Shamir, Julie Byrne
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is all ages
Vagabon, the moniker for multi-instrumentalist, Lætitia Tamko, was born in late 2014 during her final years of engineering school. Currently living in New York City via Cameroon, Tamko’s cultural duality and engineering background informs her inspirations as a musician and a producer. Blending elements of west and east African music from her childhood with punk as well as electronic leaning instrumentation, Vagabon songs vary in themes and genre.
In November 2014, Tamko self-released an EP, “Persian Garden”, a collection of the first songs she had ever written. “Persian Garden” caught the attention of a larger than imagined audience which led Vagabon to a couple of U.S tours and several Northeast tours.
Tamko recently finished recording her first album, where she is the writer, co-producer and main performer of all instruments.
Shamir is Shamir Bailey, a 20-year-old Las Vegas native who grew up not on the strip but in the desert. His verve for life makes him almost impossible to categorize. As a young musician, he moves in and out of soul, r&b, house, disco, rap, and pop – in the tradition of artists like Prince, Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Madonna. Genre is a tool for Shamir, not a boundary. Or as Shamir would put it, "It doesn't matter what you sound like – you just have to be you."
With an androgyne croon that recalls Nina Simone, Shamir rose from the suburbs of Vegas after sending demos to Nick Sylvester, who runs the GODMODE label out of New York. Together they made "Northtown," Shamir's debut EP (2014), and continued their working relationship for "Ratchet", Shamir's first LP for XL Recordings (2015). It's an ecstatic dance-pop record that also has some dust and age to it, sparkling with the grit of a desert geode. The songs are about growing up in Vegas, though not the Vegas you think you know. The music is fun even when it's mostly introspective, introspective even when it's mostly fun. There's an obvious fluidity to Shamir. He transcends boundaries – genre, gender, age, geography. If he feels solitary, it's because there's literally no one else like him.
Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not so for Julie Byrne, whose power of lyrical expression and musical nous seems inborn. Her second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Teaching herself guitar, having picked it up when her father became ill and could no longer play, Byrne also admits she can’t read music and doesn’t even listen to it all that much—her own vinyl was the first in her possession. “Without possessing the right words, I’d describe to [producer] Eric Littman (Phantom Posse) and Jake Falby (who contributed strings) the feeling I wanted a song to evoke, or I would take a shot at singing what was in my head. Though over all, their contributions to the record are entirely their own vision and their own power.” The follow-up to 2014’s critically lauded Rooms With Walls And Windows, this latest offers a bigger picture through a wider exploration of instruments and atmospherics, revealing an artist who has grown in confidence over time. Whether witnessing the Pacific Northwest for the first time (“Melting Grid”), the morning sky in the mountains of Boulder (“Natural Blue”), or a journey fragrant with rose water or reading Frank O’Hara aloud from the passenger seat during a drive through the Utah desert into the rainforest of Washington State (“The Sea As It Glides”), Not Even Happiness is Byrne’s beguiling ode to the fringes of life.