Tamar Berk doesn’t need your permission


Tamar Berk

While still living in Chicago, singer-songwriter Tamar Berk performed in the power pop group Starball, known for its 2001 hit “New Year’s Day” (“I Wanted to Write a Holiday Song”). She toured an electro-punk duo with her husband, then a Small Faces cover band called Deep Joy, then Sweet Heat, then The Pynnacles, and her band Paradise recorded three albums, including a rock opera. After moving to San Diego via Portland, his solo album The restless dreams of youth came out last year.

A new single and video for “Your Permission” will be released on February 24. “It’s the first single, of two, from my next LP which should be out in April or May. I had written this song as a one-minute vignette, as a kind of little experiment a few years ago. There are days, even periods in my life, when I just want to stop having to be myself, get out of myself and be someone else – so I don’t have to face my anxieties, problems, and the usual obsessive thoughts in my directing. The very thought of not being in my head, even for a single day, seems so incredibly liberating. My thoughts can be quite intrusive and annoying, and I guess it would be nice to not having to deal with being myself for a day or making decisions. The title of the song “Your Permission” came to me thinking of the times when I find myself apologizing for having expressed my opinion, to need something or simply to defend myself. My first instinct is always urs to apologize, which I find myself doing sometimes. I see other women doing this too. The title is ironic. I guess I should say that, because, well, you never know.

Berk wrote and produced the song, in addition to playing piano, guitar, Wurlitzer and strings. “The other local musician on the track is guitar virtuoso Chris Davies” from Chloe Lou & The Liddells and The Penetrators. “My drummer, Matt Walker [Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage] recorded his parts in his studio in Chicago, and Matt Thomson [Maita] played bass on the track while at his studio in Portland. I’m lucky to have Sean O’Keefe (Plain White T’s, Fall Out Boy) who mixed and mastered the single, and who, incidentally, mixed the track in his studio in Chicago.

Since the album’s release, Berk has been showered with recognition. Her world-class single “Shadow Clues” received positive reviews in Northern Transmissions and Stereo Embers Magazine. The track also appeared on the 2021 edition of the Local Music Compilation Series Staring at the sun, and video versions include a Small office gig duet rendition and a live studio performance on episode 12 of the local music internet program MusicSceneTV SD. Recently, the Woody Radio (Cult of Woody) Mike Lidskin’s Entertainer of the Year named her this year’s top performer.

She spent New Year’s Eve wearing her favorite old dress. “It was 2001 and I went to the Grammys in this gold dress. I stayed with a friend who lived in the Hollywood Hills, and we took a limo and I felt very important. I sat way up in the nosebleed seats, but I was in heaven. That year Eminem was playing “Stan” with Elton John, who accompanied on the piano and sang the part of Dido. I was literally dying : crying, shaking and losing her mind. Madonna opened the show with ‘Music’ and NSYNC performed a really boring song, and Faith Hill was the queen of country with her song ‘Breathe’. Then we partied and I drank and ate at every party, and then somehow I lost the people I was with, so I wandered around alone, going from room to room, who was filled with a lot of people from the music industry. I kept drinking and chatting and soaking it all up. I’ll never give that r obe, because of that night and those memories.


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