Storyteller vs. Story Inspiration: An Interview with Tafari Anthony

His name means “He who inspires awe”, so it’s only fitting that Tafari Anthony set out to become a musician.

Like many of his musical influences, Anthony has spent much of his career writing his own music and sharing stories through song. What he hasn’t done, until recently, is become less of a storyteller and more of the person that the story is about.

It all started with making the conscious decision to take a break in 2018 to focus on what was next for him. The thing with putting out music, he said, is that so much of the behind-the-scenes work can take away from the finished product of releasing the song, and he just wasn’t finding the right balance with the way he was doing things.

“I just got to the point where I was feeling like I wanted the sound to change but I just needed time to live a little bit and explore,” Anthony said. “I made the decision to take a step back, reevaluate and figure out what the next move was going to be.”

A controversial decision, some might say, but he spent the majority of 2018 doing something he never thought he would do – co-writing for his own music. Sure, he’d done it with friends and for other artists, but doing it for himself was way out of his comfort zone.

“I find a lot of times when you work with new people there's this air of trying to prove your best with each other, like a little friendly competition almost,” he said. [It’s] cool and I feel like it helps you get motivated to go as far as you can go and push yourself a bit, where you wouldn’t push yourself as much if you were on your own being comfortable with what you were doing.”

Co-writing is how his latest single, “Centerfold”, came along. Anthony had just finished a tour of western Canada and decided to stay for a bit and reach out to others for co-writing opportunities. It was a session in Edmonton with Brandon Unis, Kelly Alaina and OBLVYN where the group automatically clicked and went from laying out chords to finalizing vocals within five hours.

This session was an eye-opening experience for Anthony. It helped him gain a better understanding of honesty in music and showed him that even though the music before “Centerfold” was honest, he was still very much guarded.

“I was using it as a persona to be the storyteller versus the person involved in the story, which can work and was fine but I feel like people connect more when they can really feel like it comes from you,” he said. “That's one thing I've been trying to do, which is scary as all fucking hell, but I'm realizing that that's the key. ‘Centerfold’ is a true story, unfortunately, but being able to put that out there and really just say things I want to say the way I want to say them is freeing in a way. It's scary and freeing at the same time.”

Did it worry him to take that much time off when the music industry is currently in a state where new singles are constantly being released? Absolutely. It still worries him now. That still isn’t going to stop him from doing what he feels is right. Everything is constantly moving at a faster rate – he finds it hard to believe that “Centerfold” was released nearly three months ago – but instead of releasing a song and moving on to the next, he’s finding ways to enjoy what he releases and how he goes about doing it.

Taking time off to focus on himself is exactly what Tafari Anthony needed, and nobody can tell him otherwise. “Centerfold” is a real turning point in his career, and this more honest version of himself is what will set him apart from the rest.