Taryn Rene Dorsey is a Seattle-based musician and activist. She was the drummer for the all-WOC punk band NighTraiN and is currently the lead singer of Wiscon. Taryn’s primary goal is to create a space where women and POC are highlighted in the arts, leading her to co-create POC As Fuck and co-produce Sessions of She. She also DJs records under the name Silk Safari as half of the DJ duo Base Tan. Here’s a rundown of some of the records important to her.
How did you first get into records? Which albums were most influential?
There are so many to choose from. I love every genre of music because that is how I grew up. My godfather got me into classic rock, my mom with reggae and R&B, my aunt with new wave and women artists, and my Uncle Mike with punk and rock n roll. I first got into records about 20 years ago. I was hanging with folks who loved Northern Soul, original ska/rocksteady, Oi! and punk. I learned a lot about these genres of music from these friends—shout out to Mattie Valentine, a longtime friend and DJ! One of my first records was a great Trojan compilation called 20 Reggae Classics. I was young and broke and wanted to be cute, so I ended up trading that record with a friend for a pair of really sweet mustard colored Sta-Prest.
Some other early records I bought were The Gaylads, Ray Campi and a Bob Marley and the Wailing Wailers record, which I believe was their first ska record from Studio One. I fell in love with records then: the sound, the earnestness of their voices, the soul, and the sound of a slight crackle due to the vinyl being dirty and old. I was blessed to attend one of the best soul nights in Portland where DJs played reggae and northern soul together at a bar called Beulahland. It was a very fun time in my life where I met some of my best friends and people I hold dear and call family to this day.
What are some records you have been super into lately?
Clearly Fly Moon Royalty’s new record, Delicious Trouble because, duh, I love Mike and Adra, and all the songs are really good. One of my favorite Seattle singers and performers, Miss Caela Bailey is featured on one of the songs called “Imagination.” I adore Lianne La Havas’ new album, Blood. I also love a 45 by Grace Love and The True Loves that my dear friend Mike Nipper gave to me. It has the tracks “Let Me Be” and “Nobody Sweeter” on it. So good! Shout out to Emerald City Soul Club!
What are some of your favorite records to DJ?
Some of my favorite records that I love to play are my Wendy Rene compilation that I acquired at Light in the Attic and my Irma Thomas record I got at Wall of Sound. I also love sticking in a little bit of reggae Joe Gibbs, something off of The Harder They Come soundtrack by Jimmy Cliff, or tracks from the Am I Black Enough For You skinhead reggae comp. I would love to start a soul/reggae/punk night someday.
What’s a record you would never sell? Do you play it often?
My Joe Gibbs and Friends comp because it took many years for me to remember the artists and the name of the record. I fell in love with it many moons ago and searched high and low for it. I finally found out the name of the comp by stalking the bins and calling the fine folks at Music Millennium in Portland, one of my favorite places to get records. One of my favorite songs on the record is “Push It In” by the Versatiles because of its sexual nature and bomb ass beat. All the songs on this record are great, and it just brings me back to a fun time in my life. I probably won’t ever sell any of the records I have; if anything I would make an art project out of them if they didn’t play anymore.
What are some other records with sexual themes or that you would play to get in the mood?
Back in the day I had a Marvin Gaye record I would pull out, and of course all my rock steady and reggae albums like Ken Booth and Alton Ellis. I remember I let a friend of mine use my apartment for a date night, and I left my Marvin Gaye record in the player for him. He appreciated that and had a good night. As of now, it kind of depends on who my lover is and my mood. I might play some punk rock like my URGH! A Music War comp, Devo, The Stooges, The Pogues, or some old school country like Marty Robbins, Hank Williams and Johnny Horton, or some jazz like Miles Davis or Cab Calloway, or my 45 of Rufus featuring Chaka Khan on “Circles.” But it just depends on my mood.
Do you have records you’ve bought just for the album art? What about the art appealed to you? How was the music?
Yes! It’s fun because I know I will find at least one good song. My friend and former bandmate Aaron Morgan gave me a box of records to go through, and I believe he had the Robert Gordon record and I thought, “Oh, he’s fine as hell.” I ended up loving that record and especially his version of “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache.” I bought a record called Flairck because it was pretty and I was curious about how it would sound. I thought with the cover of someone’s bum that it might be some sexy/folky Irish music, but sadly it was pretty tame. Even though I rarely play it, I’ve kept it for years! I also bought High Inergy which was a Berry Gordy production and I love it. It’s fun to just go out and record shop and see what you can find; just go out and take a chance.
Do own records you never listen to but keep for purely sentimental reasons?
I am very sentimental about a lot of things, and a lot of my records I got from family or passed down from friends. I would say that my Cat Stevens record Tea for the Tillerman is one of my favorites because of my godfather. He would listen to it a lot on the weekends when we would be doing chores, or when my little brother Matt and I went on trips with him, he would play it and we loved it solely because he loved it and we love him. So it will always be one of my favorites, plus it’s a great record. My “Oklahoma!” soundtrack is another one because my love for musicals and country music came from my Grammy. Also, my great grandmother’s family is from Oklahoma so I feel some type of kinship there. My copies of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love and Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual came from my Aunt Meg many years ago. Even though both records don’t play that well anymore, I will keep them forever. I have a few records from when I interned for a hot minute with Spark and Shine Records, and I haven’t taken some of them out of the plastic yet. Also, my Rocky Horror Picture Show record, I never listen to it but it makes me smile and think of my youth.
Oct 21st at Substation
Nov 4th with Alice Bag at Funhouse
Sessions of She: