Interview with Tamar Davis
18 July 2019
ThePurpleVision is a community for independent artists, and we were delighted when we heard that musician and actor Tamar Davis was releasing a book called "100 Things to Know as an Independent Artist", which is a long overdue, practical account of the things artists need to know as they navigate their careers.
We caught up with Tamar earlier this week to find out more about her inspiration for writing "100 Things...", and her personal experience as an independent artist.
Check out this interview, and once you done, you might be interested in purchasing a copy of Tamar's insightful book, which you can do via her website.
ThePurpleVision: Why did you think it was important to write “100 Things to Know as an Independent Artist”?
Tamar Davis: I started writing my memoir in 2013 and as time passed, I started having this idea to write down what I observed amongst fellow castmates about the do’s and don’ts of the business. At first, I started writing down my revelations and in the back of my notebook, the list grew and grew. Often times, I would hear people say, “how did you know to do blah, blah, blah.” To me, it was common sense but to others it was fascinating. For instance, sound engineers or people who build the lights for a show every single nigh often tell me that actors never interact with them, let alone introduce themselves. And when I do it, they are completely shocked. Therefore, one of the notes in the book is: Get to know your sound engineers.
TPV: Can you tell us a little bit about the beginning of your career, and how that has informed this book?
TD: The beginning of my career, professionally, was when I began performing and recording in a female group called “Girls Tyme” aka Destiny’s Child. I say the “beginning of my career” because that was the first-time I stepped inside a recording studio, flew on a plane, and began performing in major music conferences such as in San Francisco. Every single moment from my childhood to now has formulated this book. And not just the book, but the twenty-page workbook I have created for educational institutions. Although my training, vocally, began young, NO ONE really taught me about some of the topics in this book outside of trial and error and of course attending/graduating from USC’s Thornton School of Music.
I am often baffled at the music conferences that still don’t teach and go in depth about taxes, 401k, unemployment, retirement, health insurance, how to complete certain forms, etc. I’m even more appalled at how many webinars full of high costs and teach absolutely nothing. And through my frustration, I knew something needed to be done.
TPV: In your experience, is it always better for an artist to be independent? Or would individual circumstances change how you view things?
TD: Being independent or signing is semantics. It’s each person’s choice. However, I enjoy, yet cry at times, at the freedom in which I experience to create and produce how I like without anyone taking the credit and holding their hand out for a percentage. It’s sickening to do all the work for someone to say they own you, your product or your gift. For me, I enjoy working alongside people...as a partnership, per se, but not someone who speaks for me as if they are my power of attorney. This has never worked out for me. I am a woman who asks all questions and if makes no sense to me, 9 times out of 10, it’s fluff. For others, some may admire being told what to do, where to be, who to talk too, who to work with, etc.
But that can cost you in the long run, especially when you weren’t invited to the negotiating table to begin with. My advice: as long as you are at peace with decisions made on your behalf, then carry-on.
TPV: One of the helpful reminders you give your readers, is that “perpetuity means forever”. Is it common for artists to have regrets later on in their career because they don’t fully understand the meaning of what they commit to when they are younger?
TD: Almost every day we are seeing artists quit this business. And when you get into candid conversations with some artists, it always points back to “I didn’t know what I signed.” At what point are we going to dismantle this slave/master mentality? Ownership allows you to fully walk in the power God gave you. Why give away your gift for someone and their children’s children to benefit off of it while your children are one day away from becoming homeless? I feel artists need to live for tomorrow and not today. I know it’s easier said than done. Trust me, I understand. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
TPV: Artistically speaking, who has been the driving force for your career and inspiration?
TD: My parents, hands-down. My father and I have a bible talk almost every day while my mom and I are constantly speaking about the perils of both our industries and how we visualize them better. They are more than just my parents. They are visionaries who value not just how I see things but how we all can see things for the better. To this day, I have been assisting my dad on a new venture and my mom and I are producing our 4th College, Career and Empowerment Summit for high schools in the metropolitan Houston area. So, we are constantly helping each other. Not easy, but if we can’t rely on each other then who can we rely on?
TPV: If you could pick one piece of advice contained in your book for someone stating out in the industry, what would it be?
TD: Very hard to answer. I read the book at random times and sometimes think, “When did I add this?” lol. But my favorite number is #50: Getting mad at people is not an option when you know it’s a spiritual warfare. Therefore, address it spiritually and watch the natural change.
TPV: Finally, could you let us know what you’re up to now, both in the studio and on tour?
TD: I am going back on the road with Broadway show “A Night with Janis Joplin” and new music will be coming out in the fall. Four of the songs have been mixed and mastered and working on a mega event for 2020. As soon as I solidify the details, you will be one of the first to know.