- 03 Dec 20
Born in Dublin and hailing from a strong musical background, actress and singer-songwriter Tara Lee has now written a love letter to her hometown. The track's emotional music video will be hosted on the Hot Press YouTube channel, and will be premiered by Hot Press tomorrow, with Lee dedicating the visuals to "everyone who’s a little homesick at the moment – wherever home is to them."
Tara Lee is a proper star-in-the-making.
People who heard of her first through her excellent neo-electro single 'Boyz' might not have made the connection, but Tara has also commanded a string of acting roles in BBC's Eastenders, The Fall alongside Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson, and critically-acclaimed flicks like Moon Dogs and A Date For Mad Mary. Now, Tara Lee is releasing a seasonal ode to her birthplace of Dublin, as a tribute to her fellow homesick Irish abroad during the pandemic. With its moving, emotionally charged video – which will be hosted on the Hot Press YouTube channel, and premiered on Friday, December 4 at 5pm Irish time – it might just prove to be the breakthrough hit of the Christmas period.
Tara started writing 'Christmas Time In Dublin City' in January of this year, on a midnight flight back to London – and 10 months later, the track is finally being released.
“I’ve been told for years and years to write a Christmas song, because everyone wants happy tracks but it just never happened. It never felt natural enough, until 2020," Tara Lee tells Hot Press.
"It was just after New Year's Day and I was on my way back to London after spending Christmas at home in Dublin. I was really emotional and just opened the notes app in my phone and wrote down a list of all the things I loved about being home. I was messing around with it and putting it to music in London, but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown that I started officially giving it shape. My dad is a film composer and he has a shout-out in the song as well, and it just felt right that he would compose the orchestration. We worked on it over email for the whole pandemic."
Lee originally started writing music while she was studying dance at a Dublin performing arts college, and has since accumulated multiple albums' worth of songs ahead of her debut release, which is due next year. Having moved to London four years ago on St. Patricks Day, the actress and singer remains firmly tied to Dublin – and to its magical Christmas atmosphere.
“We have a tradition of getting coffee in Bewleys, looking at the Brown Thomas windows, walking down the river Liffey and O’Connell Street," Tara says. "It was a vast list of special moments, like walking through the Temple Bar lights and getting your pint on the street outside Grogan's. The song itself is six minutes long, but it would have been 10 or 20 minutes, if I’d put everything on the list in the track!
“For the video, I reached out to Irish living abroad in Australia, Canada, America - all over. What I’m really excited about for the video is that I’ve gotten a lot of Irish people to hold up messages to people back home, and they all have incredibly personal stories to share," Tara adds.
It is indeed a lovely touch, in what is a very special video.
"One of the women was wearing a jumper that belonged to her dad before he passed away last year," Tara Lee says, "and her dog is in the video, who only just passed away yesterday. 'Christmas Time In Dublin' is hugely emotional for her in particular. There are also people who can’t get home for Christmas featured, and people who haven’t been able to see their elderly relatives – but the video is for anyone who is feeling homesick. It is a special dedication to the Irish, though, as a whole: we’ve spread all over the globe and have such strong family ties, and so I think the song will connect to a lot of people. Hopefully this will be something that we can remember forever.”
Tara Lee cites David Bowie, Blondie, Nick Cave and Massive Attack amongst her strongest influences, with own neo-electro hybrid style fusing raw emotional ballads with a contemporary twist. Her take on a Christmas song doesn't stray too far from her musical inspirations – and she retains her own very impressive sense of self in the video.
“I always see my music as being quite bipolar," she smiles. "It’s either really dark, electro-pop or it’s this ballads on piano. I’ve always done both. ‘Christmas Time in Dublin’ has a noticeably different feel and production style. When I release my debut album next year, I do see it being a mix of upbeat tracks and slowed-down songs. My lyrical content is always confessional, and I don’t sugarcoat anything. Christmas songs are often sickly sweet, but I’ve kept it as being true to myself. I don’t exactly put on a festive jumper in the video: it’s still very much a Nick Cave-inspired atmosphere with the grand piano.”
Despite splitting her time between Dublin, London and Los Angeles, Tara Lee remains laser-focused on her connection to her homeland and hopes that 'Christmas Time in Dublin' reaffirms that to her growing audience of fans.
"People are strong and resilient creatures, though, and we all just need to have face-to-face time with our family. Personally, my heart is always in Ireland. In everything I do, this country comes first to me and I think it always will.”
Listen to the beautiful 'Christmas Time in Dublin' by Tara Lee below: