TESSA VIOLET has gone from an acoustic-leaning solo artist to an inspirational female fronting a shredding live band (anchored by badass drummer Jessica Bowen), all within the time since her last three singles exploded, including last year’s release of “Crush” - the first single from her forthcoming album Bad Ideas. Although her recordings are competitive modern productions that perform well on playlists, her live show has a raw organic energy that is intoxicating. She sold out her first-ever headline shows (The Troubadour in LA; and Mercury Lounge in NYC; two shows at Camden Assembly Hall in London) and finally achieved her goal of bonafide rock queen when she was offered her first festival slot at Lollapalooza. In addition, she was tapped as main support for COIN’s US tour in February, and AJR’s west coast leg on their upcoming Neotheater tour this September. The sole songwriter on all but one of her releases, we sat with the iconic Tessa Violet to learn more about her journey and what to expect in her future.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
I started writing songs when I was 23 but it's easy to make the argument that I didn't really "enter" the industry till last year when I signed with my first manager, Gabe Saporta. Before that, everything was very DIY, lots of house tours and independent releases. I am still independent though!
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU KNEW OR HAD BEEN TOLD WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT AS A CREATOR? HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW ABOUT PUBLISHING AT THAT TIME?
I think my naiveté served me well. Knowing nothing meant I couldn't be discouraged by how hard and long I'd have to work before making any traction in music. It was always just "other people figured it out so why not me!" I was lucky though that almost immediately someone sat me down with a whiteboard and explained how publishing/master/sync royalties worked. I think everyone should have someone explain all this to them, it was huge for me to understand it before I went into my first contract negotiation.
WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU'VE OVERCOME AND WHAT HAVE THEY TAUGHT YOU ABOUT BEING A MORE SUCCESSFUL CREATOR?
I really wanted to tour but I didn't know anyone else doing music at the time so I started finding fans through Tumblr and playing in people's living rooms. I always felt like I could figure out a way to do what I wanted, even if it was on a much smaller scale than I was dreaming!
WHAT GOALS, EITHER PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL, DO YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF THIS YEAR?
I want to become a much better live act so I'm trying to play as many shows as I can this year. The more you do it, the better you get!
YOU JUST RECENTLY PERFORMED AT LOLLAPALOOZA, WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?
Wild. I expected like 2-300 people to come and like 2-3000 people showed up. I can't wait for my next chance to play a festival again! This was my first.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR SONG "CRUSH"?
I had a crush on someone and I wanted him to feel about me how I felt about him. Just giddy and excited.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE SPECIFICALLY AS AN INDEPENDENT FEMALE ARTIST?
This is the only experience I've had so it's hard to know where to begin or end. I guess I'd just say I love what I do and I love getting to have control and final say over the art, I also love my team who supports me.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ADVICE TO YOUNG INDIE CREATORS OUT THERE, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
Keep writing and keep playing. Think of everything as a learning experience, people experience a lot of rejection and failure before they have success so don't take it too hard. Brush it off and keep going. The more you play and write, the quicker you will learn. Also, have fun with it! Don't let the pressure of it get you down, make art for yourself first and people who have a similar taste as you will be drawn to you. Being an artist for me is about being genuine to self. Keep exploring who you are.
WHAT DREW YOU TO SONGTRUST FOR PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION?
My friend recommended it to me! It's been great so far :)
IS THERE A MESSAGE YOU HOPE TO SPREAD THROUGH YOUR MUSIC?
I try not to write with a message in mind. I'm either trying to work through my own emotional turmoil or write a song to one specific person. But I DO hope that if people have felt what I felt or experienced what I've experienced, that they won't feel so alone in that. I love the idea of music as a great connector.
LASTLY, WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO SONG RIGHT NOW?
I listened to Noah Gundersen's album Lover for the first time last night and it was so killer. Also anything by Phoebe Bridgers.
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