Marco Mr. Tam Tam got his moniker when he was a teenager. A friend suggested tam-tam because of the percussion players at Mount Royal on Sundays, but what Marco actually plays is called a darbouka.

He also plays drums, latin percussions, guitar and piano, an instrument he recently installed at home. Marco Mr. Tam Tam lives up to his name: he has 18 or 19 darboukas of different colours and styles, most of which are of the same sound.

Laval Families Magazine caught up with the busy percussionist, who told us a little more about his background, his music and his projects.

Where it All Began
Marco (born Marc) was born in Lebanon from an Armenian mother and a Lebanese father on March 7th, 1986. “Both cultures are very close to each other. Because of the culture and the music, I started playing early,” he explains.

It was by listening to music television programs and to his mother play the piano that the artist became interested in playing himself. “As soon as music would come on, I would start to tap on any surface that I could think of, so my parents gave me my first darbouka, and I started from there. I performed for the first time on stage in Lebanon at three years old,” he explains.

Marco Mr. Tam Tam didn't take music classes as a child because his family had to flee the war and come to Canada. At 32, he is now learning how to read music.

When the musician’s family arrived in Canada, they settled in Cartierville in Montreal, and Marco attended L'École Arménienne Sourp Hagop, an Armenian school, from kindergarten to the end of high school.

The musician has always been close to his family. “Family is super important to me. I have tattoos that say, ‘family first’, with a diamond in the middle that means unbreakable,” he says. “If a family supports you and is always there for you, then you can succeed in everything you do.”

Family Life
The musician married in 2011, and they have two children: Matteo, almost four years old, and Bella, who was born last December. The family lives in Laval. “I love living in Laval. It's very calm,” he says.

Being on the road performing can be a challenge for family life. When he was younger, Marco missed out on family events. “One of the biggest regrets is that I wasn’t always there when my brother Danny was growing up. He's six years younger than me, so I missed a lot of events for him, including his eighteenth birthday,” he admits. “He is growing to be an amazing person, and he is deep into real estate now. Having a younger brother, it was hard because I was always focused on the road to success and I probably missed out on a lot of stuff,” he says.

His ultimate goal would be to move to Los Angeles, mainly because there, opportunities abound, and he loves the warm weather. He is currently in the process of looking for an American agent. “We are going full-force on the US,” he says.

In Laval, Marco Mr. Tam Tam is friends with another famous local, the one and only Rachid Badouri, whom he met through a friend who happens to be Badouri's brother-in-law.

“The way he is, and the way I am, we just clicked, from the family values to spirituality to business,” he explains.

Gaining Notoriety
Marco has performed in over a hundred shows across the province with Badouri; he has played at the beginning or at the end of his comedy shows. One highlight was performing with Badouri at festivals in 2011 for a crowd of over 100 000 people. They also travelled to France to perform together.

“He's a great guy, very supportive of what I do and always trying to get me to the next level. I also had an extra part in his movie L'Appât with Guy A. Lepage. It shows that whenever we can collaborate together, we do,” he explains.

Though Marco lives in Laval, he travels a lot for work. “I do weddings to concerts to corporate, to bar mitzvahs,” he notes.

Marco Mr. Tam-Tam gets booked for his shows mostly through word of mouth, YouTube videos, and social media. “It [social media] is a monster; now you can talk to people from all over the world through Instagram,” he says.

He performed at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles with the singer Super Sako on his hit Mi gna. “He's an Armenian artist out of LA. He asked me to do the opening of the concert,” he says. Marco Mr. Tam Tam also opened for Fat Joe and performed with Belly.

Besides performing in exotic locations, Marco Mr. Tam Tam also records music with his music partner and good friend Paul Keys at the latter's recording studio. Keys is a pianist, a keyboardist and a DJ. The pair have been working together for about ten years.

They remix hit songs from popular artists like Rihanna and Britney Spears. Since they're remixed and are not sold for profit, it doesn't cause an issue with the artists and the record labels.

Besides remixes, Marco Mr. Tam Tam also creates his own songs and features on other artists’ songs. Two of his songs are available on Spotify; Desire with Paul Keys, and Arev Arev, a song by the Armenian artist Elie Berberian, who's also a good friend. “We always back each other up. He's very big in the Armenian world. He's doing his thing, produces for himself and for me. It was an honour for me to feature on his song,” he says. The music video, filmed in Miami, can be seen on YouTube.

Ever the entrepreneur, the percussionist is also a brand ambassador for Vortexapp, an international IT company based in Laval that is developing apps and websites. He also represents UCXX Luxury Co, a luxury street wear brand.

Looking Ahead
For 2018, Marco Mr. Tam Tam has a lot of projects in the pipeline. “There are a couple of shows coming up, including some in the Middle East, which are going to be announced very soon,” he explains. There’s also a new music video in the works.

As for a full-length album, it's not something that Marco Mr. Tam Tam is considering right now. “I don't want to say that it's obsolete, but unless you're a big star, you are releasing single after single after single, and after maybe four, five, or six of them, you can wrap up an album and release it that way. I'm after doing singles and collaborations,” he explains.

For those who want to follow what's going on with Marco Mr. Tam Tam, he advises following him on Instagram, as it’s his most up-to-date social media.

For the musician, it's important to give his all in whatever he does. “Whether it's a meeting or an Instagram post or a song, as long as you're always hustling, and you keep your eyes on the goal, it's going to happen,” he says.

His positive attitude reigns, in spite of the fact that the musician has had many challenges in his career, the first being people discouraging him to do music. “They try to shut you down. The best thing to do is move forward, and prove everybody wrong,” he says.

There have been a few instances when Marco Mr. Tam Tam almost achieved a particular goal but ended up disappointed. When the producers of the movie Fast and Furious 7 had 200 songs to choose from, his music ended up in the top two song choices. “In the end, they didn't choose my song, so that was kind of a heartbreak, but that goes to show that a guy from Laval can make it happen all the way to Hollywood for a Fast and Furious movie,” he quips.

Indeed, with contacts in Los Angeles and plans to move there, Marco Mr. Tam Tam might be back to Hollywood soon enough.