little strike

Hey hello,

It’s been 2 seasons since I wrote anything. A lot has happened to you & I.  I hope you’re finding yourself somewhere in the middle,  with (little to) no catastrophes in the heart.

This is the year of collaboration.  if you’d like to meet my current crew, come to one of these:

1. Shows  

The ~live~ Little Strike experience is transforming. You are now likely to encounter Koof Ibi on the trumpet, shredding heart beats into polyphonic waves. The prismatic Raymo Ventura can be seen spinning our visual collaborations.  But check it I’ve decided to take a big break from shows –!- I’m gonna study and search my ego a bit. I want to be a better person. on all fronts. Also i’m going to Colombia, any recommendation?

2. Releases: I’m nearly done with my EP. That’s nuts!! Jan/ feb.  I’ll let you know. Also Raymo and I shot a wild ride of a music video, to be release this january. There will be a release show. We will serve fruit. comeee

Here’s an essay I meant to send 3 months ago,,  topic feels relevant. Hope it’s useful. All love.

The Performer: Part 10
Domination   

“How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows?

W.E.B. Du Bois

       Strange times. Truth is, my integrity and honesty have been coming into question since puberty, since I started getting feedback about my human body from strangers and familiar men in my environment. Look at this, It’s taken me 10 essays to get to this topic because frankly, I had no idea where to even start. This is a vast topic with endless anecdotes and emotions, nearly infinite, so I decided to share 1 personal story along with some quotes from wiser people. This essay is about love in the face of pain and domination; trying to make sense of it all.

        Just as a disclaimer: In my core, I believe that women’s issues are directly linked to all other social issues, I mean how can they not be? Women make up half of the population. The math alone is persuasive. Also also it’s important  to note that non binary folks, trans, and  the queer community are and should be included in this discussion, as they face these issues daily as well.

“Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from dominion over another. Patriarchy teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others.” ― bell hooks

        6 months ago Philadelphia experienced its first official hot day, right at the brink of summer. I was walking to work from center city, a 10-15 minute walk depending on your tenacity.  Right as I started my walk a man commented on my body, something rather innocuous like “hello there beautiful”, nothing abnormal, so I just kept it moving without too much thought or attention. Not a minute went by when I heard another comment semi whispered at me, something of the “hey baby” variety. Surprised at the high rate of occurrence within theme, I made a bewildered face and crossed the street. Little did I know that waiting for me on the other side was another comment in said theme, this time more explicit, something like “look at that body mmm” followed by an up and down glare and lip lick – a grotesque combo for the ages.

       Utterly grossed out and now at a total loss at the frequency of these unprovoked moments I  started noticing my body language shifting. Suddenly my gaze became fixed at the ground (while normally I look up and often smile at people, depending on circumstance), I was walking faster and with visible preoccupied mood, and most importantly my face had now displayed fear. This is important to single out, because what came next highly depended on this transformation. About a minute after my vibe changed I encountered a man that was on his phone. As he was talking on the phone he managed to lock eyes with me, and then he said in a tone just audible enough for me to hear: “there’s a sexy bitch walking right here you should see that body”.  In disbelief I felt my body become hot with anger. With shaken integrity I imagined taking this man’s phone and shouting into it “your friend is a piece of shit” right before breaking it on the ground with my foot. But I didn’t do it, I just imagined it while walking away, in total silence.

       About to reach a light, I continued to see my body language cower in fear and disgust. Right before making a turn at the light, a man, seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed my arm and said “get over here baby” —  In total disbelief I instinctually pulled away my arm and started walking so fast I was effectively running. Another man made a comment about my body as I was literally running away. What just happened. Why did this escalate, and how??

“Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. We are taught that this will to dominate is more biologically hardwired in males than in females. In actuality, dominator culture teaches us that we are all natural-born killers but that males are more able to realize the predator role. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.” ― bell hooks

       This anecdote that I shared, it’s just one day. Actually It’s just 10 minutes in one day, and I know that I am not unique in my experiences. Every woman (and non binary GQ people) experiences this form of domination regularly. Endless examples aside, I want my point to be regarding the harm that this behavior creates not in just introducing mild trauma into my (and countless others) daily lives, but also the harm it creates for all of us, men included.  Patriarchy is harmful to all; It isn’t rooted in love, but in fear. And it manifests in countless ways.

       Some days it’s very hard for me to be a woman in this world. Some days I walk into venues to play music and the sound person* asks me if I’m the new waitress, or a band will ask “whose girlfriend” I am. “who makes your beats” people often ask. Those moments require a lot of energy to combat but they are also teaching moments, and every time I can come back with strong eye contact and a peaceful truth, I educate someone about reality. It’s a lot to have to constantly convince people of your worth; And coupled with the very real fear of violence from strangers and non-strangers alike (verbal and physical), it can create an unfriendly world. In this world I am constantly suspicious of my fellow humans. So how do I keep my integrity in the face of oppression?  How do I keep my peace?

       Patriarchy and domination is not to be denied. We all grew up in it and our role is to figure out how it has penetrated our lives (through movies, music, education system, the words we use, our family structure, how we view sex, etc). To really examine the dark corners of our minds, that is of utmost importance. Patriarchy has no gender bell says.  I myself look deeply into my soul daily to find its remnants, from body shaming other women to moments of unprovoked jealousy. Attempting to unlearn, this is the challenge. Personally I see a direct link between the current wave of social unrest and the culture of domination – over women, minorities and the poor in general. Fear of a ‘loss of power’ has plagued us — ‘when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’

We are all suffering under the tyranny of the culture of domination.

All love, here’s one final quote I promise !!

 “the wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.” ― bell hooks, All About Love

*it’s sound person/ sound engineer. not a sound guy 🙂

My bad, it’s been a few months. I was away attempting to follow my intuition abroad and locally, trying to quiet down the thinking mind. I’m here though, more than ever trying my best to concentrate on what is in front of me. It is hard. But that’s good.  Little Strike stuff:

1. SHOWS (Philly)
04.08  Sat — @Studio 34 (4522 Baltimore Ave)   Yoga & Music    6pm-7:15pm   $20
05.03 Wed  — @ The Barbary   ~with Smiles With Teeth, Lapses, Camp Candle

This Saturday, April 8th, I’ll be testing out a lucid dream of mine: combining yoga with music. My friend and general bamf Amanda DeLeo will be teaching the class and I’m going to be gently musicing to the movements. Y’all, yoga changed my life and continues to daily. It has forced me to deal with my erratic behavior towards my body and noisy mind. Do not get it twisted, it wasn’t ever easy or intuitive for me; in fact I found it intimidating and just plain hard. It forced me to think about my breath and body and nothing else.! it is completely counter intuitive to our over-sensory world. It is awesome. I hope you can make it, we would love feedback on how to make it the best environment for YOU, for future reference. Come move your body and your soul.

