Nashville-based pop artist, songwriter, and YouTube vlogger Tessa Violet is currently in the midst of her Transatlantic Tour along the east coast of America. Following up her debut album released in 2014 titled: Maybe Trapped, Mostly Troubled, Tessa recently released a collection of five fresh pop songs, inspired by the likes of Halsey and Taylor Swift on her latest EP, Halloway.
We chatted to Tessa about the story behind Halloway, her songwriting process, and what she loves about YouTube. Read our full conversation with Tessa below.
CelebMix: We love your new single, ‘Not Over You’! What made you choose it as a single, and what was your inspiration for the song?
Tessa Violet: Thank you! I wrote ‘Not Over You’ last summer after a long string of sad, slow songs. I really wanted to write something that felt fun and exciting and powerful, but lyrically was a bit more tongue-in-cheek. The song is about those 5 days of bliss when you realize you’re falling back in love with someone you’re on and off again with, and enjoying desiring and being desired right before everything falls apart again. It felt like the natural choice for the second single.
The ‘Not Over You’ music video was a bit different to anything you’ve done before. How did you think of the concept for the video?
I wrote the song as a “what do I want to jam to” song, and I wanted the music video to reflect the feeling of just having fun, having a great time. Bopping around with your friends to a song that makes you feel sassy. I really didn’t want to include a narrative story of boy meets girl, etc., because I think the song says it. I love music videos being more about the feeling than the story, and it was also important to me that the video be about women, and not revolve around a man. It was a blast to film! All the women you see on camera were volunteers who came from Twitter, and a few of them are friends!
Can you talk us through your basic songwriting process?
I’m primarily a guitar player but I wrote a lot of the songs for this EP on piano. I wrote my last record on guitar and I wanted to break my old pattern of thinking (musically) and stretch myself in an unfamiliar way. Usually, I start with a concept – what’s the song about? Then I play around with a progression and melody until I find something that’s hitting me, then the lyrics come and shape the melody or vice versa. It really depends on the song and my mood! ‘Dream’ took over a year to write, I wrote the verse in the spring and didn’t land on a chorus I liked until over a year later, whereas ‘On My Own’ I wrote in a day. Usually, the songs about anxiety pour out of me where the love songs take more crafting. Maybe that says something haha.
How does living in Nashville influence your music? We know you have a song called ‘Tennessee’!
I am in love with Nashville. I’ve wanted to live in Nashville for five years now and I wrote ‘Tennessee’ before I moved there. I had spent a week there and had this romantic time with a boy and my experience of Tennessee was so wrapped up in his memory, I wanted to write about it! Now I’ve lived in Nashville for three years and I’m totally in love with the city. It’s big enough to have all the things you love about a city (things are open late, and there’s great, eclectic food), but small enough that I get to live in a house with affordable rent. My long time producer, Seth Earnest, also lives in Nashville now so I’m pretty rooted!
The title of your new EP is ‘Halloway’. What can you tell us about the meaning of that name and why you chose it?
I was on tour last fall listening to the audiobook for “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury, a book my mom has always told me was one of the scariest books she’s read, and one of the most well-written. She’s an author and a lover of books so you know if she says she loves it, it’s gonna be great. The book revolves around two boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. The author has this wonderful analogy that if the two boys were separated, Jim would break three windows while Will would break none. But when they were together they would compromise and each break one. In the beginning of the book Will is kind of timid, doing his best to be “good” but taken by the charisma and charm of Will. I get the sense Will feels like a ghost compared with Jim. I guess I can relate to that, especially looking back on my own childhood. I also love the way ‘Halloway’ sounds, it rolls off the tongue.
Can you describe the sound we can expect on ‘Halloway’ and some of the musical influences?
Dark pop definitely describes it, with the exclusion of ‘Not Over You’. Let me tell you, I love pop music. I love that it’s big and can be heavy or light, bright or sad. There’s just so many colors to paint with in pop. During production, I waslistening to a lot of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’, Troye Sivan’s ‘Blue Neighborhood’, and Halsey’s ‘Badlands’. I also love keeping up with the pop playlists on Spotify and the Discover Playlist. I just got into Phoebe Ryan who I’m loving.
You have over 1 million subscribers on YouTube and you post regular vlogs, covers, and original songs. What do you like about doing YouTube as well as perusing your passion for music?
I love the unique way Youtube, or video blogs in general, let you connect with people. When I graduated high school and moved away from my hometown I was really lonely and Youtube and the people I watched on Youtube were a lifeline for me. It’s still such a great place for people who feel different or lonely at school or in life to find other like-minded people. It’s a privilege to get to be a part of the community. I’ve met many of my closest friends through Youtube.
What is the best piece of advice you have for someone who’s making music on YouTube?
A lot of people tell me some people never post a video because they preemptively tell themselves that other people will not like it or that they’re not good enough. To those people, I would say: you’re right! Some people won’t like your art, and also you will never feel good enough, but don’t let that stop you from doing it anyway because literally everyone I know who makes art feels like a fraud. You have a unique perspective to offer the world and waiting until you’re “good enough” is really just guarding yourself against the vulnerability of putting yourself out there. Be vulnerable. Dare greatly. Fail big. There’s something to be learned from everything, but if you never try then you deny yourself the opportunity to get better.
You’re currently touring the east coast of the US with Rusty Clanton, Jon Cozart, and Dodie Clark, on The Transatlantic Tour. You three toured together previously, this past spring. What about the last tour made you want to do it again?
Everything! First of all, I am in LOVE with my tour mates. What an incredible group of individually talented, kind, and thoughtful people. It was such a pleasure and a privilege to get to tour with them. But even all that aside, the shows were so incredible! We have a lot of overlapping audiences so it’s fun to have people who are coming for more than one artist, and it’s also fun for the people who just came for one person but get to know someone else’s music through the show! I immediately knew I’d love to tour with them again if they were willing. (They were!)
If you could go on tour with anyone in the world, who would it be and where would you go?
I really want to tour Europe. This December I’m doing a short run in Ireland with another artist I love to death, Bry. So excited for that!
Any exciting plans for the rest of the year, music or otherwise?
I’m releasing the lyric videos for ‘Haze’, ‘On My Own’, and ‘I Don’t Get To Say I Love You Anymore’ every Friday after ‘Not Over You’ came out. Then, after Christmas, I’ll be doing a short run with Bry in Ireland. I’m so excited for those two things! Besides that, I’m excited for some time off with my mom for Christmas, it’s been a crazy year.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say about ‘Halloway’, or to your audience in general?
Just thank you for the support, both online and in real life. I found people through Twitter to come be in the music video for ‘Not Over You’, and it was such a fun experience to have a set filled with volunteers. Meghan and Hannah especially were a huge help on set. Also, I have to thank my long-time cinematographer and photographer Isaac White, Shawna Howson who edited ‘Not Over You’, and of course my producer Seth Earnest who without his talent and encouragement, I probably would not have pursued music. This whole year has been insanity working toward the release and I feel embraced and loved by my online community. Thank you!
Thank you Tessa, for your time and the lovely responses! Best of luck with the rest of your tour and future endeavours!
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