Te’Amir is an acclaimed drummer and producer based in L.A. Heavily involved in the hip-hop, beat making, jazz and soul scenes, he has toured and recorded with Aloe Blacc for the last ten years and played alongside artists such as Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar.
Brought up in Venice Beach, California, Te’Amir Sweeney was born into a musical family where both his parents played instruments, sang, and collected records and instruments. His early memories are perforated with the sounds of living room jams performed with guitars, congas, and tambourine and the Ethiopian music his father played to him. “My father is from Ethiopia.” Te’Amir explains. “He would play me recordings of traditional music and hits from the Golden Era when I was a kid. They were my connection to Ethiopia. I loved it.”
Influenced by the sounds he grew up with, Te’Amir’s music has been inspired by the greats of reggae, blues, jazz and pop such as Bob Marley, Burning Spear, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Michael Jackson. His mother, a prolific singer and songwriter who composed and sung throughout his childhood, introduced him to instruments like guitar, dulcimer, and concertina. His sound has also been shaped by his father’s Ethiopian origins, and the musical influences he brought from there such as Mulatu Astatke—the father of Ethio-jazz. Other sounds of his childhood that have stayed with him are the folk-rock sounds of Paul Simon and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the harmonious isicathamiya male chorus group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as well as the blues icons Lead Belly and John Lee Hooker.
Te’Amir’s practice is informed by his classical training, along with the contemporary hip-hop and soul artists he has performed with over the last ten years. As well as playing with Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, Te’Amir has performed with Kadhja Bonet, Ethio Cali, Mark de Clive-Lowe, YG, Kamaiyah, Kelis, Sahr Ngaujah (Fela! Musical Off-Broadway), Allen Stone, Shafiq Husayn, Quantic and Tewodros Tadesse. He highlights his ten years with Aloe Blacc as a particularly important period in his musical career that graced him with wonderful memories like opening for Bruno Mars on a stadium tour in 2014.
Te’Amir’s music has so far gained recognition from tastemakers such as Jeremy Sole (KCRW) and Garth Trinidad (KCRW), producer and DJ Carlos Niño, Mochilla, Red Bull Music Academy Radio and Okayplayer. Signing to Brighton-based label Tru Thoughts in 2018, Te’Amir is set to release new music on the imprint this year featuring collaborators he has met throughout his career.
Abyssinia rise - EP
Following the release of 'Abyssinia EP', 'Abyssinia Rise' is the next instalment in Te’Amir’s exploration of his Ethiopian heritage. 'Abyssinia Rise' sees Te’Amir intertwine the rootsy, soulful rhythms present in his previous release with sonic beats that push the new EP into an ethereal realm brimming with fresh and exciting sounds.
Back To Abyssinia
Releases 19th October, 2018.
Abyssinia - EP
Highlighting five new tracks of beat driven, rootsy and soulful explorations, this EP is inspired by Te’Amir’s Ethiopian heritage and features the psychedelic vocals of Dustin Warren, strings from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, harp lines from virtuoso Rebekah Raff, Randal Fisher on saxophone and more of L.A.’s finest creatives. Listen to the first single 'Habesha' on the right-hand side now.
The Quest (ft. Dustin Warren)
All That You Need (ft. Dustin Warren)
Randal in Addis
Releases 27th July, 2018.