Q&A: Tamino looks ahead at his solo North American tour

Tamino’s spellbinding music combines European and Arabic folk traditions into novel creations. As he embarks on a solo tour of Canada and the USA, WRBB’s Julia Sullivan caught up with him to talk Patti Smith, guitars, and favorite hometown spots. Tamino’s sophomore album, Sahar, is due September 23. In the meantime, you can catch Tamino at the Sinclair on September 19 (tickets here). 

Julia Sullivan: What are you most looking forward to on this upcoming tour compared to your previous shows?

Tamino: I’m good — grateful to be on the road again. This tour is quite special. We haven’t played that much in North America so far, so I feel like we’re reaching a lot of new people. The venues we’re performing at are smaller than the ones we play in Europe, so that’s why this is a solo run. The goal is to play big enough venues on our next American tour to justify bringing the band. For now, I’m really enjoying these solo shows. It’s how I started out years ago, so I guess you could say it’s going back to our core.

I saw that you are opening for Patti Smith at the XPoNential Music Festival this weekend. What is that like? Are you a Patti Smith fan, and did anything in her set surprise or inspire you? Have you read her books? 

I’m a huge Patti Smith fan. Not only her music and her books, but also her inherent wisdom are a continuous inspiration, so when I heard I would be opening the stage for her, I was over the moon with excitement. The show went great. As I was playing, I felt like I was on holy ground. Seeing Patti’s concert afterwards was the greatest gift, honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It was both the biggest rock n’ roll and the warmest, most tender, and uniting of experiences.

When you’re at home in Antwerp, where are your go-to spots for checking out new live music, or any of your favorite locals?

De Roma is a beautiful venue in Antwerp; it’s an old opera house in a cool multicultural area of the city. Another favorite place of mine is De Studio, an old legendary theater academy attended by some of Belgium’s finest actors. Now, the beautiful building serves as a cultural meeting place for live music, theater, cinema, and great parties where all these different disciplines are often combined.

What types of guitars do you prefer to play when you’re touring or playing live? Does it change at all when you’re recording in the studio?

I travel with a bunch of guitars. My most trusted live guitar is a Gibson Sonex custom from 1981. It was also the most featured guitar on the first album. Other important live guitars are a Squier baritone, a Telecaster made for me by luthiers from my hometown, and a Manuel Bellido flamenco guitar. Recently I also started playing the oud on stage, which is an Arabic lute. For shows I use a Riversong electric oud — an amazing instrument, very true to the original sound of an acoustic oud. 

For the new record, I mainly used acoustic guitars, an acoustic oud, and piano/keys. Live, I’ll play some of the new songs on the recently acquired Bellido nylon string guitar, while others will be interpreted differently on electric guitars. 

Who would your dream collaborator be and who were some of your biggest influences as a developing artist? Are there any new artists that you love right now?

There’s a few but I’m always scared to jinx any possible collaborations by mentioning them in interviews.

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