“We’re going to hell in a handbag!” Tamara Nile devilishly exclaimed. “We tend to think we’re screwed and things can look really daunting, but that attitude doesn’t help. I believe that even in the face of things looking terrible, we have immense creative power. There’s hope and we aren’t powerless.”
With her debut full length release At My Table, armed with her banjo, her soul driven voice and thought provoking lyrics, “powerless” is the last of the very last descriptive words out there for this artist.
With word from the West, this British Columbian songstress is being praised as “the biggest roots noise out of [those] very rootsy parts since Neko Case and the Be Good Tanyas.” With songs like the haunting acoustic “Willie”, the sticky-catchy “Friday Night” and the fresh feel good reggae number “Get Together”, Nile seems to have no musical limitations and has merited the noisemaker status.
Why did you choose to title your debut full length album At My Table?
I have a large kitchen and a lot of the action in my house goes on at the table. I did a lot of work for the album there. There’s actually really good sound quality in my kitchen; the song “Something Better” was recorded at my table!
There is a vast variety of genres on the album; pop, folk, roots and even reggae. Can you tell us what inspired your reggae infused song “Get Together”?
I love reggae! It just has a feeling of community. I love that when I go to a reggae show there is such good vibes. I’m influenced by reggae and I wanted this song to feel good. We don’t need anymore doom and gloom.
Inspiration is an interesting thing. It can just arrive from somewhere you don’t know. Sometimes it’s like your tapping into something and transcribing it. That’s how it was with “Get Together”; it just arrived.The song is like a rallying call to set aside our differences and get together. We can get back on the right track.
Do you think we have become that disconnected and detached?
People seem to be more and more isolated; very individualistic.
Do you believe there is a remedy for this isolation?
That’s a good question. I certainly make efforts to connect with people. For example I have roommates, I’m friends with my upstairs neighbours, we have a garden in our backyard and we all garden together. I have dinner parties and jams at my house.
I also have a show that I put on at a club every month where I bring people together from different disciplines and genres of music and get them together on one stage and connect.
What else do you think we could do?
Fight the wave of individualism and consumerism; the things that are brainwashed into us. We get stuck in a cycle of production and consumption. We produce to be able to consume to be able to produce and to consume again.
It’s like a treadmill and I try to step off that treadmill and be in the moment and enjoy life.
I read that the lead song on the album “Trees” is an ode to a simpler, joyful life. What are things that make your life simpler?
“Trees” is about the way I grew up. I would love to be able to live that way again. Right now I’m very involved with my music, but I hope to live a life outside the city, grow my own food, and be a part of a small community.
I don’t think it’s about simpler, it’s about being more connected to nature and the cycle of life. In an urban environment there are all these distractions that can take you away from some very important parts of life.
Which important aspect that is lacking in an urban environment comes to mind?
Intergenerational contact. It’s something needed in the evolution of humans; to be around people of all ages, children and the old. It’s something normal and important. Now there seems to be less of that.
In the city there’s this weird age segregation and I don’t think it’s healthy. Old people are hidden off in retirement or senior homes. Then there’s this fear where everyone is afraid for their children so nobody talks to kids because you don’t want to be considered a creep.
Speaking of images, would you consider your music political and socially conscious even if the messages are soft, subtle ones?
I don’t want to jump out and be this political artist because then you get pigeonholed.
I like being subtle to the point that some people may think [my music] is light and fluffy. But I want to empower people through music. I hesitate to say that because it almost sounds arrogant on my part to think that I could.
But my aim is to empower myself with my music and hopefully empower others. I wanted to make music that is meaningful and beautiful. Something that I like and that other people would like.
And if I make something I don’t like I won’t put it out there, I promise.
Tamara Nile plays the Yellow Door, 3625 Aylmer 514.398.6243 on Friday, March 16.