The X-Factor’s Tamera Foster talks touring, pre-stage nerves and keeping herself grounded with Wonderland
Tamera Foster is somewhere on the A34, half way through this year’s X-Factor tour. A permanently nervous wreck on the TV show, we wonder how she’s coping with rehashing her performances, night after night. ‘Its going great!’ She gushes. ‘I absolutely love being on tour, its such an incredible atmosphere – oh, and yesterday I saw a mountain for the first time which was really beautiful!’
Last year’s X-Factor was spectacularly unremarkable. The nationwide search for number one was marred by such a lack of interest that organisers tried to lure passers by off the street to audition. Louis’ irrelevant ramblings – ‘you remind me of a young ‘Robbie Williams/ Frank Sinatra/Beyonce’ – had become a parody while Gary’s tedious boardroom criticisms were entirely undermined by the fact his own record label had folded months earlier. The only thing worse than the judges was the contestants: Luke Friend, (the gap-yah type who’d ruin any social situation with some sort of acoustic rendition of Skrillex) to the only thing that might sully East London’s name long enough to curb gentrification, Kingsland Road.
But then, like the Jesus of antiquated talent shows, came Tamera Foster. Initially auditioning with her BFF, the 16-year-old Kent girl returned a week later looking like a secret Knowles sister. She was a fully-fledged urban star, more ‘Roc Nation’ than ‘Teddington Studios’. Yet despite her obvious pop potential, the X Factor still turned Tamera into a bundle of nerves.
‘I was so nervous’ she reminisces. ‘It was the most terrifying thing.’ At her solo audition Tamera sang four words from the opening bars of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ before going completely blank. She remembered the lyrics (with the help of closet Whitney fan Dermot O’Leary), but the tendency to draw a blank continued to plague her throughout the live shows. Forgotten words and missed cues spoilt otherwise spellbinding performances. ‘I had a million different things going around in my head – dances to remember, which camera to look at – there are all these cues you have to catch, you’re constantly thinking while you’re singing.’
Vehemently determined, Tamera tried hypnotherapy and meditation to conquer her nerves. Post X-Factor, her performances have been word perfect. On tour she’s come into her own, happy at last and in a position where she can finally embrace being a teenager.‘It’s totally new to me, but I feel comfortable now’ she admits.
During her X-Factor stint she remained unloved by the public, and things went from bad to worse when tabloid newspapers dredged up all they could from her past. Incidents of her bullying a classmate did the rounds, as well as old tweets referencing marijuana. Despite being the closest thing to an IRL pop-star X-Factor’s ever seen, her talent appeared to seemingly slip through the net.
Yet Cowell himself has donned her ‘the British Rihanna’, and she’s just been signed to his label, Syco, a deal that none of the higher placed contestants were offered. Ultimately, she was too great to let go, though the format totally failed her. Tamera tries to be diplomatic about it. ‘I think some artists that have disappeared from the show are people with good voices who can’t really showcase it because you’re just doing covers. Not many people really know what kind of artist they are… I left knowing what to do, knowing what my sound is and they type of person I wanna work with – X – Factor gives you a platform, it’s up to you what you do with it .” Did the show give her any advice for real in the industry? “Nicole [Sherzinger] – told me the main thing is to not get ahead of yourself, always keep grounded.’
Grounded she is. When she’s not sashaying across the country on tour, she’s been doing all she can to prepare for her first recording sessions. ‘I’m writing poetry and short stories. I’ve been listening to a lot of music and just trying to get my head around learning how to write.’ What does she anticipate the finished product to sound like? ‘I guess if I had to put some artists together I’d say Jhene Aiko slash Drake slash John Legend.. a lot of soulful R&B, old school versus new kind of thing, that’s my vibe. I want to be really experimental.’
If Tamera’s imaginary EP has you watering at the mouth, you’re not alone. In Nicole’s words, “look into the future five years and this is going to be the most successful star to have ever come out of the show.”