Hi Tamar! Thanks so much for talking to me today! I have recently been listening to your new song 'Come Together' and loved it. What was it that inspired you to make a song about mental health in this way?
I feel like there’s not always as much compassion or tenderness in the world as there could be. Just walking around, especially prior to COVID I think a lot about how people treat each other, I know people have their own fears and traumas; we all come from our own histories but I just feel like we could be kinder to one other, it’s an easy thing to do, there’s always a new chance for that, a new day, hour or minute. I really care about people and I’m super sensitive just seeing people in an interaction or walking past an interaction in the subway can change the direction of my day, and I believe in the power that we have as individuals to change the world through hearing people and being kind and considerate.
So, you’ve partnered with the Etheridge Foundation in honour of National Recovery Month and Suicide Awareness month on this song. What can you tell us about these charities and why what they do is so important? I’m really lucky my management team at Primary Wave had a connection to Melissa Etheridge and her team and they listened to the song and wanted to get on board which is amazing, I’ve been inspired by Melissa Etheridge my whole life so that was incredible. I know unfortunately Melissa suffered a great loss earlier this summer so they’re researching opioid addiction and finding alternative ways to come close to mental health with a different approach. I’m really excited about what they do at the Etheridge Foundation. Mental health is such a huge thing and affects everyone’s lives but I know, for me and for my community, this isolation makes it much more intense and I’m pretty concerned about people and myself to be honest. I’m fine but I’m lucky to have resources and close friends and a great community but it can feel terrifying, so anything to help to bring people together and knowing they’re not alone especially now. Making the video and having people from every continent seeing them in their their space, and some being alone and some not, just saying ‘Hey, you’re not alone, I’m here too’. Just remembering that others are out there and we are all going through it together it does help thinking about that - at least for me living alone in a big city, it can be super isolated. It inspired me watching all the videos coming in, seeing how people are rising up during this time and their energy was beautiful, and it was so generous of them to muster up the energy to make these videos to be shared with the world.
Apart from the charitable donations the song will hopefully raise, what do you hope this song can give to people as they listen to it and watch the video?
I was talking to a friend yesterday, she sang on the chorus of the song so she’s heard the song and knows it, but even though she’s heard it a million times she said "There’s something about what music does, there’s this unquantifiable thing, when I listen to it, it still elevates me, lights me up and glows me up." There’s something about this song and the video, I was part of the editing and produced the whole thing so we saw everything coming in and asked all the people, I can still watch it a million times because people are so sweet. It just makes me love people again, especially because I’m not seeing people out in the world right now, there’s just so many people that amaze me my heart beats faster and I warm up just watching them. I had a big family loss from COVID during the making of this video so I’m not denying what’s happening but I want to remember the good in people and that it’s in everyone. What’s tricky is that generally there’s a balance like some people are having a harder day and they can lean on someone, but now everyone in the world is going through something really hard and we just don’t have as much to give. It’s a really hard balance and I just want people to know they’re not alone, I need reminding I’m not alone. I’m hoping for the best in us all to help rise up.
So, the song is obviously all about coming together, how important do you think that is? Especially now when people can feel so isolated and lonely?
I’ve been doing distanced walks with friends with masks and everything, but I’ve been having regular zoom meetings and checking in and texting and I left flowers on my friends’ doorstep the other day, and I am so safe and careful. It’s so important, loneliness and isolation could really be our undoing in a greater way. I listen to a lot of amazing podcasts which make me feel less alone and I was listening to one about simple things we can do in this time and I think making those phone calls, sending those texts or watching films together through apps, I had a friend we were reading a book to each other at night from far away, sharing time together, I don’t know what I would do otherwise. I hope people find things, there are lots of resources online and also musicians I love like Dan Burn have been live streaming shows and fundraising for things so that’s been saving me. Some have been doing Instagram feeds just walking round and talking about whatever, you see hundreds of people watching and I feel like I’m part of a community.
You just can’t help but feel uplifted when you listen to this song, was this a similar experience for you in the process of writing and recording the song?
It was, I started the process before COVID, it’s taken me a little while to finish it up and get it out. It was lovely it was still safe to have people in the studio so I had lots of friends coming in to sing with me and horn players, trombone and trumpet are my favourite so it always feel special to get those instruments and players on. My sister came in with her friends, my sister calls herself tone deaf, I don’t know if I’d agree with that, but she didn’t sing on the song but she helped look after the kids of the other people, and kids sang on the song too which was lovely. It was super special, I had an amazing producer Jason Cummings and my mixing engineer was incredible. There’s so many people to thank. My writing partner on the song David Hedin is really great, we were working in his old closet in his apartment in Queens for a while. Yeah, I loved collaborating with people, when I think about the most joy I’ve had in my life it’s been with people creating.
This song is part of your new EP The Come Together Project which is out very soon, what can we expect from the upcoming release?
It’s in a similar umbrella to this song, which is why it’s a complete project. I did go through a period of writing a lot of happy and hopeful songs, it was maybe an escapism for me, a healthy one, not that I’m insensitive to the situation of the world but I definitely went through a phase of looking towards the light. I wrote a song, 'The Best Is Yet To Come', which is acknowledging that it might be hard but the best really is yet to come and really believing in that, I had to go back and listen to that recently to remind myself it will get better. I wrote a song with one of my favourite artists Dan Burn that’s called 'Yours and Mine', there’s a lot of sharing the world with others in platonic and romantic relationships and friendships. My sister works in a children’s hospital so I wrote a song about friendships. It’s a happy and upbeat project but also true to the duality of everything. It’s pointing to the brighter because we know what’s on the other side of that.
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name a top three songs that mean a lot to you in relation to mental health. What would be your top three?
1. Ani DiFranco - Grey
2. Amy Ray – any live performance
3. Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Listen to 'Come Together' as well as Tamar's new EP now!