Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Tamara Schlesinger and review of solo album The Procession

tamara by daria h
Tamara Schlesinger by Daria H.

Tamara Schlesinger is the talented lead singer and main brains behind the foot stomping folk sounds of 6 Day Riot, a band I have listened to countless times on record and loved many times over live – they even played a storming set at the launch of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration in 2011. Over the past year, with a little help from Creative Scotland, she’s put together her first solo album, The Procession. In this her honeyed vocals are looped to magnificent effect over the simplest of instrumentals. It’s a step away from the unabashed raucousness of her band, with melancholic lyrics such as those in the beautiful No Coming Back, So Long and Again (previewed on soundcloud below) inspired by a reflective period in her life. The Procession works best when taken together as a whole, each song subtly altering in mood as the listener is led on a meditative journey by the woven layers of Tamara Schlesinger‘s beautiful voice. I caught up with the singer to find out about the changes in her life.

Tamara_6 day riot
Tamara Schlesinger by Laura Hickman
Tamara Schlesinger by Laura Hickman.

The Procession, your first solo album, came out this week. What has the reception been like so far?
So far the reception has been great. The album was quite an experimental project for me, moving away from the 6 Day Riot sound and working with a capella vocals and I really enjoyed the challenge. I’ve had some lovely reviews already and a few spins on 6 music, XFM and Amazing Radio. Also Amazing Radio have made the album Album of the Month so I’m pretty happy so far.

tamara schlesinger the procession album cover
Tamara_6 day riot

The album was made in Glasgow with help from Creative Scotland – how did that process work and how did being at home forge the process?
I wrote the album over the course of a year and discovered that I could apply for funding from Creative Scotland. As I run my own label and have always self-released my music I thought it was a great opportunity. I was so delighted when I received the funding, it allowed me to spend longer in the studio than I normally get the chance to. It also allowed me to work with new musicians (all of whom are Scottish) and to work in a different manner. I went into the studio with ideas, but really they came to life once I was in there, and that was a very different process for me. Normally I would have rehearsed the tracks with the band and arranged all the parts before recording due to budget limitations. Being home was also great, it was fantastic to be in Glasgow, the mood is very different to London and it definitely affected the way the recording went in a positive way.

No Coming
Tamara Schlesinger by Emma Presland
Tamara Schlesinger by Emma Presland.

It’s much more mellow than the work 6 Day Riot is known for – was this deliberate and if so why?
Yes, I didn’t want to do a solo project that sounded like 6 Day Riot, I didn’t see the point in that. If I was going to do something on my own it really needed to sound different to the band. I was in a more melancholy place at the time of writing as well so that is definitely reflective in the mood to the record. I felt like doing an album that flowed together as a whole and I think I managed to achieve that.

Tamara_6 day riot
tamara_by_angela lamb
Tamara Schlesinger by Angela Lamb.

What inspired the new direction and lyrics?
I was in the process of packing up my home and moving when a lot of the album was written, along with having some potentially life changing things to deal with –  so I was in a very reflective mood. I was thinking a lot about what your home really means, whether it holds your memories or whether you can pick everything up and start a new. I was also waiting for some test results that could have meant a big change in my life – so the lyrics ended up being more personal to me than usual. I had also been co-writing with Deadly Avenger, we co-wrote the trailer music for 127 Hours (a survival drama film), and the tracks were all cinematic dance in style. So I think when I began writing my own music it ended up bit more cinematic than usual.

So Long

Tamara by Sandra Contreras
Tamara Schlesinger by Sandra Contreras.

You’re expecting a baby soon: how is this affecting your plans to tour and what are your hopes and dreams for your little one?
Well, it is already affecting me as I am much more tired than usual! so I will probably be touring the album again at the start of next year when I release more singles. I just want a healthy, happy baby, but hopefully one that enjoys coming to lots of gigs and festivals and doesn’t get too bored hearing my songs and voice over and over again. 

YouTube Preview ImageLead single Again

The Procession by Tamara Schlesinger was released on Tantrum Records on the 6th of August 2012. If you are based in Scotland you can catch Tamara performing at Stereo Cafe Bar in Glasgow on August 15th – a series of dates will be confirmed soon so catch her live if you can: it’s a wonderful experience (read my review of a 6 Day Riot concert here). Hear 6 Day Riot play live at the launch party of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration in the video below.

