“What is for you will not go by you”
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Tamar leek, I’m a singer, songwriter and artist from UK.
I’m also known in Bahrain as ‘Bahrain Barbie’.
Tell us about your education.
I studied Performing Arts and have a Degree in Contemporary Dance.
How and when did you get interested in singing? What or who influenced you?
I’ve always loved music and performance. I actually never thought I could sing. I was always too shy to. I remember being in assembly in school and watching a few of my male classmates perform some rock songs by ‘No Doubt’ on stage. They had asked me prior to their performance if I would sing with them, but I was too scared to; I was being heavily bullied and I didn’t want the bullies to pick on me further. After I left education I entered a Nationwide TV talent show in UK called BBC1 Dance X. I had to sing and dance as part of my audition and so I just had to pluck up the courage and go for it. As it turns out, I could sing, and I was in the top 16 out of 15,000 people that entered Nationwide! So the first time I sang in front of anyone was on National TV. It was certainly one way to get over my fear! Then, last year, I got asked to perform for Tribfest, a tribute festival in Bahrain. They wanted me to perform as ‘Gwen Stefani’ with a ‘No Doubt’ tribute band. It was the most amazing show and the best feeling. I finally got to perform in front of hundreds of people with the same tribute band/act that I was too scared to perform as when I was in school. “If only those bullies could see me now!” I thought!
How would you best describe the style of your music?
The style of my music varies across my albums. My latest release ‘Change in the Retrograde’ is a debut album from my LA band ‘Reveries’. Its alternative rock with thrashing guitars, dynamic grooves and dreamy melodies. I penned the album in Los Angeles in 2016 and recorded and produced it with Sejo Navajas, Alejandro Speranza, Christopher Roberts, Chris Mullings, Jose Alcantar and Kathleen Wirt at 4th Street Recording Santa Monica, LA. I did an album launch party in July 2022 in Bahrain with an extravagant Barbie meets rock and roll theme.
4th Street is a sand-encased studio that many amazing artists have performed in, including my biggest inspirations, No Doubt and Gwen Stefani.
I also have a self-titled EP, ‘Tamar’, that I wrote in New Jersey with Multi-Platinum Record Producer David Bendeth. It is made up of quirky dance music and pop fusions.
The first record I ever made was a dance, rap and ‘bubblegum pop’ album from my former three piece Girlband ‘Electralytes’. Written and composed in Hertfordshire, England with Charlie Travers, Amy Marrable, and producer Robin Axford. This record is currently unreleased, but we are in the process of releasing it onto streaming platforms soon!
What inspires your music?
To be inspired and to write music I have to feel something, or have been through something to tell my story lyrically and sonically. If it’s a happy song, it can be from a place of euphoric nostalgia or a dream like fantasy. If it’s a sad or heartfelt song, it usually comes from a more personal and vulnerable place, like you are reading a page out of a poetic diary.
I’m inspired by the psychology and connections between humans, love, and the fascinating universe we live in. My Album ‘Change in the Retrograde’ by ‘Reveries’ is about Digital love in an Analogue world.
How and when did you get into modelling?
I began modelling in the UK after working as a promotional model. I specialised in pinup and latex couture fashion modeling. Now I am in the Middle East, I mainly model beauty and makeup, and Abaya fashion. I am very hands on with all my shoots and usually help with the artistic direction and styling. I have a keen eye for what elements create a great aesthetic, and when I find a photographer I have a chemistry with, that’s where the magic happens. You have to have that artistic synergy with people you collaborate with. It’s a bit like finding a great music producer, there has to be that connection and understanding in order to create a beautiful song.
How and when did you land up in Bahrain?
I flew to Bahrain in January of 2018 on a singing contract for ‘Hear and Now Entertainment’. I was band manager and lead singer in a five piece British rock band for the Intercontinental Hotel Bahrain. After the 6 month contact had finished I flew off to New Jersey, to work on my EP, but ended up flying straight back to Bahrain. The island must have some magnetism or something!? There is a beautiful community of musicians here and they are all very supportive. Over time, I have worked hard to establish myself as an artist here, and now I not only am booked out every week with shows, I also produce them.
My latest project is a Vegas style production for Viola in Adliya, Bahrain. Inspired by the showgirls and artists in Las Vegas, but with a Parisian twist of ‘Crazy Horse’ style inspiration. My two fabulous friends and choreographers from ‘Jaff Fit’ Malwina Zawislak (Poland) and Isis Conde (Mexico) are the backbone that create the dynamic production trio with me. We design everything from the costumes, to the propsm, to the choreography in meticulous detail. People who come to our show have said its:
‘The Best show in Bahrain, a Masterpiece’
“This is not just a show, it is Art!”
