With her debut single “Good for Nobody“, Nashville-based singer-songwriter, Tess, has delivered an impressive introduction to her solo artistry. “Good for Nobody” offers vibrant instrumentation, dazzling production elements, and beautifully dynamic composition. Her vocals deliver the emotional lyrics with clarity and strength as she passionately puts her artistic talents on full display.
Having trained as a classical pianist and collaborated with indie/alternative bands, Tess has developed her wide range of creative talents into her own unique artistic blend. As she embarks on her journey as a solo artist, I wanted to ask her some questions to get the scoop on her inspirations, creative process, and future plans. Here’s what she had to say.
“Good for Nobody” is an impressive and exciting debut single. Can you tell us the inspiration behind this song and why you chose this as your debut single?
The song is me opening up about the battle I fight in my own heart when I experience conflicting emotions. It could be about people, relationships or circumstances, but I internalize it and feel like it invalidates me as a person and makes me bad for everyone I’m around. This song is me crying out to myself “why?” but also, as a Christian, I see myself in a raw way also directing that cry to God.
I chose it as my first single because I felt like musically and sonically it represents how I write and what stylistic elements I’m drawn to. The main underlay being that pulsing piano is very, “Tess,” because I write most of my songs on the piano and I’m very drawn to the moody, dissonant chords. But when the bass slides and the full beat kicks in before that second verse, you’re carried into an experience that’s also fun. The song, I think, can be blasted in car speakers, or you could lay on your bed and let it drench you in the emotion. The lyrical content also sets me up for the music I plan on releasing next.
How does it feel to share your music with the world for the first time?
So good. But also, paralyzing. Every step of this process I’ve been faced with an option to press forward, or let anxieties and fears halt my steps. There have been moments where I’ve thought it’s not worth it. But it’s been amazing to see people jump into my corner. I love that people are loving the song. Also, as a journalist and someone who works in media, I’m always telling other people’s stories. I love doing that, but there’s something extra special about finally getting to tell your own story. I think that’s what’s most exciting for me in sharing this song. It’s finally giving me a chance to be like “hey, I like to create music, and I’m pretty freaking proud of it, and this is just part of who I am,” and that’s why putting this song out feels so great.
What did the writing and production process look like to bring this song to life?
Originally, the song was just a piano/vocal demo I sent to my producer, Parke Cottrell, in hopes that he would have some input on it. I honestly wasn’t even fully expecting to release it! I think it was a slight hope in the back of my mind, but I didn’t take myself seriously enough to actually go for it. But he was really supportive of it, and had some stellar ideas right away so we just went with it. Once we decided I was going to release the song, I gave him some general directional ideas, and he really ran with it. I remember getting the first mix back and thinking, “oh yeah, this is it.” The whole thing has been a huge learning experience. I ended up, after all the production was done, going back in with the mixing engineer, Brent Beachtel, and re-recording vocals because I had tried to do it myself at first and let’s just say it wasn’t quite up to standards. But I’m thankful for the process because hey, if I never tried, I’d never learn.
How long have you been singing, performing, and writing music?
I started classical training on the piano when I was 8, and I’ve been writing instrumental piano pieces from as early as 6th grade. I didn’t get started with actual vocal training until my senior year of highschool, but I’ve been singing forever. I got into writing worship music during my college years. My first experience with performing outside of the classical realm, worship leading, and choral stuff, was when I joined an indie-rock/dream-pop band in my last year of college. We played shows locally in southern California, and I consider that my introduction into the “secular” side of performing. Once I moved to Nashville last year I really dove deep into songwriting, just working on whatever came to mind. So I’ve really only been working seriously for about a year in the area of writing that “Good For Nobody” falls into.
Who are some other artists that inspire you?
It’s been fun to discover more artists that are doing what I’m doing sonically now that I’ve released a song, so my inspirations are expanding a lot. However, so far I garner some chord structure inspiration from modern jazz artists like Norah Jones and Jacob Collier. Overall musical “feel” I’d say is heavily influenced by artists like Hippo Campus, Colony House and Lana Del Rey type melodies. However, I think lyrical structure and phrasing for me is more singer-songwriter influenced. Think like Joni Mitchell, but more new age. I also love Paul Simon. His song structures, phrasing and articulation are elements that really challenge and inspire me to just keep trying things that maybe I would brush aside at first thought.
Can we expect any more music from you in the near future?
Yes! I don’t have an official timeline, but my goal is within the next two months. I’ve been writing like crazy and there are quite a few songs I think thematically could fit together for an EP. I’m thinking I’ll put out a few more singles over the course of the next couple months, eventually leading up to a full project. I’m taking this time to continue to create, discover how I see myself as an artist, and not put pressure on the whole process. But it’ll be coming for sure. Until then, you should definitely go listen to “Good For Nobody.”
FOLLOW TESS ONLINE AT:
“Good for Nobody” release date: 07.10.20
Image Credits: Kyle Dawes