Gear Guide: Vagabon’s Lætitia Tamko On Building Her “Full Band” Sound
Vagabon is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Lætitia Tamko.
Born in Cameroon, where she first developed her love of music, Tamko and her family relocated to New York when she a teenager. A few years later, as a student pursuing a degree in engineering, she began performing around town and little by little, came to think of her art as more than a hobby. Her first EP, the lo-fi, guitar-and-vocal-driven Persian Garden, was released by Miscreant Records the fall of 2014.
This week, Tamko will release her first full-length LP, Infinite Worlds. Recorded and co-produced with engineer Chris Daly (Diet Cig, Porches) at Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, NY in early 2016, the album contains a dynamic mix of upbeat indie rock, minimalist electronics, samples, and introspective fingerpicked guitar-driven ballads that together leave the listener guessing (but eagerly anticipating) what sounds will come next.
Though Tamko brought in studio musicians and guest vocalists for certain parts, the bulk of the tracks on Infinite Worlds—guitars, synths, drums, keys, and of course, vocals—are hers alone. In the past, she primarily wrote music on her guitar and added additional layers from there, but the more she’s gained access to different instruments, the more her creativity has been opened up in new ways. “I think my songs starting out as “folk songs” applies to this first record, Infinite Worlds, and that has derailed from that with newer material i’m toying with. A lot of that boils down to resources and access. The only instrument I had until very recently was a guitar so all my songs were written with it. These days I’ve been writing on bass more than guitar,” she says.
Tamko’s fiercely independent approach to recording that stems in part from her experiences performing solo locally and on the road, using three instruments and a sampler to create a fuller sound. “Touring alone allows me to think of different arrangements for my songs and how to keep them new for myself as well as the audience, especially if there are people who have seen me perform multiple times on tours and are familiar with the song. It’s always fun to rearrange and add dynamics to allow a fresh perspective,” she says.
Upon the release of Infinite Worlds, we asked Tamko to share some of the equipment that helps her create her sound. The album is available for preorder now, and will be released 2/24 by Father/Daughter Records.
Earthquaker Hoof Fuzz Pedal: I love Earthquaker and I visited their offices in Akron, Ohio last time I was on tour. This is one of the pedals I tried while I was there and it’s been on my gear wish list ever since. I’m a fan of this fuzz on a bass.
Joyo’s Sweet Baby Pedal: A super cheap low-gain overdrive pedal that I can’t play without.
Roland SPD-SX: Across the board, the best drum sampler!
Logic Pro 8: I can’t get myself to update. [I use] Logic Pro 8 for all my beat making needs and my overall recording needs.
KORG MS-20 Analog Synthesizer: I get my favorite bass synth sounds from this synth.