Tamino Leaves Audience Speechless at KOKO, But We're Still In Conversation With Opening Act Loverman
Following the release of his second studio album entitled Sahar, Tamino performed two sold-out shows at KOKO, Camden on the 24th and 25th of November. The artist, with the help of his opening act Loverman, delivered an almost flawless Thursday show; it was an extremely raw and powerful performance, outdoing his own studio versions vocally.
Tamino's singing was so emotionally compelling, it seemed to lull the audience into a contemplative haze. His unique fusion of Arab influences with classic indie-rock, made for a tranquil night that was unforgettable. His deep voice on his opening song, ‘A Drop of Blood’, left the crowd stunned and mesmerised as it resonated throughout the venue. He performed a good combination of fan-favourites and new songs from Sahar, with the addition of an unreleased track: ‘Oldest Devotion’. The venue was the perfect choice for the artist, an opinion shared by Tamino, whose chilling falsetto is the perfect voice for the former Palatial Theatre.
A significant aspect of the show was the lighting and sound production, which aptly changed to fit the tracks on the set list. On ‘Cigar’ and ‘You Don’t Own Me’, performed on the keyboard, Tamino was backlit with only his silhouette visible. The musical ensemble also helped elevate the recorded version of the tracks. On ‘w.o.t.h’, the arrangement was altered, emphasising its percussion, which provided a more upbeat and intense sensation as you felt the music reverberate through your body. The camaraderie between the band and the singer was a pleasure to witness, their energy bouncing off each other and adding to the general enjoyment of the show.
If you are a fan of the conventional concert set-up, with audience-artist engagement, Tamino’s shows probably aren’t going to be your first choice. The artist moved from track to track almost instantaneously, giving listeners little to no time to absorb or contemplate what they were feeling in the moment. His lack of engagement comes as no surprise to fans, who are aware of the nature of his shows, and unlike some of his more casual listeners, didn’t leave the show disappointed. Notably, the concert staff were prompt to respond to fainting audience members, with Tamino immediately stopping his performance so that security could attend to them; despite his lack of overall interaction with the crowd, it could never be said that he wasn't paying close attention to them. This understated appreciation for his audience — in addition to his stunning vocal performance across the night — made it clear why people keep coming back to watch him.
The audience was also immediately captivated by the new Belgian artist Loverman, who opened for Tamino on the night. He wowed the crowd with his ability to engage and his intriguing stage presence. He left the crowd buzzing with conversation and has definitely gained some new fans. I was able to sit down with him after the show to discuss his performance and music.
Who would you say are some musical inspirations of yours and what type of music inspires you?
A lot of dub music, Dennis Bovell, lots of Caribbean music and stuff that’s happening in the dancehall scene in the Caribbean island called Martinique, like the local "Shatta" music. I soaked up all this music, [and now it's] directly present in my music. It’s not that I really listen to it anymore, it's just more a part of my vocabulary now.
So was it the music you listened to in your upbringing that has influenced your creative process?
Most certainly, without a doubt. I think it’s definitely shaped my vocabulary. Music that [inspires] me is quite often music that sounds completely different to what I’m doing.
When listening to ‘Into the Night’, two lyrics in particular stood out to me: “No sacrifice that comes to mind, lay too big a claim on my life”, and “the sound of chests beating into the night”. What did you intend to make your listeners feel with these lyrics?
For me it was really about theatricality. It’s almost kind of humorous because it's so over the top. I was going through heartbreak at the time and this was my way of coping with it, by making these kind of hyperbolic statements.
For the ‘Into the Night’ music video, why did you decide to dress like Count Orlok, especially since, like you said, it’s a love song?
It was an intuitive thing for me because I was being vulnerable in the song. And it was kind of funny to have this juxtaposition of me saying beautiful, heartfelt things [but looking the opposite]. It [seemed] kind of vain to make it an aesthetic thing and having it be stylised. I [liked the] idea of a nice sound coming from an ugly but likeable character.
What was it like, filming the music video dressed as you were?
It was great. It was in Paris and it was me and my girlfriend just being two weird kids dressed funnily with a Go-Pro going through the streets. The Parisians love theatricality so we had a lot of good reactions. Although you hear a lot about them being miserable people, it was just all good, funny, positive vibes.
How did you end up opening for Tamino?
I live in Belgium, the same as him. And I’ve studied music production and piano there. I was doing an internship with the producer who was doing sound for Tamino; I’ve been working with him for the past 4-5 years now. After doing that internship I realised that music production just wasn’t for me. I’m quite chaotic and I just want to do my own stuff. When COVID came I sent my own work to him [the producer] because he was just more of a friend. He liked the stuff I'd been making and we started working together. He shared it with Tamino, who really liked it as well. Then he asked me to help him with his album, so I wrote songs with him and played the piano. We became great friends and we just have a great connection.
What’s your favourite Belgian food?
It’s not really Belgian, but butter. Belgium has some really good butter. Like a lot of people in quarantine, I started baking sourdough and rediscovered butter on toast.
What’s been your favourite show of the tour so far?
Probably yesterday's show. KOKO was just very special, it was my second time in London ever and I’m half British. It was very heartwarming to connect with fellow Brits. The venue, the people and the energy was so good. My favourite shows of Tamino’s have been the two in London so far, KOKO and the Rough Trade ones.
Would you say your upcoming album is a continuation or a departure from your already released music?
It’s definitely a continuation, as I already have a whole body of work ready. It’s just that finishing it sometimes takes time. I think what you saw at the Tamino concert is probably a good snapshot of what it's going to be like.
Edited by Talia Andrea and Lucy Blackmur, Music Editors