Think about your own musical taste. How many continents does it reach? For many, it may be one or two, three if you’re really stretching. For Miriam Tamar, her sound travels wide and far. Considering herself a world fusion artist, there isn’t a place she hasn’t felt inspired by. From the clubs of Uganda to the hip-hop of Los Angeles, she takes note of every sound she comes across. We talked about that, her worldly perspective, and her latest singles that are pure fire.
Kendra: Of all the genres, electronic and dance may be the most universal. You lean a bit towards the worldbeat with some wonderful vocals tossed in the mix. Do you feel like dance music offers you up to a wider variety of people on a global level?
Miriam Tamar: I consider myself a world fusion artist, and definitely use collaborative opportunities like remixes to push beyond what I might create as a solo artist. We’re all multi-faceted, and while the dominant part of my identity is this sort of pensive, nomadic, hippy chick, I also have always loved to dance, and wherever I go in the world, will find my way onto the dance floor.
There are so many kinds of dance music as every culture expresses itself through dance. Some of these sounds are more “world” and some are more “mainstream.” I like to use sounds that reflect my personal narrative and lyrical storytelling of living and working abroad, but when it comes to remixes there’s some room to expand further, reimagine a song and intentionally reach new audiences.
Kendra: Living in LA you are surrounded by a multitude of people from all over the place. Has that melting pot of life influenced your music?
Miriam Tamar: I love having access to all kinds of amazing world music. So much Latin fusion, Ethiopian-jazz, reggae, Persian. I get to study how artists are redefining sound. My partner is a hip-hop artist, so I’ve gotten looped into a lot of that scene as well. I think with so much going on, it’s so important to have a clear vision of your own artistry, and remain true to your own intent and individuality. My focus continues to be on exploring cross-cultural narratives and sounds, primarily influenced by my time in Uganda and East Africa.
Kendra: You’ve got a couple of singles out right now. First, we’ll talk about “Who We” which you said reminded you of clubs in Uganda. Being a homebody I’d jump to assume that a club is a club, but how are people in Uganda clubbing differently than those in LA?
Miriam Tamar: Yes! Morsy’s remix definitely takes “Who We” to the club! I don’t club like I used to, but Uganda is a blast. Whether you’re in a small town or the capital city, it’s a party all night every night until 6 am. People are out to be carefree, wearing whatever they want, dressed to impress, or in leggings and flip flops, bright colors, and are just out to dance, sing along and sweat for hours. The music is 90% dancehall and afrobeat, then a little western music mixed in. I think in LA it can sometimes be more about appearances, and everything shuts down at 2 am but there is definitely variety in the types of music and crowds you can find!
Kendra: I really loved the video for “Firedance” with all the little kids. How’d you hook up with them for the video?
Miriam Tamar: Thanks, I’m really excited about how it came out! I know Breakdance Project Uganda from back in 2010. Some of the kids used to practice on my compound because my friend worked with them. I stayed in touch with the founder through the Ugandan music and arts community and reached out to him about having the kids dance once I heard the remix. The work they do with the kids, empowerment through artistic expression, embodies the concept of the song.
Kendra: What are your plans as we head into the new year?
Miriam Tamar: Well, I have a couple more solo songs I’m looking forward to releasing. I’m also just finishing a full collaborative world fusion album with my partner GNL Zamba, who’s a Ugandan hip-hop artist. We worked with East African multi-instrumentalists to record it, and are planning to release early next year. We should be touring as well, which I’m really excited for.
Kendra: Say you’re the special guest DJ over in Uganda, what five songs from the states are you taking with you as part of your set?