Photo: Ben Wong

Photo: Ben Wong

Here’s what I’m up to:

1. SPRING SHOWS — come !
04.15  FRI   — Philly @ Ruba Club 8PM
~with Ill Fated Native, Tygerstrype, Wilbur Force
04.16 SAT  — Philly  @ Girard Hall 8PM
~with Michelle Blades, The Dove and the Wolf

2. VIDEO: I did an interview where I talk about where I’m from, why I make music, middle eastern politics, heroin, and China. Appealing? you can watch it here. Fun Time Fact: I made a music video for the song in the background. It’s in the next post, planted firmly like a mighty oak. Springing~

3. REAL MOMENT: A friend cleverly suggested that I share some anonymous emails that I’ve received since starting my Friendship List / essay writing, so here we are:

-“Thanks for sharing once again Tamar.  Your writing is so honest and full of feeling, and most of all inspiring. ”

-“You have a glorious way of putting your events and experiences into words that others can benefit from… Now I will try to visualize my life as a temple and all my actions as bricks. Thanks for sharing your beautiful perspective of the world. People (especially me) need this.”

All the <3 <3 <3

Hey I wrote another essay, it’s intimate and it’s at the bottom of this post. This one is about being alone. As always, if you’d like me to keep discussing this topic let me know by replying. I can write more openly about my own experiences as well as share helpful advice /info from people much much smarter than me. “Love is like knowledge, you can’t do nothing with it but pass it on” – Tracy Morgan. I know… he’s good.
All the best things,
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The Performer: Part 6
On Being Alone

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

I was going to give you a bunch of life lessons from Ecuador, I had a plan: tell them you’re grateful for all the circumstances of your life, your ability to have an education, family, support system, access to clean water, medical assistance, the ability to even travel anywhere; tell them how lucky you are to be able to share these very thoughts right here. While all these statements are truth nectar, dripping confidently from mountain Yes Forever onto Gratitude Valley, I’m choosing to change topics entirely. Let’s go on a hike, you into holding hands at all?

I’m a solo artist. I just spent two months in Ecuador by myself. I was born alone — that’s a line in a new song I just wrote.  What is it that compels me /people to do things entirely on my/their own? Am I bravely pushing myself to be a better person, or am I a product of an isolating society?

I think about this a lot these days, at times even while I’m performing on stage. Sometimes I find myself singing a song I know so well that the words feel like sand on the beach — obvious and laid out for my pleasure — and all I could think about while playing is how I did it again: I found myself fighting, alone.

I imagine there are endless ways to be alone: waking up early and going for a run, sitting in your room using the internet for hours on end, watching a movie in an empty theatre, going on a trip for 2 months to Ecuador. But what about feeling lonely? Alone is a fact, while feeling lonely is a state of mind. I can ‘get lonely’ anywhere, surrounded by hundreds of people, some of them singing my songs. Nonetheless, I do think that performing can be a great way to reach out to people, to try and connect and maybe even find those that bob their heads the same way you bob yours: figure eight with the nose, front and back with the forehead. But as we all know, performers aren’t immune to the traps of the ego, the same ego that tells us that we can do it all — all of it — alone.

Every year I learn this lesson in a new way, and this year I learned it through depression. When I got back from Ecuador I fell into a depression; please trust me when I write depression versus sadness: this isn’t my first experience with the symptoms, which helped name the beast and quickly slay it, thankfully. Here are my symptoms for you, arranged in no particular order, doused in intimate honesty:

  • Every morning I felt tired and gruesome.
  • I wanted to sleep away the day, every single day.
  • Overeating and undereating.
  • My passions felt like burdens. These included music, cooking, and even seeing my friends.
  • My immune system, which is normally quite strong, immediately failed and I got sick.
  • I found myself forgetting to breathe.
  • I had severe problems with concentration and decision making.
  • I felt like I’ve always been depressed and will always be in this state. This is one of the sneakiest symptoms.
  • I didn’t feel worthy of love.

One of the lies that depression whispers at us (( surround sound and in stereo )) is that we should distance ourselves from our support group, and most devastatingly, to keep quiet about it all. This is the exact same notion: that we can do it all on our own. My past is drenched in this notion, coming from a family of workaholics that is; these are people that throw themselves at their work, relentlessly numbing any desire for grieving and dealing with the pain that life brings us. I used to admire this as a strength, but time and time again I’m finding that true strength comes from vulnerability. Being vulnerable means accepting your feelings out loud, and trusting that the people who truly love you are emotionally there for you, especially when you need it most.

In some cultures grief is as important as happiness is, and it’s viewed essentially like an artery, carrying blood and self-acceptance from your heart, to every part of your body. Grief isn’t meant to be experienced alone in a cement room with inadequate lighting; it isn’t meant to be ignored through avoidance, through drugs, by throwing yourself obsessively into your work, or into alcohol — instead it’s expressed loudly within a safe community. “Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses” (Martín Prechtel). Depression can lead you towards total apathy, which does not allow for grief.

I’m lucky, I know. These days I can usually name depression when I feel it, and I know not to sit still when I do, because so many times in the past it has lead me somewhere scary. This includes a long battle with anorexia in my late teens and criminal behavior in my early twenties — I was avoiding dealing with my pain and worst of all I thought that I could do it all alone. I was lonely, in a room full of people.

Please seek help if you are feeling any of these destructive symptoms. Please go into the sun. Please reach out to a professional, a good friend (or many good friends), a loved one, family, or this number right here:

Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863. And also please remember that depression is neurological and chemical and requires treatment, just like any illness would.