YouTube Preview Image

Categories ,127 Hours, ,6 Day Riot, ,6 Music, ,A capella, ,Again, ,album, ,Album of the Month, ,Amazing Radio, ,Angela Lamb, ,Creative Scotland, ,Daria H, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Deadly Avenger, ,Emma Presland, ,folk, ,glasgow, ,interview, ,Laura Hickman, ,Looped, ,Meditative, ,No Coming, ,review, ,Sandra Contreras, ,Scottish, ,So Long, ,Stereo Cafe Bar, ,Tantrum Records, ,The Procession, ,XFM

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Amelia’s Magazine | Malka: Tamara Schlesinger introduces the new video for Into The Night

Malka by Gareth A Hopkins
Malka by Gareth A Hopkins.

Tamara Schlesinger of Malka (formerly of the much loved 6 Day Riot) makes a triumphant return with the glorious tribal beats of new single Into The Night. It’s a step away from the acoustic sounds of the band she used to front, yet bears her unmistakable imprint in a sing along melody about the horrors of insomnia. Here she introduces the neon saturated video, made with a little help from legions of creative friends. And who knew her former career as an international gymnast could be put to such good use?

It’s late on a hot Tuesday night in an industrial estate in Walthamstow and I am looking around a darkened room filled with a group of my friends that are in the middle of shooting my latest music video for me.

It strikes me how much we are all enjoying ourselves, no-one is being paid for this, we are here for the love of it. I consider how lucky I am to have such talented friends that love their own creative art as much as I love mine, and therefore are willing to while away these long hours surrounded by hot neon lights and UV paint.

We managed to secure God’s Own Junkyard for our location which houses amazing neon artworks designed by Chris Bracey. My friend Stephanie Bamsey wrote a blog about him a few years ago, and while we were sitting drinking beers at the Wild Card Brewery (across the road from GOJY) I begged her to ask if they might let us shoot our video there.

Tamara MALKA by Karolina Burdon
Tamara MALKA by Karolina Burdon.

So fast forward 3 weeks and here we are. Steph’s husband (the director Lee Bamsey) has been back and forth from the venue over numerous days checking out which areas we want to capture and how we are going create the video (along with a timeline). Steven Gray (D.O.P.) has arrived with the most hi-tech gear I have ever had the pleasure to see in person and is calmly setting up. And Ellie Worthington is creating my UV face paint to tie in with the UV-splattered catsuit I prepared earlier in the week.

Malka by Lizzie Donegan.

I often think about what it is that makes me need to make music. After having a few years break following the birth of my daughter I realised that it is just in my bones. I am compelled to do it, I need to write music and I love to perform it. The same can be said for my friends in this room. They are here because they love their art and spending a sweaty evening creating this music video is a pleasure not a chore. All of them make a living within the film industry but they are still willing to get involved in a project that interests them – pay or no pay.

In walks my husband, Martin Macdonald. He has managed to get our daughter to sleep and has left our good friend babysitting. He is editing the video (which is also his full time job) and has arrived just in time for me to prance around under a UV light. I love dancing, I used to be an international gymnast and with this project I felt it would really let the audience connect with me as an artist to show that side of me.

The shoot wraps at around midnight, everyone is exhausted but delighted with the way the shoot has gone. Martin spends the next week editing the video (with ongoing tweaks throughout the month). And by the skin of our teeth we get an edit that everyone is happy with by the release date of the single.

Tamara MALKA
The end product is nothing short of excellent. I know that with the work that everyone has put in (including the colourist Kenny Gibb) and the normal cost of the venue and gear etc.. that we would be up in the 10’s of thousands for the cost of something like this. But here I am, thanks to my amazing friends (and family) with a video that I hope connects the song to me as an artist and creates the right visual identity for my new project.

The song Into The Night is the lead single from my forthcoming album under my new guise MALKA. It is a change in direction from my 6 Day Riot days, gone are the acoustic instruments and in their place are synths and tribal beats. And so, I wanted the video to be a step away from what I had done before too. Lee has directed all of my videos thus far and Martin has also edited them all, so they know what I like and they know my budget (none).

Malka-Into the night artwork
Running my own record label (Tantrum Records) for 12 years has been hard work, but somehow I have managed to find the money to record, release and promote all 5 (and now my forthcoming 6th) albums. I am at a place in the industry where I don’t have the massive marketing budgets to spend on every release, but I can afford to do what I do thanks to publishing/sync deals or touring/sales (or evening funding from Creative Scotland) and thanks to a little help from my friends.

Categories ,6 Day Riot, ,Chris Bracey, ,Creative Scotland, ,Ellie Worthington, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,God’s Own Junkyard, ,Into The Night, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Kenny Gibb, ,Lee Bamsey, ,Lizzie Donegan, ,Malka, ,Martin Macdonald, ,Neon, ,single, ,Stephanie Bamsey, ,Steven Gray, ,Tamara Schlesinger, ,Tantrum Records, ,video, ,Walthamstow, ,Wild Card Brewery

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