As the daughter of Columbian parents who spent her childhood living between Argentina, Columbia and Vancouver, it’s little surprise that people find it hard to characterize the sound of New York-based singer-songwriter, Valerie Teicher. “The changing of my environments is something that has influenced me as a person. It’s affected the way I approach music and my desire to make something eclectic and not easily defined – something that pulls from a lot of different places and sources.”
Better known by the moniker Tei Shi, Teicher’s latest EP, Verde, is at once indie-pop, electronic, minimalist and sumptuous, effortlessly blending ‘80s synths and R&B grooves with silky, layered melodies and soaring, powerhouse vocals. It’s a notable departure from the more melancholy EP Saudade, which Teicher wrote and recorded while studying at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. She explains, “My first EP was very raw – it was minimal in its production and the arrangements around the voice. I had never done anything like that before.”
In fact, 2013’s critically acclaimed Saudade was not only the product of Teicher’s first professional effort, but also the first of her music to ever go beyond the four walls of her bedroom. “I always had the desire to put my stuff out there, but I never shared it with anyone – not even my family,” she says. “When I put out my first song, they were like, ‘You wrote this?’”
Taking that initial leap signalled a turning point for Teicher: “My life changed a lot after I put out Saudade. I kind of took charge of myself and what I wanted to do. Writing the second EP was very different – it was a little more light-hearted and fun, and more assertive… there was more of a purpose behind it.”
“Bassically”, arguably Verde’s most accessible song, certainly speaks to Teicher’s desire to take charge. With lyrics like “Is that what you want, like the other boys? / Someone you can flaunt like the other toys?” it’s been received as a feminist anthem of sorts – but Teicher said that wasn’t exactly her intention. “It’s funny, because for me personally it was definitely coming from that place, but I never expected anyone to objectively interpret it that way,” she says. “In a broad sense, that song is like a liberation – it can speak to anyone who’s experiencing some sort of frustration.”
For me, [“Bassically”] was more about wanting to prove myself in the music industry and the obstacles of being female in an environment that can be oppressing.
As she elaborates on the motivation behind the song, it’s clear that Teicher – who identifies as a feminist – is no stranger to some of the challenges facing women in music. “For me, [“Bassically”] was more about wanting to prove myself in the music industry and the obstacles of being female in an environment that can be oppressing. You kind of feel the need to break through certain expectations.”
“It’s something that I struggled with a little bit, because most of the time I’m surrounded by guys in my musical environment,” Teicher discloses. “There was a while where I really wanted to have a relationship with a female doing the same thing – I think that’s so important. I can’t say I necessarily have that, but I’ve turned a lot to learning about other women that I admire and reading about their careers and where they started, and that’s definitely been really useful for me.”
Her advice to anyone in her shoes? Accept help when it’s offered – but always stay true to yourself. She explains: “I think that for women in music there’s a sense of needing to do everything alone in order to feel like you’ve proven yourself. I’ve realized that collaboration is something that will make your music better. It’s fine to allow other people to help you, but at the same time it’s important to maintain that sense of self.”
She might be a relative newcomer to the music industry, but Teicher’s experience thus far has translated into a deep-rooted passion for helping other female artists succeed. “Something I feel very strongly about is the need for women musicians to support each other,” she says. “There’s such a weird tension in the music industry around female-to-female competition. At some point, when and if I ever have enough influence to do so, I’d like to create an environment – events and things for female musicians – where we can rely on each other and collaborate.”
In the meantime, Teicher is busy working on her third album. Although still in the early writing stages, she can already say with certainty that it will have a different sound to Verde. “It won’t be a complete departure by any means, but definitely a further exploration musically.”
Possibly a by-product of her nomadic lifestyle, Teicher admits she’s already starting to feel somewhat disconnected from the five tracks on Verde. “I kind of have an approach to things where I don’t get very attached,” she reveals. “I recognize that I’m always changing, which I think is good, so when I make stuff I just accept that it belongs in that point in time.”
Teicher’s forward-looking approach and willingness to test musical boundaries and evolve is what makes her one of the most exciting artists to watch. Stay tuned.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and