Back with a new sound and no label

By James Keller

Four years after the release of Basement Songs and the hit single "Chevrolet Way," local musician Tariq has left the shackles of the record label world and begun a new start as an indie musician. Although that move wasn’t neccessarily by choice.

"Leaving EMI wasn’t voluntary, God no," says Tariq. "There’s a lot of reasons. Basement Songs was a hard sell for them. It was kind of a rock record and it was a pop time. You try to sell as many records as you can, and they look at it at the end of the day and decide if they want to continue on."

Life without a label is difficult, since all the resources provided by EMI are toast. However, this didn’t discourage Tariq from pursuing his career.

"I think anybody who got a record deal thrown at them would jump up and down, and if someone offered me another deal, I would certainly examine it," he says about the idea of labels. "I’m independent because that’s the way I have to do it. I’m a little wiser about certain things, so if I did another deal, I would maybe think a little more or have some prerequisites I would like."

Although still without a label, Tariq’s new CD, While You’re Down There, is getting significant radio play and rotation on Much-MoreMusic. One reason might be a shift in sound on the new record.

"It’s a lot more of a pop record than the last one," he says. "The last album was more bare bones, while this one has more production."

Fans of Tariq’s previous work will notice major changes in how the music was written. However, Tariq hopes fans will receive the new style positively.

"You’ll always get the comment, ‘we like your old stuff better,’" he says. "I don’t think you can always do the same thing over and over, so hopefully people will hear that at the core of it all, it’s still Tariq writing songs. I like to be able to do different things and I hope people will be responsive to that."

The reason for the shift: Tariq co-wrote the songs with a large selection of other musicians like Andrew Cash. Although his time with other musicians was paid for by EMI during the two years following his album, the work coming out of those collaborations makes up the new record.

"I’d say it’s richer musically in a lot of ways," says Tariq, adding that for various reasons, the focus was mainly on the actual music.

Another possible explaination is the different lyrics on the album, which were much less emphasized than the first. He traditionally wrote about social and political issues, but on While You’re Down There, a lot of the criticisms in Tariq’s past songs disappeared.

"I think one of the reasons it is that way, is the co-writing," explains Tariq. "When you co-write with people, you don’t write quite as personally–you just don’t think from the same place. They may be less personal, but maybe more universal."

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