Interview to Tara McDonald by Fabio De Vivo for M – Social Magazine

For Italian Version

  • Reading your biography, it is easy to think that you have decades of career behind, instead you are only 30 years old. How did you do all these things in such a short time?

I started working at a young age in the entertainment business.  My adventures to find my path in music has led me down many roads. I often wish I had had a someone in my family in the music or entertainment business to advise me as I have taken the long way around and made some stupid mistakes! I always knew I wanted to sing and had to bully my parents into taking me to auditions when I was a child: my mother was against it but eventually gave in and I won my first role when I was 9 years old in the musical “Les Miserables” in London. This musical taught me a lot. During the audition, they wrongly presumed that I was already a professional child actor when in reality I had only performed in my primary school productions. So, when we got to rehearsals I couldn’t pick up the choreography as quickly as they wanted. They then offered me the second role of Eponine instead. My mum was happy as she thought I wouldn’t accept this role and give up this crazy dream of singing! I was crushed, but there was no way in hell I was gonna give up performing in a West End production! 😀 The director spoke to my dad and said if your daughter is really serious about a career in the industry, then she would need to have proper training at a performing arts school, which I did. I grew up in a farming village in the middle of nowhere, so working in one of the most respected theatres in London was unheard of. I became a bit of a celebrity in the village and surrounding towns which I hated as I was very shy and being “famous” in my town led to a lot of bullying at school… It was horrible, but in a way positive for me as it gave me the drive to escape the village and do something different with my life.

I think I have done so many things like backing dancing and backing singing as I didn’t know how to become an artist and get a record deal. My main goal was just to keep on working. After graduating the BRIT School, I left home at 18. I didn’t really have any money but I was full of ambition. I never had a plan B, it was sink or swim! I took all the opportunities that came my way from hair modeling, backing dancing, vocal sessions to Gogo dancing in London nightclubs. Each job I met new contacts who would recommend me to another. Eventually, this led to backing singing with Bryan Ferry on his “Dylanesque” album, Roger Walter from Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr from The Beatles. I even worked with an Italian dance band “Planet Funk” when they were looking for a singer as I met a friend of theirs by chance when I was backing dancing for a UK pop artist in Milan during fashion week at a Prada show. My career seems to be hard work equals opportunity equals destiny! 😀


  • Many know your singing career, but not everyone knows about your past as an actress, alongside Jude Law at the age of 13. What brings to you thanks to your musical experience?


Gosh that feels like another lifetime! 😀 We worked together for a month in Scotland in a theatre production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was the first time I lived away from home for such a long time and was actually a great experience to be so independent at such a young age. The director kept asking me to take on a more principle role in the production but I was scared as I didn’t want to feel different from the other kids, and be bullied again! They really had to talk me into it. Working in theater production was an incredible learning curve as you are surrounded by adult professionals and you’re treated as a professional and not as a child. And there is a tremendous amount of responsibility and discipline which is still installed in me today. Working with Jude Law, as you can imagine, every girl and some of guys in the production had major crushes on him, he was just so handsome and already talented. He was so kind with me. We used to have breakfast or lunch together and all the other girls were really jealous and hated me! 😀


  • Returning to writing, you have composed one of the most identifying pieces of the beginning of electro music, called “Feel The Vibe” by Axwell. Do you think gave birth to a certain genre in Europe?

I don’t think I can take the accolade of starting a new genre in music. I wasn’t a pioneer, but I can say I was one the key people making this kind of music at that time. I’ve always been drawn to dance music, club anthems and night life culture.  In fact, in my early career I was submerged as I worked as a dancer in London nightclubs and so couldn’t help but absorb everything. I think this is why writing with DJ’s producers came so naturally to me, as I understood what they wanted to say and what would speak to the people on the dance floor. I was really inspired by 90’s divas like Ultra Nate, Barbara Tucker, Rozalla and the powerful songs they made. This was a great time in music when the song came first with a powerful message!


  • Always talking about great Producer, you also worked with David Guetta. Did you get to know him? What kind of person is?

