Tamara Montenegro is the leading lady in Nicaragua’s electronic music scene. Born in this tropical gem of a country, she is a modern-day nomad.
CGNY: Tamara – tell us where you’re from/grew up? And where are you living now?
TM: For the longest time I had trouble answering that question of where I am from. I was born in Nicaragua but have since lived in numerous lands - Montreal, Barcelona, Sofia, Varna, Amsterdam, Northern California - and I have incorporated bits of all those places into my spirit. This makes it difficult to say where I'm fully from. But since the end of 2009 I incidentally moved back to Nicaragua and I must say the tropical flavor of life here has sunk in and awakened a deep sense of belonging. The country is often called 'the land of lakes and volcanoes' and within its rich history and astounding nature, the opposing forces of fire and water make a splendid dance of the elements, and to live within it all is an experience hard to get away from.
Funny enough, people here don't often see it that way. We humans tend to take things for granted. Had I never left my homeland, I wonder if I would have the same impression and appreciation for it.
CGNY: I love the fusion of art and science – which seems to be a key element of your approach to music production. You have a broad range of academic interests too. How do they influence your music?
TM: As we grow and live, our experiences fuel our views, our creations, our responses to our environment, stimulating a deeper understanding of our inner selves. Especially in this day and age, we are constantly exposed to numerous fields of interest and in reality I believe people are multifaceted in nature, often drawn to seemingly opposing areas of life. I see them more as complimentary and necessary for the development and fulfillment of a human being and our much needed evolution. My interest in the life and physical sciences is essentially complimentary to my music-making. Vibration is the basic unit of existence. There is music, rhythms, patterns in everything. I believe that music is a vehicle for bringing us closer to this understanding, and it is the understanding itself, as well as the teacher. We shall know how to distinguish the music within each experience and situation and let that be our guide through life. Music speaks profound languages and communes with deep aspects of existence within ourselves and our external environment.
CGNY: Your recent release on NOSI Music “Amicizia” is a solid techno tune but very musical too. How long did it take for you to put that together and how did you decide on the remixers – love the Auricula remix by the way!
TM: Yes, the Auricula remix is quite phat, I love to play that one out at the late hours, it just heats up my blood in such a good way. Auricula and I really converge on that dark aspect. But I feel every one of the remixes is beautiful: Auricula's, Pat King's, Rafa Verdial's, Danielle Nicole's and Connie's. I am quite grateful to have my music be remixed by these fine artists who also include two amazing female producers, the New York-based extremely talented, Pat King, and a fellow Central American artist, Rafa Verdial from Honduras. NOSI was clever enough to put these amazing artists together, most of whom live in the New York area, a place I am growing fonder of the more I visit. To me, each of the remixes depicts a different New York City attribute, there's for the somniferous mellow sunset hours, the heavy dark rush adrenaline, the underground caressing techno, the clean classy feel and the for the early morning hours coming back with a smile from a great party with lots of energy exchange having occurred.
And the song itself did not take me long to make, once the inspiration hit me over the head like a hard brick, everything flowed. I named it "Amicizia" (which is Italian for "friendship") in reaction to two very powerful (friendship) incidences I experienced after recently coming back to my country. A bit of a personal matter, but that was my truth at that time. It was only natural to put it into song.
CGNY: You started off in a rock band in your teens but then moved into electronic music. Why did you decide to do that and not go the ‘band‘ route? What is it about EDM that floats your boat?!
TM: The rock band was a step on the way, as was my training in classical percussion, but EDM gives me so much more to work with. It is, for me, much more infinite. Composition, production is what floats my boat. To me, nothing beats the playful nature of electronic music, the flexibility, the infinity.
CGNY: You also co-founded an organization called Cosmusart. How and why did that come about? What influence do you hope to bring to bear with that organization?
