Tala Mortada Breaks the Rules

“The world needs happiness today… play music for people who love your music”

Tala Mortada Breaks the Rules
This Is Yung

Beirut-based art director and DJ, Tala Mortada (Instagram), is using music and design to help build communities in a country suffering from extreme economic hardship. 

Has a career in music always been your dream?

As one of the founders and managers of Factory People [she’s also a founder of Clap Clap design studio], we build all our projects around music. When I was younger I dreamt of making music videos, but what I ended up doing is designing interiors, installations, films and graphics for our stages, our clubs and our online platforms. It’s a whole visual world revolving around music, where I also get to perform. 

How do you feel when gigging?

I get goosebumps when I remember tunes that match together so perfectly, or when one track seems to exist just to continue the story of the track before it, and to introduce the one after. When the crowd appreciates those moments, it’s crazy synergy.

Tala Mortada

Are you ever anxious before a performance? 

The anxiousness definitely reduces with time, but yes, there’s always a nice kick before a performance, like when you’re about to meet your crush. I stay calm by doing everything at the last minute. 

How do you manage a work/life balance?

Before having a baby, I used to only work. I thought I had a personal life, but I was hiding behind work. I was always under the impression that I had to live for my passion and career, but after the pandemic I realised the importance of giving time for my well-being.

Now that I have a baby, I have to be very rigid about how many meetings I take, how many working hours I do and how many nights I DJ. I want to give my son a lot of my time so I’m very careful about how I juggle everything. It’s exhausting to switch mindsets so frequently.

Tala Mortada

How has being a mum affected your career?

My company was getting back on its feet when I was well into my pregnancy. The pandemic and the Beirut explosion in 2020 destroyed our clubs and a big component of our business. So I basically never got to take a break, but I did take kind of a back seat.

On the one hand, this helped me observe my job from a distance, and understand what I want out of my career. I used to do everything, and now I’m happy being more focused on my creative tasks, on training my team, and on overseeing high-level decisions. 

But on the other hand, I’m saying this in hindsight; how it felt [at the time] was much tougher than this. It was really hard having to take a back seat while my partners could still be driving at full speed. It was hard giving myself time for my body and brain to recover – and the worst part is the guilt I still feel when I spend a lot of time on work instead of taking care of my baby and myself.

What message do you have for emerging DJs in the region?

The world needs happiness today, forget about all the rules, forget about appearances, play music for people who love your music.

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