** West –> east coast tour in July. details ahead.

2. Working on an EP for this summer. And collaborating with my talented community. New things: live trumpet, drums, bass. New visuals. Trap music. Reducing fear of intimacy to null. Get nulled with me.

As always, an essay into my brain will follow below, hope it uplifts. I am way too busy and i don’t like it so I wrote a thing. Let me know if you have thoughts. All love.

-tamar

The Performer: Part 8
On Sacrifice 

Have you ever had this thought: I would sacrifice the health of my body for my goals.
Side note: feel free to replace “goals” with passion, art, individualism, financial security, school, etc.

So the other week someone at yoga for recovery said that sacrificing their body for art was acceptable to them at one point. I perked up, eyes dilated, I breathed in.* This is a thought I’ve had many times over the years: vividly in art school, a place that intuitively breeds sleepless nights in your studio while simultaneously daring to ~objectively~ grade you on your arting (??). And dare it does. But that’s just good ol’ school. School practically normalizes stress and anxiety. You’re supposed to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, it’s a dorm ! My dorm had mold everywhere. Mold will suppress your immune system and much of the population is terribly allergic.

Mold aside — though I can talk mold with the best of them — I’ve been thinking about my body’s well being a lot lately, especially as it relates to goals. And art. Sacrificing one night to finish an assignment is acceptable, but what about long term sleep deprivation? Skipping breakfast every day, nervously smoking cigs in between business meetings, overeating late at night, endlessly scrolling social media, refined sugar blah blah. What about staying up really late and working on my new spiritual trap song because I have no other time for my art other than super late at night because I’m over worked and underpaid? And how come no one really talks about back pain on instagram. The reality of sacrifice is far more nuanced.

Self sacrifice is certainly a romantic idea, but much like a bathtub full of champagne, the reality can be a bit acidic. Who is this personal sacrifice serving anyway? This important work that I hope to generate, this money that I hope to make, these goals, are the motivations behind them personal or do they serve us all? Jig’s up, it is time to own up to my true motives: simply looking at my actions isn’t enough anymore. Hey tamar do you sing to share a part of your soul or are you looking for external approval from strangers?

Pro tip in checking motives: I like pretending that people can read my mind while I’m in conversation with them. It helps me keep track of negative thoughts and makes me behave more honestly. It’s also terrifying. Try it out today if you get a chance and watch your ego get checked. Dig in.

In my research for motives I discovered a loop: self sacrifice that serves my ego leads me to having less time for self care (exercise, yoga, meditation, relaxation, sleep, eating patterns), which leads me to having less energy in general, which then turns into more destructive thoughts and behaviors, having less impulse control and more unsavory immediate gratification (bad diet, irritability, desire to isolate, oversleeping, lust, drinking, numbing activities, general avoidance), landing me in self-centered-ville. It’s a classic energy loop, which eventually leads to guilt. And guilt is like soul plaque — it will build, it will suffocate.

Stuff that just serves our individualism just isn’t sustainable. Adam Curtis said  “The problem with individualism is that, whilst it is liberating and exciting and beautiful, when things get difficult you are very weak. If you go into the woods at night, by yourself, it’s frightening, isn’t it? You get scared by the slightest noise, the slightest snap of a twig. If you go into the woods with your friends in a group, it’s incredibly exciting and thrilling because you somehow feel stronger.”

Maybe self sacrificing my body for my individualism (art, goals, money, clothes, etc) is my ego disguising itself as a martyr, trying to convince me there is a higher purpose for my selfish desires. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just my ego looking for love. At the end of the day, you can boil every fear into some desire, and more often than not, that desire is for love. Choosing how to go about it is still key. Releasing myself from a guilt cycle is, in itself, facing a fear. Perhaps even in the process getting closer to true love? Maybe. Much more to say about this and the importance of self care in general, but I’ll give it time to marinate. It’s Spring up here, give yourself a break. If you can afford it, take time to just be. Catch me in the park. Say hello.

*did you just breathe in?

little-strike8

Hey y’all,
1. Just a quick THANK YOU for all the support with the video I released, I’m humbled by your time. Time is the greatest gift you can give.

2. SHOWS
I’m going to Europe and Asia for 6 weeks in December and so these are the last shows I will play before my trip. Come say hello and sing Redemption Song with me. Yes?

11.05  Sat  — Philly   @ KFN    ~Yikes the Zero, Josh Hey, Lushlife DJ set.
{{This show will be a party with your friends, no curfew just vibes}}
11.18  FRI — Philly    @ Bourbon & Branch  ~Julia Weldon, Lenore Lenoire
{{This show will aim to empower you and make you feel your own heart while you breathe in deep}}

The Performer: Part 8
On Fear

“Avoidance is not transcendence ” -unknown, shout out to Josh Hey for sharing

‘Avoidance is not transcendence’ is only four words, but boy do they sizzle brightly in the sun. I have been thinking about fear a lot, and avoiding fears. What are your biggest fears? In academic surveys people always answer 1. death and 2. public speaking, which almost makes sense but wait a minute, how did these two concepts become neighbors??

What about sex, is sex scary? Sex makes life, which should hold a special importance in our education, but it does not. My experience with sex education in school was god awful; it was mostly fear based and awkward, full of photos of disease and rabid warnings. Where’s the love element in these classrooms? And this is just school education. My sex education came way before school, as I’m sure it did for you too.  But hey if we are taught to fear sex and its consequences, death as the ~ultimate mystery~ is likely terrifying. Likely, because unfortunately there is no death education.

Maybe fear is about losing control. Death is coming, and some of us have seen it around us. We cannot control that, all we can try and control is our thoughts surrounding it. Death is often viewed as either the last dance of the night or the ever shifting lava lamp bubble, morphing into different shapes and changing colors in a mesmerizing dark sea. Our beliefs about death are often cultural, but overall they are our thoughts, our choices. Our thoughts are our choices. Are we allowing ourselves to be ok with death or will we let its lurking shadow define our every move? After all, every day we are guided either by fear or fearlessness.

