You know him from Fat Freddy’s Drop, now Dallas Tamaira is striking out with his first solo single in a damn long time, No Flowers.
When I first heard No Flowers, I thought I was hearing a debut single thanks to Dallas Tamaira’s relatively bare Spotify page. What a voice! What a debut! I thought I’d found New Zealand’s Next Big Thing™, until someone thankfully saved me a ton of embarrassment by saying, “you know that guy’s from Fat Freddy’s Drop, right?”
Unwittingly, I’d managed to listen to Tamaira’s first solo single in almost two decades completely without context. The point being: whether or not you know Tamaira from his chart-topping band, No Flowers is a song that’ll stop you in your tracks.
“It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind now for years,” Tamaira shared, after we reached out to find out more about No Flowers. “I always planned to return to the solo thing but life happened and I found myself being more focussed on other things.”
“It’s been an amazing journey to get here, so many amazing musical highs. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to continue developing my gifts on the world stage… and also for the relationship I’ve built with my amazing partner Michelle and my two boys Ra and Noa.”
No Flowers is a slow dance compared to the funkier, groove-laden tunes Tamaira has been bumping along to with Fat Freddy’s since the early 2000s. The instrumentals are also more subtle, leaving ample room for Tamaira’s lyrics to blossom.
The song itself is an ode to “all the strong women” in Tamaira’s life, the opening line crooning: “She’s no flower, but there’s beauty in her power”.
“The original inspiration for the song came from a favourite photo of mine from a book called ‘Washday at the Pa’… it was a picture of a Maori women kissing her baby holding him with her hands covered in flour. It said to me no matter what she was was doing there was always time for a tender moment with her baby.”
“That innate ability to go through hardship and adversity but still show kindness and understanding… it’s actually what we all need right now.”
Tamaira has released music himself before, performing as Joe Dukie over the years, featuring on tracks with The Nextmen or dropping the odd solo single on compilations. No Flowers, however, is one of the few times he’s shared music under his own name. This time, it feels a little different.
A new project, or a return to writing solo, often brings a surge of creative energy – an addictive kind of ‘new car’ smell for songwriters. For Tamaira, it’s been a liberating project to work on – and not simply from a creative standpoint.
“The most liberating thing about this release would definitely have to be learning about how industry works these days. I had a lot of help from some close music industry friends which was crucial to getting the project up and running… but it was my decision to learn as much as I could about releasing music digitally. The work I put into organising and coordinating the release is what I feel the most proud of.”
Not to mention, Tamaira’s time in quarantine was a definite contributor to the slower, softer body of work he’s now laid down. “I made an effort to create not just consume”, he said, “it’s a healthy habit I’ve adopted thanks to lockdown.”
The new tunes don’t end at No Flowers, thankfully. The single marks the first of many alongside Devin Abrams, a producer Tamaira has worked on and off with since he “made an appearance on a Shapeshifter track called Long White Cloud” back in 2004.
“He’s fast and prolific and I’m more measured and specific. He works with an amazing amount of speed and precision… which is really just what I needed to get this first project off the ground.”
“I’m excited as to share the other tracks we have been working on.”
No Flowers is out now. Grab your copy here.