Natalie Chami (b. January 27, 1987) is a proud Canadian-born Lebanese American who adopted the TALsounds moniker in 2009 for her explorations in the drone, ambient, and improvisational disciplines. Since choosing the TALsounds moniker, Chami has spent over a decade building a brilliant career as a solo artist in Chicago and beyond. Through her masterful synth work, operatic vocals, and nuanced sculpting of mood and atmosphere, Chami’s music strikes a balance between the extremely personal and the selflessly transportive. She spirals effortlessly through a never-ending carousel of solo improvisations and collaborations with other artists, and she seems to evolve with each performance, no matter how lofty and grandiose or humble and intimate those performances may be.
After a series of tape releases on labels like Hausu Mountain and Moog’s own physical imprint, Chami released her first TALsounds LP, Love Sick, with New York’s Ba Da Bing Records in 2017. Her second LP, Acquiesce, arrived in 2020 on NNA Tapes. Performed entirely by Chami and produced by Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave), Acquiesce is a perfect amalgamation of Chami as composer and improviser. Pitchfork said of Acquiesce that it “always goes deeper rather than bigger,” and that the songs “feel uniquely designed to pull you into them.” Other commentary on the music of TALsounds has appeared in publications including The Fader, which acknowledged that Chami “has spent the past decade developing a reputation as one of America’s most compelling DIY artists,” and the Chicago Reader, which named Love Sick one of the best albums of the decade and identifies Chami as “a crucial contributor and even one of the faces of the city’s contemporary avant-garde electronic scene.”
Whether she’s opening for Merzbow or Mary Lattimore, Tim Hecker or Tortoise, Mdou Moctar or Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Chami is adept at drawing audiences into her entrancing performances and leaving them wide open to receive whatever comes next. Chami has performed across America and Canada, and she traveled to Europe in 2018 for a string of dates with Chicago composer Haley Fohr (Circuit Des Yeux). As a member of free music trio Good Willsmith, she has toured the US and released nine albums since 2012, including the LPs The Honeymoon Workbook (2014) and Things Our Bodies Used To Have (2016), along with Exit Future Heart (2018), a collaborative LP recorded with Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa—all issued through Mexico City-based label Umor Rex. Chami also regularly collaborates in improvisational ensembles with musicians from Chicago and beyond, including frequent tour-mate Whitney Johnson (Matchess) and Brett Naucke. Johnson and Chami will release their first collaborative LP as Damiana, entitled Vines, through Hausu Mountain in Summer 2021, and Naucke, Chami, and Johnson’s collaboration, Mirror Ensemble, will be out on American Dream Records in Fall 2021.
Outside of her work in live performance and music production, Chami was a founding faculty member at the Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago’s premier public high school for music and the arts, where she served as the Vocal Chair and developed curriculum for a variety of courses, including vocal technique and music technology. She also oversaw the development and implementation of anti-racist and trauma-informed curriculum at ChiArts, and she built relationships with various organizations in order to provide opportunities for students, including music conservatories and universities around the world. In addition to maintaining a private voice studio for students since 2010, Chami was tapped in 2019 to be an influencer and ambassador for the online musical instrument marketplace, Reverb. Leveraging her individual expertise and community collaborations, Chami now works with a talented Product Specialist team at KORG USA, where she creates curriculum on synthesizers, hosts frequent educational live streams on KORG products, and produces marketing videos on various synthesizers and effects. She also scored her first film in 2020, Head to Head, which follows women experiencing traumatic blows to their self-image after unexpectedly losing their hair due to Alopecia, Lupus, or chemotherapy. Head to Head received accolades from the Beloit International Film Festival, the Minority Health Film Festival, the Heartland International Film Festival, and the Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival.
Acquiesce is available now on NNA Tapes, and TALsounds will tour with Mdou Moctor throughout the western United States in Fall 2021.