Hello and welcome to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… With two new acts a week, the feature pretty much does what it says on the tin: getting you a little bit closer to the buzziest new acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.
We’ve recently introduced you to Newcastle via London newcomer Brooke Bentham, Amsterdam’s Spill Gold and brilliant Stockholm-based newcomers Viagra Boys. Next up, we meet Antwerp-based songwriter Tamino.
Collaborating with Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood on his brilliant debut EP ‘Habibi’, this new songwriter creates delicate but soaring songs that prioritise space to give the maximum emotional impact. It’s early promise that’s set to be seen through on the release of debut album ‘Amir’, out this month.
Stream ‘Habibi’ and get to know Tamino in our interview below.
Describe your music to us in the form of a Tinder bio.
I am only here to break your heart in two.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
My mother playing classical piano and my father playing Arabic tunes for me on the Oud. An Oud is an Arabic string instrument. You could call it the Middle Eastern guitar, only it has no frets, which gives the possibility of playing quarter tones. Those quarter tones are essential for playing Arabic scales.
My father’s father was a very famous Egyptian singer and actor (Moharam Fouad), and my father sings as well (but not for a profession anymore). These influences are still with me. I myself play a bit of Oud and used it on my album, although in a much less traditional way, combining it with all the other, more contemporary elements that we used.
Who were some artists that inspired you when you were just starting out (and why)?
John Lennon was my idol when I was 8 years old. Back then I didn’t really know why. I just really wanted to be him. Now that I’m older I can see why I liked him so much (and still do). In his songwriting I sense a beautiful contrast-and-dynamics between beauty and rawness. That same contrast I now also see in the work of artists like King Krule or Father John Misty.
You’re based in Antwerp, what’s the music scene like there at the moment? Are there other artists breaking through at the same time that you take inspiration from?
I don’t feel part of any music scene and I’m not even sure if there really is one in Antwerp. I’ve never experienced it as a problem though. I was always on my own cloud, with my own mixed heritage and doing my own thing. Maybe also because I spent some parts of my life in different places (We lived in between Egypt and Belgium when I was very little, and I went to study in Amsterdam when I was 17).
Since things began to get busy for me last year I’ve spend so long on the road that I’ve felt myself becoming a bit distant to Antwerp. I will always love the city though. It’s a city with a lot of history in art and fashion and you still feel that to this day.
“It’s a work without compromise, exactly what I wanted it to be.”
Who would be your dream collaborator?
Massive Attack. I’m a big admirer of their work. I think it’s amazing how they manage to choose or write the perfect song for the specific vocalist that they’re working with.
Musically or otherwise, what are you most looking forward to in 2018?
The release of my album ‘Amir’ in October. After working very intensely for more than a year on the album, I’m very excited for people to be able to finally listen to it. It’s a work without compromise, exactly what I wanted it to be. Also: the following world-tour and playing these songs live for a lot of people. We’ve been to great places already. London, Paris, Berlin, Istanbul,… But now I’m really looking forward to go even further. I’ve never been in Australia or the US for example and am very happy that I’ll be able to explore these places with my music.
If people could take away one thing from your music, what would it be?
The lyrics. I spend a lot of time trying to get the words for my songs just right - I never finish writing a song if I feel like I can’t say anything with it, so I really hope listeners can feel the same depth and discover new layers as I did when writing the songs.
Tamino’s debut album ‘Amir’ is out 19th October via Communion.