Death feels mysterious, and we humans fear what we don’t understand, but public speaking y’all…? That’s just a person with a mic and a benign power point presentation. Seems basic, but it actually taps into a fascinatingly huge fear we all share. Walk with me: so public speaking means being both alive and amplified, in front of people. I do this, I play music in front of people. Am I special? Is it arrogance? Growing up I almost never asked questions in class, I was quiet, I listened. I was also afraid. My self-image was based almost entirely on my intelligence (and a bit on sports — which is the real reveal of this essay..), because that is what people praised about me, that’s who I thought I was. Back then I felt that being clever is what made me, me. The idea of asking a dumb question in front of my classmates felt like a hammer coming down and shattering my fragile self-concept. If people stopped perceiving me as smart, perhaps I’m not, and therefore what’s left?

Fear of being perceived as ignorant drove me to avoid asking questions in class. This is wild and insane but so common for many of our fears — when soaked in fear, public speaking means potentially shattering ourselves in front of people. Yikes. Singing in front of people means potentially convincing strangers that I am bad at singing. Bananas !  But hey wait a sec, this seems like the type of fear that involves giving control to others over your own heart. When is that ever good?

Something is still missing here. In the West we are inundated with stories of war and homicide by our media, yet we don’t openly address our own fear of death in a safe way. In fact this fear of facing our own mortality is arguably used to manipulate our choices: what we will eat, smoke, buy, choose as a career, and who we vote for or even marry.   Till death does us part. I suspect that death, in a way, is the ultimate shattering of our self-concept. If I’m gone, there is no more me, I am now a different thing. No more me in front of people. Then what is me, what’s left?

I want my idea of me / my soul / my spirit to be so strong yet so light, that when inevitable change comes my way — when I no longer sing in front of people, when I am no longer a daughter to someone, a musician to someone else —  I want to just be ok, to accept. It’s my choice after all. In Buddhism it is taught that “if we can see through the delusion of the individual self, we experience that which is not subject to birth and death. The idea is that ‘you’ are not an autonomous entity.”  You are not singular. It is all one system, one I, one breath, one big sigh, connected.

It is also suggested that instead of labeling yourself as romantic / hard working / a great dancer / a responsible partner / a shy person / a drinker — that instead you try to view your raw potential at each present moment. Right now I am trying to grow. Right now I will give a dollar to this person that literally has no home. Right now I will call my mom because even though she drives me crazy she has been there for me and I want to remind her I am grateful. Right now I am dancing like no one is watching because it feels good to let go. And wow just look at how that afternoon light shines on those trees.

“Suffering is caused by a habit of constructing an absolute self.”  The constructs we built for ourselves mimic those we build for other people, which, i suspect, creates a hierarchy in our minds. Look, I know this essay was a lot. This is a never ending topic, but if you walk away with anything after reading this far (you champion), walk away with this: there is no hierarchy. No human person is better than you nor are you better than anyone else. Ok gotta go, I’m about to smash that self concept and diiiiiive~~
(I’ll work on it)

Hey I want to write about death next but I will likely write about sex. Got thoughts.
Stay connected and be good to you.
T

PS
If you want to respond with your own personal experience please hit ‘reply’ all fearless. Love.

 

I made my first video, i’m humbled and happy.

We went to a carnival, i talked to kids. They danced while I sang my song.
Share it if you know a person that would enjoy it.

If you’d like to know more, here’s some honesty:

My First Video
Having my face all over a video was tough for me. I still don’t know how I feel about being on the internet. What does it all mean, y’all. Why should I be looking into your eyes while singing about a moment of despair that i turned into art?

Writing music serves as a form of therapy for me — and it’s also fun — and sharing music taps into my desire to connect with people; with you. In this video I assumed the role of a guide as a means of exploring a new place: a traveling carnival in the Pine Barrens of Hammonton, NJ. We shot purposefully without knowing much about the place (thanks google), and used the cameras as an excuse to talk to people. KOOL FACT: cameras can legitimize you and allow you to slip into conversation with strangers at carnivals.

And so Peter English — director and the coolest kid-dad I know — picked me up on day 1 of the shoot and boom, we were gone. I didn’t share it then, but it felt quite strange to be sitting in a car knowing I was about to be walking around at a carnival while singing to zero music in front of a bunch of shiny, slippery funnel cakes. I mean what are carnivals?! It’s fun, but it’s also the worst food: I call it ~gross delicious~. It’s beautiful lights surrounding bouncy children that are either 1. bummed about losing some game 2. in a state of baroque-esque ecstasy, getting high on sugar and bumper cars. It’s where immediate gratification meets nostalgia. It’s literally the only place you will find those rasta banana toys (are those culturally insensitive?). And what about carnies…. That’s a whole book and we only have time for an essay. And then we arrived. I was still unsure about it all, but I went into the scene like I usually do when entering ‘art mode’: with just a bit more excitement than fear.

Once we got there everything started to solidify: I knew why I was there, I was there to learn about the people and to try and humbly tell their story. My first conversation happened while I was waiting for the crew to scout the first location. I was standing by myself next to a motorcycle that was being raffled off for charity. I was smiling like a goofball and standing, which is something I try and practice when I’m by myself. After two minutes of this behavior a man came up to me and said:

“would you like to enter a raffle to win this motorcycle?”

I told him that “that’s cool” but “I don’t need a motorcycle.”

He chuckled and said that I “could sell it for a lot of money!”

I flashed a smile and said “does money mean happiness?” (sometimes I just go for it, y’all).

His face turned serious and he hurriedly stated that “No, never. It’s a popular myth perpetuated in our society.”

I was like — pause — who are you “let’s talk more” I grinned.

We ended up talking for 20 minutes about documentaries we both like, his best friend’s job (as an NSA agent- how topical !), and the town people. He told me that there’s an annual 2 day fest in town called SADfest that was started by two teenagers with a desire to bring awareness to Suicide, Addiction & Depression (SAD). Apparently bands play and people get to share painful experiences in a safe space. Wow, Hammonton, I already like you so much. He also pointed out the diversity of the town with a recent large influx of Haitians and Mexicans. The town is still mostly Italian, with the 2nd-highest percentage of Italians in any municipality in the United States. Cool facts are fun, but it was time to sing in front of a Ferris wheel, so I thanked my new best friend and started walking to the first location.

The rest of the shoot was truly beautiful. I felt vulnerable in that good way, singing my soul into the ether, and I guess it worked; kids, older men and women, carnies & tiny babies all showed love by allowing us to take their portrait, to hear their story. A Puerto Rican hairdresser with palpable charm came up to me and gave me a rosary that he purchased earlier that day because he “felt a connection to me” and like I “should just have it”. We were out there becoming landscape while documenting it, and what we have now, this 5:55 minute work, has a little bit of Hammonton all over it. I think that if nothing more, a video, for me, is evidence of the power of a collaboration. Together we all level up. Grateful for every piece of the puzzle, including these very eyes reading these words. right. here.

