“I think that’s a really clickbaity headline, and I love it,” the hyper-aware brains behind the Tamara & The Dreams project exclaims.
She’s only three singles in but 22-year-old Tamara Reichman’s output as Tamara & The Dreams has been objectively excellent to date.
Debut single LO-FI emanated influence from the shoegazing guitar pop of Frankie Cosmos, but with an effortless voice that can flick between a gentle falsetto to a near-spoken, but never grating, drawl.
P1nk Sungl4sses – a second production from the NSW singer, songwriter and producer Candy – took the tempo up a few notches whilst displaying an even more impressive ability to write interesting melodies and harmonies, before she combined the best elements of both on FUNNY!, which she describes in a press release as “a statement about the downfall of our generation to sarcasm, irony and meme culture.“
Speaking with an uncompromising directness to other young, smart, weird kids around the world has given Tamara a nearly immediate platform. Accompanying the 35k-strong cult following on Tamara’s meme page, ‘manicpixiememegurl‘, an adoring fanbase has blossomed on Twitter, which reads more like a teenager’s diary than an artist’s Twitter account.
FaceTiming me with an avocado in one hand and a luscious, green backdrop of regional Victoria in the distance, it’s time to dive into the often-bizarre, completely frank and brilliantly creative mind of Tamara.
Nic Kelly in bold, Tamara & The Dreams in not-bold.
Is this the first meal you’ve had all day?
This is the first meal I’ve had all day.
My plate looks really good right now.
It’s lovely. How have your feelings changed since FUNNY! hit the ‘airwaves’?
It’s been really great. I’ve been overwhelmed with support and people are really freakin’ nice. It’s just really great. I feel like with each release you do, your profile grows and you become more of a presence and it’s been really nice experiencing that.
Why do you want people to like you? Why do you want people to like your music?
I honestly feel like one of the few things I’m good at is like, connecting with people and like, reflecting common experiences into things that people can relate to and connect to, and I guess that’s what I want. I want people to listen to my music and I want to be able to like fulfill that purpose? I guess? That sounds so fucking wanky.
It’s exactly what is connecting people to the music though. They’re frank conversations that I don’t think have been done through this lens before.
Yeah. I guess everyone wants to be, like, “honest” with their music and to resonate with people, but I feel like for me it’s not as much about expressing my personal experience as it is about making art that lots of people can relate to. That’s what ties it into, like, the pop ethos.
I feel like that’s not the approach that a lot of artists – particularly in Australia – take. They want to do the whole ‘earnest, from the heart, one on one’ conversation – particularly in your scene in Melbourne – rather than reflect stuff that affects a wider group of people.
I feel like a lot of people say, “I make music to process my feelings,” and it just so happens to be, like, this beautiful thing… kind of like that Rai Thistlethwaite video?
(This is a video of Thirsty Merc lead singer Rai Thistlethwaite explaining why their hit ‘In The Summertime’ is completely devoid of artistic integrity, and why he’s proud of the fact.)
Catchy as fuckin’ velcro.
Yeah. Like, you’re not just writing songs for you. You’re never writing songs just for you. You’re writing them to, like, be perceived and received by people. I think it’s really important that music is for other people, but it’s also a bit of a mindfuck. It’s like when people say, “here, I made this album like for you guys, I did this recording for my fans,” and it’s like, no. No one does that. Everyone who makes music does it out of, like, a burning desire to have their art understood and respected. It’s all these intersections of, “who are you doing it for?” But in the end, you’re doing it for yourself to be fulfilled.
I love that approach. Who do you think is also doing that really well?
E^ST is like, amazing, She makes songs of personal experiences but they’re relatable songs. I mean, I guess that’s the whole freaking point of music. But yeah, you have to have the awareness of the audience. That’s how you make good songs.
Let’s talk about this song called FUNNY!. Why do you think people always have to be funny? Why do you think people always have to be ironic and self deprecating?
Because being sincere and being genuine is really hard and takes a lot of energy. And it’s often looked down on as being an inappropriate thing to do in situations. I guess at least the people I hang out with definitely prioritise using humour as a coping mechanism to talk about real things, and that is what the song is about.
Do you think it’s a generational thing?
It’s definitely a Gen-Z / millennial issue. I think it’s a really important issue. And it’s also like, not that deep. But it also is really deep. You know what I mean?
I don’t want to say “is social media to blame,” because obviously it’s social media, that’s the one key difference between us and and generations before, but what do you think it is about the way we communicate these days that makes people feel like they can’t be their true selves and makes people hide under these shrouds of humour?
I think it’s the fear of being judged for being your true self. You can’t be judged if you’re just being ironic. Being ironic is like a shield. It’s a protective, like, helmet you can wear over your actual emotions and you can pretty much say anything if you use irony to sweeten it a little bit.
How regularly are you guilty of this?
I think my whole life I’ve been really into irony and humour, like I’m a really sarcastic person. I get along with people really well when their humour is really similar. My whole life, I’ve struggled with people telling me “I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, is what you’re saying to me now real, or half-joking?” People can’t read my tone. I guess I say things in this really dry way. So I guess in a sense, when I say “Why do I always have to be funny?” there’s times when I just wish people would take me seriously, even though all the time, I’m trying to be funny as well. I guess I exist in this plane where humour is part of even the most serious things. It’s not as black and white as just saying like, “are you being ironic right now or are you being serious?” It’s always like, both. In every irony there’s always a bit of truth as well.
It’s like when people say “drunk words are sober thoughts.”
Yeah, like when you’re drunk, you’re not gonna say things that you don’t mean, you’re gonna say things that are true.
People have heard FUNNY! and people have also heard LO-FI and people have heard P1nk Sungl4sses. LO-FI and FUNNY have a very similar tempo and that shoegazey feeling to them, then there’s P1nk Sungl4sses, which is really fun and fast and in your face. What does the rest of Tamara sound like?
I’ve been writing songs for my whole life before ever playing music with other people or starting a band. I used to write really kind of folky songs? And then when I started a band I started writing, like, the indie-rock songs of my dreams. I guess the longer I play with the band, the more I want to make really good guitar pop, which is more received when it’s in like a really funky, pretty, upbeat song. In terms of what the rest sounds like, I write slow, sad shit every single day, but I think I’m gonna focus on the pop stuff.
Who are The Dreams?
I guess the name Tamara & The Dreams, at its core, describes the concept of like dreams. The idea that music is what I’ve always wanted to do. Being in a band is like my fuckin’ dream! I guess I’ve never really said that out loud, but I don’t know, I guess the name is kind of ironic. It’s kind of trying to be a bit funny and like reference that whole kind of vintage, retro aesthetic of like, bands that play that sort of guitar boppy music. Tamara & The Dreams is me. Like, yeah, it’s me and my music. But if you’re actually asking, The Dreams are my band members.
The whole point with this chat is to introduce people who may or may not know you properly – they may have just heard the song or they may have just seen like, one unhinged Tweet, so in conclusion, what would you like people to know about you?
Oh my God! Why do I find that so hard to answer?
Because it’s a pretty soul-searching question and you’re finding the elevator pitch of a complex human being. That’s probably why.
I want to be the Charli XCX of indie rock music.