Rays of Light with Tamino

Interview: Gözde Tekay

Tamino Moharam Fouad is a 23 year old Belgian-Egyptian singer and songwriter. He received massive attention and critical acclaim following the release of his debut record “AMIR” in 2018. Tamino will be at PSM on October 18, only a year after his sold-out performance. While counting down days to his hypnotizing performance, we talked with Tamino about his music.

You have a busy tour schedule. You’re visiting North America, Europe and North Africa this fall. How are you feeling? Are there any new destinations?

This is my first headline tour in the US. I have played there before two times but it they were both showcases. People are really buying tickets to see me this time. The tour takes me to a lot of new cities in the US, both on the East and the West coast. I’ll be visiting some new cities in Turkey as well: Ankara and Izmir. I was very surprised last year when we played in Istanbul; it was our second time there actually but the venue was so big this time and tickets were sold-out. We were very very surprised, it was one of our favorite shows from last year.

A deluxe version of “Amir” will be out in October with two new songs Crocodile and Every Pore. Why didn’t those songs make the first cut?

I feel like they are odd from other songs in the album. They are actually older than them. I just felt like they didn’t really fit in the record. I also thought that twelve songs already were too much for my first record, so I didn’t really wanted to add more. But I’m really happy that by releasing this deluxe version we can share these songs because I think they are definetely worth to be heard.

You have collaborated with some pretty cool people like Colin Greenwood and Nagham Zikrayat. How did these come about? And who would be your dream collaborator?

Like all the great things, that just happened! I remember that Colin came to a concert of mine in Antwerp, we have mutual friends and they asked him to come along. He was very very kind afterwards while talking. He’s such a friendly and kind person also happens to be one of my favorite musicians of course. I thought “Why not ask him to come along and play with me?” and he did. Afterwards we asked him if he could join us on some concerts as well. He’ll be coming along with us to some of the concerts in fall.

Nagham Zikrayat, they contacted me because they wanted to perform songs of my grandfather and they wanted me to sing them. I don’t speak Arabic so I don’t really feel comfortable singing them phonetically. So that’s why I turned them down but instead I offered them to play in my record and they accepted. From there on, it has been an on-going collaboration.

You’ve definitely reflected your cultural heritage in your songs in a sophisticated manner. Is this a conscious choice?

I see that there are two stages in the making of a song. First is the writing of the song. You can envision that it’s just me, my guitar or piano and anything that helps to make this song. At first I don’t record it, I try to be open and receptive to inspiration. Inspiration comes while working. I always have to start working and the good stuff happens afterwards. But of course sometimes, nothing happens at all.

After a while I wrote a bunch of songs and in some of these songs I definetely noticed this influence as well but it wasn’t very conscious. I cannot really write a song from while I’m too conscious. I have tried before but the outcome is usually not very good. The best songs come from your subconscious. Then comes the second stage, which is the recording of the song. And in this stage I make a very conscious decisions to emphasize these influences like playing with Nagham Zikrayat.

What’s is the best remark you’ve got for Amir? And How would you want people to feel when they listen to you?

Any remark is good I think! Just the fact that there are people listening to it and it is now a part of people’s life amazes me. People can feel however they want to feel, there is no particular way you should feel listening to any kind of music I think. If it’s adding something to your life, to your state of mind – to anything really. If it’s functional in a way I think it’s great. I think what is good for people is to have their own interpretations of the music. To think for yourself maybe. Make the music you’re listening to personal – to extract something from it that nobody can. In my opinion it’s better to listen to a song thinking about your life and experiences rather than saying “Oh what has Tamino been through to write this song?”.

Who are you listening to lately?

So much stuff I discovered lately. I check my Spotify everytime I get this question, so please bare with me while I open my Spotify! Usually if I discover a record, I listen to it for a couple of months. I really want to dig into the record. Usually it’s a full record I like to discover. With Spotify these days you can listen to too many songs and put them in playlists which I like as well for certain reasons but I do like to dig into a record as well. It might sound funny but Ryan Adams made this cover record of Taylor Swift songs. I think in 2015. His versions are just amazing I think. I really like that record. There are lot of Neil Young I listen to these days as well. And some hip-hop like Brockhampton.

This is your 3rd time visiting İstanbul for a show. Did you had the chance to discover the city?

Last time we went for a walk around the city. My mom was there with me as well. We went to Topkapı Palace. It was crazy to think that a sultan was living there! We crossed the bridge also. There was a big difference in terms of the vibe between the two sides. The first thing that I realized about Istanbul was the light. It’s just really beautiful everywhere – the natural sunlight. I like how vibrant it is. I love being there.