As Tamaryn, New Zealand native Tamaryn Brown taps into the lush sonics and transporting vocals that made dream pop so compelling during its original heyday in the '80s and '90s and reinvents them for the 21st century. On early albums such as 2010's The Waves, the way Tamaryn re-created the heavy, hypnotic churn of shoegaze was almost uncanny, but as time went on, her approach became more innovative. She added elements of synth pop and Top 40 to surprising and bewitching effect on 2015's Cranekiss, then borrowed from industrial and darkwave to heighten the raw emotions of 2019's Dreaming the Dark. As radically as her music has changed, Tamaryn remains true to dream pop's ability to capture moods in impressionistic but unmistakable ways.
Brown was born in New Zealand and grew up in a halfway home for teenage runaways run by her mother and godmother, who were both Jungian psychologists. When Brown was seven, the family left New Zealand for the United States, landing in North Bend, Washington. An artistic child, she frequently felt out of place in the small town, and left home at age 13. As she spent the next few years roaming across the country, one of the constants in her life was music. In the early 2000s, Brown connected with guitarist/producer Rex John Shelverton (whose other projects include Portraits of Past, the Audience, and Vue). Basing themselves out of San Francisco, the pair began making music together in 2004 and self-released Tamaryn's debut EP, Led Astray, Washed Ashore, in 2008, which introduced the duo's massive guitars and cooing vocals. A pair of singles — Weather War and Mild Confusion/Light Shadows — appeared in 2009 before the release of Tamaryn's first full-length, The Waves, on Mexican Summer/Kemado Records in September 2010. The following year, Brown worked with Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny as Les Demoniaques, who issued a cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Teenage Lust" on True Panther Sounds. Also in 2011, Brown appeared on a Ford & Lopatin 12" that was Mexican Summer's 100th release. She and Shelverton brought more structure and songcraft to Tamaryn's second album, Tender New Signs, which appeared in October 2012.
Following Tender New Signs' release, Brown and Shelverton parted ways due to creative differences. Brown then spent some time collaborating with others, including Jorge Elbrecht (also of Lansing-Dreiden and Violens), with whom she covered Turning Shrines' "¼ Circle Black" as a single for 2013's Record Store Day. She also contributed to Dum Dum Girls' 2014 album Too True and worked with electronic musician Drew McDowall (formerly of Coil and Psychic TV) on the score to Are You Okay, a short film written by Bret Easton Ellis. Brown also reconnected with her old friend Shaun Durkan from the San Francisco band Weekend, and the side project they planned to work on together became the basis of Tamaryn's third album. Featuring production by Elbrecht, 2015's Cranekiss added synth pop and Top 40-worthy hooks to the dream pop foundations of Brown's music. Tamaryn joined Lush on the 2016 North American dates of the veteran shoegaze act's reunion tour. In March 2019, Tamaryn returned with Dreaming the Dark, a harder-hitting, emotionally raw set of songs that once again featured production by Elbrecht. ~ Heather Phares