MORE COLLABS 2016 LETS GO ~!

enjoy

PS

The capitalism shirt featured in the vid is up for sale on my website obviously
#bizfirst #;)

THE BOOK: Bell Hooks – AINT I A WOMAN: Black Women and Feminism.

WHATS UP: Do you know a woman? maybe you are one. Read this book for a chance to learn more about yourself, western culture, & the history of a struggle, all the while adding sun and soil to your personal growth, my young buds. Sprouty~

little strike

foto by: @betoriffs

1. Song is out!!! 

Listen /Grab it for free here. Phat beat, dogs barking, funky bass (thanks to Peter English), and some of my soul, sprinkled generously. It’s about addiction; there is an essay at the bottom here with the same topic. Hope it finds you well, pineapples.
2. Shows
07.02  Sat     — Philly          @ Bourbon & Branch    ~ Cape Wrath CD Release
07.14 Thurs — Philly          @ Eris Temple Arts        ~ w/ cranes are flying, VARSITY
07.16  Sat    — Arden, DE  @ Arden Club                 ~ Shady Grove Fest ALL DAY

Here’s another essay. I love writing essays for y’all. I’m extremely compelled to share ideas that I find helpful because pssst it turns out sharing feels way better than being super selfish. what? just wow.
xo

The Performer: Part 7
On Addictions

“A miracle will only happen on the platform of a tragedy” – DMX
Addicts. If you know one (or are one) let us both agree that these humans are special, often endlessly charming and unique. I suspect this is because within them lives a special sensitivity to this world, one that has lead them towards a path of destruction; all in an attempt to escape suffering.

“I think we are all addicted to something” said a thoughtful man in an AA meeting I attended last week. So obvious a statement yet I don’t think I ever put it this eloquently in my mind before. Think about how our society separates its pathologies so neatly into individual cages: addicts over here, depressed over there, anorexics go next to the ottoman. Truthfully I’m not a substance abuser, which has lead me to think and say things like “addiction is not my problem, I can stop any habitual behavior at any time. Bro just watch me quit gum”. But this is dangerous, because the mind can still have its addiction outside of mere physical substances like drugs and alcohol. Plenty of things to hot glue our hearts to. Real talk.

In our society workaholism can be spun positively, but is it not another form of addiction? Hey kid work on your career ruthlessly in order to cross an imaginary line of success that no one can see / personal life be damned / vacation, what’s that? / other people’s needs? I’m busy — Is it not another way of escaping pain also known as the vulnerability of opening yourself up to other human beings? Tunnel vision is not your friend, and neither is the idea of ‘I’ll be happy when ___’. Let it be known that going on aimless walks near some trees  > anxiously daydreaming about a cooler version of yourself where you are loved for your money / title / image. That isn’t love anyways, it’s lust; a cheap adrenaline rush. It’s sex without intimacy. It’s fleeing life, escaping nothing.

We are all addicted to something. Some of us are perfectionists. This is like the twin brother of addiction: they’re fraternal twins so they look a little different but they still grew up together, same house, same rules. I have this perfectionism in me somewhere. Over the years I have managed to quiet it down a bit, but it took a lot of work. It still does. I’m still unlearning. It tends to come out while I’m recording music and when it concerns my health and body, because that’s where my insecurities intersect with my culture. That’s where I’m vulnerable.

The new song I wrote, Come Out Alright, is about addiction. After I left China, a close friend chose to share with me about his battle with addiction through an email, and it deeply saddened me. I did what I knew how to do, I made music about it. He / it was with me every single day for over a month. I kept writing and rewriting and thinking deeply about the helplessness I was feeling, how I couldn’t directly help him.  I often thought “what’s the point of even making this song?”

Several moons ago, in a Halloween themed tiki bar in Fort Lauderdale — take a moment with this image if you will — I sang this song to a crowd of 12 people and roughly 3 ghost puppets. I revealed to the crowd the heavy meaning behind the song. After my set I was approached by a man who wanted to thank me for my music. He then chose to confess to me of his personal struggle with heroin. We then spent 3 seconds looking deeply into each other’s eyes, nodding our heads in unison, swallowing a tear, before finally hugging like old friends. This thankfully happened right in front of my fantastical friend David, who unapologetically narrated the moment by saying “is this not the best thing that’s happened to you through music, ever??”.

This is why music is magic, and why I play shows. Music reminds us we are all just trying to escape suffering, and by gathering together we can finally let go of the idea that we are suffering alone.

So why are we seeking empty thrills. Why are we choosing to flee. Why do I want to eat this double chocolate brownie. When will I be respected for my success. What does that mean. When will I have enough money. Why does everyone I know feel horrible right after watching porn. Why do you shop when you’re anxious. Where is my phone. Why do I associate reward with food. Why do we worship hoarders AKA people that make lots of money. Why am I on the internet right now, it’s sunny out.

In treating addiction they say you must first recognize and accept that you have a problem. That’s first. I’m not addicted to alcohol but I am addicted to the internet. It’s good to admit this to yourself, because like my friend Josh Hey wisely told me: Avoidance is not transcendence. “Avoidance is not transcendence.” Been saying that one out loud near some trees lately,, turns out they already know — everybody growing out here !
With all the love,

t

Photo: Ben Wong

Photo: Ben Wong

<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,
Tamar
instagrams    facebooks    bandcamps    home

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.

XO

t

little strike

Photo by: Beto Moscoso adalbertosophoto.com

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.

Tamar

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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

Little Strike smll

Photo by Emilio Peña — adalbertosophoto.com

Hey y’all. What a summer, how do we feel about it? I’m grateful. Ups and downs, you know the deal, but I cannot complain. It wouldn’t be right. Got to travel around a bunch both for pleasure and for music pleasure; I saw so many lakes and hugged a lot of good cats. Here’s what I’m up to, followed by an essay about puppies and perfectionism. And the media. And you.

1. RECORDING:

I’m doing that right now~! It takes forever to work with a studio because everybody has a life, and adult time takes time you know. Nonetheless I can’t wait to share these sounds ! They’re straight from my brain to –> my spine to –> my torso and out my hands. I promise they will contain full disclosure of true feels. Raw husks. Big mangoes.

Hopefully an EP by mid-end winter. Ojala.

