A six-piece outfit based in New York, led by two sisters, who blend alt-rock and poppier styles with consummate ease
Names: Monika Walker (guitar/vocals), Karen Walker (keyboards/vocals), Beth Callen (guitar) Chas Langston (drums), Dave Kahn (bass), David Banker (trombonist)
Location: New York/Connecticut, USA
Style: “Spontaneous, experimental alt-rock”
Look out for: The God Of Science EP, out soon, with an album to follow
Regular Songwriting readers will be aware of The New Tarot already: their track Solid Sun was one of our Monday night exclusives in April. Back then, we told you that they were working on an EP called God Of Science, and how taken we were with their fusion of alt-rock and pop stylings. Now, with the EP due for imminent release, we wanted to find out more. Sisters Monika and Karen Walker, who front the band, duly obliged.
Monika tells us how The New Tarot came together. “Karen and I have always written songs together. Then she went off to Hart School of Music in Connecticut to study composition, and I went to Brooklyn College to study philosophy and robotics. But I was also busking around New York, and one day this guy came up and was really encouraging about my music, and he went on to become our manager.”
“It became obvious to Karen and I that this was what we needed to do, but we really needed a band, so we put out flyers and held auditions. We worked with a few ‘musicians for hire’, but we wanted to cement a real band, because it’s easier to have someone you can trust to come up with a part. It’s nice to work with people who really understand your songwriting, not just your playing style. We have the best band ever now!”
Karen is similarly enthused. “I freakin’ love our band, and the thing I love the most about it is like… yeah we’re friends and I love those guys, but when we come together? It’s music time. And that’s my favourite time!”
Until recently, the two sisters wrote all of The New Tarot’s songs but, says Karen, “We’ve started writing a few more songs with the band, which has been interesting. We’ve been writing a couple of songs with the band that I think are going to be really amazing.”
Monika agrees. “It’s good because it doesn’t feel like the song ‘belongs’ to anyone, when you do it that way. So then you can focus on how to really make it the best that it can sound.”
Which brings us to their joyously carefree approach to genre. Hit up their Soundcloud page and you’ll hear some songs that would sound at home on Top 40 radio, and others you’d expect to hear at a punk gig. Asked about this, though, Monika just shrugs. “I think it’s quite subjective, what’s ‘pop’ and what’s ‘alternative’. To me, the individual songs just seem to be what they are. We never really try to force a genre on anything that we’ve created.”
Karen points out, though, that working with two producers may play a role in shaping the band’s sound. “If we go to Nate with a song it’ll sound one way, and if we go to Zach with it, it’ll sound another way. But when you put all these songs together, live and back to back, I think they all sound like our band.”
And that’s precisely why we’re telling you about The New Tarot today. Because so many young bands sound like Band X, or Band Y, or Band X+Band Y. The New Tarot, on the other hand, sound like themselves. They’ll go far.