The Saudi-born, LA-based musician shares the foundation of her eclectic voice with a playlist spanning genres and decades

Tamtam wrote “INSAK” with the universal in mind. Her latest single explores the relationship between two quintessentially human experiences: lost love and time. Saudi-born and LA-based, the musician has built an eclectic body of work, spanning genre, instrumentation, and language. She switches easily between English and Arabic, pop and classical and soulful sound. At the artist’s center is her lyrical prowess—hard-hitting and raw for any listener who happens upon her work, traversing themes of rising above cultural barriers and following one’s own intuition before anything else.

Following the release of “INSAK,” and ahead of the launch of her much-anticipated EP, Tamtam curated a playlist for Document composed of her go-to tracks. From The Killers to Layla Mourad, she cites a range of influences—key to the development of a uniquely singular voice.

“Bektoub Ismak Ya Habibi” by Fairuz
I’m a huge fan of Fairuz. Her voice is silk. She takes me to a life I could never imagine. [When I listen], I feel like I’m in a movie. Her lyrics are so poetic and beautiful; here they are in translation.

“Human” by The Killers
There’s something about The Killers’s music: When I listen to one song, I want to listen to the whole album. They’re that kind of band for me. This song gives me energy. It makes me think and get lost at the same time.

“Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This song is a mood. It’s simple and energetic, and Karen O has that too-cool-for-school energy we all need in our lives.

“When You Were Young” by The Killers
I had to include another song by The Killers! “When You Were Young” makes me feel so many emotions: nostalgic, happy, carefree. It makes me want to dance, and at the same time, the lyrics are so deep, which I always love in a song.

“Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant
The guitar, the live instrumental production, the existential crisis… This song inspires me and makes me want to record a whole album, with purely live [instrumentation], tomorrow!

“Ya habibi taala (Mon amour, viens vite)” by Asmahan
The strings in old Arabic songs get me every time. Asmahan’s voice has that desperate, heartbroken sound to it, and you don’t have to understand the lyrics to know that she’s broken, but she’s strong.

“Music is art; it can be anything you want it to be and everything you want to imagine.”

“Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)” by Kid Cudi, MGMT, and Ratatat
Vibes, vibes, and more vibes. I love the production and I feel like this song is genreless. It’s a mix of so many different minds coming together to create pure magic.

“Ana Alby Dalely” by Layla Mourad
As you listen, this song completely changes. It sounds like two different songs. I love that about it, because there are no rules. It reminds me that music is art; it can be anything you want it to be and everything you want to imagine. I love Layla Mourad’s Arabic trills. The chorus reminds me of music from old cartoons. The operatic voices at the end of the chorus are so cool and unique—I wonder if Freddie Mercury heard this song and got inspired by it.

“Still Loving You” by Scorpions
Simply melodic genius. That guitar intro cuts deep.

“Bitch” by Allie X
Gotta end with this song—it gives me so much power. It sort of has a vintage sound in the pre-chorus, and then [becomes] super modern in the vocals. Such a cool contrast. Allie X is a badass.