Bahrain Confidential gets to know Bahrain-based British singer-songwriter, artist, and fashion enthusiast, Tamar Leek – more popularly known as Bahrain Barbie.
Bringing a little glitz and glam to the Kingdom’s rock music scene, Bahrain Barbie (@bahrainbarbie) recently released her first alternative rock album in Bahrain titled “Change in the Retrograde” with her Los Angeles band, Reveries. The album features a harmonious mixture of dreamy melodies with hard hitting guitars and compelling lyrics.
Tamar has previously worked on a self-titled extended play (EP) album with multi-platinum producer David Bendeth in New Jersey. She has also worked with producer Robin Axford on the album “Electralytes” with her all-girl band.
Can you tell us about yourself and your Bahrain story?
I came to Bahrain nearly five years ago on a contract with the InterContinental Regency Hotel. I have stayed here ever since, working freelance.
I worked really hard on building my brand and establishing myself as an artist in Bahrain, which has become my second home, my family. It’s a beautiful community and I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support. So, launching my album here just felt right.
Tell us about your new album. What was the inspiration behind it?
I wrote and recorded the album seven years ago with Sejo Navajas at 4th Street Recording, Los Angeles (@4thstreetrecording). My very good friend Kathleen Wirt, who owns the studio, described the album as the representation of “analogue love in a digital world”.
The vocals on this album are very raw and emotive; it was written during some difficult times in my life. There is a ‘cry’ sound to my vocals on the high notes in some of the songs – I can tell you now that it was genuine. Essentially, it is like a poetic diary that I have left open for people to experience.
Each song tells a story about deception, heartbreak, and anguish caused by the betrayal of true and authentic love in today’s modern world. Digital love is like dense and compacted pixels, showing you a mere image. It can be manipulated and distorted. But, around the pixels is just space and emptiness. Real ‘analogue’ love is sweet, authentic, and infinite.
How would you describe your style in this album?
It’s an imaginative rock record with thrashing guitars. I love the dichotomy of having something very pretty and light next to something dark or alternative. I feel it gives that element of surprise. I like to surprise people.
Most people who came to my album launch party at Calexico (@calexico_bahrain) on 25th June, 2022 said they were expecting me to sing ‘bubblegum pop’ because of my alter ego “Bahrain Barbie”. The party had a Barbie doll theme, all pink and sparkling, and then they went inside and BOOM! Surprise! It’s alternative rock and roaring guitar solos.
Who are your favourite artists in Bahrain?
There are so many amazing bands and artists here, I love them all. The music community in Bahrain is very friendly and supportive. I really admire musicians who write their own original music, so I’d have to say two of my favourite artists are Ali Malik (@acemalik) and Mo Zowayed (@mozowayed). I also like bands such as Jack Rabbit Slims (@jackrabbit.slims), Rooftop Band (@rooftop.band) and The Legendz (@the_legendz).
What do you do outside of singing and writing music?
I am an oil painter. I am in the process of creating my first art collection. It’s going to be a blend of pop art and fine art.
I also work closely alongside Catalyst Latex (@catalystlatex) with designing clothes and my collection. I am known for my fashion in Bahrain, and I really express myself through my look and creative vision.
During the pandemic, I started to self-teach and learnt how to produce my own music. I am still in the very early stages of learning and understanding it. Mixing, mastering, and EQing requires a strong skillset and a tuned ear. Which, among other aspects, will take time and dedication to become good at.
Finally, are there any shows you have coming up that you’d like our readers to stay tuned for?
I have a fantastic Broadway-style show at Viola (@violabahrain) every Wednesday called “Burlesque: Vegas Show”. It is like nothing anyone has ever experienced in Bahrain. I have residencies at MAGO (@mago_bahrain) and Hazel (@hazelbahrain) as well.
I am considering competing in Bahrain’s Battle of the Bands in August 2022. I would also like to perform with my band here representing ‘Reveries’ again soon.
‘Change in the Retrograde’ is out on all streaming platforms worldwide. To check out the album, click here.