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That's Our Busch

Former Charlotte singer scores across the Atlantic

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Charlotte's Tara Busch has come a long way since leaving the popular torch-rock act Sheva a few years back. Or rather, she's gone a long way. Busch, Creative Loafing's female vocalist of the year in both 1998 and 1999, now lives just down the road from John Bonham's old house in Cardiff, Wales, and sings for a group called Dynamo Dresden.

The brother of Flyweb's Todd Busch, Tara's life after Sheva (and, before that, Dahli Llama) began with a pattern that would serve her well -- follow your passion, and when your passion wanes a bit, lead your passion.

Busch began to get more interested in down-tempo electronic music (bands such as Air, for instance) and ended up doing some work with a few dance music producers along the way. Trying to get a leg up in the music she loved, she became proactive, recording a song called "Rented Room" with Jeff Nagel, Bill Weir and Kris Kraus (collectively known as Da Lub Macheen) and also participating in a one-off project with Orlando producer Mike Hiratska in January of 2001.

"In March of '01, I made my way down to the Winter Music Conference to promote the single I did with Hiratska and to look for vocal work and songwriting collaborators," Busch says. "As luck would have it, I was walking up Washington Avenue trying to find my hometown collaborators, Da Lub Macheen. I suddenly heard someone call my name, and it was Neil Cocker, a friend of mine from the Welsh indie label Plastic Raygun, sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking a Corona. There I was introduced to Maf Lewis, Plastic Raygun's Managing Director and soon-to-be future bandmate in Dynamo Dresden. Luckily for me, it just so happened that he was seeking a female singer for a new downtempo project he was working on for Plastic Raygun. As the evening progressed, we proceeded to get rather drunk, hitting several of the oceanfront bars where, as the story goes, I was convinced to sing to the entire bar. The song was 'Bye Bye Baby' by Janis Joplin. A week later, after packing all my belongings in my parents' storage, Plastic Raygun had me on a plane bound for Cardiff."

Once in Cardiff, Busch was introduced to Rohan Tarry, who was Lewis' writing partner (Rohan recently produced Plastic Raygun artist Jean-Jacques Smoothie's UK top 20 hit "2 People" and has worked with Welsh acts like Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Catatonia).

"Our writing process and collaborative chemistry clicked immediately," states Busch. "Last June, we signed to Plastic Raygun, which is currently the biggest and baddest dance music label in Wales and certainly a big competitor nationally. As cliched as this may sound, I feel like I've been looking for these guys for years and finally happened upon them, even though they did live a few thousand miles away."

Presently, the band is working on a number of remix projects. However, the members were wary of getting a little too overexposed, and recently turned down a rather big-name potential client.

"The fashionably late diva herself, Whitney Houston, wanted us to do a remix, too," reveals Busch. "Alas, we did turn it down for good ol' integrity's sake -- not to mention, they could've been more generous with the monetary compensation.

"Our most exciting remix project on hand is our upcoming mixed CD we're putting out on Plastic Raygun in late September," she continues. "If all goes as planned, it'll include our remixes of Yello, Moloko, Mirwais and Timo Maas. Remixing is a territory that Maf and Rohan have far more experience in. I have found that it really sharpens and hones your writing sensibilities to have the opportunity to interpret someone else's work."

While the band is busy recording and remixing, the band's management is busy shopping the act to the big boys.

"In June, we have a big Plastic Raygun/Dynamo Dresden showcase in Cardiff for Head of International A&R at BMG/Arista/Universal," Busch says. "BMG have requested a 12-song demo album, to further entice them to come see our show. Our live show involves visuals and wardrobe provided by grad students at a nearby university. In collaboration with Maf, they also created the 'Video Deck,' a modified Technics turntable that plugs into a video projector and scratches projected images in perfect time with sounds. The show itself is meant to come off as a marriage of visuals and music that pushes the audiences' senses without overstimulating them."

Busch says she tries to keep in touch with Charlotte as much as she can, mostly via e-mail. One person she makes sure to keep tabs on is her greatest influence -- her brother Todd.

"For me personally, Todd is the most incredible, profound writer that I've ever heard," Busch gushes. "As much as I love The Beatles, for instance, his music affects me in a way nothing ever has. I'm very close to my whole family, but he and I have shared the same dream since we were kids. While he was playing Scott Joplin flawlessly by ear by the time he was 10, I was brokenhearted about being cast as some lame-ass orphan in Annie instead of the lead. It's a strange form of sibling rivalry, where I see his quality of writing and talent as something to aspire to, not compete with."

Along with her brother, Busch says the Charlotte music scene also helped nurture her in the right way to play music.

"The Charlotte music scene helped me develop the confidence and focus I'll need to be successful -- let alone survive -- in this business," admits Busch. "Since my early days in Dahli Llama, I was always treated with tons of support, encouragement and respect. Of course, no city suits everyone at all times, so it got to a point where I couldn't move forward anymore in the comfort of my hometown. I took a big leap of faith, but it felt like the obvious thing to do for my career. I had nothing to lose. Since I've been gone, everyone I keep in contact with has been as supportive as ever, if not more -- I gave out lots of CDs to friends when I was home for Christmas."

Busch is in an enviable position: doing what she loves in a country she has come to love, all while retaining the support and connection with family and friends. As she says, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

"The countryside is amazing everywhere I've been so far -- castles, huge bright green meadows and thatched roof cottages, pebble beaches and cliffs," Busch says. "Living expenses are very low, and the music scene is second to none. It rocks! You turn on the radio and hear Bjork, Pulp, The Strokes, PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp... it doesn't take as much digging to get what I consider to be great music over here. Of course, we have the corporate slop on the radio at all times (as well), but there's also just as high a ratio of kick-ass, cutting-edge music that is taken just as seriously.

"It is a much smaller country, which of course makes the scene very concentrated, but much easier to navigate and gain respect in -- if you're worth your salt. You're doing really well if you can stand out and be respected in a scene that's as highly revered worldwide as Britain's is." *

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