Totemo Reveals Musical Memories, Dream Collaborations + More
While bands like Massive Attack and Portishead brought trip-hop to the public forefront, artists have long been using those electronic methods and sounds, incorporating them into their music to introduce the style to a new generation.
Welcome Totemo to the conversation. The Tel-Aviv artist brings together beats created by the U.K.'s Nightmares On Wax with her emotional and honest lyrics, crafting songs that not only draw you in but also take you to another place. All the ingredients that go into her recently released debut EP, 'Heavy as My Dreams,' via BLDG 5 Records, show us just where the future of pop music can -- and should -- go.
Diffuser had the chance to chat with her about her musical beginnings, the musical experience in Tel-Aviv and what 2015 has in store for the up-and-coming artist.
What's your first musical memory?
As a kid, sitting in the back seat of the family car, driving somewhere at night looking out the window and listening to '70s and '80s music like Wings, Chicago, Air Supply and ELO.
When did you realize you wanted get into music?
It was a process for me. I always loved music. When I was much younger, the creative need in my life was channeled toward other paths. I used to write stories, and I used to draw and paint. When I started playing the guitar as an adolescent, I found I could unify two of my favorite forms of emotional expression -- music and words. I think that was the first click. Today, I can’t imagine my life without music as my creative outlet.
You're from Tel-Aviv. What's the music scene like there?
It is very diverse and rich -- a lot of musicians creating in any possible genre -- and I think the demand for music is also big. People here are very much into going out and experiencing new music.
How has the city influenced your sound?
I’ve recently read David Byrne’s 'How Music Works' and I especially enjoyed the part about how mediums and venues influenced the music that was being made throughout the centuries. I could very much relate to that. Growing up in the suburbs, the music I was writing at that time was influenced by the fact that you need to be quiet at 3AM as these were the times I wrote and recorded my songs. Since I moved to the city, I feel like I’m not as limited. Also, I think the city, being hectic and crowded, can “inflict” ADHD upon its inhabitants. I think this is another reason for my need of richer, ever-changing sounds.
There are electro and R&B elements to your sound. Who were you listening to when you were making the EP?
What's 'Heavy as My Dreams' about?
The song, in general, is about expectations. I prefer not to interpret my own work, because it might take away the listener’s chance to interpret it himself, which is part of the thing for me. I love hearing new interpretations and meanings people find in the lyrics I write, which I haven’t thought of before. It makes me see the song in a new light, and I love this back and forth. For me, this is partly what music is about.
Aside from 'Heavy as My Dreams,' what's another track on the EP that you're really excited about performing?
‘Opposite of Charm’ is very much a pop song. It has a strong chorus, which is thrilling to sing. I’m always happy to play and sing this song. It encourages me. All songs on this EP are truly fun to play. We’ve started performing in Tel-Aviv recently and seeing the audience respond is so moving each time.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
I’ve been listening to the Books for years, I love their body of work. I’ve got their box set! I’ve also been following and loving Zammuto’s solo work, so I think it would definitely be a dream to do something together.
Fill in the blank. "Totemo is best listened to while ... "
Walking in the city with your headphones on in the afternoon when the sky is just starting to change colors.
What are your plans for 2015?
I want to say touring, but due to a recently discovered illness -- breast cancer -- I would probably be more grounded than anticipated in the upcoming year. I plan to take this time to work on new material, and I hope to see you in one of our shows in 2016.