2. SHOWS:

09.19  Sat — Philly  @ The Fire                  ~w/ Ill Fated Natives (philly), Svvje, irCasim

09.26  Sat — Miami @ House (Facbook for details)  ~w/ with Bora, Cyril

10.09  Fri —  Philly @ Girard Hall           ~w/ Ill Fated Natives (philly), & more !

10.14 Wed — Philly @ Bourbon & Branch ~w/ Houston in the Blind, Shorty BoyBoy

10.15 Thur– NYC  @  Matchless (CMJ Showcase) ~w/ Houston in the Blind, & more

10.16 Fri   —  DC     @  Velvet Lounge              ~w/ Houston in the Blind & more !

COOL LIFE: If you’re good at pattern recognition, you might have noticed that I will be going on a mini tour with the Atlanta band Houston in the Blind. It should be lovely because their music is beautiful, and also because their drummer is an old friend of mine: we met 10 years ago on a bus. That night he told me he would give me one of his drumsticks — but he never did ! We talked about it for years, a promise left un-kept like a penny in the washing machine, clink clink… I’m thinking this tour can change it all~~ I’ll let y’all know, next post. 😉

Related unrelated: I’m proud to say that these days I only play with bands I admire. These shows are parties. Make a friend, feel nice. Comeeeee.

At the bottom of the post is an essay I wrote. This one is about  confidence, anxiety, puppies and teeth.

Thank you kindly for reading, listening, participating, and breathing.

Be well please. x

tamar

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The Performer: Part 4

Perfect is Never the Real You

Since I’ve started sending these essays I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback — I can’t explain how much that means to me using words, because there are none. Knowing these thoughts are useful for even one person energizes me beyond compare; I file it under the beyond section. Far.out. Please please feel free to share a response with me if you feel inspired, or maybe even suggest a new topic for an essay. I’m open like that ocean on your maps ok?

This one is about confidence, anxiety, puppies and teeth. Here we go:

Brushing our teeth is a direct reflection of our central nervous system. Hear me out, here’s how I see it: it is a moment spent usually by ourselves. Often it’s forced into our day, aggressively, either due to hygiene or habit, or both. Hopefully there’s some level of joy to this ritual, because any habit stuck in pain city is a habit waiting to get out of town. Brushing your teeth is an action, often forced, in between moments.  This brushy, wet, foamy time is an opportunity to connect with the real you! Do you take it? I have noticed within my own ritual that there are times where I am looking at myself in the mirror, staring into my own eyes, and seeing right past them. It’s blankness, and it means I’m somewhere else, time traveling two minutes into the future, right over the brush and into the day (or night). Rinse and repeat. I’ve caught myself brushing feverishly, with an almost anxious agenda to be anywhere else but here. That’s not a good reflection, and a misuse of mirror time (to be frank there are a lot of those going around). Any opportunity to be involved is one worth taking, and if I can’t spare two minutes each day relaxing into that notion, feeling the minty cleanse, and being thankful for maintaining any healthy habit, then maybe I do need some chill pills and a hug from a really nice puppy. Unrelated: any puppies reading this?

How does this relate to stage performance? I want to take this opportunity to remind you that ~everything is the same and nothing is equal ~. Annoyed by my curtain of vagueness, yet? Read that again and think about snowflakes. Ok ok more specifically, what I mean is that the action of brushing our teeth can very well reflect our general anxiety to some degree, but we can’t be held responsible without mercy. This can’t define us. One type of confidence does not imply a perfect state of confidence. If I’m relaxed, zen-ed out, and one with the universe while I cleanse my mouth, I can still be terrified of Karaoke. When people see me play and then subsequently talk to me after the show, I often hear them make inaccurate assumptions about their own confidence, as well as mine. Sure, maybe I am brave for trying to share my music , my thoughts, my pain with you; yes, being vulnerable is being fearless. But there are endless ways to be vulnerable, and we can’t be good at everything all the time. I can’t be good at everything all the time. And it’s ok. It’s ok, puppies.

If you’re looking for perfection from humans, you will end up getting lost in a sea of flaws. The reality of perfectionism is misery. I believe that is essentially the celebrity experience. When we put a person in front of a camera – a relatively new phenomenon – photoshop off their flaws, share their image with the world and then paste unto them a glorious myth (perhaps that they are fearless singers, fearless actors, fearless politicians), we imply perfection. An aura of confidence glows brightly around their beautiful skins. And thanks to the privately owned media and its privately owned agenda, their flaws have been surgically and meticulously removed. This is done in an effort to sell a song on iTunes, or maybe sell a movie on Amazon, or even more egregiously, start an oil war in the middle east. These ideas, bound masterfully by sticky economic thread.

These men and women of media are, in a way, our modern heroes. We look up to them as we watch them climb up the food chain, into this perceived five star buffet in the sky. But they don’t serve mangoes in this buffet, and in fact every piece of fruit up there is plastic, even those beautiful shiny bananas~! It all goes back to this point: nobody is perfect and confident about everything in their lives. No one, not even puppies. The media is very self-aware, and will gladly turn a mythical hero into an infamous villain. It isn’t fair. It’s not fair because we are all flawed and that is absolutely ok ! No human is capable of having true mythological powers. It’s ok, that’s why different cultures all over the world, over and over again, developed stories of myth: so that the burden is lifted from us.

I think the more we are able to identify with our friends, family, and even those we share a border with, the more we understand and accept ourselves. It turns out we all share the same basic flaws and the one big want. I don’t even have to mention these because they are so innate, but I will anyways, and perhaps we will discover even more similarities in the details:

Flaw examples:

Jealousy – I wish my memory was better, and I sometimes get jealous of this attribute in people.

Anger – I get really annoyed by certain sounds that people or machines make.

Sadness – The winter brings out very destructive thoughts in me. I don’t know how to control for that.

Hedonism – I can surely overindulge with food.

Vengefulness – Listen. I’m nice, but I’m not passive aggressive, and sometimes I can go too far for what I deem as justice.

Want:

The energy I put out to be returned to me as love.

You feel me?

