Tag: The Troubadour

Born Tessa Violet Williams in Chicago, the up-and-coming, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter and vlogger, Tessa Violet can trace the origins of her music career to a school project in which she began daily vlogging in 2007 for a school project with the screen name Meekakitty while working in Hong Kong and Thailand as a model; however, by 2009 Williams quit modeling and relocated to New York, to focus on her vlog, which primarily focused on storytelling, skits and music videos — particularly, fan-made music videos for popular artists like Reliant K, Family Force 5 and MIKA.

Wiliams gained national attention after winning $100,000 in a YouTube competition by receiving the most comments on her video entry.  In 2011, Williams was featured in fellow YouTube creator Nanalew’s fan-made “Sail,” which went viral and has amassed over 310 million views. In 2012, The Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter followed her appearance in “Sail” by appearing in the video for Family Force 5’s “Cray Button,” and then directing the act’s video for “Chainsaw,” which featured Tedashii.

By 2013 Williams began to focus on writing, recording and releasing music and the focus on her YouTube channel shifted to her original music, eventually leading to her dropping the Meekakitty moniker and using her real name Tessa Violet across all of her online platforms.

So far the past year or so has been a breakthrough, whirlwind year for the up-and-coming Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop artist: she’s released two critically applauded singles “Crush” and “Bad Ideas” — “Crush” has amassed over 18 million Spotify streams and the video has received over 36 million views. “Bad Ideas” became a viral hit. As result of the success of those two singles, Williams toured with her first live, backing band, which featured Jess Bowen (drums) — and that tour included her first sold-out headline shows at Los AngelesThe Troubadour and the Mercury Lounge. 

Building upon an exploding profile, she just finished her first UK tour, which featured a sold out London show, and Billboard featured her as one of 10 new festival artists to look out for this year. She was also named the first YouTube Foundry Artist of 2019 — and she’ll be making her Lollapalooza debut this year. Her full-length album Bad Ideas will be released one song a month or so throughout the year, and the album’s third and latest single “I Like (The Idea of) You” recently premiered on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and YouTube Music’s Pop Before It Breaks playlist. Centered around a disco meets New Wave-like bass line, the Chicago-born, Nashville-based pop artist’s latest single is a sultry and coquettish, late night strut that recalls DFA Records heyday.

“I was seeing this guy at the time, who I knew wasn’t into me. And even though I could see that, it was still so much fun to think and obsess about him,” Tessa Violet says of the song. “Replaying the way he said my name on the phone, imagining what I would wear or say the next time I saw him, thinking of things I could write about him. I remember that I could logically see it wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought maybe I should feel embarrassed about how much time I was spending on him. But it didn’t make me feel embarrassed, it made me feel sexy and powerful. So what if they’re not that into me? I like the idea of it and I’m going to enjoy that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Live Footage: Hot Snakes Performing Material from Their First Album in 14 Years at The Troubadour on “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Hot Snakes, and as you may recall the band, which was led by its then-San Diego, CA-based founding duo of Swami John Reis and Rick Froberg formed in 1999 when Reis’ primary band Rocket from the Crypt went on hiatus after the departure of long-time drummer Atom Willard and when they were in between labels. And while searching for a new label and drummer, Reis started his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which resulted in the formation of Hot Snakes and Sultans. Hot Snakes in particular, can trace their origins to when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72‘s Jason Kourkounis, and then contacted his former bandmate and collaborator Froberg to contribute vocals, and most of those recording sessions eventually comprised their full-length debut Automatic Midnight.

Although Reis and Froberg collaborated together in Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes proved to be a logistical challenge as Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. Naturally, this resulted in sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules that frequently included bassist Gar Wood, best known for his work in Beehive and the Barracudas, Tanner and Fishwife. And while Hot Snakes shares some musical similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous projects, they developed a reputation for a much more primal, garage punk sound influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band — and for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise with the band releasing material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After releasing two more full-length albums, 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band called it a day in 2005 but they reunited for a world tour in 2011 which reportedly set the stage for the band’s fourth, full-length album Jericho Sirens, the band’s first album in 14 years, which was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records. Recored in short bursts over the past year in San Diego and Philadelphia, the album features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

Reportedly, the material thematically commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we don’t have a fucking clue. As Froberg says of the album, “’Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences — but interestingly, some songs feature nods to AC/DC and others. As Reis says in press notes, “It sounds like panic and chaos. Restlessness and unease. That’s a sound that I would ask for. I want that record. The inspiration would be simple, maybe even kind of straightforward. Very early rock ‘n’ roll DNA with lots of rules. I would find some note or rhythm in it that captivated me and I dwelled on it and bent it. That’s where I found dissonance. Bending and rubbing against each other uncomfortably. Marinate and refine. A lot of the other Hot Snakes records always had tension and release, but this one is mainly just tension.”

Recently, the member of Hot Snakes made their national, late night TV debut on Last Call with Carson Daly, which filmed the band performing three mosh pit friendly album singles — the anthemic and furious Curses-era Rye Coalition-like “Six Wave Hold-Down,” the blistering and “I Need a Doctor” and “Having Another?” And obviously, the live footage should be a ample taste of what to expect for the latest leg of the band’s tour that will include two NYC sets — a sold out June 4, 2018 stop at the Bowery Ballroom and a June 5, 2018 stop at Elsewhere.