- Words Notion Staff
Lagos-born, London-based artist Tamaraebi tells us about his musical firsts.
Daniel Tamaraebi Itombra – otherwise just known as Tamaraebi – is the up-and-coming artist you need to have on your radar.
Due to his parents’ jobs working for the UN, Tamaraebi moved around a great deal. Born in Lagos, the family first moved to Calabar in southern Nigeria, then to Nairobi, Sudan, Tanzania and finally Leeds when Tamaraebi was 16. Having grown up with gospel music (his father’s passion), it was in the UK that Tamaraebi first heard hip hop and “properly fell in love with music”.
Balancing his budding career in music with a law degree at the University of Leeds, Tamaraebi would perform weekly at local open-mic nights, soon bagging a regular Saturday session with a soul-funk band, and then joining a trio, which meant travelling from Leeds to London to record old-school, soul-pop songs.
After he graduated, Tamaraebi secured a coveted two-year traineeship in London, but he realised his heart wasn’t in law, it was in music. From then, he started “trying to figure out how to be an artist”, determined to write and record his own material. For an artist who feels he was “born to sing”, there’s no wonder he puts his whole heart and soul into the music he makes.
Now, Tamaraebi has shared his 6-track ‘Spectrum’ EP, which draws on everything from reggaetón to electronic, R&B, pop and more. It’s delightfully hard to pin down, each track showcasing Tamaraebi’s sonic flexibility.
Notion caught up with Tamaraebi to hear about his musical firsts – from learning all the words to 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich Or Die Trying’ to his first solo at church and more.
First song you ever made?
The first song I ever made is very embarrassing lol. Must have been around 6 and I had just got a spanking for being bad so I made a diss song about my parents! I knew it couldn’t be anything obvious that would get me spanked again if they heard it so I made it low-key positive so I could sing it at the top of my lungs and nobody would know it was about my burning angst.
First song you released officially?
The first song I released officially must have been in 2016. Made it in my mate’s bedroom in Wolverhampton and it’s called “MI5 love” and I was so proud of it. It was about being madly in love with someone in a relationship – v messy but making it was a really fun experience. Also being a part of the whole mixing and mastering process of the song which I didn’t even know was a thing at the time was a very eye opening and enjoyable experience.
First CD or record you owned?
The first CD I ever owned was 50 Cent ‘Get Rich Or Die Trying’! Listened to that CD till it was all scratched up! I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music at home so on the weekends when we would do sleepovers at my cousins I would take it with me and listen to it over and over. I learnt all the raps to every single song! Bear in mind it had 16 songs on it!! Then when my cousin showed me how to put songs on my ipod it was game over.
First time you realised you wanted to be a musician?
The first time I realised I wanted to be a musician I was 10 and I did my first solo at church. So at my church we used to have conventions every year where all the church branches in the country would come together for a big meeting so there must have been thousands of people present. I sang a song called ‘He’ll do it again’ by Shirley Caesar and when I tell you I saw all the grown ups on their feet crying and so touched by the music I knew that this was what I wanted to do. The music evoked such raw emotion, almost like a collective high for everyone in the room and we all felt connected in love . It was also the first time my dad told me well done for singing so I was like ok then this is it!
First gig you went to?
I started going to gigs pretty late tbh. The first gig I went to was Corrine Bailey Rae at 17. She’s from Leeds where I grew up and one summer evening me and my girl were just roaming round town like you do lol and we heard music coming from a bar in town. We went in and there she was singing! There was no security or drama so it was pretty mad we got to see her for free and she was amazing.
First festival you went to and the first one you performed at?
So cliché but the first festival I ever attended was Wireless. The year Stormzy and Drake were headlining. I don’t remember most of it though. That’s how sick it was lol
I haven’t performed at any festivals yet but I’m keen to change that asap. I want to do more shows and festivals and that’s going to happen now that things are getting back to normal and we are allowed outside again.
First instrument you owned?
The first instrument I ever owned was a piano. So in my family we do this thing where we sing pray and meditate together every morning and night so my parents bought a piano and tambourines to accompany the singing. I low-key felt like they just got them to make sure we were awake during prayer time but I reckon that really helped my musical development.
First time you felt like giving up?
I’ve never really addressed the emotion to give up because my whole life I’ve done things I didn’t want to do, all the while nursing my ambition to be an artist. So I’ve always been on the look out for my chance to escape and be a full time musician. So when I finally got the chance I just ran with it and run with it everyday. So I guess the answer to that is I feel like giving up all the time but I ignore that feeling and keep pushing.
First time you felt starstruck?
First time I felt starstruck was when I saw Rihanna when I went on holiday in America. She was way taller than I expected and looked like an angel in person. Didn’t get to speak to her though 🙁
First time you heard your song playing somewhere?
The first time I heard my song playing on the radio was in 2017 when I dropped my tune ‘Innocence’ prod. by Flotheproducer. It was played on BBC 1 Xtra by Jamz Supernova and I can’t explain the feeling honestly. It’s so surreal cos you grow up listening to the radio but you don’t actually know how music gets on there so hearing our tune was amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.