Infinite Worlds

by Vagabon

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Within the songs of Laetitia Tamko there are infinite worlds: emotional spaces that grow wider with time, songs within songs that reveal themselves on each listen. Tamko is a multi-instrumentalist and a producer, recording since 2014 as Vagabon. On her forthcoming debut, Infinite Worlds, she hones her singular voice and vision with an unprecedented clarity.

“I feel so small / my feet can barely touch the floor / on the bus where everybody is tall,” she sings softly and with caution, as she begin the album with “The Embers.” Driving punk drums pry her song open, exploding it into an anthem that pushes back at entitled people who make others feel tiny. “I’m just a small fish / and you’re a shark that hates everything,” she sings, repeating that line and over and over with strength and power. “I've been hiding in the smallest space / I am dying to go / this is not my home,” Tamko starts carefully on “Fear & Force,” before her finger-picked guitar playing gives way to slow-building synth claps and ethereal harmonies. “Mal á L'aise” is one of the album’s focal points, a five-minute meditation of ambient dream pop, featuring Tamko’s usage of samples; some are samples from a Steve Sobs song on which Tamko was featured, enticing the one writing collaboration of the album. “Mal á L'aise” means “discomfort” in French, Tamko’s first language, and throughout the song she works through different meanings of that word: social, cultural, physical.

Infinite Worlds builds upon Tamko’s stripped-down demos that have been circulating online and throughout the independent music community for the past two years. Her Persian Garden cassette, released in 2014 via Miscreant Records, was a lo-fi collection where she embraced a first-thought best-thought approach, making songs that began with just her voice and guitar. But here, Tamko is a main performer of synths, keyboard, guitars, and drums, at times enlisting the work of session studio musicians. This had Tamko channeling the thoughtfulness of her lyricism into her arrangement and production as well. The result is a wide-ranging eight-song collection that’s pleasantly unclassifiable: hypnotic electronic collages, acoustic ballads, and bursts of bright punk sit side-by-side cohesively, all tied together by Tamko’s soaring voice.

“I write a lot about places, archiving my memories in spaces that I used to be in, spaces I am currently in, or spaces I will eventually be in” she says. “Archiving different moments that I’ve been thinking about, have gone through. It’s not always autobiographical though. It could be about different situations I’ve seen people I love in. Or people I don’t know in. I think that comes a lot from being in different environments. Like growing up in Cameroon. There, we are happy with very little. Then moving here and seeing how the culture differs from where I’m from.”

Tamko’s songs are embedded with her own story and personal history: growing up in Cameroon, her family’s move to New York and adjusting to culture shock. Her family left Cameroon just in time for her to begin high school in the states. She grew up around music and loved it, but finishing engineering school was a priority before music could start to feel like a real possibility. “When I was in Cameroon, my mom would have these ‘reunions’ which was just her friends coming over on Sundays,” she says. “There was a lot of music around me. Traditional West-African songs sung as group chants, hand drums and percussive instruments being played, etc.” To date, Tamko mostly listens to East and West African music nostalgic of her childhood, styles of music that influence her own in subtle ways.

Infinite Worlds was recorded at Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, NY with engineer and co-producer Chris Daly. Tamko and Daly worked closely and tirelessly in his upstate NY studio through the winter into the spring of 2016. The album’s title references a book of poetry by Dana Ward called The Crisis of Infinite Worlds, a book Tamko found particularly inspiring during her recording process, but also very challenging to read: “I had to think critically while reading Dana Ward, it was exciting to be challenged in that way. While I was writing the album, it was a lot of me thinking critically about how to actualize my ideas, and the challenge of reaching proficiency in new instruments. It sort of mirrored my experience reading Dana Ward’s book. I found myself combing his writing over and over and over until I grabbed something from it.”

