Sporting her signature strands of neon pink hair and a unique sense of style, Tara Stewart is 2FM's newly-appointed arbiter of cool, with one brightly-manicured finger on the pulse of what’s on the rise in the worlds of music and fashion.
She chats to Aoife O’Regan about how she stays on top of music trends for her radio show, her new attitude towards what she wears and how she uses her influencer status for good.
Your show on 2FM is all about finding our 'future favourite’ music. How do you actually go about doing that?
In all sorts of ways, really. I’ve built up great contacts from working in media over the years. People in the industry know what I’m into now and get in touch all the time with stuff that they think I might like.
If I’m out there looking for new music, then Niall Byrne at nialler9.com is a good place to start. He’s brilliant for supporting new Irish acts and he’s been doing it for years, so he knows what he’s talking about. I also go to pitchfork.com to find out who’s on their radar.
I like to listen to international radio shows too, like in the US or back in Australia where I grew up, just to see what’s happening over there. It’s important for me to get to see some new acts when I’m at festivals too or to go to festivals that are specifically for up-and-coming artists like We’ve Only Just Begun who I saw in Whelan’s recently.
Big artists tour all the time, so you know you’ll have the opportunity to catch them again, but you can find some really different acts on the smaller stages at festivals.
You clearly have a flair for fashion, even getting a shout-out from Vogue about one of your festival outfits. Does your music taste influence what you wear? And where do you find style inspiration?
Definitely! I love hip-hop, so someone like Missy Elliot would be a massive influence. The style from around the time hip-hop was becoming big is really cool.
Mostly, I just like things to be a bit different. I’m just not interested in buying on the high-street anymore. We have enough clothes out there. We don’t need anymore. I think we might as well use what’s out there already.
I get a lot of my ideas just from scrolling through Pinterest. If I see something I like, I’ll try to recreate it myself. I’m really into up-cycling at the moment and I’ve been experimenting with tie-dying at home which is fun.
People think that you need to be creative to get into up-cycling, but you really don’t. It can be as simple as just buying some stuff in Claire’s and clipping them onto an outfit to make it a bit different. I did that with a second-hand blazer I bought recently.
I also try not to worry too much about size. Vintage shops and fashion apps like Depop aren’t great at catering for curvy girls, but you can have pieces extended out. I bought a pair of massive white jeans recently, which are way too big for me but I just added a belt and they look really cool and oversized.
I also got a beautiful long ’60s skirt that a seamstress friend of mine turned into a two-piece. She’s working on something fun involving bandanas for me at the moment, which I’m hoping to wear to a festival I have coming up. I got the idea from an outfit Cardi B wore.
You have a huge following on social media, with over 13K followers on Instagram alone. Do you feel pressure to use that influence responsibly?
For sure. I post a lot about body positivity. It’s great to see more plus-size girls in the media and in my social feed feeling more confident and comfortable with their bodies.
I also feel like I’ve been on a bit of a journey with fashion lately. I’m much more conscientious about how the things I wear are being produced now. With my ethnicity being Malaysian/Indian, I’m mindful of the fact that someone I’m related to could easily be working in awful conditions in a factory to keep up with the demand for fast fashion.
I use an app now called Good On You, which rates fashion brands on how ethical and sustainable they are. Some of the information on there would really surprise you. I’ve partnered with brands in the past that I wouldn’t work with now and I won’t post on social media about brands that don’t have the same values as me. When I’m DJing, it’s really just me out there doing my job, but I feel I can make choices when it comes to fashion that could help make a small difference