Prodigy

Tamtam

SongwriterLos Angeles, CAStory & Photos by Lauri LevenfeldMakeup & Hair by Irmina Martinez Loeffler
As I strolled down a snowy alleyway in NYC this past December, I heard an alluring, ethereal voice coming from an open boutique in Soho. This voice as I would come to find out was  Saudi Arabian (and now LA resident) songwriter TamTam. A female artist dedicated to bridging the gap between the Middle East and the West with her unforgettable voice, powerful lyrics, and unconventional style.  At age 13, Tamtam moved from her native country to California because her parents wanted their children to see the world through a different lens. Tamtam took the opportunity to channel her passion for music and upstart her career on youtube. After a quick discovery by Geena Davis among many, Tamtam has used her spotlight to inspire conversation and awareness around topics such as gender equality.  Her latest EP single Blue, depicts the ever-changing “blues” in nature and how they depict vastness, unpredictability and melancholy, all of which she felt at the dissolve of her latest relationship.


1. Who are you? What were you like as a child?

My moniker for my music is tamtam. I’m a singer and songwriter, born and raised in Saudi Arabia. I moved to the US for school, and then after graduating university, I moved to LA to pursue my passion. As a child, I was really really shy! I would always lift my shoulders up when someone asked me a question, because I was too shy to answer. I think that’s part of the reason I love music so much, I am always more comfortable singing over speaking. I also hated my curly hair as a child; I would always tried to brush it out, thinking it would become straight if I brushed it, and I can’t tell you how many brushes would get stuck in my hair. But now, I really truly love my hair and I’m so thankful for my curls

 

2.Where are you from? How has it shaped you?

I am from Saudi Arabia, I grew up there for 13 years before going to boarding school abroad. I definitely know that I am who I am today because I’ve experienced growing up in the Middle East, and also in the West. I’ve experienced living in both cultures, and that experience taught me lessons I’m so grateful for: to be patient with all human beings, to respect other people’s beliefs, and to see the world as a beautiful, diverse place full of colors, and cherishing that. This is rather than trying to make it black and white (and wanting everyone to have the

same opinion as you). I believe it is time that we all embrace our differences as human beings,  instead of seeing someone else’s views as wrong, simply see them as different to your own. Nobody is wrong and nobody is right; and no human being has the power to make that judgement.

 

3.When did music enter your life?

Music entered my life when I was 8 years old and I visited Los Angeles for the first time with my family. I bought the Britney Spears “Hit me One More Time” on cassette tape and couldn’t stop listening! And then I fell in love with Michael Jackson’s music and it was when I performed Thriller for the first time at a school talent show when I was 13, that I knew I wanted to do music every single day of my life.

 

4.Tell us the story behind Hollywood No?

A “Hollywood No” is basically a term used when someone in Hollywood rejects you by ignoring you instead of just saying “No”. And when I experienced that for the first time, I was really hurt and confused. Why couldn’t they just say no, instead of leading me on to think something would happen? You have to remember, I’m an artist, so I’m sensitive and decided to write a song about it :)

5.Where does your inspiration for your lyrics come from?

The inspiration for my lyrics definitely comes from my experiences. If I’m not inspired to write because of a situation that I’ve observed, or something that happened to me, then it takes me a really really long time to write a song. But when I go through something and I felt an emotion toward it, then I easily get inspired to write about it. It took me less than an hour to write “Hollywood No”.

 

6.Name a song that best reflects you.

This is a tough one, but right now the first one that comes to mind is Macy Gray’s song ”I try”.

Because I feel what she’s going through in the song, the ups and downs and rollercoaster of emotions are what you can have in this life-yet the song is uplifting at the same time, at least in my ears :)

7.Who are your role models?

My role models in life are my parents: my father because he never ever ever gives up and he inspires me to always keep going and  to try to remain calm in stressful situations because life’s too short and stress won’t get you anywhere. My mother because she is the most patient, wise and humble human being I’ve ever met.  I strive to have those qualities too. My musical role models are Michael Jackson because his passion is unsurmountable whenever he sang live, and Fairuz because of her voice and the stories that she tells.

 

8.What was your a-ha moment? Biggest challenge?

Realizing that no matter how talented a songwriter, producer, manager is that you might not be able to move forward without someone who is truly believes in you. In other words, it’s better to have someone on your team (even is they are a “nobody” right now) who is hungry and passionate about you and your music, rather than having a “somebody” who isn’t going to care.

9. Name five of your favorite LA places or moments.

1. The sunset on the Venice Boardwalk

2. Croft Alley’s Yogurt and their waffles

3. Watching the skateboarders by the Venice Beach

4. Hiking in the Palisades or in Malibu + the beaches there!

5. Universal Studios during Halloween Horror Nights

 

10. The music industry has changed so much, how do you navigate it currently?

By being positive, always creating music, and also meeting as many people as I can. And by being my genuine self when meeting them. You’d be amazed how one person can get you somewhere you really need to go, even if they’re not in the same business or industry as you.

11.Where do you see Tamtam in five years?

On her second world tour ;)

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