When she isn’t working with Bret Easton Ellis or creative directing fashion shoots, New Zealand singer Tamaryn pens dark, drowned-out pop anthems that lurk in the mind.
Red tracksuit top by KAPPA from BRIAN PROCELL.
Taken from the Summer Fashion Issue of Wonderland.
It’s impossible not to get sucked in by Tamaryn’s doom-pop sound: her first two albums The Waves and Tender New Signs matched Slowdive-esque shoe gazing with Mazzy Star’s wistfully melodic lovelornness – all wailing hysteria and darkly urban prose. Her yet to-be-titled upcoming release, she tells me from New York, is notably lighter in tone. The Queen of Darkness acknowledges that although there are more songs that are “upbeat” than usual, several “go darker than anything I’ve done before”. The album is a product of her collaboration with new band mate, Ariel Pink collaborator Jorge Elbrecht – a long-time hero of the singer’s. “I got to work with people who were capable of channeling the influences that I loved,” she says. “This is an album that I’ve wanted to make for a very many years.”
Tamaryn, a New-Zealand native, grew up around the residents of a home for abused children, founded by her mother and godmother. Exiled from the country, she holed up in San Francisco before finding the flat she lives in today, in Queens. It’s there where she writes most of her lyrics – fables on failed relationships and healing. “I think that as a younger woman, writing about love you get a lot of repeating themes… unrequited love, disappointment, loss,” she says. “When you’re the constant victim, you’re the person that’s perpetrating a lot of the negativity.” It’s this kind of nagging negative energy that Tamaryn feeds off when she’s writing. She’d be the first to admit it’s what fuels her creative process, and that, even more broadly, “it’s good for rock and roll… you also have to look at yourself and realise how much pleasure you get out of feeling pain… there’s a lot of that going on at the moment.”
And if anyone knows the lengthy, painstaking journey to personal artistic enlightenment, it’s Tam. Since 2013, she’s been the Creative Director at the helm of all the Dum Dum Girls’ editorials, flyers and video output – a job she says has made her feel more in control at shoots, which are 100% self-styled. “I look at Courtney Love and The Ramones, where a uniform can be a really strong thing,” she says. “If you commit to one haircut for the whole of your career, you can become an icon.” Her most recent shoot – the one here, for Wonderland – pays homage to an equally iconic early 90s England. “The styling for this was sort of a tribute to all things baggy and Manchester. Matt Irwin and I love the 90s – Kappa track suits, The KLF. I look like Ian Brown’s twin!”
Tamaryn’s Dum Dum Girls gig got her a job with Maybelline, who last year contacted her about directing a 30 second commercial. The video sees models walk broodily down a runway, their figures lit up in alien, luminescent green. “It also kind of looks like a couple of Chanel runways [a few seasons ago] – glow-y and such… otherworldly,” she describes. “I’m a big fan of visual arts, Nick Knight [and] SHOWStudio. It’s a big dream to be associated with them in a certain way and you can see that in the video.”
Her next collaborator was none other than American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis, who asked her to creative direct a short film starring the Dum Dums, the March-released noir, Are You Okay. “Less Than Zero is one of my favourite movies and his outlook on fame and abuse of power really intrigues me,” she says of the film adaptation of Ellis’ debut novel. “Working with him was a dream come true.”
It’s no real surprise that Tamaryn is a huge Lana Del Rey fan. In a similar way to the “Video Games” singer, she plays on the Lynchian conceit of the doomed female pop star, that everything, no matter how hard she tries, turns to glorious misery. “People will look back on Lana Del Rey and realise that she was one of the greatest artists of our time,” she asserts. “What is interesting about [her] is that she has vulnerability; she is kind of messy and weird. In fact, she’s more authentic and it makes people believe she’s the opposite.” There’s a lot to be said for that.
Grey cotton long sleeved jumper by KLF.
Emerald nylon jacket by STONE ISLAND.
Orange nylon jacket by STONE ISLAND.
Photographer: Matt Irwin
Fashion Editor: Coquito Cassibba
Words: Elinor Sigman