Indie pop singer-songwriter Tamar Berk grew up playing piano and started writing songs on guitar as a teenager. While living in Chicago, she played in regional bands like her first, power pop group Starball, known for their tracks like the 2001 song "New Year's Day" ("I wanted to write a holiday song"). She went on to play in an electro-punk duo with her husband that they named the Countdown, a Small Faces cover band called Deep Joy, and she briefly had a group with Kim Thompson called Sweet Heat. Relocating to Portland, she played keys with the Pynnacles. Her group Paradise released three albums, including a rock opera. Among the labels her bands recorded for are Kill Rock Stars, Minty Fresh, and Invisible Records.
After moving to San Diego, her album The Restless Dreams of Youth was released in summer 2021. "I was an incredibly restless child. I was always dreaming and I could never sit still. I always wanted what others had, and had a deep emptiness that I couldn’t really understand. I thought when I grew up, those feelings would disappear or at least change and I could find some peace within myself. But now, I’m just as restless, and when I look back at my life and where I am now, I still feel a deep emptiness and struggle with accepting myself. 'The restless dreams of youth' turned into a sort of love letter to myself. It was a very emotional journey and I realized that I’m still uneasy, and unsure and I might never be at peace with myself, and that’s okay."
The album was preceded by singles for “Better Off Meditating” and “Cleveland.” The video for the latter track matches her own super-8 home movies from childhood, alongside images of her grown up and making a life for herself in San Diego.
Another single, “Shadow Clues,” earned positive reviews in Northern Transmissions and Stereo Embers Magazine. That track also appeared on the 2021 edition of the local music compilation series Staring at the Sun, and a Tiny Desk Concert duo video version was released as well. Berk also performed the duo concert version on episode 12 of the local music internet program MusicSceneSD TV.
The album includes local guests including Chris Davies (the Penetrators, Chloe Lou & the Liddells), who she first met while during San Diego tour dates with the Pynnacles. Berk also frequently works with Chicago-based drummer Matt Walker, known from the Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey, Garbage, and Filter. Her daughter has her own band, the Fluorescents, later known as The Inflorescence, with their debut album released in 2021.
In early 2022, a single and video was released for a track from an upcoming project, "Your Permission." According to Berk, "I had three versions of this video because none of them felt right. I really struggled with how to visually portray what I wanted to say without feeling like I would have to spend a ton of money. I wanted to think of a simple way to express what the song was about. So, after throwing out several versions of the video, I sat at my piano and just started filming and soon, the concept developed. Sometimes, I find that just starting something with no plan can often lead me somewhere unexpected! It was filmed here in town in my house."
"Tragic Endings" was the second single off her sophomore album Start at the End, released April 22, 2022. The accompanying video features Berk performing the song outdoors on a rooftop, along with footage of her riding an oceanfront rollercoaster.
"'Alone Tonight' is a song about those moments when you are very aware that you are not going to be good company," Berk says of her summer 2022 single and video. "Maybe you’re just going to picking a fight, and maybe you had a rough day, or you’re just not in the mood to be around people. I get this way often, and I’ve found that the older I get, the more I’m able to tell that to someone without worrying about hurting their feelings. In the video for 'Alone Tonight,' I wanted to harken back to my youth when I was able to be alone for hours, entertaining myself with my imagination and toys…making fake radio shows using my cassette player, setting up my toys and doing some sort of weird talent show and maybe even forcing my parents and siblings to watch while I perform some bizarre song or dance. The last image in the video is an actual photo of me pretending to be Barry Gibb. Can’t a gal dream of being one of The Bee Gees?"