Tamara Stewart Butterfly Interview
The metaphor of a butterfly, breaking forth and starting a new life is the inspiration behind multi-Golden Guitar nominee Tamara Stewart's new single, 'Butterfly'. While the song itself is a new beginning, it also showcases Tamara's own re-emergence onto the Australian country scene. This is by far the most honest work of Tamara's career, and is not only a new direction musically, but a new start for the singer who lost a staggering 41-kilo in the past two years and turned her life around. "I've been right, I've been wrong. I've learned the hard way to let go and move on, leave my cocoon behind…butterfly…"
It was a daunting process turning the spotlight so deep inside herself, but an important step for Tamara who was ready to start anew. Losing over 40-kilos was only just the start of the personal evolution that has seen this revered songstress transform her life. "It's taken me a long time to feel comfortable enough in my own skin to write a song like 'Butterfly,'" Tamara says. "I'm really proud and hope it can be a great inspiration to people, men and women, evolving and changing. It's not only my story I'm telling, it's a song about all who have triumphed or are on the way."
Tamara's moment of truth came at the Golden Guitar Awards two years ago. Walking the red carpet as two time nominee for Australian Country Music Unites, [as producer, writer and coordinator of the 'Tangerine Sky' project that raised funds for those affected by the bushfires], Tamara found herself wanting to hide from the spotlight instead of reveling in it. "I should have been overcome with excitement and pride for what we had been able to achieve for the project, but instead I wanted to run away," she says. When a group of photographers gathered to take press shots, Tamara stood with intense feelings discomfort and embarrassment. "I just wasn't comfortable," she says. "I knew it wasn't ME standing there, I was overweight, very sad, and wished someone else could have represented the project other than me…I was very unhappy with how I felt and looked. My focus was not on the right things. Something had to change."
The butterfly metaphor was an image that was in Tamara's head from the start. It represented so much more than just change, searching deep within herself and penning a track that is so intensely personal was cathartic. "It was a bit of a coming of age for me," Tamara says. "This is my fourth record, I've had lots of great experiences, but I've also made bad decisions. This is about learning those lessons, and putting it all in perspective. At the end, I still love what I do and I'm still passionate about making music. 'Butterfly' to me is a celebration of evolution. There is no darkness in it at all; it is a celebration of finding myself musically. It is the most personal song that I've ever written."
Tamara continued to challenge herself with 'Butterfly'. While she has always been extremely hands-on, producing and co-producing her previous material, she realised that 'Butterfly' was something different and she needed external assistance to open its wings. "I knew with 'Butterfly' I had to let it go," she says. "I needed someone I trusted with it, I've known Matt Fell for about 12 years, so I was very comfortable being creative with him. It's always a bit daunting trusting someone else with my music. I feel like all the curtains have now come down. This is a new chapter." Recording the track with Matt Fell at Love Hz Studios in Sydney and gearing up to lay down more tracks for the forthcoming record, Tamara says she is very excited about how the new material will be received.
Due for release in 2012, it will be the most honest of her career and offer a rare, and private view into this incredible musician's life. Tamara is excited about the direction it is taking, the honest slant and the co-writes she has been working on with the likes of Graeme Connors and Drew McAlister. As her fourth album, and the first on the other side of her growth as a person and a musician, Tamara is ready to let audiences see the other side of her. Tamara hardly needs an introduction to the country music scene. With three acclaimed albums already under her belt, and songwriting accolades such as penning number one hits for country music royalty, including her involvement with the 'Tangerine Sky' project, she has had an envied career to date. Add to that the fact that she is 'songwriter in residence' at the Academy of Country Music teaching the songwriters of the future how to approach their music, and that is a pretty clear validation of how well respected this beautiful artist is by her peers.
Now, as she embarks on the next part of her career, with new material and a new outlook on life, Tamara's main hope is to inspire others. If the feedback so far from 'Butterfly' is anything to go by, she certainly seems to be doing this already. Audiences find Tamara's story resonates with their own lives, and she regularly has people thanking her for 'telling their story'. To coincide with the release of 'Butterfly' and all it means to her, Tamara opened up an online portal dubbed 'The Butterfly Project' where people facing similar challenges and struggles can meet and provide support to each other. Tamara says when she was reshaping her life, she was aware at how much she needed support, and she hopes 'The Butterfly Project' becomes that place for people in similar situations. "It is about people who are dealing with things and finding the positive in every day," she says. "It is about making a decision and following it through, and it is nice for people who don't have the resources to be able to be there for each other through a support network."
