On her album Sorry I Haven’t Called, Vagabon (aka Lætitia Tamko) reinvents herself once again with the most playful and adventurous music of her career. Co-produced by Tamko and Rostam (Vampire Weekend, Haim), the album features twelve vibrant tracks she wrote and produced primarily in Germany that channel dance music and effervescent pop through her own confident sensibilities. “This record feels like what I've been working towards,” Tamko says. “It's completely euphoric.”
Vagabon, aka Lætitia Tamko, released her new album, Sorry I Haven’t Called, September 15, 2023, on Nonesuch Records. The album, co-produced by Tamko and Rostam (Vampire Weekend, Haim, Clairo), finds Tamko reinventing herself once again and features the most playful and adventurous music of her career, as evidenced by its lead track and opening song “Can I Talk My Shit?” and accompanying video, directed by Zac Dov Wiesel.
“I didn't feel like being introspective,” Tamko says of Sorry I Haven’t Called. “I just wanted to have fun.” Following her intimate 2017 debut Infinite Worlds, the New York artist favored expansive and evocative electronic textures in her breakthrough 2019 self-titled follow-up Nonesuch debut album. But her latest LP feels like a wholly new era for Tamko, one that’s transformational and uncompromising. Across twelve vibrant tracks she wrote and produced primarily in Germany, she channels dance music and effervescent pop through her own confident sensibilities. These conversational songs are alive and unselfconscious, a document of an artist fully embracing her vision and reclaiming her joy.
The first words she sings on the album are, “Can I talk my shit? / I got way too high for this.” It’s a statement of purpose for the rest of the album that this is an unapologetic artist. “This whole record is how I talk to my friends and how to talk to my lovers,” says Tamko. “I think honesty and conversational songwriting can become poetry. There’s beauty in plainly speaking without metaphors and without flowery imagery.”
The story of Sorry I Haven’t Called started in grief after her best friend died in 2021. This devastating and unexpected loss unmoored Tamko but also gave her a newfound clarity. “The things that I thought I cared about, I no longer cared about,” she says. “I had a realization that I need to make sure to feel everything that comes my way.” She decided to sell her things and move to a small lakeside village a few hours north of Hamburg in northern Germany to process everything. “There's no linear path to grief, and everyone handles it differently, but uprooting my life just felt like exactly what I had to do, ” says Tamko. “I needed a place to think and go through my discomfort privately but to also explore the newness and urgency I was feeling in my life.” In the village, her phone didn’t work and there were no close grocery stores or restaurants, so she spent her time alone working on music.
Despite the palpable absence in her life, her new songs were her most disarming and ebullient yet. The first one she wrote was “Carpenter,” a mesmerizing track anchored by a tangible bass groove, where she sings, “I wasn’t ready to move on out / but I'm more ready now.” It’s a fully-realized track and feels like the culmination of her catalog so far. “A lot of the music that I was making there had nothing to do with my grief at all,” says Tamko. “Once I gave myself permission to make a record that's full of life and energy, I realized that’s the point of this album. In the midst of going through all of these tough things, it became a record because of the vitality that these songs had.” For Tamko, there’s power in pursuing happiness.
While writing in Germany, Tamko nurtured her love for dance music and let it seep into her new songs. “The only things that were giving me access to a feeling were dance music and going to a rave in an extremely dark club where if I wanted to cry, I could do it and be around other people.” she says.
After a few months in Germany that included marathon writing sessions and a whirlwind romance, Tamko decided to stay with friends in Los Angeles and finish her record. She enlisted co-producer Rostam to help her unify her vision.
Sorry I Haven’t Called is a warm and resilient album about embracing the ecstatic moments wherever you can by knowing how you love and how you mourn. It’s an LP born of both communal dancefloor revelations and the clarifying peace from solitude, an emotional rebirth as well as an artistic one. “This record feels like what I've been working towards,” says Tamko. “When I think of this album, I think of playfulness. It's completely euphoric. It's because things were dark that this record is so full of life and energy. It’s a reaction to what I was experiencing at the time, not a document of it.”
Produced by Laetitia Tamko and Rostam Batmanglij
Additional production by Casey Manierka-Quaile, Jack McLaine, Trayer Tryon, Jakob Hersch, Sadek Massarweh, and Teo Halm
Engineered by Laetitia Tamko, Joey Messina-Doerning, Nick Noneman, and Rostam Batmanglij
Additional engineering by Jeremy Hatcher and Jack McLaine
All songs mixed by Andrew Maury except “Carpenter” mixed by Alex Tumay with assistance by Andrew Kim and Nacor Zuluaga
Mastered by Emily Lazar and Chris Allgood at The Lodge, NY
Art direction by Alexa Carrasco
Album cover photo by Ace Amir
Package design by Bradley Pinkerton
Laetitia Tamko, vocals, sampling, synths, guitar, drum programming, synth programming, piano, vocal sampling, mellotron, drums, electric guitar