Working with David was such a fantastic experience. This guy is just brilliant and so kind! 😀  Someone from his team reached out to me to write songs for his “Pop Life” album, luckily two songs made the record including the single “Delirious”.  I will always be grateful to him as he was the first person to not just use my voice or songwriting but to expose me as an artist as well.  I was the first singer he ever put in a music video, and to be honest I did beg him to do it 😀  We also promoted the track live on tour, TV and radio promotion which I had never done before and this taught me a lot. David is really smart.  I also think he is a brave person and takes calculated risks.  So many people in the public eye are scared to share the spotlight, he’s not like this at all.  He’s also a lot of fun, after one gig we all ended up celebrating in a strip-club in Paris. He kept asking me if I was a lesbian as was transfixed by the dancers on the pole, but as an ex-dancers I was more amazed by their strength and flexibility than their sex-appeal. David used to joke with me that it’s not just my voice that’s black as I have a big booty! 😀


  • You seem to be a person who never stands still. You Sing, dance, act, write … is there something that does not suit you or have you been blessed by a star that has given you the sacred fire of art?

I love challenges!  And will always say yes to a new opportunity even if it terrifies me! 😀  I’m only human, I feel overwhelmed at times and can struggle with self-doubt, but I always have faith that things will work out just fine. On a spiritual level, I believe you’re given an opportunity when you’re ready for it and it’s a time for growth. So I try and embrace new things and give the best of myself.  Personally, the hardest job I’ve had so far was coaching on the TV show “The Voice” in Belgium. It was daunting to be a teacher and the whole show was in French, I did have a few sleepless nights before we started that show! But you see, even if found this experience very difficult, I’ll still love to do it again.


  • In 2010 you were also photographed for the French edition cover of Playboy with a title that sold thousands of copies: “music is sexy”. How important is the sensuality of a voice, for the success of a record?

Playboy was a crazy experience, I had never posed nude before and to me was another challenge. I mean how can you say no to Playboy? My mother of course was against it, and strangely my Irish catholic father thought it was a great idea as I was following in the footsteps of… Marilyn Monroe! 😀 It wasn’t a decision I took lightly but I gained a lot from this shoot which surprised me. It made me feel empowered and more confident about my body.  I’m not a model and I’m definitely not a size 0! I have small boobs and in fact, you could say I’m the exact opposite of the Playboy image! 😀 I feel like my contribution to the magazine was to show that real woman could be sexy too. As a singer, the sound of my voice is everything, more than the body! Playboy picked me because of my music career and not for my…ass! 😀


  • You sang live at the most famous festivals on the planet. In your opinion, what was the unsurpassable performance that will you always keep in your heart?

The funniest one was at Tomorrowland with Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike and Dada Life in front of thousand and thousand and thousand people… 😀 It was impossible to see the end of the crowd! We all had slots on the mainstage as we had co-written the Tomorrowland anthem together that year. The music video for the single was shot live at the festival so we got to perform the song 3 or 4 times during day and night! Let me tell you that the crowd knew all the words by the end! 😀 The most emotional performance that springs to mind was at Europride in Amsterdam in 2016 as my solo single “I Need a miracle” was chosen as the Europride anthem. This was such a proud moment for me as I’m really passionate about promoting LGBTQ rights. Amsterdam pride is always an incredible experience and Europride was even more special as people came from all over the world to celebrate equality and freedom. Something that makes Amsterdam unique is the parade on the canal boat. I was privileged to sing on the first main boat alongside the ambassadors during 4 hours going through the canals of the city and ducking under the very low bridges in massive angel wings! 😀 It was just a warm feeling of love and happiness I got to share with millions of people during this national event.

  • Watching your videos, you understand that behind there are incredible productions. I don’t know abroad, but in Italy, unfortunately, the video has gone into the background … In Europe do you think it is still essential to have something beautiful to see?

I do think that a great video is important! I’m a perfectionist. The video reflects your image and it’s a great way to connect with people you haven’t met before. It’s a way to introduce yourself to the audience and connect. The music video serves as a visual representation of the song and is an extension of the lyrical theme. It doesn’t have to be about big budgets, it’s about the message and story-telling.


