Laetitia Tamko makes poetic, punk-inflected music for “weird girls,” as she likes to put it, “those who don’t feel immediately accepted or seen for the beauties they are.” Admittedly, Tamko, 25, knows the feeling well. Born in Cameroon, she moved first to Harlem at 13 with her family, then to suburban Yonkers, New York, feeling like an outsider all the way. At 17, she taught herself to play guitar, then bass, synth, and drums. But, figuring she didn’t have what it takes to make it in music, in college she turned her attention to science, with a double major in electrical and computer engineering. “I was good at it, and you have to be an adult,” she says. During her junior year, at the urging of a friend, she posted songs she’d written on Bandcamp under the moniker Vagabon, and received invitations to play at New York City venues. “I didn’t think it was possible to be a professional musician, but I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer for my entire life,” she says.
With the release earlier this year of the critically acclaimed debut album Infinite Worlds, she has earned her rightful place in the male-dominated world of indie rock—which she proudly, and stylishly, assumes. A self-proclaimed tomboy offstage, onstage Tamko likes to play up her femininity with flirty dresses and platform sandals. “I love that it’s not what people expect to see in the punk-and-rock scene.”
Tamko wears a Chanel shirt; her own nose ring.