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Tamas Wells: Discussing the ‘Angelic Voice’ Amidst an Unequal World

2024.4.12

『Tamas Wells Japan Tour 2024』

#PR #MUSIC

Tamas Wells, originally from Australia, was raised in the household of a painter father, where his musical journey began with repeated listens of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967). His upbringing, marked by a keen awareness of societal inequalities, led him to relocate to Asia. Despite the cultural shift, his music maintained an innocence reminiscent of Sigur Rós and delicate melodies akin to Sufjan Stevens.

Last year, Tamas released his long-awaited album “To Drink up the Sea,” navigating through the challenges of the pandemic and the loss of his father. This latest release showcases his evolved songwriting, enriched by a diverse range of instruments. As he gears up for his forthcoming tour in Japan, we explore his creative process and the inspirations driving his newest musical endeavor.

Tamas Wells
Australian singer-songwriter based in Melbourne. His second album, “A Plea en Vendredi” (2006), garnered attention through word of mouth upon its release in Japan, with his captivating voice earning him the nickname “angelic voice.” His latest work is “To Drink up the Sea,” released in December 2023. From 2006 to early 2012, he spent six years in Myanmar, where he worked as a health worker and fieldworker for HIV/AIDS education at a local NGO. He is currently employed as a researcher specializing in Southeast Asian politics at the University of Melbourne. In 2021, he published his first book, “Narrating Democracy in Myanmar,” focusing on politics and democracy in Myanmar.

Exploring the Origins of the “Nick Drake meets Sigur Rós” Voice

-You were born and raised in a town near Melbourne. What kind of place was it?

Tamas: It is a very small town by the sea, about two hours drive from Melbourne. My father was a painter and painted landscapes, and he didn’t play music when he was working. So the town and my house were very quiet.

-How did you get into music?

Tamas: At first I took piano lessons at my parents’ suggestion, but I didn’t like it that much and didn’t put much effort into practicing. Then, when I was a teenager, I suddenly decided I wanted to play the piano. Later, when I went to university, many of the friends I made were active in the Melbourne music scene, and suddenly the world of music opened up before my eyes.

Tamas Wells live soundtrack from his visit to Japan in 2010, with his first Japan tour in 10 years on April 20 and 21, 2024

-Did you not listen to music before then?

Tamas: I spent most of my time with my family when I came home from school, so I never listened to records with friends or went to live shows. However, I did listen to the cassette tape of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that my parents had over and over again. That’s about the only thing I listened to on my own.

-When listening to your songs, I feel the influence from the folk music of the 1960s, but it’s surprising to hear that he only listened to The Beatles.”

Tamas: Well, at my first concert, one of the audience members told me after the performance that I sounded like Simon & Garfunkel, but I had never heard their music. Since I started playing music, I keep discovering great 1960s artists.

For example, I discovered Lambert & Nuttycombe when I went to Japan about 15 years ago; they write the most beautiful melodies. I also enjoyed The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” last week.

-Why did you choose to play the acoustic guitar when all you listened to was The Beatles?

Tamas: Partly because I felt a kinship with these singer-songwriters when I saw them perform live, but also because of practical considerations. I lived in a college dormitory, so I couldn’t make a very loud sound, and I didn’t have much money, so the only instrument I could afford was an acoustic guitar. If I had been able to afford an electric guitar, I might have played different music.

-Acoustic guitars were probably better suited to your personality as well, weren’t they?

Tamas: Yes, I think so. I have been a shy person since I was a child, and I think it shows in my music. Some musicians like to get attention at live shows, but I’m not that type.

From the performance at Komyoji Temple in Kamiyacho during the 2014 Japan tour Photo by Ryo Mitamura

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