 

“With every choice, something is gained something is lost” – John Green

little strike

Photo from Key Session with Peter English. By John Vettese

Hey it’s tamar. Thank you for being in my life: every time we interact I learn something new. Here’s what I’m up to:

1. TOUR: I went on my first one in June. I wrote an essay about tour life and it’s both dark and light, and entirely honest. It’s at the end of this post.
2. SHOWS: I have a few shows coming up, but mostly I’m recording music, which…. I can’t WAIT to show you.
08.01  Sat  — @The Sound Hole   ~ with Sports Coach (MA) & Bronze Thesaurus (NJ)
08.11  Tue  — @The Fire              ~ with Ill Fated Natives (philly)
08.30  Sun  — @Blair st b/w Dreer & Norris ~ Death Magic Sounds BBQ 1-8pm
All of these are supremely amazing parties. If you come you will make friends, which is my goal for you at every show I play.
3. REAL MOMENT: It’s nearly been a year since my first live show. My first show was on my birthday,  July 24th. Coming up, y’all. Is it me or is every year getting better? I’m excited to mature: every year I learn more about what makes me truly happy, every year is less chaotic, more focused. Every year is a chance to bring people together. So I dedicate this 2nd year of shows to you, for coming together. To gather.  You’re fun.
4. COLLABS: feeling saucy?? send me an email (contact@littlestrike.com), and tell me of a recent REAL MOMENT you’ve had. It can be: “snuggling with my dog this morning made me late for work”. Or maybe “I was singing Sam Cooke in my car, and I looked over and a truck driver was waving at me and smiling at me.” I’m going to make a list and put it on my site. It’s going to make people smirk, a constant #lifegoal of mine.

Thank you kindly for reading, listening, participating, and breathing.

Be well

x

tamar

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The Performer: Part 3 Tour life

I’m romantic, here’s why: I have always wanted to make music the reason I travel.  In early June of this year I did it, I went on my first tour ! I hit Miami, Gainesville, Atlanta, New Orleans and Tallahassee, that’s 3 states and lots of driving. I now have some adult conclusions, which are entirely up for debate. Take a walk with me?

Why do I want to go away from my home? I almost always want to go, because more than anything on this twirling, glowing orb of an earth, I love learning about languages and cultures. For me, one adult issue has been rising steadily these days: I happen to absolutely want to maintain and grow personal relationships. Real love: I want real connections from friends and family. In other words I want to build and maintain my temple, not just hand out a pamphlet with my face on it and a cool slogan under it, like: “great meeting you, keep in touch.” It’s clearer to me now.

Tour. Tourist. I built my tour based on cities that I wished to be a tourist in, and cities that for me, overflowed with nostalgic meaning, which is why I called the tour Hurricane Nostalgia. Some cities were former homes, some were just a postcard, but all contained important people from my past: my friends. I booked my friends to play with me; friends that I’ve watched grow as musicians as well as people, over the years. I could not be more proud. These friends also got to see me, as tamar the human lady person, as well as Little Strike, a project that is the newest extension of my heart. None of them had seen this side ever before! This is a bit like seeing your little brother on his prom night with his prom date and he’s nervous but actually more than anything, he’s totally his goofy self, ready for that dance floor. His date keeps looking at him, laughing warmly at her goof, and you, you want to laugh too but you can’t, because you know that if you do you’ll eventually cry. You don’t want to embarrass him; He’s grown. He’s a big strike now.

It was beautiful to be able to share music and moments with my friends and family, and I feel grateful and honored to have people in my life I can share ideas with. Yes. But think about it: tour is a collection of separate, albeit special moments. It is, in essence, a bunch of chain-linked hello goodbyes. I kept thinking this while riding in the car with my touring mates, the fantastical band Bora from Miami: am I doomed to always be missing somebody?

Forever always leaving means forever always sighing wistfully in cars. My (tour) dates with my friends, so lovely and so short and so on my own terms, were a mere forkful of key lime pie. A tease. A great way to remember what I keep leaving behind. That’s a big part of tour: coming and leaving on your own terms. You go to play the show, if you’re lucky you already have friends that come see you, if not you make some. People tell you they appreciate what you’re doing, that music brings us closer to each other, that yeah, you have a nice voice and “wow cool shirt”. It’s all on your terms. You both hug, and then you’re gone the next day. Trust that I tried my hardest to blur this idea, and make the moments I share with people feel like they are ours, not just mine for the taking. But still, there’s something in this brief exchange, an emptiness — like bungee jumping from a building: the adrenaline, it’s thrilling, but you’re only inching closer to concrete.

Nonjudgmental statement alert: I find that the highs and lows of tour, including the beauty and rush of meeting new people, playing your heart out to strangers, revealing something honest about yourself, disassociating from responsibilities back home, sleep deprivation, delighting in getting lost and found in a new place, finding and losing money — it all smells a little funky and a little fresh. I find that this lifestyle, if pursued as a lifestyle, attracts people with addictive tendencies. No wonder, honestly, tour is one glorious escape.

Let’s talk real life: emails, phone calls and texts on tour. Emails, calls and texts on tour can quite frankly go suck a lemon. Let’s use our most delicate paintbrush here: unless traveling totally alone, while on tour you are constantly surrounded by people. Every moment minus bathroom time, and that’s pretty much every moment. It is very fun, very tiring, and also really damn fun. It is a fantastical distraction from wherever it is you call home, because traveling is sensory overload’s twin brother, and sensory overload is currently in a relationship with distraction city. One big family of fearless cowards (that seems harsh but it’s also an oxymoron, which shouldn’t be taken too seriously, y’all). The highs and lows, the excitement of new faces, new lakes, new snacks, snacks! little sleep , the generosity of strangers, the road, the music! All the music that you choose to either ignore due to sensory overload or completely get lost in, it should all be cherished as well as examined. Is there sadness in the joy? I don’t doubt it // Are we strong enough to maintain our avocado trees while we go planting papayas on some faraway island for months at a time? Maybe, but it is damn hard.

I’m lucky, I know this. I got to try out an idea I’ve had for years with three amazing people in the same vehicle. But I’m no kid, and I’m thankful for having some perspective; I can see that this tour life, prolonged, could be destructive to any real structure I try to architect back home. Highs and lows and escapes can be quite selfish, and all selfish endeavors are ultimately empty. Where’s the balance in today’s music scene? Musicians feel they have to tour to make money, so how do you make your life full of the things that aren’t empty? I don’t know this, but I sense it. I sense it involves carving your own pumpkin, making your own lane, and building something real //The ocean, helping others, being challenged creatively, staring at mountains, feeling respected, stretching, getting involved in a community, feeling empowered = bricks to one bad ass temple.

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s” said my best friend Joseph Campbell. So if the actions I perform tell the story of my life, it seems dishonest to tell someone else’s, right? I’m still testing what’s right for me and listening in, with tour, with music, with people; but I figure if I look over and she’s still there beside me, laughing warmly at my dance moves, I know I’m doing something right. Right?

End of part 3. Stay round for part 4

Thanks for being in my life and on my mind. I probably miss you and hope that you are well, and if we haven’t met yet, I still wish you good health and clarity; when you are well you are a sun, so treat yourself nicely please.. Get a massage // Pet a goat // s t r e t c h.  

