Global VMEN: Tamino
The Belgium-born musician sits down with us to discuss his creative process, new album, and more.
Few in this generation of musicians can say they have music in their blood. But for the Belgian-Egyptian musician Tamino, music runs in the family. As the grandson of one of Egypt’s biggest Golden-age singers, Muharram Fouad, Tamino has certainly been keeping the musical legacy alive with his emotionally-drenched ballads. And since an early age, he’s always felt a gravitational pull to music. When he was 14 years old, he discovered his grandfather’s antique resonator guitar in the attic of his family’s old home in Cairo. That same year, he wrote his first song. And while his grandfather passed away when he was a child, that musical connection inspires him today. Today, Tamino establishes his own lineage, pioneering a way for the next generation of folk and rock musicians.
Born in Belgium, Tamino credits his unique, genre-bending sound to the city itself. “I grew up listening to Dues and Balthazar,” he elaborates from his apartment in Antwerp, where he still lives. “It was really cool growing up here because there’s a huge platform of alternative music in Belgium.” Saturated in electric guitar riffs and impassioned melodies, Tamino’s compositions have been known to blur the line between conventional music genres. His latest album, out late September, illustrates this shapeshifting superpower. In ten illusive tracks, Tamino bears all: “The title of the album is Sahar, which means ‘just before dawn’ in Arabic,” he shares. “For me, that metaphor represents an in-between state, a sort of limbo.” This “in-between state” Tamino references are his experiences as a young musician navigating growing up–the ups and downs that come with transitioning to adulthood. And as this is his second album, you can definitely tell the artist is coming into his own.
The upcoming album also sees the addition of a new character: the oud, a traditional Middle Eastern instrument. Threaded throughout the project, the oud provides a melancholic soundscape that sets the tone for his emotional lyrics that follow. And while a distinct cross-cultural sound emerges because of such inclusion, Tamino doesn’t force it, explaining that, “I don’t start with the intention of combining Arabic folk traditions to make something new out of it. I just write and if it feels natural, I’ll include it.” And as his intuition guides his music, it is something that also keeps him going. When asked what he enjoys most about being a musician, Tamino says, “The euphoric feeling after writing a song that represents what I was feeling. The same feeling that I first got when I was 14.”
And while we wait for the release of his highly anticipated album (out September 23), Tamino teases us with a new single. Today, you can listen to “You Don’t Own Me,” which pays homage to Viktor E. Frankl’s novel “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Listen to it here.