Catch up with singer-songwriter and guitarist Tamar Eisenman and listen to her new single "Easy Comes Free" off her upcoming album, On My Way, due out later this Spring.
What first got you interested in music and songwriting?
Tamar: I started playing the guitar when I was 6 years old so it's a really tough question actually [laughs]. When I was growing up, my big brother had a band and I always wanted to play with his band and one day they did actually invite me to play with them and then they saw that I was the better guitar player and so they quit, and I guess that's when I realized - I'm being a little bit sarcastic, of course - that I can keep on doing this. It's a form of art that I feel very comfortable with and I guess I'm a creative person in a way and I wanted to tell my story because I think that's what people do; we tell stories, we want to share our feelings, and we want to see how much we are alike in this world. Although we are different and special in many ways, we are really alike. That's kind of how things rolled into me being a musician/singer-songwriter/guitarist/whatever, it's just what I know. It is important that I ask myself - or any artist for that matter ask themself - "why are we doing what we're doing?" and if it's for a good reason, then all is good. Spreading love.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were really happy with?
Oh wow. Well I have two points to this. A few years ago I found a tape from when I was a kid, when I was 6 or 5, and I had wrote a song in Hebrew and I was just singing the song, I wasn't playing at the time; I found a tape of me singing a really short poem about me sitting on the beach near the sea and saying how I'm all by myself there and I'm wondering what will happen in the end and that's the song. This was when I was 5 years old and that was my first song; it was a kid's song, but it was a song that had emotion to it and a point. Years after that, in high school I wrote some songs with my friends and I remember all sorts of songs. I think the first song that really made a difference for me was this song called "Wrong Road" that was on my EP - I released an EP that had 5 songs on it in Israel - and when I wrote and recorded that song, I remember that day very clearly; it was a very important time for me and understanding that I had something here that I wanted to share. It was a song about being disappointed over a really good friend and it was a little bit therapeutic, like a lot of things we do. I found a guitar riff that I was proud of and, for me, it was like a whole new world opened up, so that was an important stage in my professional music life.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
For part of my childhood I'd been in San Francisco and I remember listening to country music with my family. And also a lot of Israeli music, obviously, a lot of folk Israeli music. And a lot of classical music, as well, because that's what my parents liked. Then I discovered artists like The Police and Carole King and Ani DiFranco and Prince and those were really huge influences on me. And a lot of guitarists also, because I went through that path of being a professional guitarist at one point, so Eric Clapton and, of course, Jimi Hendrix was a huge influence. I mentioned my brother earlier but he really liked Jimi Hendrix and I stole all of his CDs of Jimi Hendrix and till this day he has no idea where they are [laughs]. Classic guitar but I was more listening than trying to take out solo parts and stuff like that, I was very much into trying to understand the experience, not the technical part of it. It was a combination of singer-songwriters from Carole King, Ani DeFranco, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and then more alternative bands such as The Cure and Feist. Rock folk music and all of the greats.
Is there someone that you're hooked on right now?
Oh my God yes! This might sound weird but Walk The Moon's - it was released 2 or 3 years ago - "Shut Up And Dance". It sounds a bit off, but I guess need some release and some time dancing in my living room lately, so I'm hooked on that song again [laughs]. It's a really fun song and I really like the arrangement there with the bass line and it's just a fun dance song. To be honest, that's the song that's been stuck in my head the past few days, just because of the coincidence of first hearing it at a party and then when I went shopping in the supermarket, but then I liked getting more into it and appreciating the elements of the song. Other than that, some classical music; I'm looking into some orchestration. Classical is far from what I do - I do rock, blues, folk music - but I'm trying to listen to classical music again and analyze chords and stuff like that, I find that interesting so I try to do that, as well. I listen to a lot of music.
How would you describe your sound?
