Talia and her two brothers were raised on a hearty diet of art, science, literature and the outdoors. Her father, a fellow nomad, took the family on extensive road trips. Before the age of nine Talia had seen an extremely generous swathe of the United States, Canada, and the Middle East.
For Talia, the word “home” meant identifying with what was a constant in her life: Pavement under her feet, stories, community, and the music surrounding it all.
Talia left her parents’ home at seventeen to travel for a year, during which time she chose to study at the prestigious New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Returning to New York in 2007 she quickly built an independent life while simultaneously fostering a community much like the one she had known as a child. “I knew the value of family and I sought it out,” she reflects. “Luckily I was able to put together not just a family, but a tribe of musicians and artists.”
Buoyed by this sense of community, Talia set out to raise awareness and funding for her debut album, The Ripple Effect. She raised $12,000 in just thirty days. Her celebrated Kickstarter video beautifully encapsulated her own humor and philosophy, inspiring donors worldwide to throw conventional recording processes to the wind and embrace their own power as a creative community.
Self released in April 2012, The Ripple Effect is a triumphant call to action. A sweeping travelogue, it opens with the telling sentence: “A bus in a foreign city sets my scene of late.” Exploring themes of travel and self discovery, The Ripple Effect is a starkly honest portrait of a joyful seeking spirit constantly exploring and questioning.
Today, Talia lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Esconced on Canal and Orchard since 2007, she is continuously energized by the history and diversity of her community. In July of 2012 she launched The Orchard Sessions, a bi-monthly online salon captured live and shared online. Each session features a new guest artist performing a spontaneous collaboration with Talia and other artists. Viewers have the unique opportunity to watch as the story and music unfold. She continues to perform as the headlining and opening act in music venues across the United States and Canada. True to her creed, Talia lives a musical life in motion, exciting and inspiring at throughout.
Photo by Shervin Lainez