“Captivating and Entertaining”.
How do you feel to be known as the Bahrain Barbie? How did this happen?
I was noticing I was being called ‘Barbie’ a lot every time I went to my shows in Bahrain, due to my style and doll like aesthetic. I decided to capitalise on it, it’s a lot easier for people to remember for social media, and my followers have almost doubled since.
Who is your daily source of inspiration?
I am inspired by strong females with talent, creative ambition, and a great sense of style.
My three favourite female icons are:
-Gwen Stefani (Singer and Songwriter) @Gwenstefani
-Grimes (Music Producer and Songwriter) @Grimes
-Nadia Lee Cohen @Nadialeelee (Artist, Film maker, Photographer)
What are some of your favourite modelling projects so far?
I adore working with UK Photographer and artistic director Magic Owen every time I am back in England … her styling and talent for producing an image are second to none. She has worked with Carolina Herrera, John Paul Gaultier and Vogue. Her images are expressive, High Fashion, and elevated. @magicowenphotography
I also really enjoy working with Beauty Photographer Safa Alaraibi, from Bahrain. She has great attention to detail and she really allows me to be myself in front of the camera. Her images are vivid, captivating and polished. @safa.alaraibi
One of my long time photographer friends is Paul ward from UK, We would always do crazy themed shoots that were anything from Sci Fi, to Pop art, to Gothic. His images are inventive, technical and imaginative. @paulwardphotography.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I have too many hobbies to mention! I have ADHD so I have an interest based nervous system, which is awesome for creativity and learning new skills. Once I become focused on something, I can be transfixed on that new craft for hours. Recently I got into learning how to music produce, studying Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) ‘Ableton’ and building and recording my own songs from scratch.
I also design latex couture fashion and have a self-titled line of garments created with Catalyst Latex @catalystlatex.
In my downtime, I am a watercolour and oil painter, and I am working on a new art collection. It’s a mix of fine art and pop art. I’d love for my art to be made into NFTs and that is something I am looking into.
Lately, I have been filming and editing beauty videos and content. I am a stage makeup artist and I am starting to make tutorials and vlogs for that. I recently applied for Sephora Squad Middle East 2022, so fingers crossed for me. I love a good competition.
What is your dream?
My dream is that people embrace and appreciate me as an artist and my music. I also have a dream of starting a family, when the time might come.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
Believing in yourself whole-heartedly and being authentic you’re your creative choices. That, and becoming tougher in business and appreciating your worth. I may look like a Barbie doll but I certainly don’t have plastic for brains. If you can harness your own power, you will do everything with conviction, and people will believe it.
Your favourite quote (s)?
I have a lot, but recently it has been “What is for you will not go by you” – I believe it’s a Scottish saying “What is for ye will not go by ye” Meaning: What is meant for you by fate won’t pass you by.
Three things that make you happy?
-My family, especially my sister and my grandma!
-Art and fashion
-Music and Performance
… I think that’s 7 things, but who’s counting!?
Do you have any tricks or routines to stay healthy and beautiful?
Vitamins and Supplements help. I take a lot, not only for their beauty benefits, but also for mental and physical health. Jamaican Sea Moss, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Echinacea, vitamin D, L Tyrosine are my choices.
Also trying to de stress is valuable, nothing is more aging and unattractive than being stressed and anxious. Take time out for self-care, go get a massage, pamper yourself, have a lie in, treat yourself to that pair of shoes you’ve been wanting. You’ll be instantly happier and therefore more visibly attractive. I know its cliché but kindness and gratitude go a long way too, those are very beautiful qualities.
Tell us about your fashion and style choices?
My fashion and style choices are often based around extravagance and Avant guard aesthetics. I love structure and colour, and I like to create monochromatic looks that resemble a doll in a box with synchronised fashion and accessories. I like to express my mood and artistic flair using my hair, makeup and fashion choices. I wear human hair wigs because I frequently want to change my hair colour to match my look, like a chameleon. I work with a tailors to design my stage looks from scratch. I like wearing something that I have visualised and had made, so it is more unique. I watch a lot of fashion shows and keep up to date with new looks and styles, but I don’t like to follow a trend.
What are your favorite hangout spots in Bahrain?
For food I love Monsoon Thai Restaurant @monssonbahrain and Cucina Italian @Cucinaitalianbahrain.
Mago @mago_bahrain, Hazel @hazelbahrain and Viola @vilabahrain are my regular hangouts where I perform.
Your message for CiiN magazine.
There is only one of you in the world, own your power and uniqueness, and make an impact!
See more of Tamar @BahrainBarbie
Photos by @Safa.Alaraibi