8 Aug 2020

Tami Neilson live at Roundhead Studios

From RNZ Music, 2:10 pm on 8 August 2020

Canadian / New Zealand singer Tami Neilson says her first chance to sing with an orchestra was so emotional it made her "feel like crying".

The RNZ Music Roundhead Sessions continued on Music 101 today with a special performance by Tami, supported by a 12-piece orchestra, recorded especially for RNZ Music at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios in Auckland.

"It's one of those things you dream about... From the time I was a kid I've always been a huge Judy Garland fan and Shirley Bassey ...the photos of them recording in a studio standing in the middle of this circle and an orchestra surrounding them.

"It's something every vocalist dreams about but I've never actually got to experience it."

Her album Chickaboom! (released in February) was written to be performed by a three-piece band - a stripped-back sound to keep touring costs down.

In 2019 Tami recorded a te reo Māori version of her track 'Cry Myself To Sleep' for the album Waiata Anthems - a collection of hit NZ songs re-interpreted into Māori. As a Canadian she was very nervous about getting it right.

For her Roundhead performance Tami was joined by Troy Kingi. Both performed at the Folk Alliance in New Orleans in January which helped them "connect a little bit more" and he was "the perfect dude" to accompany her, she decided.  

Tami said she's inspired visually by artists like Dolly Parton, David Bowie, Prince and Lady Gaga, which is why she enjoys her big hairstyle and false eyelashes that help her step into her role as a musician.

"I can remember doing a gig and I forgot my eyelashes and the whole gig was off ...you step into this dress or outfit and do the big hair and the eyelashes go on. I think it's kind of like a ceremony ... and it helps you switch gears."   

Women wore a lot of hats in their lives, and they may as well be stylish, she said.

"Visuals are just as important as the sound and the audio and the music you create. It's another way to express your art."