The base is the melody, lyric, and guitar most of the time. Some of the time I even compose without the guitar, just in my head, or using a certain groove so it does have a lot to do with rock and blues music. The lyrics are also really important so it could be very folk-y music. I really try to combine what moves me and try to be very dedicated to that, because I like a lot of genres and sometimes it's not the right thing for a song. I'm moved by grooves and emotional feelings, so the melody is maybe not the strongest so I would say it's folk, because folk is about the lyrics and emotion or just something that a lot of people could join around. I'm trying to make the words blues and rock more complicated, but it is just rock blues or maybe alternative rock blues. I used to call it hip rock because I used to have a lot of elements of breaking beats and a lot of stops and weird grooves in my music - I still do that - but I think as time passes we grow up and the fundamental things that move me are just a good story and feeling. Alternative rock blues.
What were your inspirations behind your new single "Easy Comes Free"?
The song actually was written almost 2 years ago and it's one of those songs that wrote itself. The story is that I had a really bad fight with my partner one night and in the morning when we were still not talking about it and not agreeing on anything, that song was about that story. The interesting part about that song - besides it being a love song but a love song about a couple that understands they are entering a new phase in their life where things are not going to be easy anymore but it is going to be worth it once we keep it together - is that I was trying to be very authentic to what actually happened and in the song when I say "you" or I say "I", I switched it. The real story is when I say "I" I mean you. I tried to put myself in someone else's shoes and position, just to have that point of view so I could truly understand. The music and the guitar riffs and everything, I just wanted to keep it groovy but simple because it's about a couple that are kind of growing up. It's not a big thing and it is casual but there are a lot of beautiful things about the casual and the routine and our life together, that's what I was trying to emphasis.
Could you tell us more about your new album On My Way and what people can expect to hear?
The album On My Way is an album that combines new songs and also some songs that were released on previous albums and got new extra touches or a remix version or certain collaborations, so it's a very special album to me because it's a total of the past few years, with some new songs that address what to expect in the future. The sound is very similar to "Easy Comes Free"; easy grooves and a lot of guitars. The guitar is, obviously, the main instrument in the arrangement. It's hard to say what all the songs are about because it's a variety, but I think it tells my story from the past few years and about moving to New York a year ago and starting something new here; it wasn't out of nowhere, but it is a big thing changing things, it's really a big, big thing. Although it's been really cool circumstances and I'm having a good time, it's not easy and it comes with a lot of new things to deal with. Whoever went through something like this, from immigrating to moving to a different country, it is a big deal and it is a lot to handle; the album is, subconsciously in a way, also about that, because some of the songs are original scores from before I knew I was moving here but eventually it turned out to be more like that and that's why I also called it On My Way. It's that exciting feeling of starting something new, 'cause we rely so much on our roots and our family and everything that's familiar to us and once we change that, it's like opening a new page in our lives; no matter how old you are or what you've done before, it's starting over. It's an adventure, it's a challenge, but I'm really enjoying it. I'm happy this album is going to be released this Spring and it's welcoming myself to New York and this whole new market and bringing some good vibes and personal blues to life.
Is there a track off the album you'd call your favorite?
I think "Easy Comes Free" is my favorite, if I have to choose. I love all the songs, I wouldn't have put on any of the songs if I didn't think it was complete or that it represented me or had something to say to the world, but "Easy Comes Free" is at least one of my favorites. It's relatively new and it's very honest and I like the simplicity in it and the way that it's a very simple 'you and I' song but that it's very, very true.
How would you sum up On My Way in one sentence?
I'll quote one of my songs that are on the album - though it's not from the "On My Way" track - because I think it can represent the album nicely.
I'm dreaming fast on a highway to a new start.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
I really hope that people who listen to my music will feel good and happy and also kind of expect the pain in their lives and try to grow from it because that's what we all are trying to do. I hope it makes them be a nicer person, maybe, because it is about love, working for love, and opening our hearts to people around us, close and far, that we agree with and that we don't agree with. Really just always trying to make things good for everyone with compromises sometimes, but with thinking good and thinking with an open heart. That's would I would hope for and, generally, for my music to be a little piece in that structure I hope we build. When I do my music, even if it's coming from a very sad, deep, or painful place, I know that I try to wrap it with also some optimistic elements and it's more about the layers that are trying to transform something hard to something good.
Is there anything you want to add?
I have a show coming up at the Rockwood Music Hall on March 10th and I also have a release show at Joe's Pub at the Public - that's a really great venue in New York - on May 5th.