'Butterfly' is an important step forward for Tamara Stewart. She's not only grown as a musician, songwriter and person, but has broken out of her own cocoon and is ready to spread her wings and fly.
Tamara Stewart's new single 'Butterfly' is available now on iTunes and through Tamara Stewart's official website www.tamarastewart.com.au
. Her fourth, as-yet-untitled, album is due for release in early 2012.
To see the Butterfly clip go to YouTube
Interview with Tamara StewartQuestion:
How would you describe Butterfly? Tamara Stewart
: For me, Butterfly is a song of triumph, it is a very positive song about living and learning and getting on with life. Butterfly is the most personal song I have written, without a doubt, as it has drawn on literal things I have experienced, in my life. What surprised me about this song is that I have never, in my career, had so many people say "that's my song". Butterfly has had the opposite effect, I thought it may have been limiting but it is honest and contains things I needed to say, the song has turned out to be the song that people are connecting with, the most. It has been a beautiful thing that people can be inspired with the song about change and triumph.Question:
Do you write all your own songs? What's your inspiration? Tamara Stewart
: Yes, I write all my own songs. Butterfly specifically was inspired by my own experiences and one of the most significant things which has been a point of interest for people who have watched my career over the last ten years. I took a little break from music and gained quite a lot of weight, I am open and happy to talk about it; in the last 12 months to two years I had a turning point and lost over 40 kilograms and came back with Butterfly. Butterfly is a really positive and beautiful new chapter in that respect as well as in life, in general. Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Tamara Stewart
: That is a good question because I have a really broad interest in music. I think P!NK is really cool, if I want that vibe. I love Mary Chapin Carpenter who is a beautiful country music songwriter but also my music interests go right across to border to Rob Thomas, Shannon Noll and then other artists such as Eminem, some of his tracks feature on my gym playlist. I am a songwriter and because of that I really appreciate lyrics especially in artists such as Eminem and the rock genre because I enjoy the way they craft their lyrics. The country music artist I really love is James Taylor, he is one of my favourites.Question:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Tamara Stewart
: Oh My Goodness - that's a hard question! My classic influences are Carole King and James Taylor - they have provided the real roots of my influence. To be able to collaborate with either Carole King and James Taylor would be something that would etch really deep in me and probably encourage myself to reach deeper.Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Tamara Stewart
: Yes, I have actually and more not so much the music side but the other side that contains the business which is hard work. There are a lot of things about the music business I don't enjoy that much, let's put it that way! The travel and being away from loved ones and family is really tough and I think if I was to give it up, that would eventually be the reason I do. I don't think I could turn my back on music, I would have to find a different way to do it because being out on the road and being away is a little bit too hard and the business side can really take its toll. In regards to sitting and playing music, I don't think I could ever walk away from that, completely.Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Tamara Stewart
: I don't know! I love the process of recording, especially as a songwriter because songwriting is the one thing that is my trade and my true passion. The recording process I love because we get to create the songs and make it happen; however I love performing and seeing the feedback. I would find it harder to walk away from the writing and recording process than the live side, once again though it is very hard to choose.Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Tamara Stewart
: In regards to my career the biggest challenge has been to stay focused on the music, to keep writing songs and stay inspired. It's important to focus on the reason we do it and that goes across the board in life and people can possibly relate to being able to stay focused on the reason why we do, what we do and not get bogged down with the details. Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Tamara Stewart
: I have had lots of favourite parts and lots of exciting things happen as a musical artist. I was involved in a project called Tangerine Sky where I produced the song that bought a whole lot of the industry together including Troy Cassar Daley, Tommy Emmanuel, Anne Kirkpatrick, James Blundell and whole bunch of artists who came together to sing a song I had written, for the Australian bushfires. Tangerine Sky was a project that was layered with so many positive and good intentions from people and to be able to give back to those who were suffering, to put something back was incredible. Tangerine Sky received a couple of Golden Guitar nominations and it was very exciting to be a part of Tangerine Sky, it is a highlight for me. Although, I have been very lucky to have numerous Golden Guitar nominations which keep me motivated. Question:
What's a typical day like? Tamara Stewart
: If I am not doing interviews or recording I am mainly writing. If write a lot for other artists records and if I am not writing for my own record, which is coming out in early 2012, I am writing for other artists, as well. I will either travel to the other artists workstations or they will come to my office and write Country songs all day - it's very fun! Question:
Do you have a website fans can visit? Tamara Stewart
and the Butterfly Project Page is a positive online space for men and women to share their inspirational stories www.Facebook.com/thebutterflyprojectpage
Interview by Brooke Hunter