The first born son of a Flemish, anthropologist mother and an Egyptian, salesman father who met in the West-African republic of Guinee, 20 year old Tamino Moharam Fouad’s first artistic love was theatre. ‘It must’ve been the first bite of the performance bug’, he explains. ‘I always had an interest in translating feelings, emotions and ideas into something else, something beyond the casual state of affairs’. Intuitively, his mother named him after the hero and prince in Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’.
The search for ‘alternative worlds’, as Tamino describes it, also guided him towards literature – ‘there’s seldom a quiet moment where you won’t find me reading a book’ – and, eventually, music. While in high school Tamino was your typical fourteen year old punk rocker, playing in bands inspired by bands like Billy Talent. An adolescent phase, looking back, because at home his mom’s record collection opened up his ears and mind to other, alternative worlds. The pop genius of The Beatles and Serge Gainsbourg, for instance, or the smoky, blues bar ballads of Tom Waits’ ‘Closing Time’, and the heartfelt, empowering music of Malian songbird Oumou Sangaré.
‘According to my uncle, as a youngster, I was always scanning the car stereo for oriental flavoured tunes’, Tamino says. This is where the bloodline comes in. Some of the music he was exposed to at home were the albums of his late grandfather Moharam Fouad, a renowned actor and singer in the Arab world, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. ‘My mother played his music around the house, and I remember being particularly taken by his live recordings with orchestra. There’s a certain kind of raw emotion in his singing, and in Arab music in general, that is mostly absent from Western music. Even when the tunes are kind of cheesy, there’s always something real, something sincere embedded in the voice. Complete surrender, much less calculated than most Western music. Oum Kalthoum, one of the most famous Egyptian singers, also had it; that intense kind of testimony about a past, scarred life of hardship and poverty. Just like Edith Piaf, someone else I very much admire’.
When, near the end of high school, Tamino added Radiohead and Jeff Buckley – ‘ever since I was singing in punk rock bands, people kept dropping his name’ – to his roster of artists to be inspired by, it become obvious: ‘I wanted to pursue music. I could either do it by myself in my bed room, or I could broaden my horizons, meet and work with new people, learn new things’. He left his Antwerp suburb, moved to Amsterdam and enrolled in its music academy.
Come 2017, and the horizon is looking bright for Tamino.
After huge support from all levels of the musical community in Belgium, and joining this summer’s line-up for Rock Werchter, Belgium’s largest, most renowned festival, Tamino is now looking out internationally with his music.
Tamino’s debut EP for Unday Records is not only a showcase of his impressive vocal range, but also an impressionistic tableaux of his many moods and talents. Introspective yet bold. Otherworldly yet firmly grounded in tradition, electrifying yet embalmed in finesse.