TM: Yea, Cosmusart stands for Cosmic Music & Art and we founded this collective between three friends back in 2007. Since then, each of our individual and collective works connects with and furthers the goals we envisioned back then. Our main principle is to deliver creative stimulus through image and sound in the events and artistic projects we put together. It is our aim to generate enough positive stimulation in people so as to be catalysts of inspiration, personal growth and collective evolution. The idea is to reinvent the party environment and inspire people to live better and more fulfilling lives.
CGNY: Where are you favorite places to perform in the world?
TM: I would definitely say the Bulgarian Black sea coast in the summer time. Sunrises over the sea, gradually shinning light on the all-night-partied elated faces, are one of the most spectacular feelings to experience. Definitely, the intimate NOSI parties in the NYC underground are feeling more and more like family, like making warm love through music. And definitely, outdoor festivals in the tropics such as Pitaya Festival in the south of Nicaragua or SunJam on the magical Caribbean island of Utila in Honduras.
CGNY: How has signing with NOSI helped get your music to the masses?
TM: NOSI was a serendipitous encounter, yet it was total destiny and a completely natural way of making a new friend. Through the process of working together we've come to know how much alike we are and how our visions converge. NOSI has been a fairly young boutique label born from a Central American magical journey experienced by its father, Gil K, but I can see how it is growing ever so immensely in its spirit. Years after its inception is when we met. Two journeying souls sharing similar backgrounds, projecting similar visions.
I believe in NOSI as NOSI believes in me. The label has managed to bring out the true feeling of enjoying music in a very pure manner and making that tangible in its events, in the artists it represents. There are no boundaries for the genres it hosts, but all the distinct types of music share a similar driving passion. It's presence in the New York City underground scene is real, people come to dance, smile, be themselves and enjoy quality music from DJs who play from their hearts, it's about love, fun and the joi-de-vivre. My experience with NOSI has brought me closer to that reality, stuff that is usually missing from the industry these days. Signing with NOSI has brought me closer to sharing music in a very pure manner, giving me loads of flexibly and liberty for true expression, for that I feel very lucky.
CGNY: I’ve chatted to a lot of DJs/producers and many of them seem to be similarly interested in science/math/technology. Any thoughts on that?
TM: I believe we are living through key times in history. There are many thoughts going around about cycles ending and others beginning in our world. I feel it's all very true. Humanity needs to make a leap if we are meant to keep living and prospering on this planet. Humanity needs to evolve a great deal, and new intellectual traits are sprouting in our society, we are living through and participating in a nu-renaissance so to speak. The merging of seemingly opposing fields, or just fields that seem to not have anything to do with one another, is necessary to create new avenues in our system, which will facilitate our continuity and our prosperity. To me, it is necessary to experiment with the possibilities. More and more we are discovering that everything is connected and technology, if used wisely and with the right intentions can help us develop the much needed harmony within ourselves, each other and our world. It's good that artists are searching within the scientific language for answers. I believe many artists are interested in expansion overall and this is a clear indication of it.
CGNY: What’s next for you in terms of touring/producing and life in general?
TM: In terms of touring, I aim to visit New York again this year. Other than that I'm playing around Central America, since I'm based in Nicaragua at the moment.
And as for producing new material there has been a bit of silence from me as of late, reason being that cooking sounds is a delicate chemistry that needs the right balance of ingredients: some personal peace, boldness, patience, some rough experiences, loads of humor, a tad of release, and of course much love in many forms. So it is all coming about, but I will not talk about what it will be. It will soon speak for itself.
And life in general is life in general. Learning, learning, learning.
CGNY: If you had to take one track and one personal item with you to the nuclear fallout shelter – what would it be?
TM: My goodness, I don't want to think that could be a possibility. I would probably not be thinking about anything material during such a situation. How would I play the track?! I'd take a book to learn on the kind of overtone singing, Tibetan monk style ;) instead.
http://soundcloud.com/nosi-music/x-love-is-tight-mastered-final - thanks to NOSI Music for the free download of Amicizia - original mix
Check out Keith Mitchells review of "Amicizia" here
For more information about the Sunjam festival - go here - www.sunjamutila.com