Thara: Next Up

Doing a double take on Thara? Can’t put your finger on how you know that face? Well, it could be a number of things, because this half-caste beauty has been in numerous videos, commercials and print ads. She is also the first lady of DJ Clue’s Desert Storm label, and with a bit of help […]

Doing a double take on Thara? Can’t put your finger on how you know that face? Well, it could be a number of things, because this half-caste beauty has been in numerous videos, commercials and print ads. She is also the first lady of DJ Clue’s Desert Storm label, and with a bit of help from some famous label mates, Thara is about to be in your face a whole lot more.

In less than two years, the 21-year-old has built quite a portfolio from Reebok ads and Verizon print ads [who have just renewed her] to video clips such as Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss”, Chico Debarge’s “Home Alone”, and the Fat Joe and Thalia duet “I Want You”. But it was a chance meeting with DJ Clue that really got her musical career to a head start.

Now with the mixtape scene buzzing and a feature on Fabolous’ new album , Thara is getting ready to step her game up with her own album, which will include a duet with John Legend, appearances from Joe Budden and Kanye West, and of course label mate Fabolous. Alternatives gets some insight on how this video vixen has made some serious moves. Alternatives: Tell us about your background.

Thara: My dad is Indian. My mom is half Irish and half Black, but she thinks she’s Indian! She came from a broken home and embraced the Indian way of life. It’s a beautiful thing.

AHHA: When did you start singing?

Thara: I was singing for a long time, but I’ve been singing professionally for only two years now. I always sang on the side. I started playing the piano when I was two-and-half and I hated it. I played it till I was 12 and then I told my parents I wanted to start doing voice lessons. I was a straight-A student, and when I was 19 I got a full scholarship to Fordham University.

When I got into school I went through a massive depression. I was miserable. The only thing I would get up for was to go to the city for auditions or to go to voice lessons. I started working at clubs in the city and meeting producers. I went back to singing and that’s where the doors started opening so easily for me. I’m a very big believer in the universe – the universe works with you when you’re on the right path. If you’re going in the wrong direction, it makes it that much harder.

AHHA: Was it scary doing this full-time and dropping out of school? Did you ever say to yourself ‘What if I don’t make it’?

Thara: Even if I fail at this it’s okay, as long as I gave it my 100%. But when I was at University I wasn’t booking jobs, I wasn’t succeeding in anything, and I wasn’t doing well at school either because I was half giving myself to everything. So I left school and I said to my parents give me six months – and exactly six months later I booked my first commercial.

AHHA: Since then you’ve appeared in countless videos. Was it a concern for you that you would get that tag of being a ‘video girl’? How did you screen the parts so you weren’t shaking your booty on TV?

Thara: Yeah, that was a big concern for me. The Jay-Z ‘Excuse Me Miss’ video was my first video. It got so much airplay and that was terrific for me. It was a groundbreaking video, because that was the time that Jay-Z was coming out all dressed up in suits. They told me it wasn’t going to be anything trashy so I didn’t have to worry. The people that I work with all know what I will and won’t do. They all know what my goal is [to be a serious artist]. So with the video thing, it was just the start of meeting the people that I needed to meet to be here today.

You do get into really uncomfortable positions. For example I did a video a couple of weeks ago. They flew me to L.A to do a cameo. I walked in and the director sees me and then decides to use me for a whole bunch of scenes. So I get dressed for the part, they show him the Polaroids, and he decides that it’s not sexy enough and wants me to show more skin. But I didn’t want to. Now all the video girls are there looking at me like, ‘Why she buggin?’

I have no problem with being sexy, but it has to be classy. I also have a thing about videos. Everybody is going to see this, so you have to be even more careful in the video world. It was cool what they wanted me to wear but I wasn’t going to compromise myself. I worked too hard to get here to let one thing ruin it.

AHHA: Did you get your cameo?

Thara: Yes, I finally did! [Laughs]

AHHA: How did you meet DJ Clue?

Thara: I was doing the commercial for MTV 2 Sucker Free Sundays. I don’t like running up to people and handing them a CD – it puts them in an awkward position. I was sitting next to La La, and she asked me whether I sing. I said yes and then she started screaming to Clue. I was mortified! After the shoot, he comes over and asks me for a demo. I had a demo, but it’s not one of those that you actually give to people. Anyway, he took it and 10 minutes later my phone rang. It was Clue, and he actually liked it. After that Duro, Clue’s partner, called Jeremy, my producer – and the rest is history.

AHHA: What was the sound like on the demo? Has it changed?

Thara: It’s evolved. It’s still very much what it was. My voice has evolved – I’ve gotten much stronger. Basically they say I’m a blend between Janet and Aaliyah. I’ve started to develop a newer side to my voice – a harder side. We’re developing that into the next couple of songs we’re doing.

AHHA: How does it feel to be the first lady of Desert Storm? Is there pressure?

Thara: It’s great. It’s exactly what I wanted. I don’t feel any pressure because I’m not competing with anybody. That is what’s so cool about signing with them verses signing with a major label. I didn’t want to sign somewhere where I wasn’t going to be a priority. I didn’t want to be up against someone like Jennifer Lopez, who naturally would come before me because she has success. I also wanted to be somewhere where they respected what I was doing, because me and my producer have been working together before all this – we had figured out what was right for me.

AHHA: I know you have a lot of guests appearing on your album. What else can people expect from your debut?

Thara: People can expect real songs, real music. I’m not just doing what’s hot right now. I’m trying to do something that a girl, ten years from now, will be able to vibe to. If it’s not something I can relate to, I’m not going to say it. It has a bit of Indian flavor too. In fact my new song ‘Shake It’, which you can download from, is very Indian.

AHHA: You mentioned you were single. What would a guy do to impress you? And you better have a good answer, because you were the hater in Jay Z’s video clip!

Thara: I know! [Laughs] The big thing for me is that you have to make me laugh. I need to have someone to be silly with me. For me it’s nothing to do with looks, you get me with personality. I hate games – I don’t do well with them. If you love me, you love me. I don’t need you to pretend like you don’t. I’m very straight up.