Stories from the Rotterdam Poppodium: Tamara Woestenburg

One can say many things about Rotterdam, but not that it lacks artistic potential. This series aims to introduce you to Dutch musicians in Rotterdam who are definitely worth listening to.

On February 26, I spent the evening hours in a state of romantic wonder. Tamara Woestenburg’s EP launch at De Unie in Rotterdam was an intense performance, with what are often personal songs brought across by a strong voice, and an original instrumentalisation consisting of violins, bass, piano, drums, and saxophones.

Tamara’s EP, named just that, EP, is produced by Marco Capiello and mastered by Kramer, notable for producing songs from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

Tamara Woestenburg refers to herself as a "singer-songwriter with a twist," as she composes her own pieces accompanied by her guitar. Her music can be placed within a "free pop" genre, but there is always something more than that. An edge, a depth of the voice, the guitar chords and the lyrical content of the songs which touches listeners.

Tamara’s emotional pieces allows the audience to "take out what’s theirs from her songs," as the singer emphasises that the most important aspect of her music to her is the audience’s experience.

Tamara’s music has developed from both a fascination for music and a thorough look into it. She grew up with the radio always playing in the background, but it wasn’t until she was 12 and heard Nirvana that she was blown away by the sound.

She then taught music to herself by listening to bands and musicians that had influenced artists she liked, becoming a bit of a "music nerd," as she described herself.

Music opened up a fascinating world for Tamara. In her songs, her love for David Bowie, Soundgarden, The Cure, Joy Division, PJ Harvey, among others, comes across strongly. I personally got blown away by her performance of Jeff Buckley’s "Mojo Pin."

Taking her interest for learning about and expressing herself through music to another level, Tamara Woestenburg graduated from the Rotterdam Conservatory in 2010. The same year, she won the "De grote prijs van Zuid-holland" (The great prize of South Holland) for new talent.

Previously, in 2006-2007, she had attended a master class by Mike Garson, a piano player who worked with David Bowie, and Daniel Lohues, a Dutch singer and composer, who both appreciated Tamara’s musical talent.

Tamara Woestenburg

Tamara Woestenburg

Tamara began performing with her band "The Parents," which played at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Magneet Festival, and in concert halls across the Netherlands and Belgium.

Still, it was Tamara’s name that people knew more, and soon she began composing music on her own, and then collaborate with musicians who could complete the pieces.

On stage, Tamara Woestenburg appears as a blond, big-blue eyed girl, who soon proves to have a very powerful and clear voice with a wide note range. She is delicate with songs such as "How I miss you," can lose control and turn rock-star with "Bang, bang," or be somewhere in-between, with a composed rawness playing the piece "I cried so much I’m thirsty" (yes, the songs are in English).

The music scene in Rotterdam, and the music industry in general, brings obstacles for Tamara. In Rotterdam, she states, local bands are neglected for the sake of foreign ones, which are seen as more "exotic." At the same time, it is hard for any talented musician to get noted without having a solid network of contacts in the music field.

As for the music industry, "well, it’s an industry," Tamara says, adding that "the industry tries to have new success based on old success, while the artist wants to develop something new, which is why you have a conflict." Fostering talented artists herself, Tamara organises a regular singer-songwriter evening in Rotterdam’s Café Voigt.

At the moment, having recently launched her EP, Tamara is busy managing herself, and taking care of the music distribution. Her wish and goal as an artist would be to have the freedom to focus on writing and performing.

More about Tamara Woestenburg
 Official website
 Latest CD

Catalina Barzescu


Catalina Barzescu

Catalina is a media and journalism graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and an avid writer and reader. Instead of returning to her Transylvanian roots when the studying was done...

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