Interviews Music

INTERVIEW: Tess Elena Discusses The Debut EP “Fire Escape”!

Born & raised in New York, independent singer-songwriter Tess Elena provides playful lyricism & musical flair through a variety of soulful, jazz-infused melodies that take on the indie pop & folk genres.

Not long ago, Tess unveiled the debut EP “Fire Escape”, which features a collection of songs written after Tess returned to NYC from living abroad in Thailand & being thrown back into the big city hustle environment. The story behind the EP is a compilation of romantic relationships, sexual desires, & coming of age.

Tess has kindly taken the time to speak with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution regarding the creative process & journey behind the release of the debut EP. You can find the full interview below.

Hey Tess, thank you so much for this interview. Can you start by introducing yourself to readers unfamiliar with your music?

Tess: Hello!! Thanks so much for having me! My name is Tess Elena and I am a singer-songwriter born and raised in NYC. 

When did you first discover your passion for music?

Tess: My passion for music and in particular songwriting developed when I took my first music class in my senior year of high school where I learned 4 chords on guitar. I then went home and played those four chords in every variation and started to express my feelings through song. It was extremely therapeutic and allowed me to work through many emotions through difficult chapters in life. 

Have you always known that you wanted to pursue a career within the music industry?

Tess: I think it’s funny because so many parents want their kids to become doctors or lawyers. Not many encourage the artist’s path due to its lack of stability and financial security. Growing up my parents were both artists, my mom was an actress and singer and my dad is a musician and composer. They actually met doing a show together.

I grew up going to rehearsals for plays and musicals and I told myself that I wanted to be different from them and become a politician.  I went on to get a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies in college, where I pursued a career in helping people—in particular women. I worked at Planned Parenthood for a couple years and all along that journey, I was writing songs in my bedroom with my guitar.

As the years went on, deep down I think my heart always knew it wanted to be an artist despite my desire to be different from my parents. I knew how hard the artist road was, I saw it firsthand with my family. But that little voice in my head and heart dreaming up this idea of selling out arenas with my music became hard to ignore. I even went to Thailand to teach English for a year and a half and I decided when I turned 25 that I would pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. I flew back to America and began taking voice and guitar lessons to increase my skills. My path to my music career has been organic and a long time coming. 

How would you currently describe your musical style?

Tess: My music style is authentic singer-songwriter. It Is a blend of indie-folk pop-soul. I adore lyrics in songs and am always influenced by the soul of an artist and their songwriting. 

You recently released your debut EP, “Fire Escape”. How did the idea for this EP come together?

Tess: This EP is a culmination of a lot of the songs I’ve been crafting and moulding over the past couple of years. I wanted to make an EP of a body of work of mine that represents not only my authentic self but the full tapestry of what it means to be a woman. The sexuality, the heartbreak, the strength and empowerment, the honouring of your childhood, and the joy of falling in love. I wanted the listeners to feel inspired to be their true selves, just like I have done with this EP. 

What are some of the main influences behind the soundtrack of this EP?

Tess: Some of my music influences I was definitely inspired by for my EP were Lake Street Dive, Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse, Sara Bareilles, and Kings of Leon. I wanted to write funky, soulful, rock-pop bangers. 

What does this EP personally mean to you?

Tess: This EP means EVERYTHING to me. It is my blood, sweat and tears of these past 4 years as a singer-songwriter. I have grown so much as an artist already and I just keep getting better and better and I have to acknowledge all of the hard work I’ve been putting in while I work multiple jobs to pursue my dreams. It is a culmination of my heart and the vulnerability that I have been pushing myself to give with my music. 

If listeners could take something from this EP, what would you like it to be?

Tess: I want the listeners to feel like it is okay to be themselves. No matter what the societal expectations are that they might feel pressure to be, or act a certain way, everyone deserves to feel loved and appreciated for who they are. No matter their race, gender identity, socioeconomic background, and sexuality. We are all powerful beings and our voices are the ultimate tool for expression and making a difference in this world. I want listeners to feel my being through my music and in turn, feel like they can be whatever they want to be. 

Were there any songs that did not make the EP that we could see released at a later date?

Tess: Ooo that is a good question! I definitely have some songs up my sleeve that didn’t make the EP but I am planning on recording very soon and I’m so excited to share that with you all! 

What advice would you offer to someone who’s looking to pursue a career within the music industry?

Tess: My advice would be, that it is important to be patient. I myself am very impatient and when I started my career, I wanted to learn everything immediately and thought if I just rushed through it would happen faster. But the reality is, that nothing good comes fast. Hard work pays off, but it is a slow grind. Enjoy the moments and milestones along the way. I know we live in a world where our patience and attention span are becoming increasingly small but it’s important to know that just taking one step at a time will lead to greatness.  

Finally, is there a message that you would like to share with the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?

Tess: If there is a passion of yours that you haven’t pursued out of fear of failure, let yourself know that anxiety is usually a feeling based in the past or the future and isn’t about this current moment, and fear is usually wrapped up in anxiety. I believe it’s important to not let fear get in the way of your dreams and aspirations. Believe in the now, believe in what you love and the rest will be tumultuous but most rewarding road. 

You can check out “Fire Escape” on Spotify below or via further platforms here.

Tess Elena: Facebook / Instagram / TikTok.

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