california dreaming with the san francisco singer.

by liza darwin

It's impossible to just sit back and listen to Tamaryn passively. The San Francisco duo [made up of lead singer Tamaryn and guitarist Rex John Shelverton] instead create expansive, airy tracks that lure you in and envelope you entirely. Thanks to Tamaryn's dreamy voice and Shelverton's slow-stirring guitars riffs, their self-produced debut album, The Waves, is a total-body experience.

We chatted with Tamaryn in between CMJ shows.

How's it been going so far?

We've been really busy, it's been very intense. Maybe it's not for everyone else in N.Y.C. doing CMJ, but we're coming from much-slower San Francisco. It's amazing, though.

How long have you and Rex been working together?

It's been a few years since we've been doing it full-time, but Rex and I have been working together casually for a lot longer. When we first made our EP, I was in New York and Rex was in San Francisco, and we'd fly back and forth and record songs; it was a very slow-moving process. Eventually I moved out to San Francisco permanently.

Let's talk about The Waves. How did it come about?

Everything has evolved in a really natural way; we saw how our sound was going in the beginning and just went with it. I wanted the album to have a very cohesive feel that you can listen to from start to finish and totally immerse yourself in the sound. It took 16 months to write and record the whole thing, which seems like a long time these days.

Many people have tried to classify your unique sound by drawing comparisons to other bands. What do you think about that?

I totally understand it, because everyone needs a point of reference. We're not trying to say that we're doing totally new, futuristic kind of music. And in a way, drawing comparisons makes us part of a type of history.  But on the other side, I think that we take in an entire spectrum of influences that make a different type of music that's totally "us." 

Did you guys set out to create this particular type of sound from the start, or did it evolve over time?

A little bit of both. Our sound has been really defined from the beginning. The only thing that's changed have been the actual arrangements, the chords, and the way that I sing; those things have developed naturally over time.

Do you have any pre-show rituals before you hit the stage?  The way I go about a live show is that I feel so moved by the music, I assume people will go along with me. We're not trying to win everyone over, we're just trying to put on the best show possible. People will either come with us and enter into the whole experience, or they won't.

If you had to create a mixtape for NYLON, what would be on it?

The Black Ryder- they're label mates with me, and they make music that I feel is contingent with us.

No Joy- it's 2 girls who play heavy music. They're kind of shredders.

Light Asylum- we're playing with them on Friday at Coco 66. They're awesome.

Dominant Legs- they're a fellow San Francisco band who's totally original. Their influences are all over the place. Ryan,  the songwriter, has a divine, beautiful voice; Hannah Hunt, who does keyboard, is beautiful and is the star of our next music video!

Hear more Tamaryn here.