Her debut EP Details marks a real coming-of-age moment for Tamzene. Across six tracks, each deeply introspective song takes on a topic from love and long-distance relationships to questions about race and identity in a social media age. Cut Me Out Your Photos is a poignant ode to heartbreak in its rawest form, Tamzene’s voice haunting as she muses on loneliness. But New Beginnings is its complete antithesis; a bright and softly rousing self-care anthem, fittingly written on a sunny day in East London.
But Tamzene’s story starts about 600 miles north of London in Cromarty, the small town in the Scottish Highlands where the 24-year-old musician called home for the formative years of her life. “It was always cold, but beautiful, the Highlands are so wild and free” she says. There were only seven other people in her year and few places for them to hang out, which left a lot of free time for Tamzene to develop an early love of music. “My mum always loved big female voices. She played a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs was always on in our house; when I think of home, I always think of the greatest love songs ever.”
Growing up in an isolated location never stopped Tamzene from finding an audience. When she needed to fundraise money for a college service project in Thailand, Tamzene began busking, which she would continue to do for years, using her Mum's guitar. She headed to nearby Inverness. “I played whatever was popular at the time and a mix of covers like Stand By Me, True Colours, Somewhere Over the Rainbow; Great American Songbook classics. There was this old man who always seemed to walk past when I was singing Elvis’ Can't Help Falling in Love With You; he’d always come and harmonise with me.”
When it came to making her own music, she combined the melting pot of influences that had impacted her throughout her life. The Scottish folk music of the highlands, the reggae introduced to her by her half-Jamaican mother and soul compilations her stepfather used to make for her. Years of busking contemporary songs by Adele, Leon Bridges, Amy Winehouse, Bon Iver, and her hero Alicia Keys taught her about the importance of killer hooks and powerful choruses, and after honing her vocal and technical skills at university, she had everything she needed, and started booking gigs around the city, festivals such as Latitude, TRNSMT, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Reeperbahn and a one-off show in New York.