  • Beyond your boundless talent, you’re lucky to be a beautiful girl. Do you think you have exploited more this appearance or your producers?

To be honest I never feel pretty. In this business, there are thousands of beautiful girls. Even when my first successful records as a featured artist were released “Feel The Vibe” with Axwell or “My My My” with Armand Van Helden, I had never met either of the producers before. They didn’t know what I looked like, it was all about the song and the voice! In fact, I first met Armand Van Helden at a show in Germany two years after “My My My” came out and he was convinced that I was…black! 😀

Having said that, as a featured artist you’re in the shadow of the Dj so it doesn’t really matter as the focus was not really on me then, now it’s a different story and I do feel pressure to look my best as I know I’m judged on my appearance. An artist is a package, it’s the look, the image but most important of all is of course the music. I’m lucky as I really love to be at the front of the camera, photoshoots or music videos, and have a strong identity. I’m not a puppet that’s being told what to say, what to wear or what to sing. I haven’t been created by a record company! 😀

  • I read with pleasure that we are colleagues 🙂 I am a radio speaker, too and I know that you have conducted a program aired in France, Belgium and on other world portals. How is the radio seen by a presenter and not an artist?

Yeah! 😀 I didn’t pursue a career in radio, it was an unexpected happy accident!  I was approached by the head of a French radio station who offered me a one hour slot if I created and presented my own radio show. In the beginning, I thought “how in the hell am I going to do this?” as I had no radio experience. But it all worked out, another challenge I couldn’t say no to! 😀 I loved making the radio show, I was my own boss, chose most of the music, worked to my own schedule and shone the spotlight on a lot of singers in dance music that are so often overlooked.  One of the best things about the show was the freedom as my recording studio is in my house. I often recorded in the morning with my pyjama on while wearing a face mask! 😀 Friends would drop by to hear the music and we’d be drinking wine. Between us, I recorded the first episode totally drunk! 😀 Sometimes, it was one big party. The great thing about the radio show was to discover new music and it was great to do something that wasn’t just about me. After the first year, the show was syndicated in more than 50 countries and on Emirates Airlines. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to keep making the show as my album is my priority. But I still miss it!


  • As a young girl, you were a UNICEF ambassador and later also for LGBT rights. In short, you like to fight for the right. Do you want to take advantage to send a message to the Italians?

Imagine a 12 year old Tara living in a small farming village with no shops around being chosen to represent England in a European singing contest held in Holland hosted by Audrey Hepburn, and winning this competition! My prize was to be a UNICEF ambassador for a year promoting the “rights of the child”. My first duty was to record a single and shoot the video clip in Africa. We stayed in Africa for a week or two not only filming the video but also delivering much needed supplies to schools in remote villages. It was a culture shock! When I got back to the UK I had a lot of interviews discussing this experience and even had a meeting with UNICEF and the Prime minister at 10 Downing Street. I’m so grateful to have had this experience at such a young age as I completely changed my vision of the world and gave me the drive to speak out against injustice. I’m not a girl anymore, I see myself as a global citizen and love to spread the message of equality. It seems crazy to me that in 2018 were still aiming for that! Anything less than equality is insulting, isn’t fair, isn’t just.  I’m passionate about feminism, LGBTQ rights and also rights for the animals. I became vegan last year and this has made such a wonderful difference to my life, I feel happier, look healthier it’s my good karma diet!  Also, it’s better for the environment and of course the innocent animals.



  • Always about Italy. Which of our producers would you like to work with?

Italy always had some massive music legends like Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Eros Ramazotti, Zucchero… Since, to be honest, I’m not really familiar with the Italian market with the exception of Planet Funk who I worked with in the past and of course as I love dance music I’ve been a fan of Benny Benassi for many years. One of my good friends in London is Italian and told me that I should work with Fedez and Sfera Ebbasta. They are hot and both so cute in a different way and make cool music.