And as she sat with her songs, she found more and more. “A lot of it is about finding a space for myself, whether it is physical, emotional, social” Tamko says. “It’s about finding that place where I feel most comfortable. And also finding that the confidence within myself can continue to grow. And finding what it takes for me to feel whole through making music.”

credits

released February 24, 2017

Music by Lætitia Tamko
Engineered and Mixed by Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co.
Co-produced by Lætitia Tamko and Christopher Daly
Mastered by Jamal Ruhe

"Mal á L'aise" samples and remixes elements of an untitled song by Steve Sobs and includes a sample of Eric Littman's voice.

Performers:
Guitars, Synths: Lætitia Tamko
Drums: Lætitia Tamko, Casey Weissbuch, Elise Okusami
Bass: Eva Lawitts, Lætitia Tamko, Dominick Anfiteatro
Vocals: Lætitia Tamko
Guest Vocals: Elaiza Santos, Greta Kline, Eric Littman
Special thanks to Chris Daly.

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Vagabon New York, New York

"Vagabon finds various ways to flood the senses. It’ll either come in a harrowing lyric that sticks in the conscience, or it’ll arrive from a soft drone that gradually envelops"- DIY Magazine

"Infinite Worlds" out Feb 24 2017 via Father Daughter Records
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Track Name: The Embers
I feel so small, my feet can barely touch the floor on the bus where everybody is tall.
I’ll surrender myself
To the demons that carry them
I’m sorry I lost your cat, It’ s just that I was so mad.

Run and tell everybody that Lætitia is a small fish.
you’ re a shark that hates everything.
you’ re a shark that eats every fish.
Track Name: Fear & Force
I’ ve been hiding in the smallest space
I ‘ am dying to go, this is not my home

Freddie, come back.
I know, you love Vermont but I thought I had more time.

Freddie, come back.
I know, you love where you are but I think I change my mind.

You say I will never change my ways
You won’ t work for the government that lost your sister.
(We won’ t go back. I know, you love where you are but I think I change my mind)
Track Name: Minneapolis
Holding onto my breath as we ascend on to the twin cities.
I called to talk without wanting to ruin the fun.
It was never the same. I can’t go back to the place where I once was

Old home, where I was born.
Waking up before everyone
Shuffling around until they all woke up
Making a move but it’ s not my own I need to stay but it won’t be long.
Track Name: Mal à L'aise
“you know my kind of high”
Track Name: 100 Years
One hundred years ago,
we walked through the aqueduct to find your old home.

We didn’t know it was falling apart.
Father will sit on his favorite couch
With a tv dinner on his lap.

If we sell this house, I won’ t go.
If we stick around, they won’t know
Will they know?
Track Name: Cleaning House
What about them scares you so much?
My standing there threatens your standing too.
No longer yearn to be gentle, pure, sweet, not intimidating yet sure.

"If I lived the way you did, I wouldn't be here today"
"You only get to say these words because
We enabled it."

"You only get to speak this way because
We once stood for it."

You will raise your voice and talk aloud but once you didn’t have a voice at all.
"If you think you’ re the only one in this self-made world of yours..."

So long , my old friend.

You were only a casualty in my cleaning house again.
You were only a casualty in my cleaning up again.
Track Name: Cold Apartment
I know it’s my fault, I gave up on everything
and I see you happy, It warms my heart.

We said it’s not the end but “she wore that white dress so I changed".

We are not the same but I thought you’d wait.
We sit on my cold apartment floor
where we thought we would stay in love.
Track Name: Alive and A Well
If I were a lonely boy
amidst of how everybody lived before I was this way
I don’t recognize myself, c’ est presque deux ans.

Water me down
Take what you need before it runs out
Don’t check in to see if it’s producing again
Until you’re back to collect.

I would change my hair I’d grow taller
I’d live everywhere that I love
I’d stand strong, my feet will drag on
My odor will linger and it’s something they will long for

I will make a home that is my own
if I move around, I know it won’ t be for a while.

Hole on the ground "Well" (n): meaning to supply
Take what you need before it runs out
Don’ t check in to see if it’ s producing

Take what you need and go
Don’t look back and see if the well is producing any more water
Take what you need and go
I don’t have it in me to give everyone everything
Take what you need and go
Don’t look back and see that the well has all dried up
No more water to give.