Here is part II of my essay. Hope you enjoy~~!

The Performer: Part II

Why do I play shows, dammit?

There are two key moments I want you to remember from my previous essay (Part I):

  1. I feel a gloomy sense of “why” before every show. Why do I do this. I carry an unmistakable heavy heart.
  2. My first show was on my birthday last year and was a beautiful disaster.

My first show — i was human back then: I was nervous as all Hades, alone without a band, in front of many eyeballs, just me and my sounds. Here are some things that happened during the show:

  • My guitar wasn’t tuned because of a really crazy story involving faulty electronics and a white lie. Had to stop my first song: “sorry guys, my guitar is lying to you”.
  • I stopped another song twice (two times) and never finished it, due to an unexpected EQing issue.
  • I experienced the ever disorienting “not being able to hear myself” scenario due to a lack of monitors, which means I was mostly scream singing.
  • My sampler’s volume was incredibly low because of electronic issues. This left my phat beats at hibernation mode, instead of the desired ferocious bear stage. Not ideal for head bobbing.

There’s a huge difference in how a seasoned performer and a novice performer deals with live blunders: the difference is that a novice lets it show. A single human on stage, amplified, can ideally become the focal point of a space. More than that, he/she becomes the energy source, the gravitational pull, the celestial light bulb, the 7 pound gum on the shoe. So naturally, when a performer looks uncomfortable on stage, we feel uncomfortable for them ! “Oh no” drops the heart as it hurriedly sends compassionate heat waves across our chests. You know the feeling when you watch someone feel public shame: almost immediately our eyebrows gather in solidarity, mirroring the outline of an old, dead oak. We, as an audience, look for cues from our performers; cues on how we should feel. We want to be lead into the feeling: ‘hey. Psst. is there joy here in your wall of sound? Is your musical nostalgia a self-pitying affair or is there beauty in the small sadnessess? Should I be thinking about my mother in angst or is it even her fault?’  A good performer can give us answers to questions that have been phrased and rephrased in our minds for decades. Or maybe they just give us permission to finally let go. I have been learning about this new role of mine, as a ~performer~, in the traditional way: the hard one.

My first show was the best show I’ve ever played. It allowed me to experience every emotion possible on stage, including: sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, utter relief, joy and finally, it allowed me to be me. I became comfortable accepting my mistakes. My very public mistakes. Here’s a moment for you: want to know the true character of a person? Give them a microphone and an audience, then create an unexpected problem (e.g. turn off the mic for a few seconds). Watch closely and listen in, because they will do either one of two things: they will either diffuse the situation by taking responsibility, or they will blame someone else (often the sound person). The illusion of losing power or control in a public space: that’s how you know who you’re dealing with. This learning moment has happened to me many times over the past year, and boy does that come in handy. I think i’m growing, you guys.

As a performer, I keep saying this in my head: don’t be a selfish leader. Don’t look into the lake and fall in. Don’t buy into your own marketing, that’s rule #5 in human. Be a person that makes people feel good because we’re in this together, not because we gathered here today to witness the miracle of you. Why the hell do I play shows? Because people ask me to.  They see merit in my audible cave paintings. They see my scratches on the walls and they bob their heads to them and think about life. I cannot express how honored I am that people want me to play in front of their heads and hearts.  In this way I am encouraged to be myself and to share some ideas that I think are interesting. How could I say no to that?

I still carry a heavy heart to each show; and that spotlight, that damn spotlight keeps trying to separate me from my tribe~! But I know better, and I know better than to let a feeling rule me. We have a choice up there on the physical stage as we do in our own personal theater of the mind: we can let our hearts get torn in the blender each night, with each dark passing judgement (the judgement of strangers, peers, or family), or we can let go of the outside noise and try and make peace from within. Working on this one is humbling and very non-linear, with ups and downs and many diagonals; However, if I was given the task of condensing my advice to a charming yet reductive bumper sticker, I would design a rectangle with these two simple words: give fearlessly.
— End of Part II —
Stay tuned for Part III

little strike

It’s May, and I’m artist of the month on the Deli Mag site. That’s really nice but more importantly, I got the chance to express some thoughts on china, materialism, various social issues, and cesaria evora.

My interview went exactly like this:

The Deli: How did you start making music? 
Tamar Dart – Little Strike: I started making my own music after living in China for a year in 2012. Seeing so many people struggling, it reminded me to feel lucky to have access to instruments, shelter, food and a little bit of space too. It gave me something to say.
TD: Where did the band name Little Strike come from? 
TD – LS: Little Strike is me. Strike means both action and inaction: to hit or to halt. It’s insane. I love when language does that… Ambiguity like this allows for poetry, and all poetry, even bad, is at least very honest. Little Strike is like making lots of eye contact and being very honest. I thought of this name after finding a tiny miniature key in my house when I first moved to Philadelphia nearly 2 years ago. A light went off.
TD: What are your biggest musical influences?
TD – LS: Radiohead, Nina Simone, Cesária Évora, Sam Cooke, Stromae, Aphex Twin, Leonardo Favio, Ali Farka Toure, tropical fruit, deep-sea friendships, every language ever, relentless positivity, people taking action.
TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
TD – LS: If you’re looking for brilliant musicians, here they are: Dead Beat Dad, Sports Coach, Kidaudra, Snow Caps, Spiral the Turntabalist, Willow Talk, Commonwealth Choir, Shorty Boy-Boy, The Dewars, Acres of Diamonds, DJ Mouth Kisser, The Original Crooks and Nannies.
TD: What’s the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
TD – LS: My first concert was CKY at the Culture Room in South Florida. The Culture Room, the perfect name for a room you don’t feel like taking very seriously – it’s nice. I like it! It was right after I moved to the U.S so back then watching any performance in English was exciting for me. Nowadays, I primarily look for music in languages that I don’t understand. The first album I bought was Aerosmith’s Big Ones. So. Much. Rock.
TD: What do you love about Philly?
TD – LS: Philly is cool. I love when I hear people being honest about real topics; in other cities I’ve lived in, people often talked about their hats and their belts. Personally, I don’t think about hats and belts before I fall asleep.
TD: What do you hate about Philly?
TD – LS: Winter.
TD: What are your plans for 2015?
TD – LS: In 2015, I plan on being really honest while making music and living my life. I’ll continue to talk about important things, such as shattering the myth of materialism ever bringing lasting joy (can any amount of shoes truly satisfy you?), mangos (I’m a big advocate), friendship and the importance of breathing in. I’ve been writing essays about my experience as a performer. I’ll continue to produce earnest prose, go to my website for a taste, or come to a show; let’s have a talk.
TD: What was your most memorable live show?
TD – LS: My most memorable live show was the first show I ever played. It was last summer, and it took place in a lovely South Philly home. It was on my birthday, and it was a complete beautiful disaster. It made me realize that live performances shouldn’t be selfish. It’s not just about me; it’s about everyone and how we all feel together in the same room. If mistakes happen, so be it. What matters is how we handle tough times, mistakes, and blunders; they’re not the end of the world. In fact, those tricky moments – that’s when I discover something new about myself and who my real friends are. Nothing is a big deal. Not everyone has to like me, but as long as I’m honest, I have nothing to hide. Still one of my favorite shows.
TD: What’s your favorite thing to get at the deli?
TD – LS: Ideally, I’d be walking into the same deli that I’ve known for years. I’d greet my friends; then finally, I’d purch

