Flash Entertainment continues its Regional Artist Spotlight initiative to champion regional music talent…

Saudi Arabian singer and songwriter Tamtam is based between Los Angeles and Riyadh. At just 13 years old, she relocated to California as her parents wished her to see the world through many different eyes. Since then, Tamtam has been channelling all her life experiences into her passion, becoming an emblematic bridge between the Middle East and the West through her passionate, honest and genre-defying music.

From helping promote the Saudi breast cancer awareness organisation founded by Princess Reema bin Bandar, to writing about being a female artist in Saudi, Tamtam continues to shed light on topics close to her heart…

What’s On: How did you first get into music?

Tamtam: As a child, I was always listening to Western music. At around 11, I discovered my own voice. I started taking voice lessons and joined in school musicals. Then, during a summer in college, I met a family friend, Zahed Sultan. He’s a producer who I started to work with. That’s when I released my first song Little Girl.

WO: How would you describe the music that you make?

T: I love making music that bridges the worlds of pop and hip hop with trap elements and Arabic instruments.

WO: Who are the artists, or people, who inspire you?

T: Some of the artists I’m really inspired by at the moment are Banks, Post Malone, Lana Del Rey, Aeris Roves, and Fairuz (always).

WO: What are your latest musical accomplishments?

T: To name a few, releasing my single and video for Ismak, performing at Expo 2020 Dubai, and being a part of the XP music conference in Riyadh, taking place this month.


WO: What is your creative process like?

T: I love to sit at the piano and write. When I first started writing and making music, I didn’t play any instruments. I would just sing the words with melodies that came to my mind, and I recorded the ones I liked. Working in the studio with a producer is a bit of a different process. They usually start the beat based on the vibe we want and the inspirations we play to each other, and then I write melodies over that.

WO: What has been the biggest obstacle of your career?

T: Me being completely comfortable with who I am, and confidently sharing that with the world. It’s normal to have concerns about what others might say or feel, but I’ve worked on myself to focus on listening to my body and my gut, when it comes to making decisions. This has changed everything for me, and I hope my story can help people become comfortable with themselves. I know the world would be a better and more peaceful place if everyone paid attention to their intuitions.

WO: Where have you performed and what have been your favourites?

T: Kuwait Rising was an amazing music festival I performed at. The energy was insane and the crowd were singing along, it was so beautiful. I’ve also performed at The Peppermint Club and Hotel Café in LA a few times – they were really fun. Performing at Expo 2020 Dubai this year was an incredible experience, too.

WO: What are your latest releases?

T: My latest release Ismak is a song about accepting all parts of yourself, and embracing your identities, whatever that may be.

Earlier this year I was featured on a track by Dioscures called Back to, it’s one of my favourite songs. It’s about following your passion without losing your home, or sense of peace.

Before that, I released a song called Heartsick with Saud, a producer from Saudi during the pandemic. It’s about the whole world being sick, and learning to heal.

WO: Which one of these releases is your favourite?

T: Ismak is my favourite so far, and I’m excited for the EP to come out next year with my other new songs. These songs mean a lot to me because the lyrics are honest and personal. I worked with incredible people on the project who inspired me to dig deeper and elevate my sound. I’m grateful to my creative director Mohamed Sqalli, music producer Malca, the video directors behind Bleu Nuit, the stylist Latifa Bint Saad, Deema Sabbagh and Sacha who co-wrote Ismak with me, my managers and team Yanin Gonzalez and Mohamed Sqalli. There are so many more people who contributed to the project – I feel very blessed.

WO: Are you working with other artists now, and do you have any dream collaborations?

T: Right now, I’m focused on my releases, but I’ve worked with amazing artists such as Dioscures and Shobee and I hope to collaborate with them more. Malca, who produced the songs on the EP, is also an artist, and I love collaborating with him. Other producers who are involved are Luke Walton and Brandon Woodward – they are in a band called Fein, and I hope to keep working with them as well. I’m so lucky because it’s already a dream come true to be working with these creatives. It would also be a dream to work with The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey, Post Malone… to name a few.

WO: Describe an average day?

T: Wake up, pray/meditate, and have a coffee. I try to workout at least four times a week. Then I answer emails and have breakfast. I do my voice lesson and practice piano. If I have a performance coming up, I practice in front of a mirror (the more comfortable you are performing in front of yourself, the better you’ll be at performing in front of others). Some days I have meetings. Other days, I have writing or studio sessions.

WO: What are your other interests?

T: Being outdoors. I enjoy hiking, skiing, and surfing. I just love doing things outside and appreciating nature. Even simple things like walking around whichever city I’m in, and discovering new places.

WO: What does your involvement in the Regional Artist Spotlight mean to you?

T: I’m so honored. To me it means that I get to share my music and message with more people in the Middle East, and it gives me an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with my listeners.

WO: What is your top 5 after-party playlist?

1. Lala by Shkoon

2. Bongo bong by Manu Chao

3. I follow rivers by Lykke Li, The magician

4. Atab ( Hadi Zeidan remake) by Shab Abed, Hadi Zeidan

5. Morrow by 070 Shake

@RegionalArtistSpotlight; @tamtamsound