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Astral Tenacity

AKA: Tonya O'hara

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Hailing from the cultural backwater of deepest Northamptonshire, this left field upbringing was no less than colourful. Starting innocently enough with a singing role in the Village Church Choir, a Sunday-service chore laid the foundation for a later passion in singing and song-writing.

The path dictated wasn’t all straightforward. Having a gay dad in the 70s was a tough call as was the seemingly endless carnival of campness that passed through the house. With hindsight how lucky it was to have experienced such a colourful childhood. Dad had flamboyantly taught many things – women with deep voices were called ‘it’, that his male partner Steve cooking fairy cakes was a totally acceptable concept (it was the 70s) and that leather and studs go hand-in-hand and should be worn daily. His greatest influence was in teaching the art of enjoying music (not to mention, robotic dancing). Early 80s electronica was the beginning but away from this hedonistic role model aka ‘dad’, there were to be more personal fascinations with electronica…

Mesmerised by the brightly-coloured tees, smiley-faced bandanas and oversized dungarees worn by friends’ older brothers and sisters, it wasn’t too long before the Acid House and later Rave scene had its pull. A new-found hedonism challenged the system and a connection was made with a secret society. As the outdoor raves disbanded through tighter regulations and mismanagement, this fragmentation lead to an inevitable expedition to the burgeoning club scene.

Solace was found in the small and more intimate room of the clubs – a more inviting nightscape for a nocturnal journey with their deeper and more soulful shades of sound. Whether it was the deep and transcendent productions synonymous with Larry Heard and original Prescription brothers Ron Trent and Chez Damier, the jacking Chicago flavours of Marshall Jefferson and Derrick Carter, the pioneering Detroit Techno coming from innovators Derrick May and Inner City or the soulful New York Garage sound of Kerri Chandler, this rich melange of house, techno and garage was a direct influence and source of inspiration for later song-writing and singing.

Now London-based, there have been many collaborations with a range of esteemed producers both local and international. In 2007 a collaboration with the dynamic deep house duo Rhythm Plate saw the release of ‘Inside Me’ – A deep US garage-style number in which infectious vocals compliment perfectly lush keys and warm bassline – on the ‘Robbin’ Hudd’ EP on Hudd Traxx Records. Garnering acclaim and charted by many DJs in House circles, the track was an instant success and was snapped up for several commercially released mix compilations by many a House veteran including Johnny Fiasco’s ‘Nectar Vol. 2’ and Harley & Muscle’s ‘Play Deep House 5th Chapter’.

Since ‘Inside Me’ there have been further collaborations with a range of producers – including Glasgow’s Domsko (with the track ‘Hard Yards’ on Lost My Dog), Aki Bergen (with the track ‘Shine’ on Kolour Recordings) and also a plethora of remixes too, courtesy of Johnny Fiasco, KiNK, Julian Sanza, Inland Knights, Pete Dafeet and Hoodfellas. With an intoxicating mix of simple hooks combined with philosophical insights there will always be an affinity for the deeper shades of house…