Swedish-born and German-based Tami T is impossible to pin down in terms of genre – is she EDM, glitter electronica or something else entirely? Tami T talks to us about her creative process, her love for synthesisers and prioritising mental health. She also tells us how she writes about sex in her music and draws on intimate, specific memories.
In an industry where your image is a central part of your brand, Tami T is getting tired of the thought of being on constant display. She battles this by an even deeper creative engagement with her process by making models and animations for her new music video Worship My Titties Worship My Cock. Currently only performing at openly queer venues, and concentrating on working on her own music for a while, Tami T gives us an honest insight into what it means to be an artist.
So, Tami, you’ve immersed yourself in music-making since you were about 13 in your skate punk band. And then you learned how to make music on a computer when you were 18. When was the moment that you told yourself you needed to dedicate yourself to taking your music further?
I was working in a factory for some years in my early twenties, it was such a boring, monotone job. I worked from early in the morning until evening and during the winter I could see through a small window in the factory how the day passed outside. I was able to quit that job and got some other temporary jobs for a couple of years, but then I had to go back to the same factory again. I had no education, no career and I wasn't even doing anything with music, my biggest passion. It was at that moment I decided to really give music a chance. I worked super hard for a few months, took as many shifts as I could, and then moved to a super cheap tiny room in Leipzig and spent my days making music and figuring out how to perform live. And that's how my little music career started.
And you’ve moved around a little bit, from Gothenburg to Leipzig, and now more permanently to Berlin. What in a city makes you want to stay and gives you the most creative drive? And which cities would you say have ‘filled your cup’ the most?
The most important thing is my friends. That is the reason I live in Berlin, I have so many people I love here. My choice of city doesn't have much to do with my creativity or about the music scene, since I anyway don't work with other people so much.
When you first started out, you termed your genre as “glitter electronica.” What do you mean by that, and would you say it still stands as a fitting description of your music today?
I did? That's not a too bad description! I struggle with how to describe my music, and I think it's maybe best to let other people do that. I did get an award 2 years ago for best Electronic Dance Music act or something, that made me super happy, that they saw my music as EDM because I do listen to mostly that kind of music.
What do you love so much about the synth sound?
There are so many possibilities! So many sounds that still haven't been thought up. And it's very practical, I just need a laptop and a pair of headphones. With so many free software synthesisers available it is also very accessible.
With the release of your new song Worship My Titties, Worship My Cock you said on an Instagram post “I love so many EDM songs with stupid repetitive, sexual, catchy, robotic and borderline annoying vocals.” It reminded me a little of PartiBoi69’s music – like his song K On My D+C – which repeats the same type of lyrics. Where would you say most of your inspiration comes from, and what sort of music do you like to listen to?
The vocals for that song were mostly inspired by the song Satisfaction by Benny Benassi and Grenade by Jack Back. I listen to the type of music they play at festivals like Tomorrowland: commercial, stupid, wonderful, fist in the air anthems. I have no friends at all that have the same taste in music, especially not here in Berlin where all my musician friends make experimental noise or techno.
Satisfaction is rather great! What are some of your favourite collaborations that you’ve done in the past?
I try not to do so many collaborations with other musicians, maybe once every 2 years or something because I prefer working alone most of the time. But my latest collaboration with Chenta Tsai, or Putochinomaricón, was so good. We met when we played at the same event in Madrid a few years ago and Chenta was such a sweet person and amazing artist, so I was so happy when they asked me to be a part of their new album. I hope we get the chance to perform our song live together soon!
Your lyrics are playful, explicit and very intimate. I know that you say you write your lyrics very honestly and about specific moments. Why do you think talking about specific moments works better for you?
I can't relate to lyrics that are too broad or that are using metaphors. I prefer detailed descriptions, I find them much more revealing and relatable. That's why I tend to write like that as well.
In I Never Loved This Hard This Fast Before, you write “I never came this hard, this long before / But then again, I never fucked a boy like you before / Never had someone I could fuck hardcore,” which are sweet and intimate with a touch of raw grit. What about sex makes you want to make music about it?
I am fascinated with how many bad songs about sex there are. One of my biggest inspirations is the song Sexy Bitch by David Guetta and Akon. It has five people credited as songwriters, and I can't understand how five people together can come up with such a terrible text? And so I have a desire to write about sex in a way that I hope is more relatable to people, or at least more relatable to me.
So, your lyrics definitely deal with sex, and in a lot of your songs, especially Single Right Now, the music builds up to a sort of climax. Would you say your music needs to compliment your lyrics (or the other way around) or do you like subverting what your listeners might expect?
I do have some sense of what lyrics and music should go together, but honestly, I don't think it matters too much, so I try not to really worry about it. A happy-sounding, dance-friendly song with sad lyrics works just fine I think, and vice versa.
I love the lyrics of your song Princess that go “Better than a princess who is a princess cis / I am allowed to define what a princess is.” Could you expand a bit more on this notion?
Oh, thank you! I avoided writing lyrics about being trans for a few years, it somehow felt too obvious and as if it was expected from me. But at some point, I just wanted to make a song about being proudly and unapologetically trans. Being a trans woman is not being a lesser form of woman, that is what that song is about,
So, the musical process is all yours, but you’re also incredibly hands-on in the physical creative process of your shows and videos. Can you tell us a little more about your “musical strap-on” and the model/animation you made for your latest track Worship My Titties, Worship My Cock?
The little animation I used as a music video for Worship My Titties, Worship My Cock was mostly because I wanted to take a step away from being an artist, or promoting my music with my face. I have been depressed for the last year and a half and I had to rethink a little how to do this artist thing. I love being a musician, but everything around it, like being visible on a stage, doing interviews, taking press photos, being in videos, all those things felt so scary to do. Sitting up all night drinking tea and making 3D models of synths and instruments felt like a much more cosy thing to do. And now I feel much better!
How do you make sure that the shows you put on encapsulate your identity and what you try to say? Do you have any particulars about the venues and the shows you put on?
I turn down a lot of gigs at the moment, just because I still feel a bit fragile. I think playing a concert at an event that doesn't feel so friendly could have really bad effects on me right now, and so at the moment I only play events that are outspokenly queer. That is by no means a guarantee that it will be a nice event, but it at least makes the odds a little bit better.
Can you tell us about any exciting projects that you’re working on?
Nothing special really! I am working on new music, but it could take years before I release something new, or it could take a few weeks. I don't really plan for the future.
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