Words by Keane Fletcher
Its Good Friday y'all! And to celebrate we're bringing the good vibes all the way from the NSW North Coast with Byron-based singer-songwriter Tamwah and her debut album 'Love Like Water'. Featuring an eclectic mix of reggae, soul and hip-hop, Tamwah's debut album comes off the back of a steady stream of EP's and digital singles, and sees the beat-maker flexing her finesse in terms of song-writing, collaboration and production.
And not only is she bringing the the beats here people, Tamwah is also using her brand of vibrant, socially-conscious music to help bring awareness to both environmental sustainability and the representation of indigenous artists in the industry, two areas that are still sadly without enough traction in the music biz.
'I feel it’s my responsibility to use my platform as an artist to advocate for nature, especial water...Seeing the Wangan & Jagalingou people fight the good fight for the past 9 years to protect the sacred waters of their lands from Adani, I wanted to create an album that shows my solidarity with them. Two things we canʼt live without Love & Water, hence the album's title.'
Showcasing a diverse range of collaborations between Australia & Barbados, her second home, as well as amplifying the voices of our First Nations Peoples, 'Love Like Water' is a piece of infectious summer soul that raises your awareness as well as your serotonin, and we here in the office can't think of a better soundtrack for a well-earned long weekend.
We recently caught up with Tamwah to talk all things music, inspo, and what being a socially conscious artist means to her. Check it out below!
1- Where are you based at the moment?
Currently residing respectfully, on stolen lands, Bundjalung country (Byron Bay).
2- How would you describe your sound? What are your musical influences?
A tropical fusion of hip hop, reggae, samba & soul with elements of mama nature!
My musical influences are really diverse like my sound, for example: Yothu Yindi, Earth Wind & Fire, Clara Nunes, Sergio Mendes, Calypso Rose through to Erykah Badu, Chronixx, Juls & Hollie Cook.
3- How does the songwriting process usually work for you? Do you have a routine when it comes to writing and recording, or does inspiration usually take you by surprise?
When Iʼm in nature, thats when the creative vibe usual hits. I often sing melodies or instrument parts into my phones notes. Iʼm a very go with the flow creative, so inspiration can take me by surprise, especially whilst traveling, there's something magic about movement and new spaces and culture...a little tune or hook can just come through. I have a scrap book were I like to write my rhymes, hooks and composition notes.
4- Tell us a bit about your new album 'Love like water'. What inspired you to make this album? And what made you decide on 'Love like water' for the title track and name of the album?
Nature speaks to us all; she gives us everything we need to live happy healthy lives. I feel it’s my responsibility to use my platform as an artist to advocate for nature, especially water. Here in so called Australia, the government doesnʼt acknowledge indigenous land or water rights, which is very convenient because they can then sell stolen lands and resources to filthy corporations like Adani. Seeing the Wangan and Jagalingou people fight the good fight for the past 9 years to protect the sacred waters of their lands from Adani, I wanted to create an album that shows my solidarity with them. Two things we canʼt live without Love & Water, hence the album's title.
All too often, Aboriginal artists have been lumped in the ‘world’ music category and I want to show we are much more through my album. I also wanted to create an album where the voices and stories of First Nations People can be heard and felt.
5- The album also features a plethora of fantastic collaborations. How does the collaboration process usually work for you? Where do you begin: the track or the collaborator?
My album purposely features a lot of collaboration; I feel we are really powerful together and each artist involved holds a unique voice that deserves to be heard. I choose the co-creators because of their vibe, talent and consciousness, knowing we can create something really special together. For many of the songs I started with the beat, feel, concept and the other artists expanded on the theme, wrote their verse and we workshopped the chorus and bridge. For example, with Track 9. 'Home', Zaynab Wilson and myself sat in my bedroom with a beat on loop and a massive piece of paper that we brain stormed ideas on. Then Zaynab played a few chords on her cuatro, we marked out the tune and took it to jam with a bunch of talented musician friends, which we later recorded.
6- How has the ongoing pandemic affected your creativity? Have you enjoyed having more time to write and record, or has it been stifling? How have you been forced to adapt?
For me thereʼs been some real solid positives about this pandemic time creatively wise. I finished my Bachelor of Audio sound degree during 2020 and wrote/recorded the songs which became my album. While that side of the ongoing pandemic has been fruitful the other side is the painful isolation and not being able to share music in person, playing shows, connecting and also making a living. Iʼve had to adapt to a lot of online time and more solitude than is good for me; this has been really tough.
7- How do your other interests feed into your music? In what ways do you think music can be a useful tool for helping people connect?
As a healer I use my music to help people connect through dance, catchy hooks they can sing, and lyrics that touch on deeper issues.
8- If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Iʼd like to see more diversity and better pay. Oops thats two things!
9- What's next for you?
Next week Iʼm off to 'Resonate', a 3 day song writing workshop at studio 301 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. I cant wait to be in the magic of song writing with 13 other deadly artists. This is healing for me.
My next gig will be a fun one, at 'Soulful Speed Dating' in Byron Bay on the 18th April, and then Iʼve been asked to share my voice and song at 'Align With Earth: Earth Day 2021' on April 22nd from 11-3pm (PDT). Iʼm also cooking up a music video with the super talented Olivia Nachle for my song 'Searching for the Sun', with the plan to release in June.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!