We’re social animals y’all, we like to hold hands and just be in a room with other monkey humans, eating fruit, breathing deep, brazenly looking into each other’s eyes. Let’s not grieve alone.



little strike

Photo by: Beto Moscoso

Here’s what I’m up to:

  1. SHOWS (last ones until Spring):

11.19  Thurs   — NYC   @ Silent Barn         ~w/ Quitzow, Love Spread

12.3   Thurs   — Philly @ PhilaMOCA        ~w/ Bakithi Kumalo, Art Department

12.4   Fri         — Philly  @ Goldilocks         (chill set)  ~w/ RR Perkins

12. 10  Thurs  — Philly @ Ortlieb’s             ~w/  Phix, Dogs on Acid

  1. MUSIC VIDEO: FUN FUN ALERT: I’m making one ! Last year I wrote an intense song about a good friend. This year, amazing producer/ musician/ friend Peter English and I have been recording it. I AM SO HAPPY to share it and to attach some visuals to it, with the help of badass video artist Kyle Brown. If you live around Philly  and want to be in this music video as a “person in a small audience looking fierce”, stay tuned. The shoot will be early December, and will only take a few hours + snacks. The shoot will be early December, and will only take a few hours + snacks. I will send an email/post notification in the coming week and an event will pop up on facebook.
  1. REAL MOMENT: I’m going to Ecuador for 2 months (mid Dec- mid Feb). I’m going because I’m feeling very lucky these days, and I want to share this feeling by volunteering in a school. Also, I want my Spanish to improve so I could roll my r’s all day all day. Any advice? I plan on shooting lots of footage and doing at least one open mic. I will also eat all the fruit B-)

I wrote another essay. This one is about being nice, and it feels extra personal, y’all. As always, please feel free to share a response with me if you feel inspired, or maybe even suggest a topic~

Thank you for your time, you’re why I’m here.


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The Performer: Part 5

On Being Nice

My former partner, and longest love, taught me the hidden meaning behind the word ‘nice’. Interestingly, he was born and raised in a town called Niceville, which yes it’s real, and materially exists in North Florida. Yikes but also wow.

Nice. in art school I was taught to roll my eyes at this word whenever it was carelessly dropped during critique: “the way the light falls on the left side of her face, it’s like, you know, nice..”. Art school was all about why something made us feel some type of way; the details, the little connections, the run-on sentences. But that’s just critique life,  which is essentially a room of people that are interested in rigorous analysis — or to put it more vividly: bathtubs full of floating question marks ( ?  ¿   ??  ¿). It’s a room of artists obsessed with knowing and asking why. Outside of this environment, this type of analysis is frankly exhausting and likely unnecessary.  Except maybe in essay writing. Oh hii.

My former partner – we’ll call him Bees – would use the word nice as the highest form of flattery; whether it was to describe a beautiful mountain he felt moved by or to tell me, his former special someone, that he thought my idea was fantastic: “oh, that was so nice, Tamar”. At first I was bothered by this, partly due to my art school brainwashing and drying, and partially because it felt like an easy way out. The more I heard him use this word, the squintier my eyes got, until finally one day it hit me like a ton of baby seals: feeling nice is all we could ever ask for. That’s it. And being nice, well, that is the greatest strength you can show. If you want an intro into my brain carvings, here it is: the greatest strength you can display is to be kind to someone that cannot do anything to further your existence. That is strength manifested. Or more vividly: bathtubs full of exclamation marks. And seal pups ( !!! ! !!!).

The word nice is no filler, rather it functions as emphasis. Bees taught me that the heaviness of a word is entirely dependent on the universe that we create around it, not just the universe inside of ourselves. I’m doing it again, I’m being vague: what I mean is that we all bring our own baggage, our past, into every word. And also every room. Every time we step into a conversation, we bring our associations with us. I brought art school with me to the word nice, which sadly came along with eye rolls and skepticism. Perhaps for you, when you hear the word “nice”, you think of weakness. Maybe being nice wasn’t a possible instinct where you grew up, though Ironically, I find that people that had a severe struggle in their lives — e.g. grew up very poor, dealt with disease, war, rough family life, trauma — are often the nicest people in the room. What’s up with that?

More and more I find myself deeply connected to people that have come around full circle from planet trauma and landed firmly on the gratitude star; these are people that feel lucky every day and therefore they exude nice like it runs heavy in their ducts. They’re fearless: they recognize the needs from the wants // the love from the lust // the pineapple from the pines // they have no time for smoke and very little time for mirrors /selfies.  They are simply grateful.

Being nice is not a  simple act, and is never an accident: it is a deliberate act requiring being present in the moment while having the mental energy to give. When I’m nice to the audience while on stage (and after the show), people, more specifically musicians, sometime take my niceness as weakness. They liken my open arms to an open wound, a potential ‘way in’ for manipulation. These people /viruses are easy to detect — and hunt —  for 2 reasons:

1. They often use the same language that I use on stage as a means of relating to me. Consequently they then ask for a favor / try to further their own agenda.

2. If you’ve spent your life being somewhat manipulative, you lack experience at being nice, or simply, genuine. I do possess said experience — I’m working on it — and therefore I can smell you, virus, from a mound away. “Being good at something means that you’re good at it.” – Little Strike. y’all already know~~

So, good humans, practice niceness. If nothing else, it will help sort the viruses from the pineapples. Your smoothie awaits~

/dedicated to bees bzz and to you