The pop cloud of modern female artists has left only a small space for the expression of a very contemporary sensibility. But, that small space seems to have been kept for a 22 year old from Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean… We first heard Tess and her slightly anguished, mysterious voice on a track from the Choke Industry label. That song, ‘Endlessly’, wove a spell that smoothly transmuted fresh originality into promise. And since releasing ‘Dark But Beautiful’ in late 2017, we were left wanting more.
The moment her producers, Choke Industry, contacted her to ask if she was considering music as a potential career, was the moment it all began. “Before that, I never really thought about it as a full time job”, she told me honestly. “It was more of a hobby. I posted video covers and some of my songs on YouTube just to see what people thought about my voice. I did not imagine it could interest music producers!” But then, they met in Paris and conveyed how serious they were. “That’s when I knew I had to do it and give it a try”.
Fascinated by music that shaped her generation, she loves that, today, you can put different genres of music into one song. But for Tess, she does find herself leaning towards pop music because she started out covering pop artists like Sia and Ed Sheeran. “But I’m not stuck in one genre”, she said. “I like to listen to all kinds of music. I get bored easily and like to take inspirations from everywhere. That’s how I want people to see my music. Something that you can’t put into one box or one genre. I come from a land of diversity, and I want my music to reflect that!”
There were two performances that confirmed Tess’ conviction that music is what she wanted to do, and nothing else. “I’ve always loved to be on stage”, she continued. “I’ve been so used to it since I was little as I’ve been dancing since I was four. One of the performances you’re talking about was my first at an opening for a French artist in a big stadium in La Réunion Island. I was alone on stage, a little scared but also very excited. Even if the public didn’t know my music, they were very supportive. I just felt like I was in the right place. I felt confident and 100% myself. That’s when I knew music was the right thing for me! It was then confirmed when I did my first show in Paris opening for Gallant. I just love to feel the connection with the public”.
Dancing was also a helping hand in turning Tess on to music. “Dancing helps me for so many reasons”, she added. “I started to dance at a very early age so it’s like I’ve always had a connection with music. I’ve always been sensitive to it. It also helps a lot on stage. I feel comfortable and I’m not scared to move my body. It’s an asset for sure! In my last music video, ‘Dark But Beautiful’, I had the opportunity to dance with talented performers. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I will for sure, do it again. I now dream of a tour with a real show, dancers and everything!”
‘Dark But Beautiful’ is a love story between two people, who are completely differen; “They have different dreams, and seem to go in different directions with their life”. But at the end, they want to the same thing. They want to be together. This is because they know that together they are stronger and more powerful, more beautiful. “So it’s about a difficult relationship”, Tess said. “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And it shows that love always wins. It’s always the light in the darkest times”.
There’s an undeniable sense of emotion in her music, and I found that she writes songs for many different reasons. “From my personal life to people I know, even stories I’ve heard in movies I watched”, she said speaking of where her inspiration comes from. “I like to tell stories. Sometimes I just make them up and sometimes it’s a mix of all of it. Actually, I don’t like to think too much when I write songs. It’s pretty instinctive. It just comes to my head and I write it down”.
On her track, ‘Live For Now’ she celebrates an urge to seize the moment. Something which she tries to practice herself. “I’m a stressed person, and sometimes it just kills me. Something stupid can ruin my day. So I really try to stay focused and pay attention to the good things in my life and forget about the rest. I think dancing and singing help me a lot to stay in this state of mind. When I dance or sing I just forget everything. I feel positive and strong!”
To write new music, she likes to be alone in a quiet place. But, when the time calls for it Tess recognises the benefits of working with other people during studio sessions. It can be both inspiring and enlightening to work with other artists. However, she only writes when she has something to say and when she’s inspired. “I never plan anything”, she added. “Sometimes it’s every day, sometimes it’s not”.
For Tess, what makes a good song is simple. A good song is a song that makes her feel something, and either makes her dance or cry. With her own music, she hopes to convey a sense of hoping people stay true to themselves, to make their own choices and follow their dreams.
And with her music being so emotive, for me, it’s almost as if we are understanding who Tess is. “I think it’s very important to put a part of yourself in your songs”, she finished. “If you want people to feel something when listening to your music, you need to show them who you are. But it’s also important to keep a part of you a mystery”.