  • Your life looks like that all girls with artistic qualities would like, but tell us the truth … Have you had a nightmare night or the world of Tara Mc Donald, is it better than that of fairy tales?

I’m only human, my life isn’t perfect.  I’ve had lots of scary experiences over the years, especially before I had management as I used to tour the world on my own, performing mostly in night clubs and festivals, and had to deal directly with some unsavoury people, either trying to take advantage of me, steal my money… Working like this on my own made me incredibly lonely and with the stress and not enough sleep I used to get terrible panic attacks. A typical week for me was performing in 4 different countries like Korea to Russia to Egypt to Spain, it was manic especially as when I was not performing I was in the studio writing songs and dealing with all the legal issues. But this made me really tough and strong! I know now I can stand up for myself and fight when I need to! 😀 I love being on stage so much, there was no sacrifice, I just accepted the problems as part of my journey. Of course now, I have a big team behind me and this allows me to enjoy the artistic experience and I have more time for myself. For some people, my life would be a nightmare but for me it’s a fairy tale as I’m just following my dreams.


  • At 30, you have already done what many would like to do in 100 years. So, for the next 70 years, what are your programs?

In 100 years I would love to be 30 again! 😀 I would love to start a girl band with my idols Madonna, Cher, Cyndi Lauper! 😀 Seriously, I love these women as they are brave, dare to be different, creative without copying the others, and they’ve got… balls! 😀 Also, they are all proud feminists and straight allies for the LGBTQ community. They all speak out about world issues as well as being icons and not scared of being judged. I’ve been obsessed with Jeremy Scott for a long time before he was working with Moschino even back when he designed the costumes for Britney Spears in her “Toxic” video. It would be a dream come true to collaborate with him someday on an animal cruelty free fashion collection! Being vegan has been a real education as before I was involved in this life style, there were so many things I wasn’t aware of. I went to a vegan festival last year and spent the whole day listening to talks by different speakers. I didn’t know that there were 6 islands of plastic in the ocean, one of them is bigger than France! It’s just crazy that this info isn’t on the news every day! It’s a massive drama. What the fuck are we doing to the world? It makes me crazy. Can you believe it’s still a crime to be gay in 70 countries in the world? And in some of them, it’s a death sentence…  In the next 70 years, I want to be more actively involved in the causes I believe in as well as furthering my music career, and music is a great gateway and platform to highlight social world issues as well as entertaining and having fun. When I’m old, I want to look back on my life, of course have a successful career but I also want to feel that my life stood for something and made positive changes for the next generations to come.


  • Meanwhile you’re out with your new and beautiful single TAXXXI … is not that you need a remix, so I propose? 😉 Seriously, the record is going very well, in addition to being voted on the main stream market … Did you intend to do something more pop than your past?

I never consciously decided to make a pop record, this was the inspiration we had in the studio and it felt right. It’s as simple as that. Releasing a pop song is a new challenge. This is a fun sleazy/cheesy record about enjoying sexual freedom, living for the moment and having a crazy adventure. It’s my fantasy song, I nicknamed it “50 shades of Taxxxi”! I love that this song really feels like a new beginning for me, it’s like a full stop to the past. I’m not the type of artist to put myself in box stylistically. On my album to come, there are many moods and colours, it’s a mix of genres under the pop umbrella. I can bounce from an urban song to a track suited for the dance floor and a ballad as long as the songs are strong. The album is very conceptual, a snapshot of pop culture, one song – one concept: I’m writing about the American dream but not the current reality with the orangutan president, a song about plastic surgery inspired by legendary gothic horror character Frankenstein, and a girl power anthem as a fun way to keep the conversation about feminism going. I should have been the 6th  Spice Girl! 😀


  • Thanks Tara. I would have asked you another 100 questions, but risk stopping your irrepressible career, so I thank you and invite everyone to listen to your new single, in addition to what you did with the Top Dj in the past.

Thanks so much, Fabio!

ISCRIVITI alle NewsLetter per non perdere le nostre novità e iniziative!

[mailpoet_form id=”2″]