Tei Shi, aka Valerie Teicher is a Brooklyn based musician doing her self described “mermaid music”. Tei Shi got a lot of attention in the online music world after the release of her latest EP Saudade. We had a chat with her about travel destinations, recording versus performing and kitten obsessions.
Who are you?
Tei Shi: My name is Valerie Teicher…I’m just a gal living in NY and making music!
Where do you want to travel?
Tei Shi: Traveling is something I would like to do a lot of, so I have a ton of destinations. I’ve actually never been to France though, and whenever I do those really intellectual and stimulating buzzfeed quizzes I get Paris as my city counterpart. So I’d really like to get to know it!
How would you describe your music?
Tei Shi: This is a hard one, I used to really struggle when people would first ask me. It’s important to me that my music sound somewhat hard to label—not necessarily one genre or another, so describing it is kind of hard without having someone actually hear it. I usually say it’s indie pop with some electronic elements, heavy on vocal harmonies and looping with minimalist production. But I also like to call it mermaid music.
What is the best concert you have ever attented?
Tei Shi: This is a really, really tough question. I’ve been to a good amount of concerts in my life, many of which I probably am disregarding right now off the top of my head. But two shows in recent years stick out to me – I saw James Blake in Boston in 2011, in a pretty small sized venue with Chairlift opening. It was amazing. It was also my Birthday, and I got James to play Happy Birthday to me. So that’s a no brainer! Another really great concert was the first time I saw Alt-J in Boston in 2012.
What is your favourite song of the moment?
Tei Shi: I am currently obsessed with Ava Luna’s song Water Duct.
What is your biggest dream?
Tei Shi: To star in a David Lynch film. Or have him direct one of my music videos–I’d settle for that.
What is your favourite animal? And why?
Tei Shi: I have an obsession with cats – mainly kittens. I feel like, weirdly moved when I see/interact with them. Penguins and tigers are also in my top 5.
What do you like the most- Recording or performing?
Tei Shi: This is a really great question, I’m not totally sure what my answer is yet. Right now, I would say recording. I’m somewhat of a control freak in a lot of ways so the recording environment caters to that… I’m able to focus in on all the little details and re-do things until I’m satisfied, whereas in the live context that’s impossible, you just have to kind of go with it. I love the controlled element of recording and how easy it is for me to translate ideas into sound. Since I don’t play any instrument really well, in a live setting it’s hard for me if I have an idea I want to express but I can’t play it. When I’m at home/recording I can do it more easily. That said, there is definitely a magic behind live performance and it has the ability to be a lot more fun and interactive. I’m still very new to it though, and I’m getting used to performing my own songs. I think once I feel more comfortable doing so and can let loose a little, things will probably change and I’ll enjoy performing more instead.
What is for you the hardest part of doing music?
Tei Shi: Following it through with confidence. I’m generally a confident person and I don’t usually care too much how people are perceiving me, but when it comes to sharing the most personal and intimate things I create, it’s really hard for me to be assertive and present them with assurance, and really own them. Which I think is a crucial part of being a solid solo artist. There are only a couple of people who I can show my music and ideas to, and even then there’s hesitation.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Tei Shi: More live shows, hopefully some touring and definitely some new music soon. Oh and I also have a new music video coming out soon!
Interview by Carl-Emil Storm Gabrielsen.