Event Time Thu 17th Oct at 7:00pm-Thu 17th Oct at 11:00pm
Event Location The Lodge at Deaf Institute, Manchester
The Deaf Institute


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It may be her debut EP, but 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


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.”

She says she was just ten years old when she knew exactly what her future needed to look like. “The first

time I saw the video for Alicia Keys’ No One, I thought, ‘I could do this. She was mixed race, she was

singing and playing piano at the same time, I could see the similarities, a light bulb went off in my mind.”

“I was always singing, too” she continues, “I remember when our primary school music teacher showed

us how to play ‘Raindrops are Falling on My Head’ on a piano, I wouldn’t stop singing it all day”. Noticing

her passion, Tamzene’s mother encouraged her to take piano lessons from a young age, and though the

music scene in Cromarty wasn’t big, she found herself drawn to local cèilidh bands, “the joy and energy

of that music is unrivalled, also the storytelling and the sense of community; it was hugely influential to


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.”

Eventually, Tamzene felt compelled to move to a city and headed South to Leeds College of Music to

study pop vocals. “Leeds is where I really fell in love with collaborating and writing, so in my second year

I switched to songwriting. My friends and I created this co-writing scene where we go to each other's

houses or meet up at a studio in the college and write songs.”

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.

Then the pandemic struck, which brought her back to Cromarty. Back in her childhood bedroom, gazing

out onto shorelines and harbours. “I realised that the Leeds days were a lot of throwing stuff at the wall

and making music with anybody who wanted to make music with me. When the pandemic happened, it

was just me, the piano and my living room.” The result was The Home Tapes, a stripped back

nostalgia-tinged 4-track demo. What followed was the beginnings of the Details EP.

She started in the summer of 2020. The spate of police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,

Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people hit Tamzene hard, and the period that followed had a

huge impact on the way she navigated her mixed race identity. During a Zoom session with Tobie Tripp

[Stormzy, Joy Crookes, Jess Glynne], Tamzene penned Called You Out. “Social media was so charged at

this point. I was being hit with parts of my own experience, and I also had this deep sadness for the Black

community. I was taking time away from social media, but I was also trying to follow more Black activists

and post things that I'd seen, share things that resonated with me. I recognised that because I had been

busking in Scotland and grown up in mainly white schools, I had a mainly white following. Not a big

following, but mainly white one; I wanted to share resources because it could actually make a


When an old school friend started criticising her for the posts, a heated phone call followed. “We don't

talk anymore,” she explains. “That summer was such a big part of me accepting the things I needed to do

to embrace my identity, the conversations I needed to be having Tamzene shares, “This is really

important to me and I realised I couldn’t take people with me who didn’t want to put in the work to be

better.” She says the song is about, “not allowing your history with someone to blind you from seeing

their true nature. It’s about accepting the moment you no longer want to be in someone's life, because

they simply don’t see you.”

Tobie and Tamzene collaborated once more on Dance With You Again, a song written about Tamzene’s

mother who moved to Jamaica during the pandemic. “She taught salsa for many years when I was

growing up, and I was her demo partner at classes, festivals and parties from as young as eight. 2020 was

especially hard as I was unable to plan to see her. In short, it’s about longing to be with someone you

love again, and how that really can make you wish away the days.”

Their strong maternal bond is a poignant theme across the EP. Her languid, smokey vocals take centre

stage on Only An Ocean. “It’s about the last week we spent together before the world shut down and it is

very special to me” says Tamzene of the track. Though her heartbreak is palpable, beautifully balancing

uplifting moments come with New Beginnings and the classic melody of Ripcord, the latter being about

the beauty and simplicity of being present. “It’s about being in love” she says, “and how that can truly lift

you up and ground you all at the same time.”


The Lodge at Deaf Institute
Manchester, UK