MTV Iggy describes Tasneem as “a multi-talented singer, who has a background as vivid as her wardrobe. She’s Kenyan and Ugandan with roots in India, born in Canada grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in New York and finally ended up in L.A”. This amazing dynamics is translated in her music as she playfully jumps from earnest singer – songwriter to rocking social commentator. Her initial foray into music came at an early age when now classic albums like Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Sade’s Diamond Life inspired her to pick up the saxophone. She’s been writing and performing music in LA and NY ever since.
Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBest. How and why did you get into music business?
I really started out just playing around lil clubs in New York City. At the time I was writing a lot of poetry then as well and they would have these “slams” at different venues downtown. This one spot, Nuyorican Poets Café, on the Lower East Side was popular, which kind of opened the doors for me to start performing around town. “Why” is more of a philosophical question for me. I couldn’t help it really I’ve always been drawn to performing and music, and always had a desire to become a professional musician.
Talk to us about your song “The Animal Days Are Gone”.
“The Animal Days Are gone” is about ones “old self” versus ones “new self”. When I moved to LA I went through a hibernation period of sort and when I woke up I was changed. I left my wild New York Animal Days behind me. I must admit I’m kind of the California girl I’d never thought I’d become.
What is your most memorable or biggest gig thus far?
My most memorable gig is singing back up and playing guitar for Kelis on Saturday Night Live. There’s nothing like being on the stage that so many of your idols have been on. Last summer i was so honored to be a part of Grand Performances 25th anniversary here in Los Angeles. I got to share the summer with some amazing artists from Africa Like Seun Kuti and Baloji. There was probably close to 2000 people in the audience for my set certainly my biggest and most gracious audience yet. Super grateful (smiles).
Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to discuss?
I’m scheming on my next EP and hoping to start recording before the end of this year, really eager to get into the studio. There are so many songs i have written since i was in my teens that I have yet to record.
Why do you describe yourself as a “singer of tales”?
Truth Be told that’s my Father’s description. He always calls me a storyteller and says that my songs are stories. It somehow stuck it suits me so i’m going with it (smiles).
What are your leisure time activities?
I love the ocean so i spend quite a bit of time by it. But recently I’ve gotten super into this web series on youtube called Wigs so i find myself sucked into the computer hanging out on the internet waiting for the next Episode. But I’m such a fool for Yoga I spend most of my free time taking classes. Its grounding and uplifting at the same time. I’m super blessed to be practicing here in LA w/ some of the best yoga teachers in the world.
Dogs or cats?
Thank you and wishing you the very best.
For more details and to listen to some of Tasneem’s numbers visit www.iamtasneem.com www.soundcloud.com/iamtasneem
Her music is available on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tasneem-the-ep/id449889235