IT has been really interesting…
discovering the details behind Tamtam’s new single, Blue. The Saudi Arabia-raised songwriter talks about moving to the U.S. and how her life changed; whether she has plans to release more material; whether she has some tour plans booked – if the U.K. is going to be part of the agenda.
I discover how important gender-equality is to her and whether more needs to be done in the industry; if Tamtam has a choice memory from her time in music; a few new artists we need to study closely – she ends the interview with a classic Jacko track!
Hi, Tamtam. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m great! My week has been really exciting with the release of my new single, Blue, and I was also invited to perform at a music festival in Kuwait called Kuwait Rising. I can’t wait!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer and songwriter; born and raised in Saudi Arabia. I moved to California for boarding-school when I was fifteen because my parents wanted me to see the world through a different lens, and learn about other people’s ways of life so that I could understand that respecting other beliefs and perspectives of the world is so important.
I’m thankful to have learned that lesson at an early age - and I really love to write about acceptance and humanity in my music.
Tell me more about the song, Blue. What is the tale behind it?
My song, Blue, is about wallowing in the blues of a dissolved relationship, while the other person seems so ‘cool’ about it. I wrote it at a time when I was in a sad place and I felt alone in that place.
I know expression, equality and gender empowerment are important to you and your music. Do you think movements like Me Too and Time’s Up signal a reversal and hopeful future?
Definitely! It’s so important for people to come together to spread positive messages in the world and shed light on the darkness that exists so that they don’t happen again - and so that people are more aware and cautious. It’s an amazing example for others to follow and to see that we can come together for good. I do hope that we always stand up for each other in the good times as well - and that we don’t take those times for granted.
How much of that passion to tackle societal injustices stemmed from your time growing up in Saudi Arabia? What was it like living in the country?
I definitely would not be talking about gender equality and identity if I didn’t experience living on two opposite sides of the world with completely different cultures. Growing up in Saudi Arabia was my ‘normal’ and, if I had grown up in California, that would’ve been my ‘normal’ too.
I would say that is, what I learned the most, that everyone has a different ‘normal’; so we are not here to judge other people’s way of life: we are here to embrace our own way of life and respect the different opinions that exist in the world around us, so that we can co-exist…because we can.
What compelled the move to the U.S.? Was it hard getting a platform and spotlight in Saudi Arabia?!
I came to the U.S. to finish high-school; then I stayed for college, and then, to pursue my music. Actually, a lot of my fan base is from Saudi and the Middle East. I get a lot of comments on my YouTube videos: of girls thanking me for showing them that they can follow their dreams too. That is the biggest gift I can give. If I’m making a difference to one person in the world, then I’m doing my job here - and I’m so thankful and humbled for this opportunity.
Will there be more material coming later this year?
Yes! This year I am focusing on singles - and I’m excited to put out my other tracks soon!
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
Yes! I am heading to Kuwait on April 27 to perform at Kuwait Rising music festival! Then, I’m heading to London to do a couple of shows at the beginning of May.
Will you come and play the U.K.? Have you ever been over here?
I love London! I want to visit the rest of the U.K. (smiles).
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I want my music to reach more people so that I can go on a world tour soon! I want to keep collaborating with amazing artists and keep recording more tunes - because it’s my favorite thing to do.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Yes! I will never forget the first time I ever performed with a microphone in front of an audience. I was thirteen-years-old and I sang Thriller by Michael Jackson. It was a school talent show and I had the best time performing. That night, I decided I was going to pursue music no matter what.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Be positive, keep creating no matter what and listen to your gut...ALWAYS!
IN THIS PHOTO: MorMor
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Michael Jackson - Bad
Because it was the first time I ever really felt music - and I got chills listening to the lyrics, the melodies; the production. Everything about this album is amazing.
Britney Spears - …Baby One More Time
Because it was my first cassette tape! I think I was ten-years-old (smiles).
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
Because I can listen to the whole album over and over. I never get bored!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Yes. I love going to the movies when I have the time! I love eating yummy food too (smiles). It’s nice to treat yourself to some good sushi from time to time, and finally, I love being outdoors and going on long hikes.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I choose: They Don’t Care About Us by Michael Jackson. One of my faves forever!