Saudi-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Tamtam releases her new single, Rise, with a thought-provoking video written and directed by award-winning Saudi filmmaker Meshal Al jaser, addressing the subject of arranged marriage. Tamtam spoke with The Fountain about the single as well as working with Meshal on the video.

TF: You’ve a new single out, what has the reception been like so far? 

Most of the feedback I’ve been getting about Rise from the Middle East is super positive, especially because of the music video; which is a story about arranged marriage, directed by Meshal Al jaser. The feedback on the song from the US and UK has also been great; I think people love to see stories that come from cultures that are different to their own. They learn about another perspective; and that’s really what I want to do with my music: I want it to be a form of communication and to fuel conversation between people of all cultures and communities.

TF: Can you tell us a bit more about Rise, like what inspired the title?

I wrote the song with Grandson, who is an amazing musician, if you don’t know his music you should definitely check it out. I was talking to him about wanting to do music since I was eleven years old, but back then I felt like I would never be able to realize my dream because of the more conservative society that I come from in Saudi Arabia. It’s ironic now because most of my supporters are from Saudi, and it makes me so happy and proud of my country that is evolving and growing everyday. “From the ashes I rise, rise, rise,” those lyrics represent my musical journey; when I decided that I want to pursue music even though I didn’t know if I would be accepted in my community. The idea of doing music was dead to me at one point, that’s why the word “ashes”, but then deciding to keep going anyway is such a feeling of freedom, the idea of rising above the noise of society, and ultimately following your gut.

TF: And what touring plans have you at the moment, any festivals?  

I have some shows in Los Angeles this summer for the release of a new EP, and then a couple of festivals and shows in the Middle East in the fall. 

TF: And you worked with award-winning Saudi filmmaker Meshal Al jaser on the video, addressing the subject of arranged marriage, how was that? 

I love Meshal’s vision. He is an artist. When I sent him the song, I didn’t want to tell him why I wrote it. I wanted him to come up with an idea based on how the lyrics and music made him feel. He came up with the arranged marriage story because it is one that is close to his heart, and I knew that no one would be able to tell it the way he does. 

What has been your favourite gig to date? 

I would have to say the music festival, Kuwait Rising, that I performed at in April 2018 in Kuwait. I met so many talented musicians there who were also performing, and I got to talk to so many fans afterward, it was a really great experience I will never forget!