Vagabon

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 and remains Shamir through and through, no matter what the universe puts him through. You may know the singularly named artist (like Madonna or Cher) from his 2015 debut hit record Rachet, beloved by NPR listeners and club kids alike. After quickly rising to underground fame with his Northtown EP in 2014, the DIY popstar made a sonic splash with Rachet’s lead single “On The Regular,” a poppy banger and commercial success. But how to follow all that up? Shamir, who came from the dusty dunes of Las Vegas, to Brooklyn’s Silent Barn, to the Philly indie scene (and all over the world inbetween), wanted to go back to what had inspired him from the beginning. Outsider music, country & punk. Raw & vulnerable tunes, stripped down to their emotional core. And what do you do if XL drops you? If you’re Shamir, you put out an album you recorded yourself all in one weekend, whilst questioning the decision to quit music. The record was called Hope and Shamir self-released it via SoundCloud during the spring of 2017, with no promotion or label support. Regardless & naturally, it was a critical hit.

Now, happily joining San Francisco based indie label Father/Daughter Records, Shamir is excited to share his upcoming new album, titled Revelations, out November 3, 2017. Recorded May 2017 in his hometown following the release of Hope, Revelations is full of what the titled implies. The new album is stacked with stunning exhalations of emotion, as Shamir continues making music for misfits and those of us who feel so emo sometimes that we get annoyed at how we’re a cliché, but see the beauty in it anyway. Revelations is much more minimal in instrumentation & production compared to Rachet, but is even more full in sound and feeling. In some other timeline, there’s an unknown John Hughes film entirely set to Revelations. It’s the warmth in this apocalyptic neon and pastel future we find ourselves in. It’s the breath we take when we look up from our phones. They’re Shamir’s Revelations, and you should listen up.

Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not for Julie Byrne; whose power of lyrical expression and musical nous seems inborn. Often what comes naturally cannot be driven by speed and time. Julie’s 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. Her new album vividly archives what would have otherwise been lost to the road, and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality. Some of the songs on Not Even Happiness took years of fine tuning to reach their fruition. If you asked her why the follow up to 2014’s Rooms With Walls and Windows has taken so long, you’d be greeted with a bewildered expression melted into a smile - as though the strangest question had just been asked. “Writing comes from a natural process of change and growth. It took me up to this point to have the capacity to express my experience of the time in my life that these songs came from.”

Julie Byrne has counted Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans and Northampton, Massachusetts as her transient homes in recent years. For now, she’s settled in New York City, moonlighting as a seasonal urban park ranger in Central Park. 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; reading Frank O’Hara aloud from the passengers seat during a drive through the Utah desert into the rainforest of Washington State (‘The Sea As It Glides’), Not Even Happiness is Julie’s beguilingly ode to the fringes of life.

“The title of the album comes from a letter I wrote to a friend after a trip to Riis Park’s ‘The People’s Beach’,,,it was the first warm afternoon of the year. I walked alongside the Atlantic as the Earth came alive for the sun. There was a palpable sense of emergence to everything. I felt it in myself too, and remember thinking I would trade that feeling for nothing…not even happiness.”

Julie taught herself guitar, picking it up when her father became ill and could no longer play. She readily 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. Back to her childhood home in western New York state to record the album with producer Eric Littmann (Phantom Posse), friend Jake Falby contributed strings at a cabin in Holderness, New Hampshire. “Without possessing the right words, I’d describe to Eric and Jake 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. I trusted each of them and we chose each other; our songs came from that place.”

Not Even Happiness offers a bigger picture to its predecessor through a wider exploration of instruments and atmospherics, revealing an artist who has grown in confidence over time. This form of self-evolution permeates through the track titles, as the album opens with, ‘Follow My Voice’ and ends with, ‘I Live Now as a Singer’.” “Those two songs are the nearest to my heart, without hesitation. This is an album with a far stronger sense of self, and fidelity to self than the last,” she says.

Her last album was released in January 2014, on Chicago based DIY label Orindal after first existing as two separate cassette releases. Rooms With Walls and Windows went on to become a true modern-day word of mouth success story (it would have to be for an artist who shuns all forms of social media). By the end of the year, it was voted number 7 in Mojo Magazine’s Best Albums, with the Huffington Post calling it, “2014’s Great American Album.” A collection of hushed intimate front porch psych-folk songs, recalling the greats, but strongly emanating the essence of timeliness. Her journey to follow was captured in two summers through Europe, playing the Green Man Festival and End of the Road, as well as lesser trodden tour paths around Italy.

In the live arena she enchants, leaving rooms and festival crowds mesmerized by her voice and warm presence, where many find a real connection with Byrne’s intimate songs. This feeling is often shared: “The most magical thing about performing these songs is that afterwards, so many of the conversations I have escape all small talk,” tells Julie. “Shows don’t always have this spirit, but when they do, every person has contributed, even unknowingly, to creating a space of responsiveness to each other through vulnerability, through our unified experience and honesty about our sorrow and our emergence.”

Julie Byrne is taking Not Even Happiness on the road throughout 2017.

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