Australian singer Tamara Varughese is gaining a foothold in the local showbiz scene, writes

Faisal Asyraf

WHILE local artistes are trying to penetrate the international market and make their names abroad, Australian singer Tamara Varughese hopes to find a solid footing for her career in Malaysia.

With the release of her debut album, Love Always, Seek To Understand, Persevere, and her catchy single, Forgotten Love Songs (featuring local rapper JNivus), currently enjoying airplay from local stations and its music video playing on Astro Hitz (Astro Channel 705), Varughese seems to be on a fast track to stardom here with a fresh-sounding tune that draws much flavour from R&B, pop and hip-hop.

The song is also on rotation for AirAsia flights, where her mellifluous voice reverberates as passengers step onboard. Varughese’s musical style flows with poetic lyrics and Love Always, Seek To Understand, Persevere — released early this year — is testament to her artistry. She describes the album as one that “stays true to her heart”.

The person behind her promising career is Rasull Soon (a.k.a. Blue Monk), a local musician and composer, who delves into spiritual and meditation music but is versatile when it comes to other music genres. Rasull is the composer, arranger and producer for her album.

When asked about the inspiration behind her music, Varughese says in an email interview: “People inspire my music and the direction it goes. Hearing people’s everyday stories and their feelings as well as identifying with their experiences — passion, happiness and sorrow — allow me to feel what they feel. It gives me the inspiration to do what I believe I do best. I create my music based on human emotions.”

Events in her life also fuel her passion for songwritings. “Sometimes, bad experiences in life are difficult to speak about. So I channel my energies into my music. Some of my writings reflect real life experiences. Such challenges have given me the strength and much perspective on life, and the ability to keep on persevering to achieve my dreams,” she says.

Blessed with exotic beauty, Varughese’s mum is from Seremban while her dad is Australian. She considers Malaysia her second home. Varughese, who has been singing since she was 4, explains: “My grandfather built a temple in Seremban. I have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins here whom I am very close too.”

Below, she shares more about her music:

Tell us about your debut album.

This album began five years ago and was put on hold due to competing priorities. What is so special about this album is the opportunity that came along when working with the finest and most talented local Malaysian artistes, including JNivus and Rasull Soon.

What is the story behind the title?

I named it Love Always, Seek To Understand, Persevere, in honour of my late cousin Natalie Almond. These were inspirational words that she left us with and I identify with this every day. She was a huge fan of my music and my number one supporter. When she was a little girl, I’d often catch her prancing around the house singing my songs. Sadly, she passed away last year.

A couple of months after her passing, record label Liquid Tree Records contacted me to sign up with them. It was something unexpected and surreal, given that I had wanted this opportunity all my life. I believe Natalie’s spirit is with me always.

What was on your mind when you wrote Forgotten Love Songs?

The song is about the highs and lows of a relationship that I was in. Its lyric depicts the reality of what a relationship is all about — happy times, sad times, being cheeky with your partner and having to make a decision.

What about the other songs?

Southern Winds is my tribute to Malaysia and Malaysians. It tells about the beauty of this country, a place where I call home. Its lyrics are poetic and the music compliments this beautifully. Another song that I identify with is Letting Go of You. It’s about losing the love of your life, one of the hardest things anyone can ever go through.

I understand that you have a sophomore album coming out.

The new album is called Take Back The Night, slated to be released end of this year. It has a much more relaxed, fun and bubbly feel.The debut album is a tad more serious. My writings now have improved significantly over the last year with each new experience.

What is your single, Take Back The Night, about?

It can be interpreted in many ways but it is about a girl who has developed feelings for a male friend and wants so much to show him but she is afraid. She believes that she is not good enough for him as he is sexy, good looking and has a swagger. They have one special night together hanging out and it happens so fast that she wishes that she can turn back the night and show him that she has what he wants in a girl. (Take Back The Night is available on iTunes).

Is there any difference between the music scene in Australia and Malaysia?

Australia and Malaysia are not that different in term of music. They both play very much the same chart music on their radio stations. A slight difference is that Malaysia plays a lot of local music too, which allows local talent to be heard, to some degree. I believe that Malaysia is a little more receptive to international artistes, while it’s difficult to break into the Australian music scene if you do not have the right connections.

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