INTERVIEW: Tamar Haviv

Photograph courtesy of Ron Haviv/VII   Art by Kazoo Studios 

Photograph courtesy of Ron Haviv/VII  
Art by Kazoo Studios 

We got the opportunity to talk with the lovely Tamar Haviv about her new album You and Me Without Pajamas, as well as her experience working on the film Red Knot!

For anyone who hasn't listened to your music, how would you describe your sound?

imagine….nellie mckay, ani difranco, brett dennen, kate nash & ingrid michaelson having a picnic on leonard cohen's lawn and then taking a bit of a stroll to the local carnival or street fair.

how's that ? :)


What do you think makes your music unique & stand out from the rest?

Hmmm, well that would depend on who was listening to it. Music & voices & intonation & the vibrations of a voice & the words chosen & placement of that word in a song - all of these things be them huge or subtle are going to have ways of penetrating into the hearts and ears where they are meant to & will affect whom they are meant to-

You know I really do believe there is room for all of the songwriters and singers to be out there singing their songs and being heard in the world - and in this way, I think there are people who will be attracted to some music/artists and not others - and that that's okay. And I think it's great to be able to keep your mind/heart/ears open when it comes to hearing new artists & genres but if one has already  predetermined  what they like or don't like, it's sad but - so be it.

I don't think it's up to me to decide what makes my music unique or more memorable than anyone else's -

I hope that what my songs bring can enter one's daily experience and offer something that soothes in some way. Be it a joyful comfort - or a melancholic strength to sit with you (the listener) through a difficult moment.

So, maybe instead of  'standing out from the rest' - I'd really like the songs to stand beside you, to be there for you, with you.


You released your debut album, You and Me Without Pajamas on July 29th. What song were you most excited to show all of your fans?


Ah!!!!! City Lights you little rascals! This is a tough question!

Honestly, and I really do mean this - I have to say, I'm excited to share the entire record. I don't have a favorite...that answer would be different every minute of the day. I know people can buy individual songs but there is a bit a journey to the record for sure & I'd love to share that journey with you and your readers!!


Were there any influences behind the album?


This album ranges over a period of time where I had different relationships with very different kinds of people - so, it really investigates those courtships and the simultaneously tender & excruciating landscapes we can create & extinguish so feverishly at times.


What was the writing and recording process like for you?


The writing process was interesting because I let myself write in what I could even call a very 'dumbed-down' way for part of the record - although i'd say the root of my writing is folk based, at the time I had been putting all my energy & heart into 6 minute or so songs that were quite elongated & poetic and they said every possible thing around and of pertaining to 'I like you' other than 'I like you' - and so when it came to THIS collection of songs it was super fun to just be like screw it, I LIKE YOU - & maybe that makes me sound like I'm 5 but that's actually the most raw honest, real and direct thing I can possibly say right now. And yes I can describe the longitude of your birthmarks and the weight of your head resting on my palm and la di da di da but life is short in this moment and all I really want to do is shout how i feel from the rooftops - & that might be cliché but that's ok- and so, I gave myself permission to just be unabashedly simple really, to just drop all the flowery stuff and go straight to the core - at the very least it's super fun, I encourage you to try it!

Ah, recording! o my goodness- I'm quite nomadic & this record was beyond nomadic .... LA, Brooklyn, Ithaca, Woodstock, the ocean, New Paltz, Liverpool England, NYC, I'm sure I'm missing someplace -

It was honestly crazy - and it all worked out beautifully - but I couldn't have planned it- I couldn't go back & re-trace the steps & I certainly wouldn't choose to record this way again - although!!!! I got to work with the most talented people in the industry for certain & for that I feel incredibly grateful & blessed.


On another note, you were recently apart of a film called Red Knot, what was that experience like for you?


Yes!!! I'm very excited that the film Red Knot just premiered!!! I'm really proud of the writer/director Scott Cohen who is a beyond talented Artist & a beautiful man of integrity.

Through one of the most outstanding beyond belief stories of my life (please ask me when we meet in person!!!!!) I was blessed and humbled to join a ship to Antarctica for 1 month where I lived with some of the most exceptional filmmakers, photographers, artists, actors, beings, & writers of our time. On the ship, although, I was primarily working on & with another brilliant photography/film project, I got a chance to look over the shoulder of Scott Cohen's crew and all the great work they were doing- I also got to be in a few scenes and had a bunch of speaking lines with one of the lead actors Olivia Thirlby (Juno),  which ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor- happens to the best of us, but I am still in the film in a couple of parts & someone even gives me a 'good job Tamar' shout out,  if you listen closely enough ;) If you're a 'mad men' fan you will also be pleased to know that Vincent Kartheiser also stars as the leading man in the film.


I will tell you a secret!!!!! when we first got on the ship we were asked to stay in our cabins while they were loading up our gear- & this was on the most southern tip of Argentina with a Chilean crew & I was trying to be super 'good' and follow the rules- I don't know, maybe I was the only one? Cause once we were told we could leave our cabins to explore the ship - we all ended up in the Lounge area at some point- just, you know, cozy loungy - ship like- framed photos on walls of early ocean explorers -seemingly normal for a ship- it was decked out in a ship way- that I didn't question as I'm not on an Argentinean/Russian cross continent ice breaking ship everyday- and this is where we ended spending ALL of our 'off' time - in this lounge area- anyway, the last day we are leaving the ship and I see some of Scott's film crew members pulling these framed photographs off the wall only to reveal other artwork underneath!!!! I was like --- ahhhhh? And they were like ahhhh? " This is part of THE SET, we put these up the first minute we got on the ship" (you know, when I was being 'good' & waiting in the cabin) -

So, this might not seem like a huge deal to you, I don't know- but basically- for one month- I was not only living on this crazy out of this world unbelievable ship but I was also living within a film set that I didn't even realize was a film set!  - it would have been one thing if I had realized but I didn't even realize !!!! It was pretty funny & great, to top the unbelievable off :)


Anything else you would like to add?


Thank you so much for spending time with me City Lights! I really appreciate your fantastic site & fab coverage!


Be on the look out for my video release of "The Good Has Won", which features the extraordinary, being Damien Echols. Damien is a phenomenal writer who is also known as one of the "West Memphis 3". He was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and was on death row for 18 years. Thankfully he was released although is yet to be exonerated.

He recently released his second book written with his wife Lorri Davis through penguin called, Yours For Eternity: A Love Story On Death Row -

I am grateful to have him in my music video and am excited for you to see it!