 

I wrote an essay about my recent experience performing. Hope it’s fun for you, enjoy:

little strike

Why do I play shows?

“The cliché of what a rock star is – there’s something elitist about it. I never related to that. I’m an entertainer. I think of it as, you’re performing for people. It’s not a self-glorification thing.” – Beck

So, wait: do you believe him? Maybe you’re at that point in your cortical growth where you’re doubting the smooth talkers; figure heads have been letting us down for ages, and preachers lie all the time. Ever met an idol of yours? I’d avoid it. I’d also avoid the word idol, when possible. We’re surrounded by marketers and makeup, but I always try to remember what musician, author, and drag queen Rupaul said: we’re all born naked and all the rest is drag. And all the rest is drag.

Let that ring. C00L.

So what should we believe? It’d be nice to believe Beck, but if you’re finding this hard to accomplish, try trading belief for the next best thing: acceptance. Accepting, in this case, means listening to Beck’s words, letting them drape our brain like a red velvet scarf (ah yes performing “FOR the people”, not just for the “ego”).  I’ve become more tolerant to the idea of ‘not practicing what we preach’. I’ve traded my stubbornness for acceptance.

So what? We’re trying, that’s all we could ever do. It’s much better to preach something nice and not to practice it, than many alternative scenarios, like preaching something negative while also practicing it. Like over-glorifying materialism as a means to lasting happiness, or sean hannity’s face. Not even going to capitalize his name. If you find that offensive please stop reading these words, go outside, grab a human body and beg them for a hug. You deserve one, friend.

I accept what Beck is saying even if it’s not true, and I accept it because I want to believe it is true. It seems like the healthiest way to think about performance. I’m tempted to state that the word ‘healthy’ does not belong in the same sentence as the word ‘performance.’ Honestly, the mere desire to perform is quite disturbing. Before I inspire eyebrow raises and severe finger pointing, I’d like to make a clear distinction between “acting” performances and “music” performances. Acting, in most cases, involves becoming something other than yourself. Relinquishing all responsibility of one’s actions, allowing a strange freedom to be someone bad, good, funny, despicable, all the while completely escaping the reality of one’s own heart. It could be read as submissive behavior: submitting to the character, the writer, the director, the camera, the eyeballs in the room. It could also be read as powerful: a good liar is always powerful to some degree. In a way, actors are benign con artists: there’s an unmistakable charm to them, a spark (not to be confused by real life), an emptiness. // There is always an emptiness when avoiding the truth. I have here for you a related and distracting gum theory: I am convinced that 75% of gum chewing is an attempt at avoiding some sort of wicked truth. In other words, an attempt at quieting down a reality, curbing a sugar fix, avoiding a brush or even dinner altogether. Gum is heavy, despite its apparent casualness. Gum is emptiness. I mean, what the hell is gum? We’re not meant to swallow it, is it even food stuffs? Oh and also lying never works. Chewy.

gum

Ok ok new-age gum analysis aside, one point cannot be ignored: it is strange to want to be a con artist. It is strange to want to escape yourself, in a room full of watchful, judgeful* eyes. It is just plain strange. Seeking approval? Partially. Seeking love? always. Seeking art? Definitely. Finding love? Evidently and unfortunately, no. A need that cannot be met smells a little like still water in a cup inside of an abandoned karaoke bar: sick and alone.

Music performances: unlike acting, we associate music performances with a vulnerability that comes directly from an honest source. Raw spots. You. And like any language, music is an expressed desire to relate to others. To make friends, to talk to gods, to let out a shout, to share the feels. Unlike Estonian, everybody speaks music ! We feel in our hearts and on our skin the intention of a piece of beautiful music. A good musical performance is well thought out, well executed, confident, cohesive. A great musical performance is when the musician lets you in on the moment of creation. The moment of art. Stay with me:  it is undeniable, it is them. There’s no acting, there’s certainly no escaping now, and sometimes it’s almost painful to watch, like at your wedding, when your best friend tells you they’ve never seen you this happy. “He can see that??” you think to yourself; of course he can see that. Of course we can tell. I like this idea for musical performances, the honesty, the raw onions. Crunchy.

I am new to this performance thing. I’m still making sense of it all, the how, the who and the haunting and eye rolling why. Why? Why am I doing this.

I ask myself this question every time I have a show. In fact, the day before a show I plunge into this mindset jam-packed with one heavy heart and  a couple of audible sighs. Why do I do this?

I wasn’t born to act. I never experienced a day dream in which i became someone else on a mood-lit stage, in front of humans. When it came to public speaking (or any scenario that consisted of the amplification of my voice in front of people), I wanted one of two scenarios: a funny joke to break tension, or some useful insight — simply put, I wanted to be me. This deduction of wanting to be me took longer than one can imagine, but here we are, there, further along the self reflection river. So why do I play shows?

I started playing my own music, by myself, this past summer. That’s 9 months ago // I’m a new mom. I’m watching my baby learn how to open her eyes. I know she recognizes me because every time I pick her up she makes the same sounds// In fact I played my first show on my birthday, July 24 2014. It was a coincidence by all accounts, and a healthy one at that: a slice of sympathy birthday quiche was served, enough to feed every one. The rather intimate audience of roughly 25 people included some old and new friends. It was lovely, in theory. However, and we all know this to be true, beginnings are always quite rough. If I had the tools to use statistics and cross reference facts, I would conclude that this show that I played on my birthday, my very first show of original songs – friends and smiles aplenty – was, in reality, an utter analog and digital disaster.

–End of part one–

*Not a word; but words are made by people. Step one.