reppin: nyc via vancouver / bogota, colombia / buenos aires, argentina // downtown records // 2013 - present
sounds like: according to Tei Shi - a mood ring
last album drop: crawl space (march 2017)
When music is #1 in your life, you chase that no matter what the obstacles are, what anyone tells you or sometimes no matter what you tell yourself. Plus, when you have a voice that can tickle ones spine when heard. Her range layered harmonies, sometimes sounding like futuristic pop, sometimes synthy and other times delicate melodies, pairs so well in all the right ways. Because she pushes the boundary of pop through her brain to your headphones, you get these soothing transportive tracks that sound beautiful. Valerie loves pulling inspiration from all stops in her life and it certainly showed as she put out track after track, all different from the last.
Through the past few years, she has performed live, bringing her music to life on stage, laid down guest vocals on “Holiest” by Glass Animals and put out an EP, “Verde.” Not only did tracks like “Basically” break the mold, but visually her art and videos show she wants to bring you deeper into her world. “Crawl Space” was released this past spring and her sensual and vibrant approach to pop can be heard. Tei Shi was kind enough to share some of her thoughts to her musical makeup, song writing process and how she puts everything into her live show.
Make sure to catch her at Schubas in Chicago this Saturday
Think about that first moment you knew you wanted to make music...what was that like, what kind of music did you want to make?
I didn't necessarily have a moment when I decided I wanted to make music. It was a life-long dream and desire that changed and evolved over time, and it still is changing and evolving. I never really had a clear goal or intention of what kind of music I wanted to make, I just started trying different things and eventually arrived at something I thought was good enough to release. In a general sense though, I always knew I wanted to make music that drew from the vast influences I've grown up listening to and that wouldn't sound too much like anything else out there. Something beautiful and experimental but still accessible in a pop sense.
What experiences have you had since then that have allowed you to grow and evolve into the artist you are today?
Just experiencing putting music out there and how that forces you to take yourself a little more seriously, as well as playing live. I've learned a lot by having the opportunity to make music my full time activity now for some time, which has allowed me to really spend every moment thinking about it, soaking in inspiration and figuring out what I want to do next and re-approaching things in different ways. Touring has also taught me a lot and influenced the way I want my music to make people feel.
Tell me about your songwriting process...how do the melodies you make (or those you collaborate with) combat the lyrics your write. What do you want people to feel when listening to your lyrics?
They go quite hand in hand. Usually songs start with a melody and then the lyrics flow pretty naturally after that, and sometimes it's the other way around and I write the lyrics more in poetry form and then attach a melody to them. When it comes to melodies and lyrics I write all of those completely myself and it has to be a pretty isolated process. The collaboration comes once the production and instrumentation are starting to develop. Lyrically I guess what I want people to feel varies from song to song. I'd like for people to have moments that are relatable and hit close to home, but I keep my lyrics vague enough that they can speak to different things or have layers. I'd like them to be interpreted differently by people.
What is the mission of your live show? What do you hope fans can walk away with after seeing you perform?
The aim of the live show really is to bring the album to life. So the show stays pretty true to the recordings and it gets pretty close to the way the record sounds, in my opinion. But there is also more room for spontaneity and improvisational moments. I have a full live band I play with, so there is a real live energy versus the show just being a regurgitation of the album based totally on tracks or anything like that. And there's a big focus on the vocal performance so I think that's one of the main things people respond to, it's a pretty vocally challenging set.
Every post/article I do is drawn from the experience of listening and seeing music. I like to be very detailed and metaphorical. If you had to describe the identity of Tei Shi with a metaphor, what would it be?
A mood ring
suggested listening experience: taking a bubble bath // late night chill dance party // getting horizontal after work